Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Close... But No Banana

This is my eleventh season sitting in Aisle 424 with my now defunct Combo Plan package of Night and Weekend games. The package involves between 40 and 50 games per year, plus I'll hit another couple day games over the course of a season.

Prior to 1998, I probably got to ten to twenty games per year because the tickets were easier to come by, and they were actually affordable to someone working their first crappy job out of college. So, I've estimated that I have attended roughly 600 baseball games in my life.

Do you know how many foul balls I've caught? None. Zero. Bagel. I have caught as many foul balls in my life as Geovany Soto has homeruns hit this year.

In college, my friend Todd was visiting from back home and we got tickets to see the Cubs play the Padres. The Cubs were getting beat something like 11-0 by the fifth inning, so after Harry sang, the crowd cleared out like rats fleeing the Titanic. Todd and I took the opportunity to move down into the Field Box section behind the visitors dugout on the first base side. (They didn't have the Seat Nazis back then because they were just happy anyone was paying any kind of money to see such a lousy team.)

At some point, Shawon Dunston hit a liner foul behind us and I whipped my head around to see if I could catch a bounce and the following interchange took place:

Me: Where did it go?
Todd: I got it! Holy s---! I got it!
Me: Shut up! I'm trying to see where the ball went!
Todd: I got a foul ball! Whooo! Dunston!!!
Me: Where the hell did it... wait... you got it?

And sure enough, there was Todd showing anyone and everyone the ball that he had just scored off the bat of one of his favorite Cubs. I think he probably still sleeps with it between himself and his wife. He goes to one game and gets a ball. I will never have that kind of luck.

I bring all this up because, while I love Aisle 424 and would never move from it (even if the Cubs ever let me), it isn't a great foul ball zone. We're just to the first base side behind home plate, so the balls that are fouled straight back usually go into Aisle 423. A righty fouling off a ball that skews away from him will usually end up in 425 or 426. So the foul ball chances, while they would seem like they should be plenty, are actually not so great.

Last night, I had my best chance since I've been sitting there. I don't know who was at-bat because he was a Padre who is not named Adrian Gonzalez. The ball came arching back and was coming in at just the right height to clear the folks in front of me and give me a legitimate shot.

I reached up and the ball hit squarely on my hand, just as someone from behind reached in and moved my hand ever so slightly. I couldn't wrap my fingers on it before the backspin shot it straight down where two kids a couple rows down pounced on it.

So I remain on the shnide with foul balls. I initially blamed Kris for costing me my first foul ball, which I'll admit was fairly douchy, but I'm on an 0 for 600+ streak here. It's getting personal. The guy in the seats behind me owned up to it and apologized for costing me, so its all good. Kris may not have yet forgiven me for initially blaming her though.

Someone asked me if Iwould have given the ball to the kid anyway if I had caught it. Of course not. Those kids have their whole lives to catch a foul ball. Plus, its not the same to have it handed to you.

I've had a ball handed to me. The experience is over-rated. There is no sense of accomplishment. There is no sense of earning it with a bruised hand or other bodypart. If I ever catch a foul ball, I'll be doing any kids that are near me a favor by not giving them the ball. They'll learn to appreciate it as much as I will when it finally happens. That's how I'm justifying it, anyway.

But I'm left wondering what will happen first - a Cubs World Series or a foul ball being caught by me.


Also, I have to share one other quote from the game last night. I noted that Cotts was warming up in the bullpen to one of my pals, to which he replied, "I wonder who Lou wants him to come in and walk."


nicholas said...

I notice that you didn't include the ball that *I* wheedled Don Zimmer into throwing into the crowd in 1991. If you remember, you shoved me aside and caught the ball. It sounds to me like you're tasting a bit of baseball Karma. Bastard. ;-)

SixRowBrewCo said...

Nick is misremembering the incident a little bit. A) It was Leo Mazzone. B) There was no shoving - I reached out and grabbed it. C) I almost immediately realized the dick move and did offer the ball up, but you refused.

That said, it was still pretty crappy and I'm sure karma or whatever has been punishing me ever since for my youthful indiscretion.

Anonymous said...

I've never gotten a ball either Tim. Probably been to about the same number of games as you. I dropped a homerun ball once though.

nicholas said...

Rashoman, Wrigley-style. In any case, you were pretty eloquent up above on the relative values of the caught ball vs. the handed ball.

I'd like to say I hope you catch a foul ball soon, but I'd rather not jinx (further) their chances of a series title.

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