There are days when nothing goes right, and this was one of them. Despite the fact that the wind was blowing out, the Mets didn’t hit *any* home runs during batting practice, and despite the fact that the Rockies slugged lots of balls into the seats, I somehow managed to be out of position for all of them. I could make a bunch of excuses and explain why everything sucked, but screw it. It’s too frustrating. I don’t want to think about it any more. I’ll just say that I only managed to snag one ball before the game — a BP toss-up from Carlos Gonzalez in left field.
Poor me, right? Some people would do anything to snag a major league baseball, and here I am complaining about “only” getting one. I know I’m sounding like a dick, but I can’t help it. This is my reality. I once averaged 9.5 balls per game over the course of a season, and the last time I “only” snagged one ball was at the 2007 All-Star Game, so yeah, sorry, but I was feeling kind of antsy.
After BP, the Long Haul Bombers put on an insane softball-hitting exhibition, and wouldn’t you know it? I caught two in the 2nd deck in left field . . .
. . . but those don’t count for my stats. I chased after the softballs for the hell of it.
But enough about that. Let’s get back to baseball, okay?
At the start of the day, I had quite a streak going: I’d snagged at least two baseballs in each of my previous 456 games, so when *this* game was about to begin, I had to make a choice — work the Rockies’ dugout for a 3rd-out ball or stay in the outfield and hope for a home run.
I chose the outfield. This was my view . . .
. . . and look who was sitting behind me:
That’s my friend Leon Feingold with his girlfriend-type-person named Fukumi. And as for me? Yeah, I’ve looked like crap ever since I took a 50-something-mile-per-hour deflection to the face on 7/31/13 at Turner Field.
Wilmer Flores, a much-hyped prospect in the Mets’ system, made his major league debut . . .
. . . and went 0-for-4. He seemed to be overmatched, but hey, I was just that he’s right-handed. The entire right field side at Citi Field is so worthless for catching baseballs that I cringe whenever I hear about left-handed hitters being added to the roster.
In the top of the 6th inning, home plate umpire Manny Gonzalez got hit in the throat with a foul ball and had to leave the game. (Yeesh.) During the ensuing delay, which lasted quite a while, I was surprised to see this:
What am I talking about? (I tweeted about it at the time.) See how the Mets outfielders are all standing at their respective positions? They were like that for at least 10 or 15 minutes. Ever notice what most outfielders do when there’s even a short break in the action, such as a pitching change? They converge in center field and hang out to pass the time. I’m not sure why the Mets’ outfielders were keeping to themselves, but in my opinion, it’s a sign of lousy team unity.
Here’s something random/pleasant that happened a bit later:
Who is that women smooching me, you ask? I have no idea. I’d met her several innings earlier when I happened to strike up a baseball-related conversation with the guy she was with. They were with another woman, and during an inning break, they all asked me to take some photos of them. Then they asked if they could get a few photos with me, and when this women moved beside me, the guy said, “Give him a kiss for the camera.”
Meanwhile, the game was almost done, and I still only had one ball. Part of me was bummed that my two-per-game streak was going to end after six years, but the other part of me was like, “Eh, maybe I’ll get a ball from the umpire or from the relievers walking in from the bullpen, and if not . . . whatever.” Streaks are stressful, and in a weird way, I kind of hoped it would end.
After the final out of the Mets’ 3-2 victory, I got into position to get a ball from umpire Larry Vanover . . .
. . . but he ignored me.
Then I shouted like crazy at the relievers when they walked toward me . . .
. . . but they didn’t have any baseballs. My last shot was to get one from the final three Rockies walking in — bullpen catcher Pat Burgess, assistant pitching coach Bo McLaughlin, and someone else that I didn’t recognize.
Once again, I shouted my head off, but didn’t expect much. They were carrying the zipped-up ball bags and didn’t seem to have any baseballs in their hands or pockets, and sure enough, they disappeared into the dugout.
“Well,” I thought, “so much for that,” and just then, a very mud-rubbed ball landed on the dugout roof. Someone had tossed it up from below, and I lunged forward and grabbed it. HA!! Ben Weil and Greg Barasch were standing near me, so they’re my witnesses. It was . . . wow.
Here I am with my two baseballs:
Let me point out two things in the photo above:
1) I asked the kid in the red shirt if he’d gotten a ball, and to my surprise, he said yes. There weren’t any other kids at that point, so I took both balls home with me.
2) The pink balloon “sculpture” is being held by Leon.
Greg and I rode the subway back to Manhattan with Leon and Fukumi, who fell asleep, at which point THIS happened:
I’m not the kinda guy who’ll take a Sharpie and draw in someone’s ear while they’re passed out, and if I were, I sure as hell wouldn’t mess with Leon. But good ol’ fashioned harmless fun? Bring it on.
• 2 balls at this game
• 455 balls in 60 games this season = 7.58 balls per game.
• 643 balls at 84 lifetime games at Citi Field = 7.65 balls per game.
• 932 consecutive games with at least one ball
• 457 consecutive games with at least two balls
• 26 stadiums this season with a game-used ball: Citi Field, Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium, Angel Stadium, PETCO Park, AT&T Park, Safeco Field, Kauffman Stadium, Rangers Ballpark, Minute Maid Park, Great American Ball Park, Progressive Field, PNC Park, Camden Yards, U.S. Cellular Field, Comerica Park, Rogers Centre, Miller Park, Busch Stadium, Wrigley Field, Target Field, Nationals Park, Marlins Park, Tropicana Field, Turner Field, and Citizens Bank Park
• 6,914 total balls
(For every stadium this season at which I snag a game-used ball, BIGS Sunflower Seeds will donate $500 to Pitch In For Baseball, a non-profit charity that provides baseball equipment to underprivileged kids all over the world. In addition to that, I’m doing my own fundraiser again this season for Pitch In For Baseball, and if you donate money, you’ll be eligible to win one of these prizes.)
• 36 donors for my fundraiser
• $3.18 pledged per ball (if you add up all the pledges)
• $6.36 raised at this game
• $1,446.90 raised this season through my fundraiser
• $13,000 from BIGS Sunflower Seeds for my game-used baseballs
• $35,852.90 raised since I started my fundraiser in 2009