Author Archives: FoulBallzEd

Fan Stories: 10 Questions for Baseball Washington Nationals Uber-Fan Bruno Caretti (a.k.a. The Rally Mullet)

For the next few weeks, FoulBallz.com will include a series of short interviews with ballhawks and uber-fans of baseball. These fans all agreed to answer 10 simple questions, no pressure, and very little editing. It’s been a wonderful experience for me to get to know these individuals in some capacity through Twitter. I hope you enjoy reading the answers as much as I have.

Next up is Bruno Caretti. He’s best known at “The Rally Mullet-super fan of Anthony Rendon of the Washington Nationals.” You can follow him on Twitter at @TheRallyMullet or visit his blog at therallymulletblog.wordpress.com.

  1. When did you snag your first ball?

I have gotten a couple batting practice balls but that’s wasn’t my goal. getting a live ball during a game by a batter was my goal. and it was June 18, 2014. Nats vs Astros. I was sitting first row 3rd base line, and low and behold Anthony Rendon was up. He hit a ground ball down the 3rd base foul territory line at Nats Park and I scooped it up off the ground with my glove. It felt he did it on purpose.

  1. What do you think about the extended netting issue?

As much as I think this happens way to often [fans getting hit by foul balls] because fans aren’t paying attention, I do think having extra netting in the ball park is a good idea. Honestly though, if you aren’t paying attention and a ball hits you square in the face then I don’t know what to tell you. Don’t go to games I guess?

 

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Ed Comber (VP Of The BBBA/Owner – foulballz.com)  

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Fan Stories: 10 Questions for Baseball Uber-Fan Mike Dies (President, West Akron Baseball & Softball League)

For the next few weeks, FoulBallz.com will include a series of short interviews with ballhawks and uber-fans of baseball. These fans all agreed to answer 10 simple questions, no pressure, and very little editing. It’s been a wonderful experience for me to get to know these individuals in some capacity through Twitter. I hope you enjoy reading the answers as much as I have.

First up is Mike Dies, President, West Akron Baseball & Softball League (www.wabl.org and www.facebook.com/westakronbaseball).

1) When did you snag your first ball? 

After going to many games at an empty Cleveland Municipal Stadium as a kid, and lots of games at Jacobs Field when the Old Stadium closed, my first foul ball came in 1997 at Canal Park in Akron. I was walking in the concourse and caught it on one bounce.

2) What do you think about the extended netting issue?

I am all for it. I would like to see the netting extended to the end of each dugout. I would like MLB to be proactive in protecting the fans before someone is killed by a foul ball at a game. I understand that paying attention is 99.9% of it for the fans but it is not realistic to think that fans will sit and watch baseball for 3+ hours and not let their eyes wander from the action … especially with all of the distractions that the MLB clubs have created in the stadium. Attending baseball games today is nothing like attending games 10-15 years ago.

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Ed Comber (VP Of The BBBA/Owner – foulballz.com)  

Trimming the Fat: Major League Baseball Can Fix Pace-of-Play, Ineffective Bullpens and Revenue Issues with One Simple Change

We hear a lot about length of game and payrolls, and the need for fixing MLB pace-of-game. To the point John Lackey in August states baseball’s getting “soft”. I can’t argue with that. It is; snd part of the issue is the widespread use of the bullpen. 30 years ago, starters were throwing 120 or more pitches during a game. The logic was simple: They are the start, so the onus is on them. This logic, this mentality, gave us great hurlers like Nolan Ryan and Jack Morris, guys who often went beyond 120 pitches and lead Major League Baseball in pitches, complete games and a slew of other records. They were hard and gritty. But the game is getting “soft” as Lackey points out.

20160617_191520 - CopyWe now get to see the arbitrary pitch count grow. Every network showing Major League Baseball games has a pitch count somewhere. Every stadium advertises the pitch count. It’s become a staple for predicting when a pitching change will occur. We’d see a softening of the game on pitchers. Baseball has created an arbitrary number, the century mark, as the delineating point between continuing to pitch and stopping.

I still recall Jim Leyland and Brad Ausmus taking out starters who were into the 8th inning, even the 9th inning, because they hit 100-110 pitches. Then seeing the bullpen choke up the game.  Tigers fans are still smarting from the 2013 ALCS Game 2 debacle caused by Jim Leyland. Ironman Max Scherzer had 108 pitches through the 7th inning. He had a lead of 5-1 over the Red Sox. Jim removed Max, much to the astonishment of fans. Had it been Verlander, he’d have kept him in. The result was catastrophic. The Tigers bullpen choked up five runs in only two innings, and wound up losing 6-5. Ausmus pulled the same stunt on Scherzer in 2014 during the ALDS Game 1 against teh Baltimore Orioles. With Max at 98 pitches after 7.1 innings Ausmus yanked him. Granted, Max was credited with giving up five runs, but he wasn’t given the opportunity to redeem himself as he’s so great at doing. He’s a clutch pitcher. The result of being pulled? The Orioles buried the bullpen, scoring seven runs beyond the five Scherzer gave up. Essentially, by pulling Max at 98 pitches, Ausmus guaranteed the loss, relying on three relievers over 2-2/3rds innings. Instead of a two-run game, it became a blowout.

Stories like these are common throughout baseball. Coaches are so stuck on 100 pitches they no longer thing in terms of the big picture.  

BULLPEN PITCHERS OVERPAID AND INEFFECTIVE

 

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Ed Comber (VP Of The BBBA/Owner – foulballz.com)  

Major League Baseball Fan Foul Ball Fatalities in Context: Soccer, Tour de France and Racing FAR More Dangerous to Fans than Foul Balls

a foulballzAfter Andy Zlotnick commented on my Twitter feed and compared baseball to the X-Games and “Reality TV”, as he did in the HBO Real Sports episode I discussed in an earlier two posts (PART I and PART II), I started to wonder if baseball really is as dangerous to spectators and players as people keep claiming. The counterargument is predicated on the idea that 1750 fans are injured every year at Major League Baseball games. That’s the number Bryant Gumbel indicated in Real Sports and it’s the number a lot of others also misrepresent. They assume that is the number of fans hit by balls and bats each season. It’s actually the number of fans injured in relation to a ball or bat. That is, fans often injure themselves going for a ball or ducking out of the way of an errant bat.

All this got me to wondering. As it turns out baseball is one of the safest for spectators and participants. With a rounded up number of 2000 fans injured in relation to a foul ball or bat, and considering one fan in 100+ years has died, I started looking at other fan fatalities in other sports.

THE DEADLIEST SPORTS

Soccer is by far the most deadly professional sport. It has riots. Over 800 people have died over the last 20 years as a result of hatred between fans who’ve gone on to pummel one another to death after a match. Baseball fans tend to riot only when their team wins the World Series, and while a few fans have died as a result of riots, we don’t come close to 800 deaths.

READ MORE AT FOULBALLZ.com

Ed Comber (VP Of The BBBA/Owner – foulballz.com)  

From Royals to Monarchs: Kansas City and Baseball Majestry

Last season I visited Kauffman in Kansas City while at a “real life” work event. During that trip, there were a number of issues I ran into with fans and the park itself. I also revisited the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum for the third or fourth time.

Kauffman and the Royal (Pain) Fans 2015 to Now

20160617_191523 - CopyIn 2015, Royals fans were horribly rude to me. Arrogant, in fact. I assumed this arrogance was due to the team doing so well. But that doesn’t excuse rudeness.

I sat in the right field seats near the foul pole. The section numbering can be a bit confusing, and I ended up in the wrong seats. The last time that happened to me, the people were very nice, and laughed saying it wasn’t any big deal.

But last season in KC I was literally told I was an idiot as they pointed out my seat—which wasn’t as good as the “View from the Seats” feature led me to believe.

I had enjoyed the Royals HoF museum that season, but that’s about all I enjoyed.

This season, being back in the city again for work, I went to another game. I figured I owed the stadium another look.

This time, I enjoyed it again, getting to see the World Series trophy. The museum was crowded and very warm, but the air of excitement and awe was nice to feel.

At the June 2016 game I bought my Royals tickets and sat in the middle decks. I was under an overhang and in the middle of a row. And I had a great view of the diamond. And the horrible extended netting obstruction.

 

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Ed Comber (VP Of The BBBA/Owner – foulballz.com)  

Seeing the Seawolves: About Jerry Uht Park and Meeting Eric Brookhouser

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We started our family vacation in early July by going to the Erie Seawolves game on July 2. The game, against the Akron Rubberducks, was a night game with fireworks.

I was excited to see the Seawolves. As a devout and lifelong Detroit Tigers fan, my goal in life is to see every team in the Tigers system at least once, and at their home park. Erie was on our way to Toronto for the July 7 game with the Tigers, so we popped in to Jerry Uht Park.

I’d mentioned on Twitter that I’d been attending and I discovered how absolutely phenomenal the Seawolves’ social media machine is. The person managing the team’s Twitter account “liked” and “retweeted” tweets within a few hours.

It was an amazing act that few Major League Baseball teams do. It set the tenor for what would turn out to be one of my best experiences at a Minor League or Major League baseball game.

The park is simple. It’s what one expects from a AA affiliate. No frills and every seat is a great one. But what I did notice was how prominent their signage is regarding the dangers of foul balls. Good for them!

As I usually do, I sit my family in the outfield box seats, some of the safest and closest seats to the field. Those who follow me on Twitter and read my work here are all very much aware of my 20160702_183656feelings regarding these “hero” parents who sit with their kids in the most dangerous areas and snag a foul ball while holding their kid. I practice what I preach.
I’d bought first row seats a bit closer than usual, but still in an area we could easily manage any fouls that came our way.

Once the game started, I began coaching my 9-year-old daughter on the probable locations of foul balls. One can never be too young to understand the dangers of these souvenirs. It is especially fitting since dad runs the only site dedicated to studying and discussing them.

 

Meeting Seawolves Superfan Eric Brookhouser

 

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Ed Comber (VP Of The BBBA/Owner – foulballz.com)  

Toronto Blue Jays: Fans Like No Other

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Toronto is a beautiful large city, and their team, the Toronto Blue Jays play in a great park. The city has its fair share of pollution, a haze hovering over the city, but it’s an eclectic mix of pretty much everything and every type of person.

There are unique neighborhoods and great shopping—like along “The Path” in downtown Toronto.

20160707_175918It’s also home, as every Major League Baseball fan knows, to the Blue Jays who play in Rogers Centre.

I love visiting new parks. It gives me a nice idea of the true layout of the park and how likely foul balls are to go into certain sections. A seating chart only shows you where sections are. It doesn’t give you a clear indication of how much foul territory there is or distance from home the dugouts are (the areas to which most foul balls fly).

This trip offered me a first-hand understanding of where fouls go the most, at least in this one game.

Parking and Entering

If you go to Rogers Centre, note there is no central parking of any kind. You’ll need to locate a municipal parking area near the park. There are plenty. The one we parked in was $25 CAN (roughly $20 USD based on current exchange rates) and was about half a block from Wayne Gretzky’s restaurant and Walburgers. It was about a three block walk.

 

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Ed Comber (VP Of The BBBA/Owner – foulballz.com)  

Foul Call: Jim Joyce Ruling Exposes Flaw in Major League Baseball Umpire Judgment Calls

I am not at all a fan of  many Major League Baseball umpires. I especially dislike Jim Joyce and would love to see him leave the game. I’m a lifelong Tigers fan and the image of him blowing a call that cost Tigers starter Armando Galarraga his perfect game is still very fresh in my memory. So when he makes a foul call, I tend to jump all over him.

September 2016 gave me another reason to dislike Joyce. I fell for a “foul ball” call by Joyce. Joyce, behind the dish during a Houston Astros – Cleveland Indians game was brutally maligned on Twitter for a wild pitch call during a Lonnie Chisenhall at-bat. People, including well-respected reporters all jumped on the “Bash Joyce” bandwagon. I am embarrassed to admit my own distaste for the man colored my response too…until I went to the official Major League Baseball rule book. Then I changed my mind. Kind of.

It was on September 7, 2016.

This is the play that awaken the disdain:

 

Houston Astros hurler David Paulino threw a pitch into the dirt. The ball hit about a foot in front of the plate and bounced up. Chisenhall, the Indians’ batter, checked his swing and the ball caromed off to the left of the catcher.

 

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My Baseball Memories: The Birth of a Ballhawk

The feeling of watching a baseball game at the ballpark is something like no other. When at home, watching on television there is a certain separation between you and the players, the team and the game itself. But in the ballpark, all of that changes. Just a few feet from you they are playing catch, stretching and warming up. Then they play the game. You might be right there, close enough to smell the pine tar and touch the dirt but there is still a boundary between the fan and the player. There is only one thing that crosses that barrier.

The baseball.

The experience of a player throwing you a ball or hitting one to you is a feeling like no other, as you now have a souvenir forever and even to pass on to your kids as time goes on. The boundary is broken for a split second, but that split second for the player, is an eternity for the fan as forever you have that connection with the player, a story to tell, a cool item to show and display.

EVERY BALL HAS A STORY

I am now what you would call a Ballhawk: a person who chase this feeling every single game, and multiple times a game by catching as many baseballs at major, and minor league games as they can. The stories one can have are endless. The connections branching out real far, even to the point of making friends with players. I feel it is almost a sharing of happiness, they throw you a ball and make you smile, and you tell them something witty or give them some encouragement to make them smile and I love that feeling, and many others do too. I have lots of these little connections now, and every one I cherish and no two are alike.

Every ball I have has a story. At first, I didn’t try recording the story somewhere to remember it but eventually I realized it would be a good idea to keep track of which ball is which and the player that gave me that ball, and I do that at a nifty site called MyGameBalls.com. But there are other ways too.

 

 

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Ed Comber (VP Of The BBBA/Owner – foulballz.com)  

MLB Foul Ball Week in Review (September 19 – September 25): Running the Mile, Gloves and a WAG Snag

The MLB foul ball week in review shows that Major League Baseball ended the week of September 19 – September 25, 2016 with about 164 Foul Ball Facials in 168 days of games. These are only those fans hit in the head area at Major League Baseball games as self-reported on Twitter. That equates to one fan per day of play. It seems like a lot, and it is, but it could be fewer because just over 40% of these tweets indicate the fan wasn’t paying attention. To put that into perspective, it means roughly 45 fans (conservative estimate) would have avoided foul balls to the face had they not been buried in their phones.

But that’s not the only thing going on with foul balls this week. Here’s the rundown of the best and worst foul ball and fan-related actions from the past week…it was also a very slow week:

FLASHING YOUNGSTER FLASHES GLOVE

So many people assert there’s no time to react to a baseball hit at them. Granted, this one did bounce, but it was still going at a good speed. This young man saved the fan next to him. And that guy covered his face with his arms. Plenty of reaction time since both were paying attention.

RUNNING THE MILE IN…

Did you catch this Eduardo Munez catch? The guy hauled it from 3B to snag a ball Buster Posey lost in the lights. Amazing.

 

READ THE REST AT FoulBallz.com

 

Ed Comber (VP Of The BBBA/Owner – foulballz.com)  

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