May 12th, 2010
Back at Busch Stadium for another round of torture. I felt a little better today. My mind was slightly more clear, which always made a difference. When I cant think straight I get frusterated, and thats when things go south. The weather was supposed to rain all afternoon, and into the early evening. When I got to the stadium it was overcast, windy, and slightly humid from last nights thunderstorms. Miserable conditions. I really thought they would cancel batting practice. I figured when I got to the stadium the tarp would be over the field, and that would that.
If you look close enough you can see the batting cage was on the field, and Cardinals BP was in full force. The rain threatened off, and on. I thought at one point it would let loose, and they would tarp the field. They never did. ( Sorry about the picture. I use my iphone camera ) I panicked though. I witnessed a Cardinal player throw two baseballs into the seats behind home plate. What should I do?! I continued to ask myself that question. I could get some easter eggs, but what is the faster route over there? Still thirty minutes before the gates opened, and I had to make a decision. Go to my regular spot, or try something new. Well, after going to my orginal spot I witnessed four easter eggs being picked up. I kicked myself. So I made it a point to get a little education about the stadium before I left today. I had nine innings to do it in anyway.
Batting practice was in full swing. The sun broke out of the clouds, and it was like a breathe of fresh air. The Cardinals were only on the field for only a few minutes before the Astros started coming out, and warming up. Wilton Lopez took up a position directly in front of me with Gustavo Chacin. Not only did Gustavo Chacin overthrow a ball, but it hit some little girl right in the head. Of course that earned her a free baseball. Id take a baseball to the head for a free ball anyday. It really concerns me that nearly 90% of these little kids that line the baseline walls are without supervision. It kills me to see these kids just standing there unaware that a baseball that travels 120mph or faster could be hit right to them.
I had a great position on the base line. Not one adult was near me. The stadium was barely even full. My first baseball of the day was a grounder that had a little bit of spin to it. So it was curving more to my right. I got a good position on it, and boxed out anyone to my immediate right. I didnt field it cleanly though. It hit off the top of my glove as I went to stick the ball. It rubbed up against the wall, and didnt go far so it was easy to retrieve. After that happened, two more came my way but were too far to my right. They both ricocheted off the wall, and back onto the playing field. I tried to play them on the rebound but thats pure luck to get one like that.
Finally I had some competition show up. Booo! I dont know who the guy was but he was aggressive, and had skill. He was an older gentleman probably in his early 50’s. He positioned nearly on top of me in a strategy to box me out if anything came down the line. Well, he had his chance. A three hopper came scorching down the line, and he got his glove up in front of mine. I caught a sharp elbow to the brim of my hat that caught me off guard, and I ended up taking a step back. Well, I was able to slap his glove with mine which in turn made him miss the catch, and the ball ended up in the stands at my feet. With my hat in my face, and didnt see where the ball went until he started going for it. I kicked my left foot back, made contact with the ball, and a youngster behind me ended up getting it. HA! Thanks for using your elbow, sir! What a jerk. But if he wanted to play dirty thats fine. I can play dirty.
As soon as the kid came up with the ball my competition started in on me.
” I had that!” He hollered.
I ignored him. I kept focused on the batter in the cage.
” You hit my glove! Why did you do that?! I had that one!” He insisted.
I continued to ignore him.
” I would have had that ball, you know. That ball had my name all over it!” He grumbled.
Ignoring. Watching batter in cage.
” Why did you smack my glove?!” Shaking his head in disbelief.
Just then another ball was hit our way. It was a can-`o-corn popup. But it didnt have the distance. During the one-sided conversation an usher had came over to make sure there wasnt going to be a fight over a baseball, and guess who ended up catching the ball two feet from the wall. The usher! Really? These guys stand around all day, and regulate ridiculous rules, kick people out of areas they dont have a ticket for, scold people for running through the concourse, and NEVER give baseballs to adults that ask for them, and now we got an usher catching baseballs during batting practice that a fan SHOULD have caught namely ME! I was furious! And so was my competition! He started complaining the moment the usher caught the ball. He insisted that he should get the ball, but the usher didnt hangout much longer. He made up some excuse that he had to give the ball back to the players, and off he went. What bullcrap.
The next ball was another popup, and it had some curve to it. I knew this one didnt have the distance either, and my competition was all over it. He reached out, boxed me out, and made the scoop. But while he was doing that I made myself visable to Matt Lindstrom. ( if you read my blog from the previous night I asked him for a ball, and he denied me ) I put my hands up, and pretended to throw a ball his way. He nodded, and tossed me a ball. One hopper, right into my glove.
” Thanks Matt!” I shouted, and tipped my hat. HA!
I looked to my competition, and smiled. After that we started talking about ballhawking techniques, different stadiums, security issues, etc etc. Turns out the guy was a decent fellow. He told me the most baseballs hes even gotten at a stadium was three. Nice enough guy. So I forgave him about the elbow, and moved on after batting practice ended. I sat out in the outfield seats for the game, and I watched the game silently. I needed a break. I didnt run down to the dugout after the game or harass any of the umpires for a ball. I just held onto my two prizes from the day, and went home.
I really didnt have my head in the game today. I felt a little sick to my stomach, I was under the weather, and I had a slight headache. The humidity wasnt helping. I thought about selling my tickets, and going home. But I stuck with it. Despite everything that was preventing me from having a good time, the forecast called for rain around the time batting practice kicked off. Well, the rain didnt happen. That was probably the thing that kept me at the stadium.
I arrived early like usual. I had the first spot at the gate. No competition whatsoever. So I wandered around the stadium like I always do, and around 3:30pm Albert Pujols was taking early BP. He hit a few into the stands ( I could hear the balls clank off the bleachers ) but there was no telling where exactly they were hit to or if they even stayed in the seats. Its possible that someone inside the stadium would pick those baseballs up anyway. So I decided not to chase after well hidden easter eggs. Even though lets say those baseballs were in the seats, Id probably get them anyway. But I risked losing my prime spot on the base lines. So I just stuck with the normal plan. Who knows. Maybe tomorrow Ill feel more daring to give up my spot to chase easter eggs.
One of the many Cardinal logos used throughout their lifetime.
With the Hilton Hotel in the background, here are many of the statues that line the front of the stadium. Next Fridays game against the Angels will be a free Bob Gibson replica statue. First 16,000 fans I think.
Despite the call for rain early on at least some people braved the weather forecast, and came anyway. I asked the usher at the front gate what the projected attendance would be today, and she informed me it would be about 37,000. She came really close. It was actually 35,000 people. Not bad for a Tuesday at Busch. I was happy because that meant more baseballs for me.
Once inside the stadium I raced down to my spot. The Cardinals finished up BP, and the Astros came onto the field. I had a sharply hit ground ball that came right at me, and I quickly scooped it up for ball number one. Ball number two was a slow roller that was cut off by an Astros player with his foot. He scooped it up, and tossed it into the infield. Potential ball number three was hit six feet to my right, and I was boxed out by some Cardinal fans. The ball hit off the low wall, and made its way into the infield. Potential ball number four was an overthrow by Wandy Rodriguez. It hit a fan in the arm, and bounced back onto the field. The fan got a baseball for that. ( Do you see how my day is going with the keyword “potential”?) Potential ball number five was hit over my head, bounced off a very large man, and back onto the field. I was close enough to snag it, but I just could get after it.
I moved out here after all of that.
Wilton Lopez was out shagging baseballs with Jason Michaels. The view was so bad, I couldnt track anything. A homerun ball during BP was hit over my head, and if I had realized I had a whole row to myself, I would have caught it. That would have been ball number six. After batting practice I retired to my seats. One friggin` baseball. Oh well. It kept the streak alive.
Pretty good seats, right? Yeah. Lance Berkman carried the ball back to the dugout three times. The first two times he tossed it to a kid after looking right to me. The third time he kept it, and went into the dugout. No other baseballs were tossed into the crowd. Even Matt Lindstrom after saving the game for the Astros held onto his baseball. The bullpen guys denied me a baseball as well. What a night. And to think Im going back on Wednesday when theyre calling for rain again. If they cancel BP my streak will probably end there. What a night.
Game: St Louis Cardinals Vs Houston Astros May 11th 2010 7:15pm
Game Balls: One