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A View From Deep Left

How Many Balls Did We Leave at the Park?

Just like a sports team, they always say; "how many PLAYS did we leave on the field", when they screwed up to loose the game; and they could of used those plays to win the game. As ball hawks, how many BALLS did we leave at the park? How many balls did we not glove, not ask for, not glove trick, or plan for? How did this happen, and what was the cause of this? Was this occurrence, because of us, the security personnel, or bad equipment that we where using? Was it because we were tired, rushed, or too excited? I say for me, it is all of thee above! How many more balls would we have in our collections if we just slowed down and took a few extra steps towards succsess!

Success does not come by accident. By now I have a pretty good plan about how I want to attack the ball park to snag my few precious baseballs! We have to make a plan of attack if we want to achieve our objective of snagging baseballs.. In my last article I explained what it takes to be an extreme ball hawk, this is also another step towards that process. A plan of attack is a great first step towards succsess, but as they say, "the best laid plans can go a-muck". I always try and implement my plan, but I must adjust my plan to the ball hawking opportunities that present themselves at the time while I'm hawking. Some times this works, and sometimes I make big mistakes. We all try to be the first guy in the park, get to our "Hot Spot", look for "easter eggs" along the way, size up our competition, check out the players on the field to see who is "toss up friendly" and stand close to them, look for some glove trick possibilities as soon as we get in the park, etc., etc. Most of our initial plans probably go like this for approximately the first 10 minutes in the ole' ball park, until we see that superstar player we want to talk to, or get an autograph from, or see too many security guards milling around in one spot, etc.; then we have to adjust our strategy, or plan of attack.

What happens with me personally, is that I'm very out going and excitable! I'm Italian American, it's in my nature! I get a kick out of having conversations with the big league players ( I NEVER heckle them!!! It's Disrespectful, and I respect what it took for them to get were they are), and I get very EXCITED just to be in the ball park having a great time and getting a chance to chase after BASEBALLS!!! This can lead to me not implementing my plan to its' fullest extent sometimes, or paying attention to other snag opportunities around me. I'll miss and easter egg or two, and watch some other fan snatch it up...this burns my butt! I'm glad though when it's a fellow ball hawk that finds the ball, because I know it's a "stat" for him or her, and they will really cherish the ball. When I'm in the stands at B.P., the blood rushes through my body, I feel so alive and I get filled with such excitement, I feel like one of the players shagging balls...it's an awesome feeling! I feel like all my pain and problems go away for a few hours! I get excited to catch that home run ball or challenge the security guards for a glove trick ball...It's a "natural-high", I don't need drugs...I need baseballs! Getting too excited though can make you loose your focus, and miss out on snag opportunities! You can start to get tunnel vision on one task like player toss ups, when there are power lefties up to bat and you should be shagging home run balls.

I loose some balls at the park to DISTRACTION! I always seem to be looking at something I shouldn't be every once in a while instead of concentrating on the batters in the batters box!!! During BP, I'll look over at fellow ball hawks shagging, I'll check out the other sections to see the ball hawking possibilities, I'm keepng my eyes on the security personnel. At times I'm paying attention to the "Mini-Hawks" to make sure I don't jump them, or run them over! Other times, I'm just watching the mini-hawks having fun and being 9 years old, and dreaming of days gone by! You also, have to watchout at G.A.B.P. for the steep steps, and railings to navigate around...this can put you out of possition to catch that home run ball that you've been waiting all B.P. for. When I go to the ball park, I usually bring my wife, and she sometimes winds up asking me questions during B.P. like "who's up to bat", "who's that player", or "did you see that"? Some times I have to stop shagging for a minute to answer her questions, or to give my wife a ball or two to put in my backpack for me that I've been carrying around in my cargo pockets, and sometimes my fellow ball hawks will ask me a question, like "who hit that ball"...all these situations take your eyes off the ball and are distracting!

What about the balls we didn't get because we are to shy, or we didn't take a chance?! I watch so many hawks "CLAM-UP" when a Major Leauge ball player has a ball in his hand or glove and comes close to the out field wall. People what are you afraid of, being dissed by a 25 year old ball player...really?! Ask for the ball...It's ok, he's not going to bite your head off. The little kids aren't afraid of the players...it's the adult ball hawks that get all scared. The kids have more guts & moxy than the adults sometimes. Is it the fear of rejection, or looking silly that gets you to clam up? It's like watching a guy tying to pick up girls at a night club...they want to dance with the girl, but they just can't get the words out to ask them to dance. How many more balls would you have if you were a little more assertive? Nothing in life is free...you have to WORK to get these balls, or go BUY them in the pro shop, it's that simple. I always hear some hawk say; I don't ask the players for balls, I catch my baseballs...you are full of crap! You know you want those baseballs, but are just too afraid to go ASK for them. What happens when there is a wimpy team up to bat in B.P. that dosen't have any power hitters, and you DON'T catch your baseball...then what; I guess you are going home empty handed, and your streak will be in jepardy. If you have a "tool" in the "tool box" to help you get a job done, why wouldn't you use it? Your ability to ASK for a baseball is a tool that you have to GET a baseball...use it! What about glove trick balls, do you have the GUTS to test the security personnel?

Another thing I see at the ball bark is ball hawks bringing old "worn out" baseball gloves to the ball park! I mean, I know there is this love afair with your old trusty baseball glove that you've had since your little league days back in 1965, but if it HURTS your chances of snagging a Major League Baseball, don't you think you ought to retired that old salty glove? I see tons of people bringing these old worn out baseball gloves to the ball park, then get the chance to snag a home run ball or foul ball , and the ball just squirts right out of their glove. This drives me crazy! It's like trying to run a 25 mile marathon with an old pair of 1970 sneakers, or drive a NSCAR race with a Volkswagen Beatle! Get some good gear to snag balls with!!! Start with your GLOVE! You must drop $200.00 on a good glove if you're going to be a successful ball hawk in my opinion. Think about it for a minute; you're spending big money to drive to the park, pay for parking, buy tickets & food, and then bring a crappy glove to the game and hope to snag a ball? I know that some of you "Super Hawks" can get away with this, but most hawks can't. All the players that I ask about their baseball gloves tell me that they get a NEW glove every year! While they are using this years glove, they're breaking in next years glove. MLB players' careers depend on having "sweet leather". Bronson Arroyo is the only player that told me that he's had the same glove & cleats since 2002, and that NIKE actually gets mad at him because they want him to use their new products. Again, I am "military minded", if a piece of gear is not functioning properly, we in the military will take if back to C.I.F. (Central Issue Facility) and get a new one! When your life is on the line, there is no time to worry about your gear, so when Baseballs are on the line, there should be no time to worry about your glove!

These are just a few examples of things that can cost us a baseball. I know you can probably come up with some of your own. This article is meant to motivate you; I'm trying to get you to go past your comfort zone and get shagging!!! I'm at the park alot, and I see alot of mistakes made by good ball hawks. Hell, I make them all the time too. I have to constantly remind myself to slow down, focus, and not be an idiot. Most of these things are things we can fix to help us get MORE BALLS! So go out there and "have a Ball"...I will!

Rocco Sinisi is a contributing columnist to myGameBalls.com.

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