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(CBS Sports)   MLB fan breaks 1 in a trillion odds by catching four foul balls in one game. On a sad note ... he's a season ticket holder for the Indians   (cbssports.com) divider line 27
    More: Unlikely, Major League Baseball, Indians, foul balls, season tickets, Nice Work, note  
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786 clicks; posted to Sports » on 15 Jul 2013 at 4:46 AM (1 year ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



27 Comments   (+0 »)
   
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2013-07-15 05:38:46 AM
In Cleveland? So he waited until they stopped rolling, walked over a couple of sections, and picked them up?
 
2013-07-15 06:12:39 AM
1 in a trillion odds

[citation needed]

A few dozen fouls per game + pathetically low attendance + sitting in an optimal location in the stands...

I'm guessing 1/100 odds of getting one ball under those circumstances, so probably not much worse than 1/100,000,000 odds of getting 4, or one dude every couple seasons or so.
 
2013-07-15 06:21:13 AM

ChrisDe: In Cleveland? So he waited until they stopped rolling, walked over a couple of sections, and picked them up?


I was actually thinking the same thing.
 
2013-07-15 07:05:24 AM
cdn.fansided.com
 
2013-07-15 07:39:13 AM
Sabremetrics is really taking the fun out of the game.
 
2013-07-15 08:58:08 AM

dookdookdook: 1 in a trillion odds

[citation needed]

A few dozen fouls per game + pathetically low attendance + sitting in an optimal location in the stands...

I'm guessing 1/100 odds of getting one ball under those circumstances, so probably not much worse than 1/100,000,000 odds of getting 4, or one dude every couple seasons or so.


The Cleveland Indians have had a total of just shy of 114,000,000 fans attend their games since 1915 when they became the Cleveland Indians.  So, based on your numbers, one dude every hundred seasons or so.
 
2013-07-15 08:59:34 AM
On a separate note -- It's not sad that the guy was a season ticket holder for the Indians.  The teams's actually rather good this year (at least when they're not playing the Tigers).  What's sad is that there's so few of them.
 
2013-07-15 09:34:14 AM
No Al Bundy pic?
 
2013-07-15 09:55:45 AM
I was at that game yesterday - he was right in the middle of a populated section down low on the third base side.  I only saw him catch three, must have missed one on a beer run.  Two of them bounced off the upper deck and came right to him.  Pays to bring your glove, although it's yet to pay off for me.

/go tribe!
 
2013-07-15 10:00:40 AM

meanmutton: On a separate note -- It's not sad that the guy was a season ticket holder for the Indians.  The teams's actually rather good this year (at least when they're not playing the Tigers).  What's sad is that there's so few of them.


Yup.  As of this morning, BP has them at 32% to make the playoffs, and 23% to make the "real playoffs" (not just the one-game play-in).  That's better than what fans of 18 other teams are looking at.

(Even though they're only 1.5 back of the Tigers, BP looks at strength of schedule, margin of victory, and the underlying stats of players to date to project future performance.  They think Detroit should win the division by 6.)
 
2013-07-15 10:20:08 AM
Were any of those balls worth $1 trillion?
 
2013-07-15 11:29:31 AM
/Came to knock him for being a grown man with a glove at the ballpark, but will leave without being a jerk since he was giving the fouls to kids instead of hoarding them.
 
2013-07-15 11:47:04 AM
CSB: I caught a foul ball, on the fly, at my very first major league game. I was 10 years old.
 
2013-07-15 12:41:16 PM
Trillion to one odds?  Bullshiat.

My daughter and I, between the two of us, actually got 4 foul balls (well, 3 fouls and one that was thrown by a player) in one game, though it was a AAA game, not a major league game.  But there were still about 12,000 to 14,000 in the stands, so it wasn't like I was the only one there.  It was a home game for the Oakland A's AAA affiliate, the Sacramento Rivercats, versus the Giants AAA affiliate, the Fresno Grizzlies.  We were sitting in the 3rd row behind the Grizzlies' dugout, on the first base side, which is major foul ball territory for right-handed hitters.

As Giants fans, we recognized several of the Grizzlies starters from time they spent with the Giants, and when the Grizzlies' second baseman caught a pop-up to end the inning, I told my daughter (who had brought her glove) to wave to him and call him by name and ask for the ball as he trotted back to the dugout.  She did, and hearing his name being called out in a road game, he paid attention and looked over to see who it was, and when he saw my daughter waving for the ball he threw the ball right to her and she caught it.  Ball 1.

The little kid sitting in front of us was sooooo jealous that my daughter got the ball and he didn't.  And it was his birthday, as we had learned earlier because they had run a happy birthday message for him and some other kids on the jumbotron in the previous inning.  Well, about 2 batters later, the batter hit a foul pop-up right to me, and I caught it (I had my glove with me).  Ball 2.  I asked my daughter if it would be OK first and she said yeah, so I tapped the little kid in front of me on the shoulder and when he turned around, I handed him the ball and said "Happy Birthday."  It was worth it to see that kid's face light up like that--the kid was incredibly excited.  But now his little sister was all mad, telling her parents "It's not fair!!" while her parents told her, essentially, those were the breaks, and also don't forget that it's her brother's birthday and not hers.

So an inning later, another pop foul comes right to me, and I caught that one too.  Ball 3.  I gave it to the kid in front of me's little sister, and I'm pretty sure that at this point those two kids were thanking whatever god(s) they prayed to for being at the ballpark that day.

A couple of innings later someone hit another foul about 4 or 5 rows back from us, and a couple of fans tried to barehand it and neither one caught it.  It bounced off their hands and into the row in front of them, then rolled down a couple of rows and stopped right at my feet, where I picked it up.  Ball 4.  I gave that one to my daughter, so she came home with two of them.

Yes, this was uncommon, for sure.  I always bring my glove if I'm sitting in foul ball or home run territory, but I've only caught two other baseballs in all the many, many baseball games I've attended over the years (one foul ball that rolled to me, and one line-drive home run that I caught when everyone near me who didn't have a glove ducked out of the way, both at Candlestick Park in the days the Giants played there), so it was definitely strange to get 4 in one game.  (My daughter has, however, caught a couple of other ones that players tossed to her when she asked for the ball.)  But  trillion-to-one? Yeah, I don't farking think so.

/I know, not really such a CSB
 
2013-07-15 12:50:38 PM

skrame: /Came to knock him for being a grown man with a glove at the ballpark, but will leave without being a jerk since he was giving the fouls to kids instead of hoarding them.


Depending on where you're sitting, you might be an idiot if you don't bring your glove, especially if you bring your kid with you.  On more than one occasion I've seen people, including kids, hit by rocket foul liners that went into the stands, including times when they were carted off by paramedics.  If I'm going to sit somewhere where I, or ever worse my or someone else's kid, could get hit in the head with a line drive (or even a pop-up), I'm bringing my glove, for protection if for no other reason.

Plus, it's fun to catch a ball at a ballpark.  Though you're also correct that any adult male who keeps a foul ball rather than giving it to either the nearest kid or, alternatively if there are no decent kids nearby, the nearest hot female, is kinda farked up and has odd priorities.
 
2013-07-15 12:54:52 PM

The Smails Kid: No Al Bundy pic?


i1182.photobucket.com
 
2013-07-15 01:11:31 PM

Cyberluddite: Trillion to one odds?  Bullshiat.



IdealSeat was contacted by ESPN Stats and Information last night for an estimate of the chances of 4 fouls at one game. Here is our response:
"Down to the odds. In any given game 100 balls are batted and 30 enter the stands. At the average game there are 30,000 fans in attendance so the odds of bringing home a game ball are 1 in 1000.
There are likely locations in the stadium where the odds are higher (this is what the IdealSeat app is collecting info on so we can create Moneyball for fans!) but for simplicity sake let's go with 1:1000.
Then each successive balll would be multiplied by 1:1000 or x=1:10^3×10^3×10^3×10^3 or 1:10^12.
Or one in a trillion."

http://www.idealseatmlb.com/cleveland-fan-catches-four-foul-balls
 
2013-07-15 01:22:16 PM

Principal Clarinet: Cyberluddite: Trillion to one odds?  Bullshiat.


IdealSeat was contacted by ESPN Stats and Information last night for an estimate of the chances of 4 fouls at one game. Here is our response:
"Down to the odds. In any given game 100 balls are batted and 30 enter the stands. At the average game there are 30,000 fans in attendance so the odds of bringing home a game ball are 1 in 1000.
There are likely locations in the stadium where the odds are higher (this is what the IdealSeat app is collecting info on so we can create Moneyball for fans!) but for simplicity sake let's go with 1:1000.
Then each successive balll would be multiplied by 1:1000 or x=1:10^3×10^3×10^3×10^3 or 1:10^12.
Or one in a trillion."

http://www.idealseatmlb.com/cleveland-fan-catches-four-foul-balls


It's still bullshiat.  The odds are almost directly related to where you're sitting (and, of course, how many other fans are sitting around you--if a section is half-full, that would have to double your odds).  And I guarantee that there are seats where the odds of getting a foul ball are significantly greater than what they assume.
 
2013-07-15 01:28:44 PM
There's nothing wrong with keeping a ball, you're only a jerk if you're stampeding over seats or pushing people aside to get it.
 
2013-07-15 02:39:01 PM

Cyberluddite: skrame: /Came to knock him for being a grown man with a glove at the ballpark, but will leave without being a jerk since he was giving the fouls to kids instead of hoarding them.

Depending on where you're sitting, you might be an idiot if you don't bring your glove, especially if you bring your kid with you.  On more than one occasion I've seen people, including kids, hit by rocket foul liners that went into the stands, including times when they were carted off by paramedics.  If I'm going to sit somewhere where I, or ever worse my or someone else's kid, could get hit in the head with a line drive (or even a pop-up), I'm bringing my glove, for protection if for no other reason.

Plus, it's fun to catch a ball at a ballpark.  Though you're also correct that any adult male who keeps a foul ball rather than giving it to either the nearest kid or, alternatively if there are no decent kids nearby, the nearest hot female, is kinda farked up and has odd priorities.


This is all true and I don't argue with anything you say.. except: That ball that you mention possibly hitting you or a kid in the head would have been stopped by a bare hand if possible; if the person is getting hit in the head by a rocket a glove probably wouldn't have helped.
 
2013-07-15 02:58:54 PM

skrame: /Came to knock him for being a grown man with a glove at the ballpark, but will leave without being a jerk since he was giving the fouls to kids instead of hoarding them.


I was in the front row at Comerica Park (Tigers' home field) right behind the bullpen in left field.  A homerun hit me in the hands.  The damn thing came in and out so fast I had no chance to grab it.  Instead some 20 year old napped it about 50 feet away.  Thankfully, I had a fresh, cold beer to ice it down but it swelled like you wouldn't believe.

Anyway, the point is -- I totally understand the guys who bring gloves to the game.
 
2013-07-15 03:00:23 PM

Cyberluddite: Principal Clarinet: Cyberluddite: Trillion to one odds?  Bullshiat.


IdealSeat was contacted by ESPN Stats and Information last night for an estimate of the chances of 4 fouls at one game. Here is our response:
"Down to the odds. In any given game 100 balls are batted and 30 enter the stands. At the average game there are 30,000 fans in attendance so the odds of bringing home a game ball are 1 in 1000.
There are likely locations in the stadium where the odds are higher (this is what the IdealSeat app is collecting info on so we can create Moneyball for fans!) but for simplicity sake let's go with 1:1000.
Then each successive balll would be multiplied by 1:1000 or x=1:10^3×10^3×10^3×10^3 or 1:10^12.
Or one in a trillion."

http://www.idealseatmlb.com/cleveland-fan-catches-four-foul-balls

It's still bullshiat.  The odds are almost directly related to where you're sitting (and, of course, how many other fans are sitting around you--if a section is half-full, that would have to double your odds).  And I guarantee that there are seats where the odds of getting a foul ball are significantly greater than what they assume.


Plus, it's Cleveland.  They're drawing 18,792 total fans per game, not 30,000.  Changing the odds from 30:30,000 to 30:18,792 drops the chances of getting four foul balls by a factor of ~6 to (roughly) one in 150 billion.  It's even higher (1 in 70 billion) at a sparsely attended game like the one in question, with only 15,432 in the seats.

Now, let's remember that many fans are extremely unlikely to catch any baseball during a game:
- In 2013, there have been 2804 HR in MLB 1414 games, or just about two per game.  So (neglecting ground-rule doubles and outfielders tossing third outs into the stands), 28 of those get split up among only those fans in foul territory.
- You'll also have to remove the fans who are protected by the netting behind home plate.
- And the fans in box seats.
- And the seats that got sold, but the occupant didn't show up, left early, is in the bathroom, or grabbing a hot dog.
- Finally, not every fan even tries to catch a baseball.  Small children, little old ladies, and the terminally uncoordinated are ducking and covering.

Finally, the odds above are the odds of one specific fan, chosen in advance, catching 4 foul balls during a game.  The chances of any fan catching 4 foul balls are roughly the sum of those odds.

Overall, it's not that surprising that it happened, especially given ~2,430 games per year.  If you pick a poorly-attended game, buy a good seat, pack a mitt, show up on time, and stay for the full game, your odds are much better.  IdealSeat doesn't exactly fill me with confidence that their prediction model is going to lets fans "Moneyball" their way into a hatful of foul balls.

(I'm doing a lot of math shortcuts above... neglecting the chances of catching more than 4, two fans each getting 4, etc.  But given the long odds, the exact output from a binomial distribution will be similar and I don't care to do the math.)
 
2013-07-15 03:01:18 PM

Cyberluddite: It's still bullshiat.  The odds are almost directly related to where you're sitting (and, of course, how many other fans are sitting around you--if a section is half-full, that would have to double your odds).  And I guarantee that there are seats where the odds of getting a foul ball are significantly greater than what they assume.


This. You can't just pull out average players in attendance at a game vs number of balls hit to the stands in general...that would be something middle school students would do, but not actual statisticians.
 
2013-07-15 03:50:56 PM
The only ball I've ever gotten at a game was thrown to me by Gates Brown of the Tigers. That must have been 45 years ago. I threw a bag of peanuts to him in the bullpen.
 
2013-07-15 04:27:16 PM

Lt. Cheese Weasel: The only ball I've ever gotten at a game was thrown to me by Gates Brown of the Tigers. That must have been 45 years ago. I threw a bag of peanuts to him in the bullpen.


When I was a kid, he autographed my program (or scorecard, maybe) after batting practice before a game at Tiger Stadium (though I have no idea what ever became of that program).  I remember that the dude was huuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuge in person.  I mean, he looked huge enough on TV, but to me, as a little kid, he looked like he was roughly the size of a Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade balloon character seeing him in person, up close.
 
2013-07-15 04:36:17 PM

chimp_ninja: Cyberluddite: Principal Clarinet: Cyberluddite: Trillion to one odds?  Bullshiat.


IdealSeat was contacted by ESPN Stats and Information last night for an estimate of the chances of 4 fouls at one game. Here is our response:
"Down to the odds. In any given game 100 balls are batted and 30 enter the stands. At the average game there are 30,000 fans in attendance so the odds of bringing home a game ball are 1 in 1000.
There are likely locations in the stadium where the odds are higher (this is what the IdealSeat app is collecting info on so we can create Moneyball for fans!) but for simplicity sake let's go with 1:1000.
Then each successive balll would be multiplied by 1:1000 or x=1:10^3×10^3×10^3×10^3 or 1:10^12.
Or one in a trillion."

http://www.idealseatmlb.com/cleveland-fan-catches-four-foul-balls

It's still bullshiat.  The odds are almost directly related to where you're sitting (and, of course, how many other fans are sitting around you--if a section is half-full, that would have to double your odds).  And I guarantee that there are seats where the odds of getting a foul ball are significantly greater than what they assume.

Plus, it's Cleveland.  They're drawing 18,792 total fans per game, not 30,000.  Changing the odds from 30:30,000 to 30:18,792 drops the chances of getting four foul balls by a factor of ~6 to (roughly) one in 150 billion.  It's even higher (1 in 70 billion) at a sparsely attended game like the one in question, with only 15,432 in the seats.

Now, let's remember that many fans are extremely unlikely to catch any baseball during a game:
- In 2013, there have been 2804 HR in MLB 1414 games, or just about two per game.  So (neglecting ground-rule doubles and outfielders tossing third outs into the stands), 28 of those get split up among only those fans in foul territory.
- You'll also have to remove the fans who are protected by the netting behind home plate.
- And the fans in box seats.
- And the seats that got sold, but the occupant didn't ...


And you're leaving out a lot of seats. There will be entire sections toward the back of lower-deck grandstands where the trajectory is nearly impossible because of the overhang from the upper deck. The Uecker seats in foul ground down the lines, pretty much forget it. The section below the scoreboard at Wrigley might not get one ball in ten years, like a lot of outfield sections that would take historic blasts to reach. And so on.
 
2013-07-15 04:38:00 PM

Principal Clarinet: At the average game there are 30,000 fans in attendance so the odds of bringing home a game ball are 1 in 1000.


yeah, but we are talking about Cleveland here.
 
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