Ahhhhh! Baseball is back! The 2018 season is officially underway, and guess what?! I’m attending Opening Day at Safeco Field! At the last minute I purchased a standing room only (SRO) ticket for $30 bucks! I’m pretty excited. I don’t attend Opening Day very often because the crowd is so huge it’s hard to move around the stadium in a timely fashion. But hey. It’s a new season, so what the heck.
Over the offseason there was quite the controversy about the new netting that would be going up in all the stadiums. Being a Ballhawk, I thought it would greatly reduce my chances of getting baseballs at games. Although, my overall strategy regarding where I snag will probably never change, I could imagine it might but a damper on some aspects of ballhawking. I really don’t have a problem with the reduction of baseballs caught due to the netting. What I have a problem with is: the inability of fans to protect themselves due to large amounts of distractions cause by, well, themselves.
I’ve sat in many different seats over the course of 29 years of being a fan of the game. I’ve sat in the outfield, I’ve sat behind home plate, I’ve sat behind the dugouts, in the 300th level, you name it, I’ve sat there. Many foul balls have come to my general vicinity, and many have come close where as if I made more of an effort, I probably would have caught the ball. It’s not in my nature to be overly aggressive when it comes to catching baseballs in the stadiums. I look for pristine opportunity where it takes minimal effort. Weird, I know.
The netting, (in my opinion) creates a false sense of security for fans. Fans are already severely distracted by their phones, conversation and other things besides watching the game. I understand. The game can become slow and some people just don’t have the attention span to stay focused. Some games average a little over three hours where some games are over in two. So with the inability to stay focused in high foul ball areas within the stadium, the amount of distractions we have caused for ourselves and the velocity of these baseballs entering the seats, it equals disaster. Is that really Major League Baseballs fault, though? Have we reached a point in our culture here in America where instead of taking a look at ourselves in the mirror we are quick to point fingers? Interesting enough, there is a website dedicated to foul ball statistics. Its http://www.Foulballz.com.
Opening Day was sort of special for me this year because Ichiro Suzuki had been signed by the Mariners during spring training. Ichiro, (which by the way is the only player I know that everyone calls by his first name) didn’t have a stellar spring training. He injured himself towards the end and people really had their doubts about him. I felt it was sort of feel-good and nostalgic to have him back on the team. Kind of like when Ken Griffey Jr. came back to the Mariners. I know in my heart that this won’t last long so I don’t get too excited when he’s playing. I just soak it in like anyone else. I had to hold back tears when his name was called to run down the red carpet. Seriously. Baseball is an emotional sport for me.
Felix Hernandez received the opening day nod, and it was great to see him pitch. Since my ticket was in a SRO section (which I never found, and I’m assuming it’s just wherever you can find a spot to stand) I found myself in The ‘Pen. I hate The ‘Pen. I hate everything about The ‘Pen. It’s full of drunk college kids who couldn’t careless about the baseball game. They come to drink overpriced beer and socialize. It’s an area to socialize and hangout. Who comes to Safeco Field to just “hang out”? And this is why MLB is forced to put up netting. Because there isn’t a focus on what’s happening on the field. But I digress.
Nelson Cruz led off the top of the first with a bomb to centerfield. I made a decision not to wear my baseball glove because I didn’t want to be the only person in The ‘Pen wearing one. I actually cared what people around me thought of me. Which is truly sad. My goal is to catch home run baseballs. I had a great opportunity right in front of me. Ten feet away. The ball sailed my way, my right leg twitched in anticipation that I’d set my body in motion to run towards it and catch it. It was 100% catch-able. I stalled. I didn’t move. I just stood there while the baseball sailed just left of The ‘Pen wall, ricocheted off some drunk idiots hand and bounced behind the centerfield wall. It finally landed near some batting practice equipment and was soon scooped up by stadium security to be gone forever. Sad. The M’s were quickly up 2-0.
The Indians attempted a comeback but with Edwin Diaz on the mound, it was not likely to happen. Diaz struck out Yonder Alonso, Edwin Encarnacion was hit by a pitch and Diaz then balked which moved Raja Davis (who replaced Encarnacion on the base path) to second base. Chisenhall was hit by a pitch, (challenged by the Indians; which was overturned in their favor) and then Davis stole third. Whooooo nelly! Things are getting intense! Yan Gomes went down swinging and then Diaz K’-ed Tyler Naquin to end the game and notch his first save of the season! As long as I’ve been watching Mariners baseball, the closer for the M’s has always, always made it edge-of-your-seat, nail-biting 9th innings. Ball game!
Total Lifetime Games Attended: 129
Total Baseballs Snagged This Season: 4
Total Lifetime Baseballs Snagged: 362
Total Lifetime Foul Balls Snagged: 1
Total Lifetime Home Run Balls Snagged: 0