Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Today's "Other" Batting Practice Moment

I shot this video during BP at Fenway on Sunday. It's Astros pitcher Paul Clemens throwing a ball into the stands. And the kids take waaaay too long to retrieve it. Check it out:

I'll set the scene: this unrelated Clemens threw a ball to the crowd early on, and also made himself known as a fun-loving player (things like dropping his glove and sarcastically clapping for the batboy for catching a ball he threw to him), therefore becoming a fan favorite. At one point, some boy scouts halfway up the bleachers get his attention, and he throws the ball up there.

0:05: After a wind-up, he realizes the kid he's aiming for isn't paying attention, so he throws his arms up, as if to say "do you want the ball or not?"

0:10: He's got authorization, so he heaves it. (I love when players throw balls to someone beyond the front row.)

0:14: Ball hits stands (look under the Dunkin' Donuts sign), and bounces way up, and a few rows down. One scout almost gets the rebound but it's just out of his reach. Kid in his party (we'll call him his brother) immediately runs out to aisle to go down a few rows to try and get ball.

0:24: Kids approach ball from all sides as the original scout seems to see ball a few rows below him, and starts directing his brother to where he thinks it is.

0:30: Scout still pointing (as opposed to just climbing over rows to GET THE BALL); brother in area but still not seeing ball; kid in black now climbing over rows, coming from below; second scout over at aisle going up towards the correct row.

0:32: With this ball now in the stands for FIFTEEN seconds already, I pan back to the field, where Clemens is still watching the action.

0:36: Back in the stands, the original scout FINALLY starts climbing over rows. It is my contention that he's seen the ball the whole time and, maybe since the original toss was meant for his brother, has deferred to him, and decided to just direct traffic while assuming no one else will get there first. Now he's realized the brother just isn't seeing it, and other kids are swarming, so he makes his move. His reluctance to climb over rows up until this point may have been due to his diminutive stature, but he's just gotten over his fear by necessity. Let's watch...

0:40: Scout has made it down over three rows, and here we realize the ball was well to his left. It's in his sights...but it's in other peoples' sights, too.

0:41: THE FINAL BATTLE: Let's reset the scene: SCOUT is almost there, he's actively going for the ball. BROTHER (white shirt, possibly original target) is wasted away again in Margaritaville, having been clueless for several seconds. SECOND SCOUT who had come from the aisle has raced along the row from right to left, his sights seemingly on the sphere. And THE BOY IN BLACK, who was seen earlier climbing up over rows is right there in the scrum.

0:42: The ball made first contact with the stands at the 14-second mark. Here we are, nearly THIRTY seconds later, and finally, the snag has been made. And your winner is...THE BOY IN BLACK! He holds the ball up high and runs out to the right to the aisle.

And what a journey it was. Let's go back and look at the path this boy took. As early as 0:14, he can be seen BELOW the tunnel, just standing and looking up the seats. At 0:17 he realizes he might have a slim chance, and he bolts left and then up. He's at the top edge of the tunnel at 0:24, but he pauses here, surveying the damage. As another kid to his left starts climbing over a row, he does the same, probably figuring if he's gonna get beaten on this, it better not be by someone right next to him. He makes great strides from 0:24 - 0:31, climbing five rows in the "seat to seat" fashion, which involves pushing each spring-loaded seat down with your foot as you go. At 0:31, aided by the original scout, he starts moving left while still trying to spot the actual ball. When I pan back to the crowd at 0:36, he's seen climbing some more. Up a few rows, then to the right, at which point there's some controversy: was the ball kicked to the right when everybody converges on it? Either way, he runs even farther to the right, to a point way off from where original scout had been pointing all along, and picks up the ball.

Folks, this was a 28-second, 16-row, mid-section (no aisle used) climb, in traffic, to get a baseball. Let's congratulate BOY IN BLACK. I hope this blog entry finds that kid, whoever he was, and finds him well. I feel a little bad for the original scout and his brother, but when you've got 30 seconds to get a ball that's within a few feet of you, you gotta make it happen.

It's also a lesson. When you're snagging balls, and one is anywhere near you, start moving towards it. You've got nothing to lose. Don't give up until someone else is holding the ball. This kid who got the ball never gave up. But who's gonna get the attention today? Not this kid, but the dimwit reporter who almost got killed by a ball the day before this because she was busy facing away from the field taking a picture of herself in the freakin' power alley while righties were hitting.

I wanted to get in for BP on Sunday but my 2-year-old wasn't complying. We were sitting close to the visitors' bullpen and we went down between innings to have a look at the pitchers at work. Clemens continued to goof around with the watching kids, and my son thought it was brilliant, much more entertaining than a game he could probably barely see...
That's cool. I wonder if you're in any of my pics.

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Location: Rhode Island, United States