Saturday, May 26, 2012

Baseball How To #1

Baseball How To #1: Getting A Ball

Hey guys - I haven't written in a long time, but playing a game every day does put just the slightest damper on my free time; so when I actually get some time for myself I usually just sink into my couch and yell at small children on Xbox Live.

But that is not the case today. I am sitting in the hotel restaurant in Lansing, MI and I have a couple hours before the bus leaves for the field that I plan on filling by entertaining the good people of the internet with what I consider to be humorous writing (I may even teach one or two of you something).

I plan on doing a three part, "Baseball How To" series that will consist of, "How to get a baseball", "How to get ejected" and "How to get free tickets". In my head they will be both informative and funny, but as anyone who has ever envisioned something before can tell you - the idea doesn't always match the reality. But I am in the make-dreams-come-true business, so hopefully I can do a  fair job of putting fingers to keys and cranking these out as close to perfect as I had imagined.


1. "The Old Fashioned"

You guessed it, "the old fashioned" is when you're in the right place at the right time and that magical 6 ounce crystal of leather and red lacing just happens to come close enough to reach out and snag. It's a beautiful moment, and to take advantage you're gonna have to have your eyes open and your hands free. 

If you're half way down either line in the first section of seats, you're in prime foul ball real estate. Wait till a hitter comes up that is facing you (thats a righty for those on the first base line and a lefty for those on the third base line) more often than not, a hitter will hit foul balls the other way into that first section. We call it "spoiling pitches" or "being-really-late-cause-the-pitcher-is-awesome-and-he-owns-you-look-out-for-the-slider-in-the-dirt-you're-out-but-don't-even-know-it-yet". 

Another key to getting a foul ball is paying attention, some of these balls are coming off the bat pretty hot, and if you're tweeting about how good your seats are, you're gonna need to keep that phone out to call the paramedics. 

Finally, watch the bounce, just call a ball lands somewhere else doesn't mean it's next stop isn't in your nachos. When balls hit the roof- they usually come back down. When balls bounce on solid concrete - they're going to travel a long ways. If a ball has more spin than a Russian figure skater - it's gonna hit the ground and redirect like a sidewinder missile. The first bounce doesn't mean the death of a foul ball, usually it means the exact opposite.

2. "Puppy Eyes"

(Yes, the title is puppy eyes and I put a picture of an animated kitten. I see the irony, leave me alone.)

Kids can be super cute, and we're not monsters - if a little kid somehow reminds of a youthful joy that stirred in us when we first set out playing the game, more often than not that kid is getting a baseball. For me, if I see someone being a good dad and holding his kid up to catch a foul ball, I'll take fate out of the equation and make sure that kid goes home happy. If I kid is standing by our bullpen for four innings just watching the game silently and respectfully, that kid is getting a ball from me every time. As a little brother I have a bit of a soft spot for the underdog. 

WARNING - not everyone is cute. Nothing is less interesting than a kid "putting the moves on me" for a ball. Just like bad acting, a kid making fake dough eyes at me is completely uninteresting and unconvincing. I have no patience for an 8 year old trying to outsmart me. I don't care how cute your family thinks you are - that act doesn't play with me, buster, move it along. 

3. "The Magic Word"

PLEASE! Simple manners will get you so far in this world. We are asked for a baseball upwards of 100 times a game and the fact of the matter is we are both not interested, and not capable of giving every person in the park a baseball. I know its your birthday, I know that this is your first game, I know that all your friends have one, I know that you've never seen a baseball before, I know that you're a HUGE Tribe fan (nice Detroit shirt), and I know that you like the "Lake Counties" way better than your home team - I don't care. 

Yelling "Gimme a ball". "Can I get a ball?". "I want a ball." Or my favorite, "BALL BALL BALL BALL!" Is going to piss us off more than anything, then I'll give a ball to the kid right next to you just to make you mad. (Ya, I'm vindictive and petty - so what?)

If a kid comes up to us and asks politely, "Excuse me, may I please have a ball?" 9 times out of 10 he's gonna get one. The balls are free, we can give out a half dozen or so a game, that kid is both respectful and kind - he's a winner. 

P.S. In reference to what I'm assuming is the book cover image I used for this section - unless "The Power of the Magic Word" is about how the little blond kid is getting routinely abused by the rest of his family, they should really rethink the cover art. 

4. "The Shameless"

Yes - groups of attractive women are going to get a ball at a baseball game. Sue us. They will not get one each and can quickly become far more annoying than a horde of screaming children, but cute girls are a guys Achilles Heal. And so, if they can catch, they're going home with a souvenir.

Wish I had more for you on this topic, but it's really quite self explanatory.

5. "Right Place, Right Time"

Sometimes you're gonna catch us on the right day. We're gonna walk past you and see an opportunity to make someones day a little better and take advantage of it. We're human beings, on and off the field, so when we feel a compulsion to brighten the lives of others, we will act on it. Little kids are usually the ones who benefit from these random acts of kindness - I believe it's because we see ourselves or our siblings in them and that makes for a better connection. There isn't a much cooler feeling than putting a baseball in the hands of a toddler, who holds it like a basketball, and watch the rest of the world dissolve away as that pearl becomes his only focus in the universe. 

We are put in a very special situation where we can make people happy simply by extending them the kindness of giving them a piece of the game that we take for granted every day. So every now and again, usually walking off the field after a win, you will get a real prize - a broken bat, a whole bat, a hat, the game ball, who knows? I do know that asking for something will almost surely ruin the chances of you getting anything.

So there you go - a basic outline for getting a ball at a baseball game. In recap, don't lie to us, be polite, use your god given femininity and keep your eye on the ball. 

Other than that - have a safe Memorial Day weekend. It's my little sister's birthday today - she is the lovely age of 19 and is amazing in every way. I will get around to some more of the reader emails I have started getting - Rachel S. was the basis for this series. She asked about ejections a couple of weeks ago, and it got me thinking, and I cooked this up. If you don't already, follow me on Twitter (@C_M_Cook) or email with comments, questions, hate mail, professions of undying love, treasure maps or the numbers for the mega millions at 

Have a great day and GO TRIBE.

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