This wasn’t exactly a game at the ballpark that I’d be attending and trying to catch baseballs and whatnot. This was the 11th annual Catch in the Confines put on by the Chicago Cubs and I flew all the way from Seattle to be here.
I also met up with Shawn, another ballhawk, from Milwaukee:
This was the first time Shawn and I met up for something like this, and I’m glad I got to share this experience with someone who loves the game as much as I do.
If you’re unfamiliar with what Catch in the Confines actually is, well, I will tell you. The ticket to get inside is around $150 and all proceeds go to Cubs charities. The fans enter into the stadium, go sit in the seating bowl behind home late and receive a barrage of instructions. Basically, the do’s and don’t’s. Don’t touch the ivy, do play catch, etc.
This is the first time the Cubs actually had a Cubs player join the fans on the field. I was excited about that and when I found out it was going to be Jake Arrieta, I immediately bought a ticket, booked a flight and made hotel reservations. I tweeted Shawn and asked if he could make it out, too and he happily obliged. We also tried to get Zack Hample to join us as well, but he stated he wasn’t traveling much this year. I don’t blame him. Traveling around the United States has become such a wretched endeavor.
But nonetheless, I made it to Chicago and more importantly, I made it to Wrigley Field:
The last time I came to Wrigley Field was back in 2009. At that time I didn’t have a blog and I wasn’t really blogging about all of my baseball trips. I didn’t come out for a game, either. It was for some kind of meet n’ greet that the fans got to come into the stadium, walk around the infield and then we all filed into the stands to meet the current Cubs roster. I brought in an official MLB baseball and had Lou Piniella sign that and then used the ball that they gave me for signatures from the rest of the Cubs players.
Once inside, Shawn and I scavenged the stadium for any baseballs that might have been missed by the grounds crew from the day before. Specific instructions were given not to touch the ivy so Shawn’s plan to rifle through the ivy to find any baseballs was shot down.
Here’s me at the wall:
I touched the brick, I touched the grass, I touched infield dirt, I sat on the bullpen bench and I sat in both dugouts. I even drank from the water fountains inside the dugouts. Shawn threw some pitches off the visitors bullpen mound and I caught for him. It was literally a free-for-all on the field and no one said anything to anyone as long as everyone was having a good time and being safe. There was an opportunity to take some swings in the underground battling cages if you wanted, I opted out of that. Later, Shawn tweeted some pictures of the experience.
Finally, I got a chance to talk with Jake Arrieta. If you follow baseball closely like I do, you’ll know that Dan Plesac calls Jake Arrieta, Jake “State Farm” Arrieta on Twitter. So I asked Jake how he responded to that:
Me: “So Dan Plesac calls you Jake “State Farm” Arrieta. Do you like that nickname?”.
Me: “Dan Plesac. You know, the “Hey, Chief…” guy on MLB Network? The three-time All-Star Brewers pitcher?”
J.A: “Yeah, I mean…it’s been around for so long…It’s kind of old.”
Me: “I suppose. Well, I was wondering if you could sign my ball Jake “from State Farm” Arrieta?”
This was the outcome:
Yep! The ball was signed “Jake From” at the top of the ball, then he signed his signature then on the lower portion of the baseball, he signed “State Farm”. Perfect. And I might add, this is one the best autographs I’ve ever received from a player.
After that, I proceeded to photo bomb Jake Arrieta…
…And some more…
…and one more for good measure:
Jake was the coolest guy ever, too. I had a longing question for any baseball player, really. Ever since Twitter came out I have always been curious of celebrity twitter accounts. How they work, are they different from everyone elses, does the blue check mark do anything, you know, odd-ball questions like that. I never really had the opportunity to ask any players during batting practice because they are all kind of busy doing stuff. Jake was just standing there so I posed the question on him.
I said, “you know, I don’t have a blue check mark. So when I tweet, and since I’m not popular like you, nothing happens. I rarely get anyone retweeting my tweets. But you, you know, since you’re a baseball player for the Cubs, when you tweet, what happens?”
He kind of stared at me for a moment like “is this guy serious?” Or maybe he was unsure what I was asking since players are probably routinely asked what kind of pizza they like or which stadium they like the best. Not some crazy question about their Twitter account. But yes, indeed. I was as serious as they come. I wanted to know. In fact, if Arrieta had his phone near him I probably would have asked him to tweet something so I could see first-hand what happens.
He initially laughed at my question and then went on to explain that everything is pretty much the same as anyone else’s account. There’s nothing special about his account just because he has a blue check mark. When he tweets, he gets notifications in his mentions just like anyone else would.
Interesting. Having a celebrity twitter account wasn’t exactly as exciting as I had expected but hey. Now I know.
After I talked with Arrieta, I was pulled aside by CN100Sports and was interviewed about my experience. It should air some time soon on Comcast Xfinity on Demand, so if you’re in the Chicago area or have Comcast, you ought to see if you can find the interview. Here’s a Youtube snippet about the event:
Fast-forward to .22 seconds for a glimpse of me on there.
Until next time!