Basically all the big name players have reached agreements on contracts, trades, and have been through the boring old rigmarole of decided their futures. One player does stand out in my mind though. Zack Greinke. Zack won the 2009 AL Cy Young Award, and concluded the season with a 16-8 W-L record, a 2.16 ERA, and 242 strikeouts last season. He also picked up league MVP, and was awarded a spot on the All-star team. In 2010 his numbers declined rapidly. So after a poor performance Dayton Moore decided it was best for Zack Greinke to find a new home in Milwaukee.
Fortunatly for Dayton Moores reputation for being a failed leader in the Kansas City Royals organization this whole thing revolving around Greinke had really nothing to do with Moore. Dayton simply pulled the trigger on the trade. Greinke wanted to leave Kansas City. Even though he was drafted by them in 2002 in the first round, from the start Grienke wanted out of Kansas City. People will argue that because he pitched his guts out last season but aside from that Greinke made a statement last week stating ” when we are 20 games out of first place its kind of hard to get excited about coming to the park.” Wow. Strong.
In 33 games that Zack has started I have sat through three of them live at Kauffman Stadium. I have witnessed Zack throw the game away at least twice out of those three games that I have sat through. It was quite common for Zack to be out of the game by the third inning in most of his starts, and leave the Royals hanging, and have the bullpen finish the work. With a 10-14 record at the finish, and a 4.17 ERA its kind of hard not to see that Zack was frusterated. Most of the Royals are. On the flip side Greinke has stated that he is excited to join the Brewers for the 2011 season.
Kerry Wood has signed a one-year deal with the Chicago Cubs. Im sure fans are delighted to see him back. Wood is expected to be the late inning setup man for Carlos Marmol. Kerry Wood is excited to be back, and has made many statements that he never wanted to leave ( Chicago ) in the first place. He has never been about money, and that was proven when he turned down four teams willing to shell out more dough for Wood than Chicago did. It was reported that Wood signed for $1.5 Million.
Adrian Beltre is about the only free agent left in the world of baseball. Since the Texas Rangers lost out on the deal for Cliff Lee they have some money to throw around, and by asking Michael Young to DH for them Adrian Beltre wouldnt be a bad addition. Smashing 28 homeruns, driving in 102 RBIs, and batting a solid .321 average in the 2010 season Beltre is one sought after player. Rumors speculate that the Angels are also in the market for Beltre. Only time will tell.
Sitting quietly in the AL West are the Oakland Athletics, and the Seattle Mariners. None of which are making many headlines as far as trades during this offseason. Now that Cliff Lee is no longer apart of the Rangers baseball team you could probably count the A’s or the Mariners to be somewhat of a contender next season. The A’s have some strong pitching that the other teams in the division should be worried about. Trevor Cahill posted some nice numbers last season. He went 18-8 with a 2.97 ERA. Brett Anderson is another stronger pitcher the A’s have. Aside from pitching? Thats all I got for you!
So Fridays game, right? It was very frusterating. But Busch stadium looked very elegant on a warm sunny day. Check out this cool picture I took.
Thats more or less the view you get from the freeway that runs right by Busch Stadium. Its actually kind of cool how close the stadium is to the freeway. Theyre doing a lot of work on the bridge right now because its said to be the most unsafe bridge in Saint Louis right now.
Here is a picture of the players entrance. Most of the opposing team players get carted in from the hotel, and they use this entrance. Ive never seen any player actually stop while on the cart to sign autographs. So if you are able to get one to stop email me or leave a comment on how you got the players to stop, and sign. The usually ride right on through.
Here is a picture of the walkway towards the third base gates from the home plate gates. The gates I usually enter are the third base gates. Its the easiest, and the fasted Ive found to the field level. Most people use the left field gates or the home plate gates.
So once I was inside I felt like I should have played dead center field bleachers for Prince Fielder. After all that guy has been hitting home runs in major league stadiums since he was 13 years old. I decided to stay put on the third base side. I did play back a few rows to catch any direct line drives. I felt pretty confident but when those baseballs come in fast theyre already on the curve. So when they bounce they fly way right. I missed two by mis-judging them. But that was okay.
Trevor Hoffman was pretty friendly as he chilled in the shade in deep left field. He tossed about eight baseballs into the stands. I called to him on multiple occasions but he didnt pay me any attention. I stood my ground on the third base side, and eventually my luck struck. I wasnt sure who hit that, and by mistake I ended up asking a Cubs fan who was at bat all the while wearing a Brewers hat. I could only laugh at myself.
The ball somehow was able to make its way passed four peoples attempts to get it, and I held my glove down, and it slapped me right in the pocket. I felt lucky. I dont have much luck at Busch Stadium. In fact I hate shagging baseballs at this stadium. The competition is high, and I never really have a breakout game. I usually come away with two if Im lucky. The players dont come out with baseballs anymore to warm up before the game anymore. I dont know why. The Reds didnt do it, and the Brewers didnt do it Fridays game either. The Cardinals did on the other side though.
As the game progressed I played the first base side for foul balls. I should have stayed over there the entire game. I would have caught at least two. One from Holliday, and the other from Pujols. They both fouled one baseball each over to the entrance way to the first base side. But I was busy waiting on a third out toss up from Prince Fielder, and during Pujols foul ball I was setting up for the umpire ball.
I also learned that these white seats you see at the bottom of the picture are wheel chair seating area. Anyone is allowed to buy tickets for this area. It isnt a requirement that you have someone with you in a wheel chair, or you be in one too. Also, from where I took this picture there is a yellow outline where you can stand. They actually sell standing room only tickets. The security guard asked me if I had a standing room only ticket, and I quickly said I did to avoid any arguement. If she asked for my ticket I would have told her my wife had it. Always one step ahead of these guards. She didnt ask though.
After the game I set up for the umpire baseball. I scooted passed some fans that were sitting in the front row. Actually the only two fans that were sitting there, and when the umpire came I asked him a ball. He overthrew me like crazy! The ball actually sailed over my right shoulder, and since Im left handed with the glove I tried to basket catch the ball but it was too late. Some lady caught it. And she said this;
” Wow! I caught a ball! I didnt know the umpires threw baseballs into the crowd!”
Ugh. Yeah. They do.
So I tried to make it to the dugout for the bullpen guys. I was blocked in by 42,000 fans. It was Fireworks Friday, and where I stood was the closest Id get to the dugout unless I pardoned myself about 50,000 times. It wasnt worth it. The front row of the dugout was blocked anyway. One ball.
Game: Milwaukee Brewers Vs St Louis Cardinals June 4th 2010
Game Balls: One
Autographs: Matt Holliday
Remember this picture? Most importantly do you remember seeing Todd Helton on Crownvision? Well today was a big day for both myself, and Todd Helton.
Well, to start things off the game started promptly at 1:00pm. Batting practice took place but I didnt get a toss up from any players, and NOTHING was hit into the seats. Except maybe a few homeruns. It really was boring. My first baseball came from Dexter Fowler. After the position players warmed up most of them did not throw a single ball into the stands. I think Ian Stewart threw one though. Like yesterday, and Friday here came security. It was my last game in Kauffman for a while so I decided to stick up for the youngsters trying to get Troy Tulowitskis autograph who was signing yet again. The ushers came down, and started asking for tickets. I dont know why they ask for tickets. They know no one has a ticket thats standing by the railing. I stood my ground, and ignored the usher as long as I could stand it.
” Sir, you need to find your seat if you dont have a ticket to be here.” She said.
” I know.” I continued to stand without moving.
” Sir. Youll need to find your seat now. The game is about to start.” She explained.”
” The game starts in five minutes. We have plenty of time.” I said back to her barely turning around.
” Sir. Without a ticket you cant stand here.” She said once again.
” Well, Ive been standing here most of batting practice, and I dont have a ticket. So what makes it so I cant stand here now?” I said back to her desperatly trying to buy some time for the kids to get their autographs.
” Well, the game is soon to start. Youll have to move.” She said again. This time in a little more of a harsh tone.
” Lady, we are down here four minutes to game time to get autographs from our favorite players. Let the kids do their thing, and we will be gone before first pitch. Stop being such a nazi about this stuff. We are here to have fun. Not be harassed by security.” I said in a more harsh tone.
She stared at me for a few seconds, and as I kept my eyes on the Rockies. Dexter Fowler was getting up, and walking to his glove. I stepped away from the usher, scurried through the row, and called to him with my glove up. He nodded, and underhanded me the ball. I looked back to the usher, and smiled to her.
” See? We are having fun, and we arent in anybodys way.” I said, as I started up the stairs. I got some light applause, and a pat on the back from a fan as I made my way up the stairs. If this is what Kauffman Stadium has turned into I think I wont ever be going back.
I took this picture before the ushers started their little harassment antics. Todd Helton is out there sitting down with his teammates. My seats were in section 122 right behind the dugout three rows up. So I had really great seats, and they were right behind the Rockies dugout. So I felt pretty good about getting multiple toss ups from the players.
This is a picture of where I sat at the game. The seats were great because Todd Helton would have to cross in front of me after he caught the third out to get to the dugout. So after the third out was caught at first base by Todd Helton, I quickly stood up and waved to him for the ball. He lobbed a high toss up my way, and I felt someone step on my foot, and then back right into me as I made the catch. I looked down, and this young kid from the seat in front of me was actually trying to catch the ball! I was amazed! Helton had lobbed it so high that there was no way that kid ( or anyone else for that matter ) would have caught the ball. The kid sat down pouting. His dad started to explain that Todd Helton threw it to me because I had on a Rockies hat. Then he told his son that maybe if I were to get another one Id give it to him.
The third inning came. Three up, and three down went the Royals. Now this next part is 100% true. I stood up to stretch. I wasnt trying to get Heltons attention by any means. I raised my arms above my head, and I was in full stretch mode when Todd Helton tossed another baseball my direction just like the last one! I couldnt believe it! So I moved over, and made the catch. No one was even paying attention. In fact if I had just let the ball go it would have landed in some little girls nachos, and made a huge mess. I dont think her parents would have appreciated her kid getting hit square in the nachos by a baseball. So I made the catch. It was my second baseball from Todd Helton. I was really in shock. But whatever. The kid in front of me that tried to catch the last one was gone. They exited their seats moments before the final out of the inning. Tough break for you kid.
By the sixth inning a lot of the kids had witnessed Todd Helton tossing multiple baseballs into the crowd. So the first two rows in front of me were empty by now. The Rockies were winning 11-4 so a lot of Royals fans were leaving. The Royals quickly went in order, and Todd Helton was on his way to the dugout again. Well, I had stood up to cheer the Rockies because they got out of base loaded jam, and I was excited. Well, I guess so was Todd Helton. He lobbed another ball towards me but it was falling short. I had to lean forward over the seats in front of me to catch the ball. Once I got it I passed it off to my buddy Ryan that accompanied me to the game. He had always wanted a ball, and since Todd Helton was being over generous to me I figured I could share one with my friend. So Todd Helton had thrown three in our direction. Im not sure why. But he did. So that was my fourth ball of the day.
Once we caught that third one though the fans behind us started to boo us a little. Some college kids started talking crap, and calling us trash. They told us we should give all the balls we caught to little kids. After I made the catch someone behind me said something along the lines that I had two baseballs now or something. I had told my buddy Ryan that if we catch another one we will start to get negative attention from the fans. Thats exactly what happened. So catching a fourth ball from Helton would probably be really bad. But I didnt care. I was loving the fact that I caught three balls from one player in one game.
Jason Giambi, and Troy Tulowitski went deep in the game, and Giambis home run ball landed down behind the batters eye. I made a decent plan to jump down there after security left to retrieve the ball. If you have read Zack Hamples Kauffman Stadium blogs when he was there, he jumped down there, and snagged up like 17 baseballs. Well, Ive been going to a few games at Kauffman now, and they strategically placed a ladder to get down there now. The balls get cleared out of there every few games now. So there isnt a chance for them to really stack up. Unfortunatly, after the game before I could even head over there, an usher went down behind the batters eye, and retrieved the ball for a kid. But it wasnt over.
The final out of the game, and I stood up to stand by the dugout. I was going to get one last baseball. Kids were pushing, and shoving their way inbetween me, and eventually some kids father tried to box me out. Glen Allen Hill had a baseball, and was pacing back and forth in front of the dugout. I didnt want to call his name out to draw attention to myself so I simply raised my glove, and nodded to him. He smiled, and tossed it to me. I caught the ball in what had seemed like a million hands were trying to grab for it. I made a clean catch, and quickly faded out of the group, and up the stairs. Five on the day. Three from one player. Not bad.
Game: Kansas City Royals Vs Colorado Rockies May 23rd 2010 1:00pm
Game Balls: Five
So I decided to try my luck at Kauffman Stadium for the weekend. The Colorado Rockies were in town for a three game series. For the most part the Rockies ignored me during batting practice. Interesting enough the Royals werent even on the field at all. I caught up with some fellow Ballhawks that generally chase foul balls, and one of them has over 800 to his name. But he told me that he gives a lot of them away to the kids. So being that it was a Friday night the gates were supposed to open two hours before game time. So why were the gates opening up at 5:30pm then? Well, rumor has it that the Royals have put a complaint in to the upper management about the fans being inside the stadium while they take batting practice. I dont know why the Royals would complain about the fans being at the stadium. Wouldnt they want more of a fan base? Anyway. So for the rest of the season the gates are going to open up an hour and a half early to include weekends. Also, I was told that the batting cage was moved up to less foul balls reached the stands. Whether thats true or not I dont know. Its all about perspective I guess. But these two Ballhawks were pros. So I took their word for it. They also told me that David Glass ( owner of the Royals ) was looking for a way out of his contract, and to either move the team or sell it. In any case it was a real drag to take in all this news.
About the batting cage. If it was moved up intentionally to keep foul balls from reaching the seats they did a pretty good job. Because only three baseballs reached the seats in foul territory during batting practice. Batting practice was scheduled to end at 6:30pm. It was 6:27pm when I relocated from the outfield bleachers to the first base side where Jeff Francis was shagging many baseballs in the right field corner. I still didnt have a ball, and I was going into panic mode. I had two games left at Kauffman, and I was wondering if I should just cancel the rest of the games after this, and head home. At 6:29pm Jeff Francis shagged three ground balls in a matter of seconds, and didnt have any time to throw any of them in to the infield. He threw two in, and turned to the fans. I was shouting his name, and waving my Rockies hat wildly to get his attention so he would at least throw the ball NEAR me. I had kids lined to my right, and to my left. If it was high enough I would be able to snag it. Jeff reared back, and tossed a perfect throw three feet to my left. I would have to stretch out for this one though. I planted my right foot, and carefully eased over to my left towards the ball. I will be completely honest at this point. I do not know how this happened, but as I made the catch some chunky little 12 year old girl slammed right into my left hip. I dont know if she though she had a better angle on the ball than me, or she just came out of no where to try, and make the catch but she ended up chasing her baseball that she caught earlier down the aisle. I guess when she ran into me it jarred her ball loose. Anyway, she got her ball, and looked back at me with those sad eyes. I told her I was sorry for her running into me, and I hoped she was okay. Enough said.
Here is a picture of Kauffman from the 400 level.
You see Todd Helton on the Crown Vision? Well, I didnt mean to take the picture with him on the there but if you keep reading the blogs from the series youll be reading A LOT about him on Sundays Blog. I didnt stay up here long because I wanted to get a baseball from another Rockies player before game time. ( This picture was actually taken after I got my second ball. Oops) So back down to field level I went.
The Rockies position players were warming up, and Jason Giambi finally came out. The guy is massive. His arms are as big as my thighs, and he has these huge viens that are very visable on his arms. I dont know if he actually took steroids, but every time he was up to bat people behind the dugout gave him crap about steroids. So who knows. Ill have to check the Mitchell Report to see if his name was brought up. So as Im standing against the railing the ushers come down in their pretty little green shirts, and sun hats, and start ushering kids, and teenagers, and adults off the railing. Troy Tulowitski was busy signing autographs, and the ushers denied plenty of fans the opportunity to get an autograph from him. I didnt want to speak up, and defend anyone because I had two more games here, and I didnt want to be in the spotlight. So I ducked out of view, and sat down in the fourth row back. Once the ushers started back up the stairs I took position back on the railing. Three minutes to game time, and Ian Stewart turned around glove in hand to head back to the dugout. I called out to him, and he underhanded me the ball. I got a few praises from some Rockies fans, and I headed off to take a look around the stadium.
Odd. Why dont they move these sort of things more out in plain view? Its probably a conversation that goes something like this..
” Hey, lets get a statue of liberty, paint it up with Royals stuff, and just put it somewhere in the corner. Any corner will do.”
Whatever. So I continued around the stadium to take more pictures. Nothing great. But Kauffman is a beautiful stadium. Probably the most elegant, and down to earth that I have ever been to.
The water fountains. They are located in the outfield, and the Pepsi Party Patio is just below that. During the summer months when its a blistering 90+ degrees standing directly under the fountains is very refreshing if the wind is blowing the water around. The only downfall to this is the sun is constantly beating down on you during day games. So its kind a a lose/win or win/lose depending on how you look at things.
The game was decent. The Royals won. Which I guess is great. I didnt care much for the game. I was still more interesting in learning why the gate times were moved back. I still couldnt believe all that I heard.
Game: Colorado Rockies Vs Kansas City Royals May 21st 2010 7:10pm.
Game Balls: Two
I really debated on typing this blog today. But Its been something on my mind for a long time now. And since its my blog, I suppose I can type just about whatever I want. ( Within reason ). Well, ever since I started this season off by trying to snag as many baseballs at the stadiums as possible, Ive noticed that Ive gained the attention of a lot more fans than usual. I try to be as friendly as possible when I go to games. I try to be courteous, and respect while Im there. I pick up after myself, and Im careful with what I say because I know there are children, elderly, and other fans around me. When I go to baseball games I dont have that sense of feeling that the players, and staff owe me anything. I dont feel obligated towards anything at the ballpark except a good time. I want to have as much fun at the baseball game as possible. I dont whine when I dont get my way, I dont complain when the umpires blow calls, or when my favorite players strike out. I just laugh, and continue seeking fun.
Now this blog entry isnt directed towards the children at the games. Its really kind of directed towards anyone that shares this attitude. Mainly adults. Mainly the adults because I see it more with them than anyone else. Im not sure when this unwritten rule was established or when it became so popular but Im rather kind of tired of it. Honestly, there isnt anything I can do to change it. All I can do is complain about it on my MLB Blog. Im talking about those adults ( most with their own children ) that think that everything at the baseball game is obligated towards the children. It doesnt matter if its autographs, baseballs, being the first to run the bases, the free giveaways, the promotions, or the best seats in the stadium. There are adults that go to these games that think its all for the children. Its not.
I guess I see it more now because everyone at the stadium wants a Major League Baseball. Everyone does. Some are more adament about getting one than others. Some have a very relaxed attitude about it. ” Ill get one if I get one. If not, so what.” But people like me that want as many as I can get at a stadium, and Ill go to great lengths to getting them. Mind you, I’d never push or shove or steal from anyone. But if I can find the best position at the ballpark to get them, Ill hold my ground until its time to move on. I was at Busch last week on Thursday, and I was fortunate enough to snag four grounders that came my way as I perched on the third base line. I had a whining father/son duo behind me that were crying to the baseball players to throw them a ball. It never happened because of their pathetic attempt to get one. But after I snagged my fourth the complaining started to get directed at me. Like I had something to do with their unsuccessfulness at retrieving a baseball. In a way, I guess I did. I had the prime spot for all the baseballs that came down the third base line. But I planned it that way. I was the first person into the stadium. I invested an entire day to this. So shouldnt I be entitled to keep the baseballs I caught? After all I caught them.
If a small child reached out and shagged a ball in front of me, I wouldnt be upset. Kudos to you kid for getting out there before I could. My point is all these young kids around me make absolutely no attempt to get a baseball. They just stand on the base line waving their hands, or shlumped over the wall waiting for a lucky toss. Hey, theyre kids. So what..? That doesnt make me any less of a fan. That doesnt make me any less obligated to try and field a sharply hit ground ball my way, and if I catch it keep it for myself. I dont have to give the ball away because Im an adult, and Im surrounded by little children that can barely see over the wall to even see that ball coming. If I were to give away one ball then the kids around me would look at me like Im some kind of ball boy here to catch, and give away baseballs to them. You want a ball? Get down there and get one. Thats all Im saying. If these adults think that baseball is just for kids, then maybe the father of the child should bring his glove, and get down on the baseline, and start to try and get his own kid a ball. Not rely on some stranger to shag them for their kids. Get real. How many times do you see unsupervised children on the walls with parents up in the aisles drinking beer, and laughing with friends? I see it everytime I go to a game. Yet, Im supposed to give up baseballs that I catch.
In my short lived ballhawking career, I have assisted four children ages five and below with catching a baseball. Where was the mother? Not at the game. Where was the father? Happily sitting in his seat drinking a beer. I feel like saying something. ” Hey buddy, this is your kid. Not mine. Put the booze down, and come help him catch these baseballs.” The last kid I helped catch a baseball he could barely see over the dugout. His father was three rows back encouraging him from afar. He’d tell his little boy to get his glove on, and hold it up. Wave to the players, and ask for a ball. So the players would toss this rowdy bunch of kids a few balls, and luckily for the youngster beside me the ball got loose from the pack, and rolled into the dugout. Finally the ball was tossed again, and the same thing happened. I watched this entire thing unfold. Those kids already had a handful of baseballs tossed to them. So I interjected and told the player to throw the ball to this little kid beside me. I caught the ball, and handed it over. Looking over my shoulder at the father, oblivious as to what was going on. Shame.
Anyway. Enough ranting for one day. My whole point of this blog ( and I may even delete it ) is that those adults out there that bring their kids to the games should probably interact more with them instead of relying on guys like me and other fellow ballhawkers to step in, and make sure these youngsters get a baseball. If I had a son or a daughter, thats exactly what I would be doing. Id be down on the field level teaching my kid the names, and numbers of these players, and teaching my child how to get these baseballs from the players. For those parents/adults out there that participate with their kids at the games I couldnt have more respect for you. One day when your child gets older, and theyre able to come to games on their own they will ballhawk too.