August 19, 2013
I admit I've been putting off writing this column for at least a week. Fresh off the "DodgerDaniel" controversy, the last thing I wanted to follow it up with another case of bogus ballhawking stats. In reality, another case has been looming for weeks, and honestly I've been hoping it would just go away.
A ballhawk from Cincinnati, "Tman16", has been putting up some really solid numbers. He's recorded 202 balls this year, averaged 5.61 balls per game, recorded 5 double-digit games, snagged a game home run ball, and snagged 12 balls in a single game. Very good stats, up there with some of the best ballhawks on myGameBalls.com.
Problem is, nobody seems to have the slightest clue who this guy is, including the Cincinnati ballhawks. Now that myGameBalls.com has "regulars" at basically every stadium in the league, it's becoming increasingly unlikely that someone can snag 202 baseballs in a season and fly completely under the radar.
Tman16 has recorded balls at five different stadiums on both the East and West coasts, and ballhawks at these stadiums have consistently described his stats as "fishy", "fake", or some less hospitable terms. The Pittsburgh ballhawks have compiled a case against him, citing a variety of inconsistencies and impossibilities in his stats, particularly in his recent visit to Pittsburgh. PNC Park is heavily populated by myGameBalls members on a daily basis so pretty much everything that goes on there from a ballhawking perspective is bound to be witnessed by somebody.
Tman16, like DodgerDaniel, hasn't entered any contact information into myGameBalls.com so my only shot at getting in touch with him is via this column. He clearly frequents the site on a regular basis so there's no doubt he'll read it.
So now I'll speak directly to Tman16. Tman16, right now I am suspending judgement until I hear your side of the story. Please compile evidence and documentation that your stats are legit, preferably with photos, videos, and/or eyewitness testimonies. Email everything to me at admin@myGameBalls.com. And please seek out the regular Cincinnati ballhawks and introduce yourself.
I'll give you until September 1 to compile the evidence, and if I don't hear anything from you by then I'll be forced to delete your account. If you provide the evidence, I'll show it to those who have issued complaints and if they are satisfied with it, this ordeal will be over and you'll continue as a member. If they aren't satisfied, we'll be forced to put your membership status up for a vote.
Lastly, just a quick note to myGameBalls members: I've been getting a lot of suggestions about tightening up membership requirements -- from requiring members to have blogs to requiring members to get approved by local ballhawks. Please continue to send me these suggestions, but be aware that for the time being I'm going to try to stick with the status quo. Three stat controversies over the course of five years is pretty good in my opinion, so if we can continue to keep the controversies to a minimum I think we'll be ok.
But like anything else on the internet, the "trolls" love to wreak havoc. So if the trolls start to take over the site from the "law abiding" members, we'll be forced to make some changes.
Alan Schuster is a contributing columnist to myGameBalls.com.