Ladies and Gentlemen, boys and girls, I hereby present your third annual Pirates awards.
1. Evan Meek- The best of the bullpen
2.Neil Walker- Most consistent Pirates rookie
3. Pedro Alvarez- Best power hitter
4. Andrew McCutchen- Pirates dubbed him team MVP but did I?
The winner: It has to be Neil Walker. Aki Iwamura was a big time crash and burn and at Spring Training, Pirates GM Neal Huntington didn’t even consider Neil Walker to be a part of the Major League team. Walker then started to learn the second base position and sure enough he replaced Iwamura and was much more effective. His high average as well in general as well as against lefties were big time surprises.
1. Charlie Morton- Expected to be a breakout star, Morton was a big time bust. Double digit losses and not even 5 wins.
2. Aki Iwamura-… and Oakland signed him?
3. Andy LaRoche- Had a chance to make a impact and keep starting spot but failed.
4. Ryan Doumit- He can’t even throw out a runner.
The winner?: I don’t even know who to pick but I guess I go with Andy LaRoche because he has a simple task, play a good third base and you can stay. He could not do that. At least Morton had a good September. LaRoche is playing Winter Ball for a reason
1. Evan Meek- Injury didn’t stop the former Rule 5 pick
2. Neil Walker- out of the Pirates eyes to into the everyday lineup
3. Joel Hanrahan- Nationals fools gold to Pirates treasure
The winner: I have to give it to Evan Meek and not because he is my buddy. Meek went from a Rule 5 selection to an All-Star selection in just a couple of years. That tells me a lot about his work ethic. He kept the ERA under one for a while and his stuff was devastating. He mixed his pitches and the Pirates had the confidence to send him out time after time.
1. Neil Walker’s 1st home run: The Pittsburgh Kid got his year started hitting the go ahead home run in the Pirates 3-2 win over the Chicago Cubs.
2. Lastings Milledge catch vs San Francisco Giants: It’s the top of the ninth and the Pirates are winning. The Giants have loaded the bases. One hit and the game is tied, but Milledge makes a spectacular diving catch to rob Freddy Sanchez and the Pirates win.
3. Pedro Alvarez walk off vs Colorado Rockies: The Pirates go to the extra innings tied against the Rockies on a Skyblast night. One swing changes that.
The winner: Tough call but I’ll take the Alvarez shot. Todd Helton had smashed a two-run home run in the tenth inning to give the Rockies a two run lead. Garrett Jones then got a hard earned walk to put two people on base. Alvarez then came up and who can forget the radio call with Greg Brown and the very excited (and perhaps too excited) Steve Blass.
1. Pirates lose 20-0 vs Brewers: Happy Earth Day!
2. Any Morton outing not in September: Yeah, one win before September.
3. The Pirates on the road: 16 wins before the Marlins series. Thats terrible so that counts.
The winner?: I’ll give it to the Pirates on the road. I mean the team has won 16 games on the road enough said.
Best midseason acquisition:
1. Chris Snyder- Not the greatest offensively and apparently can’t catch a throw from Ronny Cedeno but he has instilled the confidence in Charlie Morton to pitch.
2. James McDonald- Easily the best pitcher for us since the trade deadline. I hope that finger gets well soon, or else next season is going to be another long one.
3. Andrew Lambo- Hit pretty solidly for our Minor League team and helped make the Dotel for McDonald and Lambo become an even more lopsided trade.
The winner: Easily James McDonald.
Worst September call up:
1. Brandon Moss- Tore up AAA but I believe that before the Marlins series had only 1 hit.
2. Pedro Ciriaco- Sure he is 1 for 2 at the plate, but the Pirates insist that they only brought him up for the experience.
3. Brad Lincoln- Let’s just ruin this youngster’s confidence even more.
The winner: It’s a toss up but I have to give it to Lincoln. Ciriaco didn’t start the game after Cedeno’s four error masterpiece but worst and stupidest have different meanings to me. Lincoln get demoted to AAA and then get roughed up by AAA talent. With his confidence crushed, he then gets injured. The Pirates reward his recent efforts by calling him up and then waiting half of the month to use him. He then pitches an inning and gets roughed up again. By the way as a side note, John Bowker wins best September callup.
1. Steve Blass
2. Bob Walk
3. Greg Brown
4. John Wehner
5. Tim Neverett
The winner: For the second straight year Bob Walk takes it. It helps that I got a picture with him on my cell phone earlier this season. It’s a shame I can’t show it to you because I have no data messaging on my phone plan.
Coach of the Year
1. Herbie Andrade- It’s a shame when you struggle to come up with nominees for this one.
2. Luis Dorante- The second bullpen catcher to be nominated. Cool goatee earlier this year.
3. Ray Searage- Can dance and filled in admirably as pitching coach.
The winner: HERBIE!!! I mean I am very biased here. He threw me a ton of baseballs and I have two pictures with him. He is a cool guy.
1. “Herbie” – Heberto Andrade
2. “Cutch” – Andrew McCutchen
3. “The Pittsburgh Kid” – Neil Walker
The winner: HERBIE!!! Expected that didn’t ya?
1. The snuggie
2. Cutch bobblehead
3. Clemente Figurine
4. Garrett Jones Figuerine
The winner: The snuggie wins because on that game I set my personal snagging record. I could have used it the last week of the season. It was cold!
Best at-bat song:
1. Jose Tabata: Se Menea-Los Karkiks
2. Neil Walker: Shutterbugg- Outkast
3. Brian Burres: Baby Got Back- Sir Mix-A-Lot
The Winner: Burres was up here because his song choice pleasantly surprised me. The winner though is Tabata, I tried hard to get all of the words to the song right and got it right. His song during the last couple of games “No Speak Americano” is a pretty good song too. The guy’s got a good taste of music.
As a final note: I can’t even pick an inning break activity. I would have picked the perogie race but the team ruined that when the original four perogies who were tied at 19 victories apiece all lost to the retired Potato Pete on Fan Appreciation Day. The quiz had too many bad prizes and the good prizes were usually bats, jerseys or baseballs signed… predictable. Bucco would have won until Seven Springs cards were the prizes… ugh. The Know-Your-Bucs was great until the players facts started to repeat. So there is no winner. I guess I’ll give the award to the Big Yellow Dance Cam?
With that the 3rd Annual Pirates Awards has come to a close. Let the debate begin.
I consider myself to be a thoughtful person and thus the premise for this entry. This season could not be possible without this list of people and I feel that this is a way to express my gratitude to all those who have helped me. These names (some only first names I apologize) are in no particular order but every one of them have truly meant a lot to me. I apologize if there are some that I have forgotten on this blog (insert Kenny “Lemonade Man” Geidel and T.C. here) but this is my opportunity to thank you for the laughs, the injuries and your part in the 2010 baseball season.
1. My parents- I will be honest, I think my parents still have no idea about the concept of the BHL or anything related to it. My dad thinks that it is a total waste of time (maybe that’s why we don’t go to too many games together anymore). Still though, they have supported me this season and they made sure I was safe and often times went out of their way to provide me transportation. I am not ashamed to say to anyone how much I love and care for them.
2. Colston- Colston has helped me a lot this season as well. Throughout the process he has snagged a couple of baseballs this season, but by no means is he a future ballhawk. Colston went with me to about half of the games I attended this season and each has been a different experience for us. As a side note I should thank his mother in this entry because she also provided transportation from Lawrenceville to my home, often with downtown traffic, without complaining. It takes a great soul to do that, and Colston’s mother truly is a great soul. Thank you to both of you!
3. Erik Jabs- When I entered the BHL this year as a new member I had no idea what to expect however the advice and encouragement that he gave me before the season meant a lot. The league was certainly a fun experience and I will take some of the lessons I learned this year and apply them to next year. I hope to see you before PiratesFest.
4. Nick Pelescak- I still remember the freezing April day when you introduced yourself to me. Your words did encourage me to raise my game late in the season and despite a minor setback this past weekend with my illness, I raised both my average and my game. I enjoyed our constant runs from center field to left field but hate Tabata’s toss ups. Don’t worry I will get a Gem of the Diamond soon!
5. Ian Weir and Steve Uhlmann- You both were my main competition this season. Steve, although we never really had any conversations, it was great to ballhawk against someone my age. It was a shame that you left before the season ended, or else I am sure that this three way battle would have ended up much closer. Ian, despite the Rachel Ray impressions, raising the roof during Neil Walker’s at bat song and dancing terribly it was great seeing you at the ballpark. We went to a similar amount of games this season and we had some constant running as well. I think the difference between us was that I went a couple more games and I had that season ticket holder bp time. I hope you get a season ticket package because I look forward to the challenge.
6. Jim Saylor, Danny, Harold, Big Yellow and Baseball Joe- All of you represent the older generation of ballhawks and more importantly welcomed me with open arms. It was great talking with each of you before heading into the games. Jim, I look forward to more of the pranks you pull on me, and maybe I’ll get you back one of these days. I am mad that I missed out on that Pence Gem of the Diamond on Sunday and that will keep replaying in my mind throughout the off season. Danny, your encouragement simply put really kept me going. I really appreciate it and I know that my days will continue to come as a writer. Harold or shall I say “King of Right Field” I will have to try right field soon. I may not like it up there but I eventually will figure it out. Big Yellow, you need to give me dancing lessons. I have no confidence in Arthur Murray ballroom dancing and you dance with style. The conversations we had throughout the season have been very enjoyable. Baseball Joe, even though Nick and Erik think that your baseball is “cursed” I have still had above average days the both days I was to be “cursed”, therefore there is no curse. While you cannot speak, actions speak louder than words, and you truly are the biggest and best Pirates fan that I know. The team needs more people and fans like you. It has been a pleasure to get to know you this season!
7. Tim DeBacco- The opportunity that I had to job shadow this season really was one of my favorite moments this season. The fact that it also occurred exactly a week before my Point Park tenure really showed me that what I was doing was right and also gave me more information. Your support has truly meant a lot to me. Keep in touch and I hope that we’ll be able to connect even more next season. An extra thank you to Eric Wolff for arranging the job shadow opportunity.
8. Frank Coonelly- I am unsure if I ever mentioned on this blog what Frank Coonelly did this season. I may have briefly described our brief meeting at the rookie season ticket holder lunch, but the thank you is for something else. It was an interview that I did in April about whether or not athletes should be considered heroes or not. I was in 12th grade at the time and it was a part of my English research project. I gave Frank a call without any notification ahead of time and he took my call and gave me a seven minute interview. He answered every question openly, thoroughly and honestly.
9. Walt Srocki aka Camera Guy- Although you initially were confused by some of my snagging methods (aka me leaving the park to search the razor grass for baseballs that left the ballpark) you eventually got used to me. Thanks for letting me model the yearbook and media guide, I hope to do it again next season. It always is fun modeling, especially since I am no model. A big thanks for that script you gave me, it really helped since I have a journalism class where we are going over broadcast styles and scripts have a lot to do with what we are doing. Hope to see you early and often starting at PiratesFest!
10. Joe Klimchak- We have known each other since 2008 and since then have had a ton of conversations each if which has advanced me. Your kind words have always encouraged me. I look forward to seeing you at either PiratesFest 2011 and throughout the 2011 Pirates season.
11. “Hobbes”, “Boss” and “No-Nonsense”- You guys crack me up and it seems like I cracked you guys up too. Whether it was by the bullpen, the gates or even on the Riverwalk we always had great times. I hope to see you guys again during the 2011 season.
12. Jaclyn Mereyl and Karalyn Katchmark- Honestly who ever is my representative when I get a ticket plan desrves some kind of medal. I seem to change my plans so much that I drove these two crazy, but they put up with me throughout the season, and that is very tough to do. I had to have called one of these two at least once a week and they calmly answered with the usual “Pittsburgh Pirates this is…”. I believe that Karalyn left the Pirates before season’s end. It’s a shame that the only time I got to meet her was a time when I was sick as a dog. It was the night before Thanksgiving and I remember that night because it was the worst night of my life. I don’t want to go into it. Thanks so much for this season and Jaclyn good luck dealing with me next season. You might need it (I don’t know yet).
13. Evan Meek- Thanks for the relationship we had towards the end of the season. You have done a lot for me and I hope that I have done a lot in return. I hope to see you at PiratesFest in January. If you are reading this, please remember to keep in touch either via phone or email.
14. Ushers- There are so many ushers that have gone out of their way for me and I appreciate it. The ushers in center field often let me go for toss ups even when I didn’t have a ticket for the section. This is only a small thank you, but big things definitely come in small packages. Even though what you do is small, it definitely enhances the baseball experience. Just one favor, please don’t take away too many baseballs next season (and I mean it). With that in mind, see you next season!
15. Fred Davis- I tried to visit you as much as I could but sometimes with my short attention span and quest for baseballs we didn’t cross paths. You giving me the one program and the all-star medallion from the All-Star Game meant a lot to me. I hope to see you in shul as well as at the ballpark during the 2011 season.
16. Any one who reads this blog- I know that my blog isn’t as artistic or beautiful as the others, but I don’t have a camera. My cell phone does not include data/messaging and Colston can only take so many pictures. Once the series of the Jewish holidays ends, I should have pictures of the watch bp from the field event. Thank you for bearing with me. You truly keep me going and I thank you for your support of me this year and I ask for you to return next season when I hope to have a camera and bigger and better blog entries.
I arrived early and the gates for some reason were already opened. Unfortunately the access to the seating bowl was shut.
I had to stand and wait for the gate to open. Sure enough Herbie Andrade, Ray Searage and a couple of pitchers came to the bullpen. My glove was on and without asking, Herbie threw me up ball number 1 on the day. Thank you so much Herbie for a great season!
With this snag, I was one ball away from achieving my goal.
It would come when the Astros were throwing. I aggressively got closer Matt Lindstrom’s attention and he threw me ball number 2 on the day. I now had ball number 64 and I could relax!!!
My body felt worse and worse as the game wore on and I developed a severe headache during the game and it affected me greatly. I lost out on the Hunter Pence home run as the ball bounced back and I was boxed out.
I went to my third base seat towards the end of the game and home plate umpire Fieldin Culbreth. I was hoping for a baseball but he only had two and two kids were in front of me. He told me, “I’m sorry I don’t have any more baseballs but I can give you these line up cards”. He gave me both teams line up cards and I thanked him.
I tried to get the players toss ups as they were tossing up signed hats but I wasn’t able to get any hat.
That is all for this season. My next entry will be of my Season Ticket Holder Field Day which is Monday, October 4.
Considering that I had set a goal of 64 baseballs by the end of the homestand, things would be tough.
I was not present for Friday’s game and by Saturday I was sick with a runny nose and sore throat. I had to go to today’s game and work through my illness.
I quickly ran into the seating area in left field. Both Ian Weir and Nick Pelescak searched the lower seating bowl and thus I went to the top seating bowl because I got a tip from two of the ushers. A Pirates reliever then randomly threw a ball up to my area and I was a few rows up. With nobody else up there I got the ball but because I was getting ball number 1, ball number 2 would not have a person who threw it. Upon coming down the steps, I saw that I had missed a ball and ball number 3 was quickly mine. This put me at 60 baseballs on the year.
That would be all that I got for the Pirates portion of bp. I snuck over early for the Astros portion of bp and asked both Jeff Fulchino and an Astros coach for a ball and they both declined my request. I decided to change things up and play for foul balls, and thus balls number 4 and 5 went into my glove.
I also got three signatures in Michael Bourn, Jason Bourgeois and Nelson Figueroa.
That was all in terms of snagging as I failed to snag the first inning Andrew McCutchen toss up because the ball was under thrown and I got it with the bottom part of my glove and people were playing with my glove.
I did get to pose with the Songwhale prize of a signed Neil Walker bat but I do not have that picture yet.
I did go to Fan Appreciation Day and I needed two baseballs to reach my goal. Did I get it? You’ll have to read on to find out.
I decided that I wanted to show up at the gates early so I left my house at 3:00 to get to the bus. I got on the bus however that was the beginning of a long day.
As the bus headed into Oakland, I got stuck in traffic. I was getting really annoyed as there was a large group of ignorant people in the back of the bus, and I was stuck with them. As I sat on a bus that was not moving, I called some of my friends and talked to my grandmother. It was getting really dark really fast in Oakland, and I asked my grandmother if it was raining at her Elk County home. Sure enough she said that it was raining really hard for an hour. I was not amused.
Sure enough, a few minutes later it started pouring and I knew that there would be no BP.
I later found out that the reason for the traffic was a gas leak which closed the road. People were getting off the bus and everyone was unhappy.
I got off of the bus and was immediately greeted by poaring rain. I had coat or umbrella and thus had to take the full brunt of the rain.
I walked to the stadium and immediately saw Baseball Joe and Nick Pelescak playing catch under the cover by the Clemente Gate. Despite being covered in rain, I joined right in and made some decent throws.
After that, I picked up my tickets which were in the PBC Club. Ian Weir was also at the game so this could be my chance to pull away from him and perhaps seal third best PNC Park ballhawk in the BHL.
Nick decided to leave before the gates opened, and I was the first into the seating bowl. I looked everywhere for a baseball in the left field seating bowl and found nothing.
Some of the Cardinals were playing catch but it was not 5:30 yet so I was not allowed over there yet. They finished playing and they tried to throw the ball by the bullpen, but one landed on the field right in front of me. I was unable to get it and motioned Jim Saylor to get his 150th snag of the season.
I was in my Cardinals gear and went over to the first base side. I was the first one over there and Mike MacDougal just finished throwing and when he went over for signatures I quietly asked him for the ball and he threw me ball number 1 and I thanked him.
Shortly after, Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright and Jaime Garcia all threw with each other.
As they threw Jeff Suppan finished his running and both Erik Jabs and I asked him for the ball. Unfortunately for Erik, he didn’t have his glove on and Suppan threw me ball number 2. I quietly thanked him as well.
When the trio finished throwing, they all talked and Carpenter threw three baseballs to the wall. I managed to bring one to the wall with my glove and got ball number 3. I was happy as I probably did better than I would have at bp.
Nick later found out about this and I think he was mad that he left.
As the Pirates relievers entered the bullpen, Evan Meek and I had a quick conversation and then parted ways.
I had a couple of close calls at the game with snags.
I took my seat at the PBC and just when I sat a foul ball came up, and I couldn’t get there fast enough.
I ran to center field and got Andrew McCutchen to toss me his warm up ball. I had the ball sized up perfectly and it was going in my glove, but some man in front of me put his hand in my glove and caught it. I was **********. I sarcastically said “nice catch” and then under my breath called him a ******. That was such a wuss move. If I had caught that ball, I was going to give your kid one of the other balls I caught earlier, but whatever. I just have to push the next person who does that.
Still three baseballs without BP was good. The Cardinals gave me two baseballs the last time they had a rain delay and they are a good team for snags when they don’t take BP.
I may go to the game later today but if I do, I won’t be there that long. I have tickets for Saturday and Sunday, so we’ll have to see what happens.
This game was mean to me in so many different ways. Let me start with the fact that I had no business being there in the first place. I am Jewish and thus the holiday of Yom Kippur started the night before. What I was doing by attending the game was going against my religion. I did perform the fast starting at sundown Friday night and it didn’t help that all I had to eat were two crackers before sundown. Usually it is a fast where I cannot eat or drink from sundown one night to sundown the next night but I have always done the eating fast since the age of 13.
With that in mind, I went to the game feeling light headed and weak in the knees. This greatly affected me during bp as various times I would have to sit down and take some breaks.
Unlike the night before, the Pirates had batting practice but it was a slow and uneventful one and with the fast looming it went very slow. Not many balls went out and thus I ended up empty handed.
The Diamondbacks BP was just as bad, and even D.J. Carrasco wasn’t there to make things better. Nothing was coming my way in center field and things were so bad that I actually tried switching my position to the Clemente Wall in right field. That worked earlier in the year to get a toss up but I was in desparation mode. I had taken a big physical risk by coming to this game and there were a couple times where I felt like I was going to collapse.
By this point my sore leg from Friday and my other leg were flaring up and it was a struggle to run. Right field was very hard to play as the ball doesn’t stay in right field long and the balls react as if they were playing a game of hot potato.
With right field being a smashing failure, I gimped over to left field with the newer group being left field friendly. This was the most I had moved in a long while, but unfortunately left field was a smashing failure as well.
When the Diamondbacks BP ended I was in center field and again empty handed.
The warm ups came next and for the second straight day Herbie Andrade ended up with the ball and I knew better than to ask him. I was hoping to say hi to Evan Meek as a chance to cheer me up but unfortunately he got lost in a series of signs some guy brought with him.
I sat in my seat for a part of the game wondering why I even bothered to come to this game as Andrew McCutchen threw the warm up ball away from me.
I joined Nick Pelescak and Erik Jabs by the riverwalk after a while and they told me that I needed to get in the game. I told them that I was waiting for my spot and at that point was in a very bad mood because of the fast.
Disgusted, I went by the bullpen and I did get the hi from Evan Meek that I was looking for. Nick told me that that was my cue to ask Meek for a ball, but I was just happy that he said hi because my day absolutely sucked. Before I had a chance to ask him, he was gone.
Things soon started to fill up by the bullpen, and sure enough because my luck the past three games has been terrible, a Kelly Johnson home run was hit right to where I was standing and Erik and Nick both misplayed it and Erik eventually came up with it. If I was over there, I believe that that ball would have been mine. Perhaps I need to be as superstitious as I used to be because there were various outfits of mine that worked better than others.
As I was silently lamenting, Meek came back out and I got his attention. I told his that I was getting shut out, and he asked me what I meant, and when I motioned for him to please get me a baseball, he said yes without a hesitation. He went into the bag the Pirates store their baseballs in and pulled out a brand new never used baseball. I was in high heaven as ball number 1 went into my glove. Thanks so much Evan! You have been my favorite player because of how aggressive you are with hitters but I like and respect you even more now for being such a cool person.
My next game will occur on Wednesday against the Cardinals. Both the Cardinals and Astros are not great BP teams at PNC Park, so here’s hoping that changes because I would like to snag 10 more baseballs before season’s end and this is my last week snagging.
My main competition all season has been Ian Weir and we have been neck and neck all season. I have a lead on him right now, but we’ll have to see if I can maintain it.
I had to make a couple of errands, so before leaving for the game I headed up street in Squirrel Hill. Upon coming back, I made a shocking discovery.
Coming out of a store were Evan Meek and former Pirate and current Diamondback D.J. Carrasco. Carrasco pointed me out to Meek as I was wearing my Pirates gear, a new Pirates Nike shirt and we shook hands. He asked me if I would be at the game and I told him yes. After he introduced me to D.J., he told me that he would see me later. Carrasco told me to stop by the bullpen to say hi to him. I should have asked them for a ride, as they probably would have given it to me, but instead I had to rely on public transportation and paid the $2 bus fare.
I then returned a couple of DVD’s to my university library, and picked up another copy of my university newspaper The Globe, and re-read my article about Ben Roethlisberger which can be found on www.pointparkglobe.com. Upon exiting I got a call from former Pittsburgh Pirate, current Detroit Tiger and brother-in-law of Neil Walker, Don Kelly. I am doing a story for The Globe about their athletic program’s Hall of Fame program and Kelly is one of the people being inducted this year and thus he was calling me back and I interviewed him Saturday morning.
As for the game it was as boring as it got. All of the usual BHL suspects ran searching for easter eggs and came up empty handed. The Pirates came back from New York late and thus I suffered and they were just running. All that I was able to get was a Joe Martinez signature.
The Diamondbacks did hit but I was unable to get lucky. I was close to one but it didn’t work out. I ran into Carrasco by the bullpen and we had a quick hello and conversation. He didn’t toss me anything up though.
Diamondbacks bp ended with out any luck and I was not looking great.
I headed by the bullpen for warm ups and while waiting Carrasco and I had another exchange with him.
After finishing his warm ups, Pirates pitcher Brian Burres (who apparently comes up to bat with the song Baby Got Back- by Sir Mix-A-Lot) threw the ball he used to Herbie Andrade, who in turn threw me the ball a minute later. I had to really extend myself to make the catch, but it landed in my glove. I looked up to the heavens thanking my good graces after coming up with ball number 1. Herbie Andrade is the man when it comes to baseballs, he is a great guy and really rewards those who come out to the ballpark to support the Pirates.
Shortly after the Pirates relievers came into the game. Evan Meek still remembered me and said a quick “hi Zac” to me. He then asked me if I wanted sunflower seeds, and after saying yes, he threw them up to me.
I came back by the bullpen later and had another exchange with Carrasco, but came up empty handed. I encountered a drunk who was trying to insult Carrasco, but failed. I was very close to calling security. I left the game after this and was ready for what I was hoping to be a big Saturday.
Here are some photos:
I decided to go to this game and upon walking up to the line, I saw the longest line I have ever seen. It was an alumni autograph day and tons of people were there for autographs.
I quickly cut through the line and joined Nick in the front. No one raised a stink about it, and I was glad as I did not want to start a fight with anybody.
I was coming off of my two best games and I knew that today was going to be hard. My “best friend” the sun was out and there was a lot of uncertainty between Nick and myself and we both were excited yet anxious.
We both worried that we would get in and have a shut gate or that only one team would take batting practice. Just as we were talking about facing only each other as competition, Jim Saylor showed up and we all had a conversation.
With that the gates opened and I ran ahead of both of them. I searched for easter eggs as batting practice had just started, however I was unable to find anything.
I endured a slow start as not many home runs were hit. I just missed getting a Chris Snyder home run and Nick had a couple balls at this point. Jim got a Ross Ohlendorf toss up.
I was frustrated as nothing was coming up and Evan Meek wasn’t tossing anything up.
It wasn’t until the final group of the day that I got something. It was from an unlikely source, as I finally snagged a Lastings Milledge home run for ball number 1 on the day.
I almost had ball number 2 off the bat of Jose Tabata but a kid made a great catch and it was the first of many bad breaks on the day.
That would be all for the Pirates and their batting practice. Both Nick and I noticed that the Braves were getting set for BP and we both rejoiced. We quickly reminded each other of the challenge we had set for each other.
In previous trips to PNC Park the Braves have not really thrown any toss ups up to fans during BP. We decided to see who could get more toss ups from the Braves.
Things started off funky as Eric Hinske, a former Pirate was throwing balls to kids but Nick and I couldn’t get our hands on them.
I moved to right field as I saw some action out there. Unfortunately once I got there, I got nothing. Jason Heyward wasn’t hitting anything out and because of this and some toss ups, I moved to center field.
Not much action occurred there and batting practice was dead for quite a while.
The lone Braves hitter that was consistently hitting baseballs out was surprisingly Melky Cabrera.
I took an early lead on Nick in the Braves toss ups as I actually got Mike Minor to toss me ball number 2. It was a lead that I was able to hold and I won the Braves toss up game.
This game in particular was the most frustrating game of my life. I’ll recap this part the short way.
Failed toss up #1: Cutch toss up in my direction. Gloveless woman screams “it’s mine”, drops it and drops a couple feet from her.
Failed toss up # 2: McLouth toss up in my direction. A little short.
Failed toss up # 3: McLouth toss up in my direction. Gloveless hand comes up at last second. Ball is lost.
Failed toss up #4: McLouth toss up. Right section, wrong direction.
Failed toss up # 5: Cutch toss up. Under thrown and batted around.
Failed toss up # 6: McLouth toss up. Wrong section
Failed toss up # 7: McLouth toss up. Just short and gloveless woman bobbles ball again and it short hops me.
Failed toss up # 8: Cutch toss up. Ball is coming right at me, but under thrown and a random gloveless hand comes up at the last second. I throw my glove down in frustration and cuss.
Failed toss up # 9- I lost count: Ok I give up, you get the idea.
This was my last game of the homestand, and my next game is Friday the 17th vs the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Again I went to this game by myself and I felt that I had something to prove. Upon trying to get tickets, I called the Pirates and found out that the game was nowhere near sold out.
I got to the game very early and placed my backpack down that way I was first in line.
Snagging today could prove to be both easy and hard. It would be easy as neither Erik nor Ian were at the ballpark leaving Nick and I to duke it out. Still though it was a Saturday night game as well as a Skyblast meaning that the crowds during BP could get really big really fast.
First though I took part in photofest, something the Pirates do once a year. Among those I got photos with were Pedro Alvarez and Jose Tabata. It was a fun experience as it was my first time participating in it, but once it ended, I got back in line to prepare myself for BP.
I talked with a lot of the ballhawks as I got ready for today, and Nick asked me how I was going to follow up my seven ball performance from the night before. I honestly was unsure but I told him that I would do what I could.
Soon after the gates opened and I ran inside, but before I could get into the bleachers, I found that the gates was shut. There was no scanner! Wonderful, for a second I thought I saw the writing on the wall, but someone filled in for a moment and I was first through the gates. I searched for easter eggs in both the lower and upper seating bowl and found nothing. I later searched the third base side and found nothing as well.
I got on the board rather quickly as I beat someone to a home run ball from an unknown Pirate for ball number 1.
Soon after Daniel McCutchen caught a fly ball on the warning track and I called out to him. He seemingly ignored me as he kicked the ball out onto the grass. He then picked up the ball with his feet, and tried to pass it to me, but failed numerous times. After realizing that this wasn’t FIFA and that he hadn’t made the US World Cup Squad (he was only a few months late) he threw me ball number 2. Unfortunately for me, I lost the ball in the sun but slid across the bleacher and dove for the ball to get it. He legitimately threw the ball in the sun. The stunt slightly bloodied my already injured leg.
Later on during the practice, Joel Hanrahan caught a ball and with Nick backing up threw me ball number 3. It was an easy catch.
Then the fun began, a ball landed on the warning track and I asked Chan Ho Park nicely if he would throw me the ball. He responded saying, “what do you think I am, the ball snagging robot?”. As I pondered he did the moonwalk to a Black Eyed Peas song. He then picked up the ball and lobbed it to himself. He then lobbed it up and I playfully missed it scaring Nick and letting Park continue his joke. Eventually we connected and I had ball number 4. When everyone was asking me why I was dropping the ball, I told them that I was joking around and making them earn their salaries. In all seriousness though, the sun was constantly in my face and I would lose the ball in the sun. It was frustrating that I kept losing the balls and I was lucky that the Pirates bared with me.
That was it for the Pirates portion of BP. I had given away two of my four baseballs and I proceeded to get in my red under armour yet again for the Nationals.
Quickly, the Nationals began BP and seemingly nothing was heading towards the bleachers. Finally Wil Nieves hit a home run and there was a minor scrum between myself and Jim Saylor. With my glove firmly on it, he finally relinquished the ball and I found that the Nationals were still using the cheap training balls. Still I was pleased to have snagged ball number 5.
Before 5:30 hit, I sprinted to right field bum leg and all. The gate was open and I was the first one up there but all of the balls were already gathered by the ushers.
I then headed to center field to start snagging. Unfortunately for me, Adam Dunn did not take BP today, whether or not it was because he was not starting I don’t know, but that cost me at least one baseball.
Towards the end of Nationals BP, a ball rolled out to right center and Pat Listach was walking towards it with a bat. He looked as if he wanted to toss it up and there were no Nationals fans around me, so I called his name and tugged my shirt to show him that I was a fan. Soon after ball number 6 was in my glove, and for the record I did not drop it. Upon snagging and adding some numbers together, I realized that the snag was my 50th snag of the season!
I ended up giving the ball away to a girl though as a toss up was meant for her, but she dropped it and a kid ran and got it.
That was all for BP. Then it was picture time:
In this picture is Nick Pelescak with his 700th career snag, Jim Saylor, myself and one of the people who went to 10 ballparks in 10 days.
Nick and I decided to hang out during the game. We camped out by the bullpen and the starter Paul Maholm tried to throw me a ball, but he threw it as if I was right handed and two spots more to the left of the bullpen. I was unable to retrieve the ball and I found no more luck all night. I left early in the game, I believe during the fifth inning. I never got a chance to search the ivy upon leaving.
I snagged a total of six baseballs today and thirteen baseballs in two days. More importantly was that coming into the season I set a goal of 50 snags in my first season in the BHL, and I am happy to say that I reached my goal. I can’t imagine how lucky anyone who snags at Washington’s ballpark is.
After much thinking in terms of when my next game is, I have decided that Monday’s Labor Day game will be next on my list. It is a day game after a day game so hopefully there will be BP. How will I do? Even I don’t know.