July 15, 2012
What will you do to protect your streak of snagging a ball in consecutive games? Will you lie? Will you "fudge" the numbers? Will you stay away from day games? Will you throw your body all over the ball park in harms way to obtain that stat ball? Would you jump a kid for a baseball? Will you risk the security guards throwing you out of the park for a baseball? These are just some of the questions you should ask yourself in order to justify keeping your streak alive!
How far would you go to protect your streak, it's a fair question? These are all ethical questions one needs to ask themselves while ball hawking. We are all pretty much on a honor system here on MYGAMEBALLS.COM, but at times people are watching us to see how we record our baseballs. Some of us mature ball hawks are role models for the younger ones. Other hawks are actually watching to see how many balls we come up with at the ball park. They could be jealous of us, or amazed that we actually snag that many balls.
For me personally, I WILL NOT lie! I'm a Christian, and a retired Police Officer, and the number one rule in police work is...DO NOT LIE, especially to the Chief, or you are done in police work! I've had my streak snapped a few times in the past few years. It's not life or death if I don't come home with a baseball from the ball park. I want one every time I go the game, but I'm not going to sully my reputation if I don't get a baseball. Do we "fudge" the numbers a little sometimes, maybe; it is still hard to figure out what should count sometimes. Like, if a fan gives you a ball that you muffed on the fly, and he or she picks it up a few rows away and gives you the ball back because they think you should still have it, because they saw you initially glove the ball and watched another fan knock you in the back to cause you to drop the ball out of your glove (the fan obviously thought that you were WRONGED)...do you accept that ball and/or count that ball? What if that ball was your only ball of the day at B.P., and there was a ga-zillion fans there at the ball park that day, or if it was a play-off game, and you weren't going to sniff another ball that day...do you count that ball? HHMMM, big dilemma, right? I'm sure you could plug in some of your own situations here that you have either seen or experienced.
What about day games? Do you RUN and HIDE from day games, because there will be no B.P. and your streak could be in jeopardy? I like a good day game every now and then. Day games make you have to hustle harder to come up with a baseball. What about rainout days with no BP, or total sellout games where there is a ga-zillion fans in the stands; what will you do to get a baseball? What about hanging out by the dugout to get a baseball. Would you embarrass yourself by taking a ball away from a cute little 7 year old boy or girl? I know that the players will toss up 3rd out balls to adults too, but when you're desperate to get that ball to keep your streak alive, will you jump in front of that group of kids at the dugout for a ball? I watched an adult local ball hawk jump some kids at the dugout once in his eagerness to get a baseball, and he was heckled mercilessly by the players & the fans! The pressure made him have to give the ball back to the kids...it was tough to watch!
Will you pester the 1st or 3rd base coaches all during the game to have them toss you a foul ball, and risk bothering the crap out of the other fans by your actions, and possibly have them call security on you? Will you sit by the bullpens and watch the bullpen sessions all game long and miss watching half the baseball game, and pester the relief pitchers all game long just to get a ball from them to keep your streak alive? Will you run around the stadium looking for that stray ball until you can either glove trick it or have a ball park staff member hopefully toss it up to you? Foul ball hunting, and home run ball chasing during the game is going to be even harder to accomplish to get that stat ball.
What about Umpire balls, will you run down to the dugout area after the game in hopes that a grumpy old Umpire will toss you a baseball? I see these situations all the time at the park: I watched one "goof-ball" adult fan drive the 3rd base coach crazy for a baseball for his kid all game long...the 3rd base coach finally turned around and told him to shut the "blank" up, and to go buy his kid a ball at the pro shop! A quick *TIP* for you ball hawks in reference to day games in case you didn't know; be the first one in the ball park, BRING A CATCHER'S MITT, and head over to watch the pitcher's play "long-toss"!!!
STRESS...ouch! Protecting your streak comes with alot of stress. The "Stress-Monster" will be all over you at the end of BP, and your head will feel like it's going to pop! You will start to get that queasy feeling like you are going to fail that day. The pressure to snag a baseball mounts the longer batting practice goes and you are being shutout! You could start to go into the desperation mode, and do stupid things like I mentioned in the previous paragraph. Quick story: I was feeling the pressure to snag a ball last year, and launched myself over a row of seats at Tropicana Field towards the end of BP to snag a ball which invariably caused me a nice deep gash in my lower right leg (from the screws that hold the seats together) that was bleeding profusely...the cut left a big scar on my leg for almost 6 months too (I did get the ball however). As a good ball hawk, you will have to try and stay COOL, and THINK of better ways to snag a baseball.
As ball hawks, we like to think of ourselves as winners, and good at what we do, but sometimes the situation dictates otherwise. When we are at the park, and having that bad ball hawking day, we just might not get a ball that day; it happens sometimes (oh well...it sucks to be me!). It's not the end of the world, the sun will rise tomorrow! You will just have to start a new streak. Also, I'm not going to tell you that I''m an "Angel", and that I have never done anything stupid or embarassing to get a baseball, because I have (yes, I'm "cracking" on myself here!).
I've done some of these things in the past to keep my streak alive, and I'm not proud of it. Stress will make you do some dumb things! I would rather get my 1st ball out of the way at BP, than to run around the park like a nut just to keep a streak alive. That's why I buy season tickets, and also buy the early batting practice tour everyday at G.A.B.P. Another thing here, I'm not going to BEG for balls anymore! Me, Erik Jabs, and some local ball hawks were having a horrible BP in Cincy a few weeks back, and the Cincinnati Reds were purposely NOT throwing balls to adult fans and only tossing balls to kids, and I had to beg a strength coach to toss me up a ball, so that I wouldn't get shutout...it was embarassing, I had to beg like "a homeless guy downtown trying to get some breakfast money" to get that ball!
I told myself after that, I would never BEG for a baseball like that again! I would rather have my dignity at that point than a baseball! Remember also; the players don't owe us anything, and we might not have a hit ball come anywhere near us that day, the security might be super tight at some ball parks and not allow us to glove trick a ball, the ball park rules could really suck at some parks not letting us move around the stadium very much...then what? Will we take it like a man, or will we do stupid things to get a ball...that is the big question. Like I said earlier, us more mature ball hawks are ROLE MODELS at the ball park for the kids and younger ball hawks, and they will do what they see us do. If you've ever been a parent, you'll know what I mean. My goal here for writing this article is to try and help you stay out of some of these embarrassing situtaions. Don't get me wrong, it's OK to go for Umpire, 3rd out, bullpen balls, etc., but it is when and how you go for them that makes the difference.
So, your streak is yours to protect; what will you do to protect it? How far will you go to get a baseball that day? The choice is yours. Drop me some comments, chime in, I'd like to hear what my fellow ball hawks think about this subject (this is my article for July).
P.S. I really enjoyed coming to BALL HAWK FEST this year at Pittsburgh. I loved that I could watch some of the other ball hawks in action. It was interesting to see how they go about their business, and to also "talk shop" with some of them. We all had a great time too. We were all talking about the same things like, what should count, streaks, glove trick, security, players, toss ups, commemorative balls, etc. These are some things that have been on my mind as the baseball/ball hawking season unfolds. This is what prompted me to write this artice. I like to keep my fellow ball hawks thinking about things. I hope this article helps you out, and also helps us practice good ball hawking etiquette. So, as always... GO HAVE A BALL!
Rocco Sinisi is a contributing columnist to myGameBalls.com.