From Famine to Feast – Balls 435-443 (June 22, 2015)

Chicago White Sox 2 – Minnesota Twins 13

Target Field – Minneapolis, MN

June 22, 2015


The condensed version:  I went from panicked during batting practice to best night of the season during the game.  Plus, there was a virtual Ballhawk Fest at Target Field, along with a reporter from the Star Tribune that Mateo brought into our confines.  Here’s the details…

Ballhawk Fest-lite: Target Field 2015

The “players” – in order of arrival:

  • Myself
  • Nate Duppler
  • Eric Bottern
  • Paul Kom
  • Mateo Fischer

The rationale was simple: attendance couldn’t possibly be as high as it was the previous 3 days (weekend PLUS Cubs equals one giant cluster), we all had the opportunity to put up good numbers.

After some short discussions and introduction to a journalist who writes for the Minneapolis Star Tribune, we entered the gates early – 5 pm was finally here!

Ball #1:

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All I can say is, “Sorry, Nate.”  I honestly didn’t see you/him that close until my glove was floating into position.  Chris Herrmann was the one tossing this heartbreaking ball.  (It made me happy to see Nate get a few more balls later and definitely not get shut out.)

Ball #2:

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My second game in a row of making a “nice catch” that got some applause. (Does anyone else get a little dyslexic and read “applause” as “applesauce”?  Me either.)  This ball was launched courtesy of a White Sox player, maybe a former player-turned-coach.  This ball was hit by my all-time favorite, Robin Ventura.

(By now you know not to believe me when I describe a caught ball hit by a player I couldn’t identify, right?)

I was in the overhang in RF, the corner closest to CF and reach over, with my backhand, to snag this one.  not quite as good as the one the game before, but it still felt good.

Ball #3:

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With both teams’ batting practices in the books, I tried for any amount of pre-game toss-ups I could find.  I thought that if I got one in pre-game and one during the game, I would finish with 4.  not great, but not nearly as bad as what could happen after finishing BP with only 2.

This ball is kind of special, since it was the 50th ball that Dominique (former Bat Boy) Frost has thrown me.  See him in the lower-right corner?

Ball #4:

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*Working the Chicago White Sox side.*

I decided to try the visitor’s side, since the first 7 or so innings see all balls thrown to the home bench go to the MLB authenticator.

The middle of the 1st inning saw Mark Parent toss me this gem of a gamer – a nice foul ball that was hit towards his bench.

Time out for a Robin Ventura break…

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Ball #5:

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Might I get up to 6 balls this game and bring my average back up to an even 5 for my lifetime?  This toss-up from the new visitor’s bat boy helped.  This came at the end of the 3rd.

Ball #6:

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Woohoo!!  Goal achieved; massive success, considering the lackluster BP.  My first toss-up from the new Bat Boy, Bobby.  It was still only the middle of the 5th at this point…

Ball #7:

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A ball from Torii Hunter?  Yes, please.  Middle of the 8th and still a little time left to keep going…

Ball #8:

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TWINS WIN!!  This is the ball that was used to turn a game-ending double play, courtesy of my favorite, Trevor Plouffe.  I was honestly not expecting this one.  I thought seven was a good number and would be the end.

Ball #9:

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The last one of the night came from the new Bat Boy again.  BOBBY!!  He keeps the game balls that don’t get authenticated in a white 5 gallon bucket next to the black “game ball bag”.  This one was one of those.

While it was no “I caught Alex Rodriguez’s 3000th hit” game, it was still…

Un-REAL.

Here’s Nate and I (and Eric creeping in the background)…

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The Haul:

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Recap:

Thank You:

  • Bobby – new bat boy extraordinaire
  • Dominique – the all-star veteran
  • Mark Parent
  • Chris Herrmann
  • Trevor Plouffe
  • Torii Hunter
  • New visitor’s bat boy (sorry, “name unknown”)
  • Mateo, Paul, Eric, and… ummm… hmmm… anyone else?
  • Oh, right, NATE!  (Told you we’d see each other again.)

New Beginnings and a Lucky Number – Balls 431-434 (June 17, 2015)

St. Louis Cardinals 1 – Minnesota Twins 3

Target Field – Minneapolis, MN

June 17, 2015


“Things, they always change.”

I had known about a huge change at Target Field for quite some time, but this particular game would be the first time I’d see it in action… and I’m not talking about the arrival of byron Buxton.

Sure, the talk of the town was about the #1 prospect in baseball making his debut at Target Field, but ballhawks always have finer details that they fret about.  We know who has yet to hit their first HR, as much as we familiarize ourselves with bat boys, and I am no exception to this.  Dominique Frost, the best in the biz, had mentioned about a month prior that come June he would be transitioning to the clubhouse.  This is great news for him, since it is a promotion and a step up (and furthering his career), but terrible news for me.  So while I was like the typical Twins fan, eager to watch Buxton for the first time at home, I was also sad and nervous about someone else taking Dom’s place.

***Dominique, if you are reading this, no one can actually take your place, you crazy, helmet-spinning, Torii Hunter cleaning, best-in-the-Bigs “BB”.***

But before I get too caught up on the changes and new beginnings for two BBs (Byron Buxton and Bat Boy), let’s talk about the BP portion of the game.

Ball #1:

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After a 10 minute (max) Twins BP, I was able to finally get on the board with a toss-up from Miguel Socolovich.  I was honestly getting nervous that I would either get my first 1 or 2 ball game in quite a while, or worse yet, get shut out.

Ball #2:

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Sometimes we make nice catches and even better, sometimes people notice your nice catch and applaud you.  This was one of those “applause” moments.  I was in the front row, the ball was hit hard, but dying quickly at the wall.  It carried enough to reach the fence while I shifted slightly to my right (the stands were pretty full, so I didn’t have a lot of room to work with) and stood up on the concrete that connected to the aluminum fence, in order to get more extension.  I then leaned over, extending to nearly 100% of my ability and made a backhanded catch.

It felt good.  I needed one of those.

Ball #3:

BALL #433!!!  My favorite number.  Achievement unlocked: Superstitious Baseball.

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I thought I might get my first “new bat boy” toss-up, as he got the ball that was pitched in the dirt by Tommy Milone during the first inning warm-ups, but he handed it to Dom (since he clearly didn’t know what to do with it, since the authenticator didn’t want it) who then tossed it to me.  Is this the last toss from Dom for quite some time?  Who knows.  Any ball can be my last, since even the best skill depends on some luck and balls coming to you at the exact right time, but hopefully this is a temporary “last”.

PAUSE:

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Time out for Byron’s first pitch at Target Field.  We’re still waiting for his first HR, but at least I saw one of the firsts.

Game On…

Ball #4:

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The last ball of the night came from Ron Gardenhire’s arch-nemesis, umpire Joe West.  It’s been a while since I tried for an umpire toss-up.

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Had the hair up on the way home and also during BP (in a slightly different fashion). Do I win the longest flow for MGB ballhawks?  This should be a yearly award, right?  (If you agree, please let Alan Schuster know on Twitter and cc me: @TonyV433)

The Haul:

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Notice the lineup card?  This was crumpled into a ball by Joe Vavra, given to Dominique, then tossed to me.  I really wanted this, especially since it was from such a historic night (beating a dead horse: Buxton’s first night at Target Field).

Recap:

Thank You:

  • Dominique – I hope this is not the last time I write this for you, in fact, I owe you more.  But if this was the last (49 in total), then THANK YOU!!  You’ve been amazing and I hope the new position treats you well.
  • Miguel Socolovich
  • Joe West

PS: If you ever want a parking tip for a Monday through Friday night game, let me know.  Park at 4 pm, 2 hours for a total of $1 and free parking after 6 pm makes this a STEAL.

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The One Where I Barely Ballhawked – Balls 427-430 (June 6, 2015)

Milwaukee Brewers 4 – Minnesota Twins 2

Target Field – Minneapolis, MN

June 6, 2015


The title may be a bit misleading, but when you are used to going alone and being able to just do your thing, sitting in a section that has a near-zero-percent chance of baseballs is… WEIRD.

It was my wife’s birthday yesterday (Happy Birthday, Jael!) so she got a bunch of family to ride their bikes from our house to the stadium – 31 miles of trail/roads.  I did not ride, since I wanted to get there early and snag a ball or two AND some one needed to drive the car which held the bikes – in case of bad weather… or what ended up happening, just driving them home, regardless.

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It was looking like no BP for the better part of me waiting at the gates, but then I was proven wrong.  We got in and I witnessed one of the lamest BP sessions in recent history.

Ball #1:

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Jason Rogers toss-up to put me on the board.

Ball #2:

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The Brewers’ Bat Boy.  I do not know his name.  Sorry.

Ball #3:

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Gamer from the weirdo in the background… Dominique!  This was from the middle of the 6th.

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Ball #4:

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The last one was from Dominique… and caught by my wife!  Yay!  Thanks for the birthday gift, Dom!.

The Haul:

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Recap:

Thank you:

  • Dominique – #VoteDomBB
  • Jason Rogers
  • Torii Hunter – for signing a baseball card from my childhood.

It’s Raining Plouffe! #VotePlouffe… #VOTEPLOUFFE!!! – Balls 424-426 (May 29, 2015)

Toronto Blue Jays 6 – Minnesota Twins 4

Target Field – Minneapolis, MN

May 29, 2015


Beautiful Thursday, beautiful Saturday… terrible Friday.  When you live in Minnesota, you come to expect these things – heck, it’s even a badge of honor, of sorts.  We joke that it can be 80+ one day and snow the others, and that HAS happened.  however, this weather interruption was not nearly as cool, it only offered rather chilly temps and rain that turned into a non-stop drizzle.  It was just enough to make things miserable for everyone – especially ballhawks, since BP was CANCELED.

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After waiting at the gates (under shelter from the rain) with Alex (@everythingtwins on Instagram) we made our way into the ghost-town.

Ball #1:

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I knew that the only way that there would be any balls (as there were no longer any players on the field) would be the small hope that a ball was left over from any potential warm-ups.  I saw cleat marks in the dirt on the warning-track in foul territory and kept my eyes peeled.  That’s when I saw this ball sitting in a cup-holder.  Excellent!  No matter what, I would not be shut out, even if it would be rescheduled to a date I could not return to.

A while back (last year?) I made a sign, inspired by a famous line from Star Wars, by Admiral Ackbar.  I spun the line “It’s a trap!” into…

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How many of you honestly would have gotten this?  Because no one seemed to understand or appreciate how awesome this was.  I had another sign for today, but that will remain a secret until it becomes relevant.

Ball #2:

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I fully endorse the campaign that Paul (APieceOfTheGame) Kom has going on: #VoteDomBB.  Even without his help today (with this and ball #3) I would vote until my fingers bled.  We used to have bumper-stickers in MN that said “My governor can beat up your governor” because we elected Jesse Ventura.  We need to make a new one that says “My Bat Boy can out friendly your Bat Boy.”  He is a straight-up pro: from toss-ups to in-game management to dealing with hecklers (there were hecklers tonight) he can do it all… and still look like he is happy and nothing bothers him.  PRO!

Here’s where things get weird…

Remember how I said I made a sign for this game?  Guess what it was about…

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And so it got the attention of both Trevor Plouffe and FSN (Fox Sports North – for those not in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area).  Marney Gellner, FSN pre-game host and interviewer extraordinaire, first saw it and told me to expect a quick chat during the 5th inning.  Excellent… but in the meantime…

Then Trevor Plouffe saw it, went back in the clubhouse and came out with a blonde bat (he swings only a black one, period) and says, “Sorry, it’s not mine.”

I’m still pumped and amazed to be able to add something to the Baseball-cave.  “OK…”

I take it, turn the barrel and see that it is a Rawlings with the name… JOE MAUER on the barrel.  I’m speechless and don;t know if I actually was able to say thank you the number of times I thought it, but I hope I was able to convey it at least once (I know I was able to after the game).

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He came back a little later, before the game started, and said to me, “I stole it, so don’t say anything.” (So I am entrusting you, dear reader, with your silence. Do NOT tell your best friend, Joe Mauer, about this transaction.)

I am grateful to have this, amazed, and potentially have a Hall of Famer’s bat.  How cool is that?!  But honestly, Trevor is more the hall of famer in my personal records book.  I will keep all of these treasures and display them proudly, but I’m not going to lie, I think the first bat that he gave me is still the most special.

Now fast forward to inning number five, still sitting on two baseballs for the night, but also a Joe Mauer bat (talk about sitting/walking in fear… I don’t want to ruin this thing, nor do I want someone else to take it, so I am nervous to say the least).  Marney finds me at the end of the fourth and preps me with one of the questions she has for me (focusing on the “#VotePlouffe” sign)and tells me just to “adlib the rest”.

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I give my interview, slip in some quick remarks, start to worry about my words being twisted (I mentioned the term “hardcore” and then had to think of something that was “less than hardcore” without going into “softcore” for fear of it sounding like I’m alluding to porn)..  But in the end I got to spread the “Vote Plouffe” campaign, get circled by a MLB Hall of Famer (Bert Blyleven), and scored $100 in lottery tickets!

(PS: I do not get the tickets until later, since they only have props.  But I will do my best to add my “winnings” to this post later.)

Ball #3:

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With the night coming to a close, here is the last ball that came in the 8th inning.  It was a pitch fouled into the dirt to Brian Dozier from Mark Buehrle.  When I look at this ball compared to the one that came straight from the ball bag (#2), it is amazing how much of the Lena Blackburne mud came off during the rain; this for a ball that lasted less than one batter and only during the lightest of mists.

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The night finished with fireworks, which I am still not a huge fan of.  The Twins do it every Friday night game (loses its feeling of being “special”) and the shows themselves are only margin at best, due to laws for downtown Minneapolis fireworks.  maybe I just got spoiled in Denver, who knows.

Family photo:

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…And a close-up of the bat…:

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Recap:

Thank you:

  • Dominique – #VoteDomBB
  • Trevor Plouffe – #VotePlouffe
  • Joe Mauer (as long as you do not punish Trevor)
  • The Easter Bunny
  • FSN/Marney Gellner
  • Evelyn (she made the sign)
  • Alex – for the company at the gate.  Don;t worry, you’ll get plenty of balls when there isn’t a near-rain-out.

Happy Miles Davis Day!

In honor of the man who turned me on to jazz (though one could argue that title actually belongs to John McLaughlin), I thought I would share with you my “Top 5 Miles Davis Albums”.  Please, give them a listen, who knows, you might find yourself liking jazz, too.

5.  Live-Evil (1971)

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While I would actually point you to the “Cellar Door Sessions” box-set, I realize that not everyone has the patience to take in six discs.  Live-Evil is the best bits of The Cellar Door exercises.  The team includes Herbie Hancock, John McLaughlin, Joe Zawinul, Chick Corea, Billy Cobham, Wayne Shorter, and Keith Jarrett among others.  Imagine those minds coming together for this beast of an improv session.

Stand-out track: “What I Say”

4.  Bitches Brew (1970)

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I am a sucker for longer, extended cuts; if it’s a jam session, then even more so.  “Jazz-fusion” and “free jazz” are my favorites among the sub-genres of jazz, and this album might be one of the best fusion pieces ever (definitely the best collective group of fusioin artists to appear on one album).

Stand-out track: “Bitches Brew”

3.  In A Silent Way (1969)

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Miles goes electric… kind of.  While more electric and showing signs of his future dive into “fusion”, this album is far from the “crazy” label that comes with most fusion LPs.  This two track, double sonata offering is concise while still being playful enough to explore some very Davis-inspired riffs.

Stand-out track: “Shhh/Peaceful”

2.  Kind of Blue (1959)

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The classics of classics.  The holiest of the holy… and still only #2 on my list.  While it was hard to place at #2, it in no way detracts from the legacy that this going-on-60-year-old album has made for itself.  Every track is amazing and without “Kind of Blue” your jazz collection is a sham, your definition of Miles Davis inaccurate, and your very understanding of music probably a hoax.

Stand-out track: “All Blues”  (apologies to the other 4 tracks, this was the hardest choice of the entire list)

1.  Sketches of Spain (1960)

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If Miles had not recorded another note after “Kind of Blue” his legacy would still be incredible and he’d still have a shot at the Mount Rushmore of Jazz.  So how would most artists follow up a quintessential classic?  Most fall on their faces or release a “decent attempt”, but very few can not only prove that their masterpiece was not a fluke, but just the BEGINNING!  Sketches of Spain, while not a experimental or Davis-controlled as other LPs, is just perfectly played music.  if you cannot get into this album, then jazz is not for you… and maybe music all together is not your thing.

Stand-out track: “Concierto de Aranjuez (Adagio)”

So there you have it, my favorites of Miles Davis, the would-be 89 year old who changed music as a whole.  His influence is immeasurable at this point, but if you want to see where he was headed towards the end of his life (and you are feeling daring), try the “late years” Miles.  Hip-hop may have had an entirely different sound had Miles been able to stick around another decade.

***Writer’s confession:  My love of “Sketches of Spain” runs so deep because “Concierto de Aranjuez (Adagio)” is my personal relaxation song.  Whenever I feel down, anxious, or in need of some alone time, I play this movement.  I love that song, plain and simple.***

Much Lucky, Very Hundred, Birthday Wow! – Balls 418-423 (May 15, 2015)

Tampa Bay Rays 2 – Minnesota Twins 3

Target Field – Minneapolis, MN

May 15, 2015


Lucky?  Sure, most people think that getting 6 balls at a game is “lucky,” but I have a different bit of luck to share.

Hundred?  If you follow the Twins, you probably know, if not, you’ll be told after the news of another Twins comeback.  Oops, sorry about that… *SPOILERS!*

Birthday?  Happy Birthday, Brian Dozier.  Sorry, but we couldn’t get you a better birthday present than what you gave yourself (and your team… and the fans).

Broken Record:  I got to the game early. (SHOCKER!)  The traffic was absolutely terrible – a 15 minute drive from work took nearly an hour; a huge thank you goes out to the traffic planning and construction committees.  The southwest metro area is certainly underpopulated and chooses not to travel north, especially on the weekend.  He said with heavy sarcasm.

But enough chit-chat, let’s count baseballs!

Ball #1:

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A home run by a Twin in BP that took a weird bounce meant my first of the day.

EDIT: After much careful deliberation, reviewing of tapes, and hours of studious analysis, I have determined (with high confidence) that Kennys Vargas was the man who hit this ball.  Basically, it aligns with the BP lineup card I was given and where the HR was hit.

Ball #2:

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Aaron Thompson toss-up.  I have long hair, Aaron has long hair, maybe we should have a “hair-off?”  (Side note: If you try to figure out which one is Aaron during warm-ups but cannot see his number, look for the only guy with his hair up in a tight ball.)

Ball #3:

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I’m about 73% sure that this was tossed up by bull-pen catcher Scott Cursi.  It was a not-young/not-old, shorter, rounder, coach with a catcher’s mitt and a newly grown beard (maybe a week or two of growth) – sound like Scott?

Ball #4:

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I had seen bench coach, Tom Foley, hit up a ball to someone in the 2nd level in centerfield, so I was hoping to catch a ball off of a Fungo for the first time, but instead it was just a standard toss-up.

After BP was over – Tampa hit only a couple dingers – I made it over to my usual spot.  I have mentioned for the past few entries that Joe Vavra is a wonderful man…

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He is still wonderful.  This is my third game in a row with a BP lineup card.  I will still include you in the “end credits”, but Joe Vavra… THANK YOU.

Ball #5:

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Ask Oswaldo Arcia in Spanish and you shall be rewarded?  Straight from the game ball bag.

During the first 5 innings I tried to snag a HR at my “Kennys Vargas spot”.  Result: No HR ball for me tonight.

Instead, I caught something unlikely and LUCKY!!  (There’s one of those key words.)

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I got a can koozy and 4 lottery tickets.

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And on two of those tickets I was a “winner”.  I was given $4 worth of tickets and can now cash them for $5 ($1 top ticket, $4 on the bottom ticket – $2 horseshoe + $1 DOUBLE gold brick).

So what did I blow all my winnings on?

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A vegan burger.  While it isn’t the best representation of a good vegan meal, it is still incredibly great to see vegan options “in the wild”.

Ball #6:

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A ball in the dirt during Jake Odorizzi’s warm-up in the middle of the 6th.  Tossed to me by Joe Mauer.

The Twins would draw blood this inning and complete another comeback.  Brian Dozier, the BIRTHDAY boy, had a HR early in the game and the game-winning RBI sac-fly.  (Word-of-the-day number two!)

Also of note, Minnesotan and two time All-Star, Glen Perkins came in to get the save, his HUNDREDTH of his career.  (There you go, all words are in play.)

The May 15th Family Photo:

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Recap:

THANK YOUS:

  • Joe Vavra
  • Aaron Thompson
  • Tom Foley
  • Scott Cursi
  • Oswaldo Arcia
  • Joe Mauer
  • Dominique – Good luck with the new position in the near future!

PS: Please visit the Go Fund Me page I made in order to raise money for NAMI… and help me get to the All-Star Game (more accurately, help me afford the expensive ASG ticket prices).

www.gofundme.com/VotePlouffe

Read about it here on the blog.

A Proposition of Fun AND Awareness (Please Read, Share, and if possible, Help)

Like Amanda Palmer said (and I paraphrase), “Take the donut.”  Her TED talk was a very inspiring one of asking for help.  I have admired Amanda from afar – mostly in her music, but also her Twitter talks, and even some topical commentary (political, social, hysterical, etc.) – but I never thought I would take her up on this speech.  I never thought I would put myself out there to ask for help in this way… but I don’t want to give it all away now, so please read the following:

If you are a serial reader of this blog you will know the following thing:

  • I love going to baseball games (and catching baseballs).
  • Trevor Plouffe is my favorite player… possibly ever (Robin Ventura probably shudders at this idea).
  • I go on plenty of road trips, because…
  • I have anxiety.

So why the new post?  Because all of those four points converged into the following idea…

Crowdsourcing a baseball adventure!

Selfish?  Partially.

Charitable?  Most definitely… with your help.

The Goal:

Baseball/Personal:  See Trevor Plouffe play in his first All-Star Game.  Hey, he’s 2nd in the MLB right now (5/12/15) for WAR among 3B, so there is a very good chance right now.  Shouldn’t the guy who runs the unofficial “#VotePlouffe” campaign try to be there?!

Mental Health/Charitable:  Raise funds for NAMI by including the community.  I could raise some money – and will be this year in the rest of my baseball adventures – but doing it as one person only goes so far.  If I include numerous people (by putting the “crowd” in crowdsource) I can hopefully make that pot much bigger, while also raising the funds needed to get one ticket for the 2015 MLB All-Star Game.

The Details:

I can cover the cost of travel (aka “gas”, since my anxiety would still prevent me at this time from flying) and hotel(s), but the ticket prices – now that I am looking at 3rd party, NOT face value – are a bit of a burden and would probably prevent me from realizing this dream.

So this is where you come in (hopefully).  I will be raising funds at a 50/50 rate between ticket and NAMI.  Once I hit my maximum ticket price ($2,000… I told you they were expensive) then it will be 100% NAMI.

Examples:

  • I raise $1,000 = $500 for a ticket and $500 for NAMI
  • I raise $4,000 = $2,000 (or less) for a ticket and $2,000+ for NAMI
  • I raise $10,000 = $2,000 (or less) for a ticket and $8,000+ for NAMI

And on the off chance that you have an ASG ticket that is close to the AL dugout/3rd base line (dream location in order to get some sweet photos and cheer loudly for Señor Plouffe) and you want to donate it straight up, then this campaign becomes 100% funds to NAMI.org.

*NAMI.org is a national organization for treatment and awareness of Mental Illnesses of all kinds – anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, etc.  Please visit their site if you want to learn more or if you, too, feel like you suffer from any mental health issues.  It is truly a great resource for anyone in the US.

Now I understand that not everyone can help financially.  I get it.  Heck, I am asking YOU for help because I could not do it myself.  If you still wish to help me, but have no funds to do so, please share this blog post, share my Go Fund Me page, and help me direct others who may have the ability to this fun cause.

The site:

www.gofundme.com/VotePlouffe

More Details (Suggestions/Comments/Concerns/Opinions?):

I am open to any and all ideas, though I do have a few of my own at this point.

When I reach certain milestones I will do certain things or possibly giveaway certain prizes?

Reach $200:  Buy a green suit jacket at Goodwill, add a message about mental health on the back, and wear it to the ASG.  (Green is the color of mental health.)

Reach $500:  Buy a 2015 MLB All-Star Game ball, try to get it autographed by someone and then give it away to a random donor.

Reach $1,000:  Something crazy.  Ideas?

Reach $2,000:  Even crazier.

Reach $4,000:  This is the maximum ticket price goal.  Maybe do t-shirts for the top ten donors?  This should be something big that I can say thanks to those who helped out.

Now is when I ask you. “Will you please help 50% me and 50% NAMI?”

THANK YOU.

PS:  The following ways are how you can get in contact with me, should you need to/want to…

  • Email: voan0201@gmail.com
  • Twitter: @tonyv433
  • Instagram: @tony433433
  • YouTube: Tony Voda
  • Go Fund Me: VotePlouffe (one last plug)
  • Facebook:  Sorry, it’s more of a stubborn thing by now; I shall hold out until they no longer exist

The One With Star Wars, Puppies, Baseball, and Dollies – Balls 411-417 (May 4, 2015)

Oakland Galactic Empire Athletics 7 – Minnesota Rebel Alliance Twins 8

Target Field – Minneapolis, MN

May 4, 2015


Like the title suggests, this entry will feature Star Wars (May the 4th, duh!), Puppies, Baseball (which is kind of a no-doubter, since this is an MLBlog), and Dollies – but just not in that order.

Randomize the list please…

  1. Puppies
  2. Dollies
  3. Baseball
  4. Star Wars
  5. ***Bonus Baseball!!***

Puppies:

I have a puppy – she is just shy of 9 months old.  I wanted a larger dog because of my childhood puppy – Kirby was her name – who was a Black Lab/German Wirehaired Pointer mix.  Evelyn (or Evie) is shorter (she didn’t get the long legs like the German Wirehaired Pointer gave Kirby) and she is lighter (almost 50 pounds compared to Kirby’s max weight of around 80).  BUT, Evelyn is still quite the handful.

But why am I talking about puppies?  What does this have to do with ballhawking?

Kirby’s birthday was on May 4, 1993.  She was named after Kirby Puckett.  And her name is permanently etched outside of Target Field – thanks, Mom and Dad!  I wanted to go to this game long before any of the Star Wars hoopla was announced.  My motivation was to see Kirby again (or at least her name) and take in a baseball game in her honor.

Side note:  She really loved baseball, too.  She came to many of my baseball games in grade school through high school.

So here she is, Ms. Kirby Puppy Voda, on the “Passion” pane in the Target Field Plaza.

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I’ve read many of the other names and can honestly say that I never ran across a name that was obviously a dog.

Dollies

Dollies, or better known as action figures.  Action figures for baseball seem to have gone extinct – anyone else remember Lineup Figures? – but the thing that replaced them are BOBBLEHEADS!  Since it was Star Wars night at Target Field (and across the nation), the Twins promotion for the night was a Star Wars-themed bobblehead of Phil Hughes… “Hughes the Force”.

Instead of having a limited number and having crazy lines with people just clogging up every gate, the Twins tried something new, and quite frankly, genius.  The steps were:

  1. You had to buy a special “Hughes the Force” ticket (limited sections available)
  2. Pick up your bobblehead at Gate 6/Target Field Station
  3. Only available from 5 pm to the 2nd inning

Simple, efficient, and genius sales strategy.  The early season sees low attendance in the cheaper sections, ones furthest from home plate.  In order to sell some of those seats, attach those to bobblehead night – the other seats will still sell, since people will always desire the “I’m sitting nearly on the field” type of ticket.  it also alleviated any crazy fights at the gates, and let people feel guaranteed a precious giveaway instead of feeling the need to show up at noon for a 7:10 game.

(A photo of the “doll” will be shown in the group photo… at least one of the box, with a photo of the bobblehead on the box itself.  Does that make it kind of a meta-photo?  A photo of a photo of said item… sweet.)

Baseball (Part 1 – Batting Practice):

Ball #1:

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Eduardo Escobar.  He now ties Ron Gardenhire for the second most by any player/coach – the top being Trevor Plouffe.

But the runaway leader of ANYONE is Dominique.

Ball #2:

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Mr. Athletic man.  I’m not quite sure who this is – damn you, BP jackets! – but it just might be Catfish Hunter himself.  Yep, another game where a man with his number retired by the ball club has tossed me a ball.  This is absolute craziness.

Ball #3:

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Red Hot Chili Peppers great, Chad Smith tossed me this ball.  I didn’t know that he gave up drumming and pursued baseball, but it makes sense.  If his lookalike, Will Ferrell, got to try baseball, why not Chad?

Ball #4:

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Dr. Sean Doolittle with the hook-up.  Eddie Murphy never looked so different, but I guess I’ve never seen him in person.  Love the beard, though.

Ball #5:

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Upon further investigation – mainly photo enhancement tools like they use on crime dramas on TV – I was able to pinpoint this otherwise faceless Athletic as the one and only, Dennis Eckersley!  He still looks like he can throw the ball.  I’m beginning to wonder why all these retired greats ever gave up on baseball in the first place.

INTERMISSION

Star Wars:

New security guards – Stormtroopers:

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Ground rules a la Star Wars Intro Scene:

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The evil one – Stephen Vogt – who hit a grand slam in his last at-bat:

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Well played, Twins.  You cause a massive deficit, you are part of the Evil Empire.

And how about one of your good guys…?

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#VotePlouffe… seriously.  Vote. Plouffe.

And a Star Wars take on an old Metrodome classic – Walks Will Haunt (Yoda remix):

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Baseball (Part 2 – Game Time):

Ball #6:

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Fresh from the mudding room (I can only assume that this is a thing… or at least WANT this to be a thing) from the hands of Target Field’s REAL Luke Skywalker, Dominique.

And for a second game in a row…

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The BP lineup card!  Joe Vavra is an absolute wonderful man.  He is like my Yoda of ballhawking.

Ball #7:

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This was a pitch thrown by Chris Bassitt to Brian Doier to make it a 2-2 count in the bottom of the 8th (no out).  Assist to Dominique, yet again.

Oh, and as for that massive 4-0 hole in the first inning?  ERASED!  The Twins came back to make it 4-4, then down 5-4, even things up, and then took the permanent lead with a 3-run Torii Hunter blast.

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There I am, cheering on a game saving catch by Jordan Schafer.  The umps ruled it a trap (“It’s a trap!” could be heard by the 2nd base umpire) only to realize that they could not be fooled by the Athletics’ mind games.  It was a catch and ultimately the good guys prevailed.

Another Family Photo:

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Recap:

Thank you:

  • Joe Vavra
  • Dominique
  • Eduardo Escobar
  • Sean Doolittle
  • Chad Smith
  • Unknown A’s – but more than likely Dennis Eckersley and Catfish Hunter
  • Star Wars/cosplayers

Announcement Time! (Music, Baseball, and… Stuff?) – or: How I learned to stop being old and decided to go to the Tyte Jeff show.

Guess what…

Tyte Jeff ROCKS!!!

Again, I captured Sutured Youths from his set at The Nomad, just over 5 months after the last Tyte show I went to.  These late night “school night” shows are killer when you start to think you are turning old and lame.  We didn’t make it back home – to a very sleepy/happy puppy – until just after 2 am, but it was TOTALLY WORTH IT!

Lyrics to Sutured Youths:

When we were young we sang about youth, all brightness, fury and flame. Told all the kids to be truer and purer and fight in fervor’s name.
Got bathed in ripe booze and cheap smoke, wide eyed and huddled up close. It takes a special kind of righteous to think that nothing will ever change.
Cause we were. Confident in our confidence and certainly broke. Negligent in our negligence and certainly stoked.
Cause you want it, cause you need it and cause you’d do anything to get it. That perfect chorus, yes, I hear it breathing. That distant thunderclap is the drums.
Now we’re old and half dead, but these truths seem to last. Things spark and magic’s not fake. And our old bones can shimmy in place. Still coming on strong and hoping for the perfect song. But there’s a truth that we just can’t shake. One nothing ever could hope to replace.
Cause we were. Confident in our confidence and certainly broke. Negligent in our negligence and certainly stoked.
Cause you want it, cause you need it and cause you’d do anything to get it. That perfect chorus, yes, I hear it screaming. That distant thunderclap is the drums.
Now we’re old and half dead. Sutured youths overhead. Art really ain’t that heroic and neither is this little band. They’re just the things we do to push away this desperate feeling that we have. But there’s a truth that we just can’t shake. One nothing ever could hope to replace.

As you can see, “Tyte” Jeff (Allen) is quite the lyricist.  Many of the songs resonate so incredibly loudly with me and what I assume are similar people of my generation that are where we are in life – those that don’t really have the right to complain, since we are not living in harm’s way or poverty, but not entirely happy with the way things are (personally, politically, socially, or some other -ally word).

But Tony, you going to a show isn’t really an announcement, is it?

Thanks for paying attention, dear reader.  This isn’t the announcement of the Tyte Jeff portion of the show… yet.

Announcement #1:

Tyte Jeff will be performing at the Basilica Block Party in Minneapolis on Friday, July 10th!  Yep, the same night as Motion City Soundtrack and WEEZER!!!  My childhood favorite, Weezer, and two of my local favorites all performing on the same night.  How tyte is that?!

socially, or some other -ally word).

So, Tony, you have no other announcements or big plans until the middle of July?!  You are LAME!

You know what?  you are really beginning to annoy me, dear reader!  Can’t you just let me get my words in and form proper transitions between these disjointed subjects?!

I’m sorry about that one weird “angry reader,” but it’s the internet and there are always people trying to troll and pick fights.

Where was I?…  Oh, right…

Announcement #2:

Six days before the Tyte Jeff/Weezer/MCS show I will be going to a baseball game.  While going to a baseball game is normally not big news – after all, I go to numerous every year and this is a blog dedicated to those adventures – this game is special.  It’s a game on the 4th of July!  Wait, that’s not why it is special…

I’m going to Kansas City for the Twins game on the 4th of July!!!

And I’m going to the…

Wait, where did the interrupting angry reader go?  I thought I’d have to quickly add my next announcement to this one in order to prevent that idiot from doing his thing.

Announcement #3:

I am 95% sure that I am also going to Busch Stadium in tropical St. Lucia.  I didn’t realize that a country other than Canada had an MLB team, but apparently this Caribbean sovereign island has a team.  They must be named the Cardinals because that is where the birds migrate to.  It’s science.

My anxieties about flying will force me to drive, so we’ll see how well the car floats in the Gulf of Mexico.

(If you cannot sense the sarcasm and attempt at humor, I feel sorry for you.  Here’s the straight news: I’m going to St. Louis, probably looking at the August 17th game.)

Announcement #4:

This post is ending.

Now.

Comeback at Target Field – Balls 405-410 (April 28, 2015)

Detroit Tigers 2 – Minnesota Twins 3

Target Field – Minneapolis, MN

April 13, 2015


Sure, the Twins performed a nice little comeback, but that’s not exactly what this blog is dedicated to, is it?  No, the comeback of highest importance is my return to baseball, after serving a 15 day DL stint – I had a severe case of Vinyl-itis (it got really bad during the week around Record Store Day).

Before getting into the ballhawking, let me give you a one question pop-quiz…

What time best describes when I got to Target Field?

  • A:  After gates opened/Late.  (Hey, traffic was bad!)
  • B:  Just before first pitch.  (7:02 for a 7:10 game isn’t a total loss, right?)
  • C:  Just as gates for the general public opened.  (Early STH entry has barely garnered me additional balls anyway.)
  • D:  Within seconds of gates opening for STH early BP.  (PERFECT timing.)
  • E:  Ridiculously early.  (Before the Twins took BP; I was lonely at the gate.)

***Answer at the end of this post.***

Ball #1:

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An Oswaldo Arcia toss-up is not a bad way to get on the board.

Damn, I guess this eliminates answers A through C!

Ball #2:

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Some right-handed Twin hit a home run that nearly went into the upper deck.  I played towards the front in the lower deck and had to scramble up the bleachers to get it.

Ball #3:

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Casey Fien might end up winning the “nicest Twin (ballhawking)” award for 2015.

Ball #4:

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Can anyone tell me who the random Tiger with his back towards me is?  Didn;t think so.  This ball was tossed by a faceless Tiger, possibly even a ghost.  Let’s call him Ty Cobb.  Yep, I got a toss-up from Mr. Nice himself, The Georgia Peach, Ty Cobb.

Ball #5:

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Within minutes (possibly seconds) of one another, I was given a nice game ball from the “Bag O’ Game Balls” (TM) and the Batting Practice Lineup Card, from Dominique Frost and Joe Vavra respectively.  Those two guys are probably the nicest dudes in the MLB.

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How’s that for a photo of the two?  I don’t want to speculate too much, but I believe that Security is on the field next to them because of concerns that one of the following may happen:

Women will either 1) throw their panties at them, a la any big name rock-star from the ’80s, or 2) rush the field like Morganna did long ago.  Either way, their appeal towards the masses causes crazy things, and security just needed to keep them protected (they both have a job to do, after all!).

Ball #6:

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Warm-up ball from Trevor Plouffe.  Remember to #VotePlouffe!!!  The ball snagging for tonight was over, but the game was only beginning – plus, I got the following:

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A Cucumber Mint Lemonade!  It was very concentrated (at least it tasted syrupy to me), but worth getting once in order to say I tried it.

When I purchased this different Lemonade I noticed some awkward signage.

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Since when is a “Free Refill” considered “FREE” if you have to pay FIVE additional dollars?!  you have a lot to answer to, Chef Andrew Zimmern!  (Yes, HE is the one personally responsible for this outright lie.  Not the Twins, not Delaware North (who services the concessions), and certainly not any marketing folks in between.  This is on the Chef’s head and his alone.

Then I took a photo simply called “#Baseball”.

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And then, before the comeback began, I took another photo.  This one is to remind you to what?

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#VotePlouffe!!

Now let’s close it out with a family photo…

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…and the answer to the pop-quiz…

If you answered “D” you would be…  WRONG!

Of course it was “E”.

Recap:

Thank you:

  • Joe Vavra
  • Dominique
  • Oswaldo Arcia
  • Trevor Plouffe
  • Casey Fien
  • Ty Cobb
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