September 8, 2011
Is it just me, or are all the teams getting very stingy with their baseballs? I have been to approximately 65 games this year so far, and I've noticed a big change in the way teams are conducting their batting practice (BP). The Cincinnati Reds, and most of the NL teams have moved their players farther away from the fans during BP, and are less likely to engage in a friendly chat with a fan or toss up a ball. The players during BP are hitting far fewer BP home run balls into the stands.
As for the AL teams, I have been to a few Cleveland Indians games and a few Tampa Bay Rays games this year, and they are better about the BP experience. The Detroit Tigers however, did not seam to be "fan friendly"at all. They did not throw one ball to a fan that I witnessed at Trop. (BOOOO)!
I guess this should be no surprise to anyone, as a fan in Texas literally DIED for a baseball a month or so ago. And I feel that he has put a "Major League" damper on our sport. I recently had my season ticket representative contact me about my 2011 fan experience, and I gave her an ear full! I explained the sport of ballhawking to her, and how the security guards (NAZIS) are picking up all the "Easter Egg balls" during BP around the ball park, so we can't run for them as we are trapped in the right field bleachers. I told her that the team has moved the players away from the outfield wall and fans during longtoss, and are rarely tossing balls up to fans. She was not aware of the fact that most of the people that attend BP are there to snag a Major league baseball, and she works for a Major League baseball team (and they sell a batting practice tour at GABP)!
She flat out told me that Major League Baseball told them (the Reds) to slow down on having players engage with the fans and toss up balls. She also told me that it was up to the individual coaches or players if they wanted to give out baseballs. I had recently had a few coaches tell me during BP, that they told their players not to toss up balls to the fans; the San Diego Padres are the worst! I had Padres gear on, and the players totally dissed me...and I'm originally from Southern Cal!
Some fans are complaining that the recession is making the teams cheap on baseballs. I can't believe that a multimillion dollar business is worried about a few baseballs, except for maybe the Houston Astros. I THINK THEY ARE WORRIED ABOUT US FALLING OVER THE RAILINGS! Let's band together as a sport/hobby, and complain to our respective teams where needed, and look after the younger ballhawks that might be doing stupid things at the park. Let's wear the right gear to ballhawk in, like tennis shoes instead of flip flops, and be sober, and courteous to the players and the other fans around us.
I know that we can turn this trend back around in our favor if we all pitch in and behave at the ball park. We have about a month left in this season to help make 2012 a better and safer season. Maybe the players and coaches will start tossing us up some more balls again.
Rocco Sinisi is a contributing columnist to myGameBalls.com.