A Positive Streak, A Negative Experience, and a Snow-Cone To Remember – Balls 71-77 (September 28, 2012)
TWINS WIN!! Man, do I live saying that or what?! For the second game in a row that I have attended the Twins took down yet another 1st place team! That’s right, on Tuesday they gave it to the Yankees and then on Friday they helped out my other favorite, Robin Ventura and his Sox, by beating the Tigers. Quite simply, it was the Ryan Doumit show. He accounted for all of the RBIs and came up clutch for the Twins. Doumit has stayed healthy on a Twins team that has, as of the last 3+ years, been a place where guys spend more time on the DL than on the field. I think the tide is turning, the signing of Doumit and Willingham, along with the dumping of Nishioka’s salary shows me that Terry Ryan is making better investments. Now onto the story of the baseballs…
If you follow me on Twitter (@TonyV433), you would have seen that I got to the field a bit early… OK, SUPER early, like before 1 for a 7:10 game. Hey, I took the day off and didn’t have much else to do. I decided to picnic outside of 34, bringing my cheddar Goldfish and Mexican Coca-Cola. I even took a short siesta about 30 feet from the Gold Glove. The weather was too nice to not be outside, and it was definitely better than a day at the office.
Around 4:15 or so was when Paul showed up. We talked briefly and eagerly awaited a Twin HR bouncing through the concourse and up to the gate, but nothing made it that far. Sometime after 4:30 is when Mateo showed up, phone in hand and recording his video of waiting at the gates at Target Field. Be on the look out for this, it should be pretty good! We then discussed our “plans of attack” and we all had Prince Fielder in mind. It would turn out to be uneventful, as Fielder didn’t take many swings and wasn’t working on pulling the ball deep to RF… dang!
Since this was the last weekend series, as well as final home series, at Target Field it meant that there were going to be giveaway calendars an other potential prizes, should you match your raffle ticket to the #s on the JumboTron. I’ll cut the suspense short, I did not win, but back in 2005 I did win a Matt LeCroy game used autographed jersey!
Ball 1: So the time had come, I collected my calendar and ran down to the 101 area in hopes for an Easter Egg… nothing. I stayed down there in hopes for a toss-up and just when I Thought coach Rick Anderson was going to toss me one he told me to watch out and one landed about 3 rows back and 10 seats to my left. I scooted up to chase it and it kept rolling down the rows and landed right when I had set my camera bag. It would have been easier if I had just cut over and went up the seats, instead I tried going up the aisle first and ha to jump back down the chairs. Oh well, streak maintained! Now I just have one game left in the year and if I reach at least one ball in that game then I will have gotten a ball in EVERY game in 2012. Elementary-School-Tony thinks that’s pretty cool.
Ball 2: this was a ball that I had no business snagging. The ball was well over my head and looked like it was traveling towards Mateo who was tracking it into the large standing room area by the flag-pole. It ended up just barely clipping the narrow scoreboard on the facing of the 200 level and caroming back down into my section. It landed two rows behind me and then the swarm was on. The ball rolled down one more row and that’s when I stabbed at where I thought it would be with my glove. I say “where I thought it’d be” because of the scrum that had developed and I couldn’t actually see the ball once it started rolling down into the row behind me. Somehow I guessed correctly and as people tried to pry it out of my glove I started to reel in my catch like a fish on the hook. I was just amazed that it found my glove, cool!
(The scoreboard below the 200 level. Look at the corner and notice the dent from the impact.)
Ball 3: This will probably end up being my snag of the year. It’s not often that a ball not caught in the air trumps most any catch you have made on any other ball, but this is that rare case. The ball was hit by an unknown Tiger on a direct line to me, but much too deep, and there WS a guy in that area. I was in the corner of the overhang in RF, closer to CF and turned my back to watch where the ball would end up.
Lucky for me it was not caught by the man who was closest to it and it bounced back towards the field, but there was a problem. The ball bounces so high and it only hit about 4 rows behind me, so I thought it was heading back onto the field. I still was going to try for it, so I braced my right hand against the railing and reached over the edge as far as possible, reaching my glove beyond the flowers and extending every inch possible. The ball felt like it tipped off my glove, but I never took my eye off of it and could see immediately that it was about as much of a snow-cone as you could get without dropping it. *Queue Crowd Applause* Thank you!
(Re-enactment o the catch, though it was slightly more snow-coned and my glove was stretched beyond the flowers. Hey, I didn’t want to drop that awesome snag back on the field for a simple photo!)
Ball 4: With BP wrapping up I decided to try my luck in the bullpen, this time at the Centerfield end, not the LF bleacher area. I tried with a security guard, but he seemed new and barely moved away from the gate in the 15 minutes I was there. The Nate Dammann finally arrived and I got his attention as he was looking at the balls that had landed in the bullpen from BP. He set up the bullpen, got his gear in an then inspected the BP ball before tossing it up to me. Sweet!
…And now we get closer to the “Negative Experience” that I had mentioned in my post name. The details and accounts below are very important to the story that follows balls 5 & 6…
Ball 5: I was waiting by my normal spot in section 5 (first row, seat 1… actually the aisle) before the national anthem. I had a seat in section 6 (row 13, seat 5 to be exact), but since it wasn’t game time yet, I figured I’d try for a ball. The kids that wanted a ball were all a section over for some reason, they were in the aisle between 5 & 6, while I was in 4/5. So with no competition and Drew Butera walking in from warm-ups with a ball in his glove and just looking for someone to give it to, I raised my glove, somewhat sheepishly, since I figured a kid would speak up. He looked around and then saw me, looked for a split second more and decided I was a worthy recipient. Very cool!
Ball 6: here’s where it gets crappy. The short story is that I got yet another Jamey Carroll toss-up after his post-National Anthem warm-ups with Trevor Plouffe. I called out towars him, and with no kids around me, and making his own choice to not throw it to a different section that had kids in it, he tossed it to me (for sone reason it seemed like none if the kids knew the drill that game, and very few actually had a glove; definitely not normal).
As soon as I snagged it I was met by an usher with an attitude. I was already going to return to my seat, since I knew that there were no other balls coming and I had to be in my section for first pitch. Instead of just being a normal and decent person that has that job, he comes up and very loudly, and with an attitude tells me that I “better get moving” because I’ve “caught enough balls already!” Wow, I guess I’m a real ballhawk now, since it seems like we all get painted as the bad guy at least once. He had only seen me catch 2 balls that day, and although they were only minutes apart it still amazed me! I told him that I understood that I had to return to my seat for first pitch, but as far as I knew I could stay standing until the game started. He then started to get even more defensive and loud and told me that if I wanted to stand then “standing room is up there!” People were still filtering to their seats and others were also standing a they talked with others around them (both in the walk-way and aisles). I explained this to him, again, calmly and without the attitude I wanted to give him. He said that it was a “WALK-way, not a STAND-way!”
I knew that things weren’t going to end well, but I tried to explain that I specifically bought these expensive seats in hopes to catch as many balls as possible. I even explained that I don’t keep all of mine and that I try to find positions that are away from the kids. I wasn’t stealing balls from any children and didn’t even reach a foot to my side on either of the balls he saw me get. They (Butera and Carroll) specifically targeted me as the recipient. This information did nothing to persuade his already judgmental mind. I was found guilty without trial and without as much as a polite “can you please go back to your seat?” I followed the rules, but he couldn’t handle that. Mr. Usher proceeded to tell me that it “wasn’t fair” and that “some of these kids will never get another ball in their life and you just took them away from them!” Oh yeah, did I mention that he was being loud? Yep, so this bodes well for me in my section, an usher painting me as a guy that is beating up on children. Excellent, I really want to stay in my section now!
He made me not only show him my ticket (which I have no problem with), but his tone was that of evil disbelief that a low-life like me could even afford the seat. I wandered back behind my seat and that’s when our ‘discussion’ of walkway/standway happened. It was at this time that the Twins lined up attune dugout to throw autographed baseballs into the stands. “AWESOME!” I thought. So as I was standing behind my chair, finishing our ‘conversation’ I put on my glove and flashed it to no Twin in particular to show that I was there. I guess that this was the worst possible offense possible to do in front of the usher (that is, the worst possible offense that did NOT break any rule). He started in on me again and yelled at me to put my glove away and I’ve had enough for the evening, he wasn’t “warning me again.” I then asked what rules I was breaking and he gave me a speech about ‘fairness’. I still had not raised my voice, said any bad words, and only explained my side. (He was a fat &$%#!! But I didn’t say this, I just was wishing he’d finally have his heart-attack that I knew he had knocking on his doorsteps.) I knew that arguing was useless and dropped it, he walked away and I tried to compose myself, but I could feel the judgmental eyes of the people around me and so I walked down tot the club area in the dugout section.
On the way over there I came up from behind Mr. Fat-Attack and said one parting thing… oh how I wish it were epic and laced with my exact thoughts of what I thought of him, but I didn’t want to actually break a rule and get kicked out, especially with Champions Club waiting for me on Sunday. Instead, I told him that I wasn’t trying to cause trouble. “Oh good, you aren’t trying to cause trouble!” he said with a super-sarcastic tone. What an idiot! Thanks for the apology, usher-from-hell-on-a-power-trip.
I debated leaving, but I sat in the club area for about and inning and tweeted the Twins about the issue. They responded and we DMed. I met with the guest service people and they admitted that he was in the wrong, but they “probably can’t talk to him until the 7th inning or later.” Wow! I told them that I was debating on leaving and Sao I wasn’t completely comfortable in my section, but the best they could do was see what tickets remained at the box-office and probably seat me in the upper area of the 100-level. First of all, I wasn’t looking for a “free ticket” or even an “upgrade”, but to put me in a worse seat because of the fault of your employee?! Alright, enough, I am forgetting something, “STAY POSITIVE!!!” Thanks for the reset.
I spent the rest if the night wandering around very angrily, but intent on getting my full game, even if it wasn’t in my section. I wanted to stick it out because I am trying to preach “stay positive” this year, that and I am there for the Twins game, not for the ushers’ sakes. I turned the ship around and after the Twins went up 2-0, I went back down to section 6… to stand behind my seat (which someone else was in). The guy saw me, walked past 2 or 3 times, but never even made eye-contact with me, let alone call me out on his stand-way rule.
Sorry for the long rant, but all the details were needed and accurately represented here. I’ve also been pulled over for a speeding ticket, and although the officer was a jerk (my wife can attest), at least he was more right for having an attitude, I was actually breaking a rule, that being speeding. Because of the commotion I didn’t get to take a picture of the ball; and to think I very nearly filmed this snag… could have caught this guy on film!
Ball 7: after the Twins won, 4-2 with the help of Ryan Doumit’s big night, I raced down to the front row in the aisle between sections 6 and 7 (7 is in Champions Club and is fenced off). The team filtered in after the on-field celebration and that’s when Gardy tossed up a few pearls to the kids by me and then took a game ball and tossed it to me. Excellent! Again, I try not to talk about my giveaways, as they are not my stories/balls to tell, but as Plouffe is my favorite player and since he was now 1 toss-up behind Gardy and Jamey, it us somewhat important to me.
I cheered for Plouffe as he went towards the locker-room, even though it was a tough light for him (0-4 and an error that eventually made it a 2-2 game) the Twins still won and he did have a few decent plays in the field. I think this shout out is what led to me getting what would have been a resonance best ball #8! He tossed it, what seems on purpose, over the heads if some kids next to me to where only I could reach. AWESOME!! But there was a kid next to me that didn’t get a ball and I wasn’t that greedy.
I find it ironic because the idiot usher was only one section away, but his eagle-eyes didn’t see this. I was tempted in shouting out that I just gave one away, or having the kid go over with me and prove that I have one away, but why spoil a nice twins win like that?!
So here they are, all 7 of my adopted children!
And now the list of Thank Yous (list because this post is already long enough):
-Rick Anderson for the heads-up
-Detroit Tigers for the decent BP session
-Nate Dammann for the toss-up
-Drew Butera for the toss-up
-Jamey Carroll for the toss-up (leads all players with 5 career, all in 2012)
-Ron Gardenhire for the toss-up (tied with Jamey Carroll, 5 for my career)
-Trevor Plouffe for the uncountable toss-up (would have tied him with Carroll and Gardy)
-Twins twitter person, they were the only ‘person’ to somewhat help in this debacle
-Mateo and Paul, just cause they are cool and it might be the last time I see them before 2013 (Paul for sure, and possibly Mateo since I’ll be Champions Clubbing it up)
P.S. Who wants pix of Champions Club??? If I get at least one comment before I post the 9/30 game then I will post tons of sneak peeks of what it has to offer.