June 2011

Pirates vs Boston Red Sox 6/25 PNC Park

After the disorganization known as the Orioles game Tuesday, I was poised to bounce back today. Things would not start out well.

 My parents made the “smart” decision to clean my room which meant a ton of things were thrown away and more things were moved. Of course the glove I have been using was moved and I was not told this, and was not told where it was moved to. This meant I was stuck with the glove I used last year. It felt way too light, felt slippery and furthermore was as flat as a pancake. I immediately got worried that I would get shutout.

 I arrived at the ballpark around 3:15 and Erik Jabs and Nick Pelescak were already there in anticipation for the largest crowd in PNC Park history. I took my spot in line, third and grabbed a baseball and stood on my glove to at least make it passable.

 After some standing, the three of us wanted to throw, and with the Clemente Bridge still open to cars, we had to pick a different place. We chose the grass close to the Warhol Bridge.

 We all threw and fielded balls for a little while and then we all pitched, caught and umped.

 With that we went to the gate. We now have to walk in our order to left field. I never found any Easter Eggs so I set up shop in left.

 As per the usual Saturday game, Luis Silverio was tossing baseballs to Jose Tabata and Tabata was to climb the wall and snag the ball. Well Tabata was a little bit off,  and a ball landed over the wall and I got it for ball number 1.

 Silverio asked for the ball back, as it was the second ball that Tabata missed. I tossed it back, and later on he tossed me a separate ball which I caught in my glove for ball number 2.

 I then decided to leave left field and sneak over close to the first baseline.

 I got there without trouble and for a while things were dead. I then ventured over to the Boston Red Sox dugout to try and get something, as a friend told me he would donate money to charity if I were to get a significant player to sign.

 I was still wearing my Pirates gear, so when I saw Adrian Gonzalez who is having a great season, I was a little worried that he would not sign for me, still a lot of people were wearing Bucco gear, so I felt okay.

 I had my sharpie ready and the baseball ready, and I asked him to sign along with a few others. He must have heard me, as I had lined myself up by the right stairwell. He then asked me if he could use my sharpie and I said sure. We talked for a little, and then he gave me back the Sharpie. The signature also contained the Biblical Psalm 27:1, as Gonzalez is a devout Christian. This is according to “Padre” Leigh Barratt. This was my initial thought, but at first I thought that there was a chance that he wrote P.S. 27=1 which would have made sense because there are 27 players that make up a baseball team. By the way Psalm 27:1 is “The Lord is my light and my salvation- whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life- of whom shall I be afraid?”

 I had already looked for baseballs along the first baseline, and found nothing, so I then waited by right field in hopes that a ball would be hit or tossed my way. Sure enough, Tony Watson hooked me up again, motioning to me and throwing a perfect toss. Tony has been as close to automatic as you can get and it seems like he’s got my back when I am over there. It was great to get ball number 3.

 I decided to stay there to chase autographs and baseballs, as the Red Sox had come out, but I ended up with only Jarrod Saltalamacchia who signed the (flat) glove. There were no overthrows at all which stunk, but the Sox were throwing hard especially Alfredo Aceves.

 The Sox then took their cuts. Earlier, I had tried to throw around with a Sox coach, but he did not listen. At this point, I had changed into my Sox camoflague.

 Kevin Youkilis was up and hitting, and already there were several close calls, but this time I had said that I would leave to go to centerfield once he finished hitting. I literally was going up to grab my bag, when he hit one our way. It was high in the air, and I kept good track of it, and it looked like an easy catch, but then a guy was trying to get in on it. I boxed him out, and made the catch for ball number 4.

 I tried to play center, and after not finding anything, it got really packed really fast. I talked to David Ortiz in Spanish, but no more baseballs came during BP, and essentially it was hard to do much of anything.

 I HATE interleague so much, because there are so many clueless people there and they move so slow, and it is quite ridiculous. It took me much longer to get to my desired destinations because of this.

 I went by the bullpen where it was tough to see anything because it was filled up with Sox fans. I was able to talk to Herbie Andrade and Euclides Rojas in Spanish, so that was cool, but no baseballs came out of it.

 Tossups during the games were hard and thus I ended up with only four baseballs.

 The game was won by the Pirates and the fans were quite pleased, and they were treated to a great ballgame. The fireworks were not too stellar and furthermore, they lit them up thinking the final out was made when it actually was not the case.

 The team is now at .500 at home and two games above .500 and have the chance to get the sweep tonight. They now have won series against the Philadelphia Phillies and Boston Red Sox at home. These two teams were projected by many to make the World Series, so it is a great accomplishment.

 It was an interesting game. As for my next one, Tuesday July 5 against the Houston Astros is the plan, but it could be that next Wednesday, it really depends. I could go to both and then Friday and Saturday against the Cubs.

 

Pirates at the deadline predictions

 I decided to spend an entry talking about the trade deadline which comes at the end of July. I will come quickly, and I figured why not.

 1. Joel Hanrahan will not be traded- Upon juggling whether or not this will happen, I finally made up my mind this week. I understand that since he has been traded to the Pirates he has done good work, but here is the deal. The Pirates see Hanrahan as a star, and thus they will listen to trade offers to gauge the level of interest, which has to be high, especially considering there was a potential deal which would have had him going to Texas for Neftali Feliz. The Pirates control Hanrahan for three years, and thus it will take a great deal to land him. The Pirates likely want some high quality prospects in return for him. Other teams likely will see him though as a mostly unproven closer who only this season has gotten his act together. Teams will be concerned that he could not close in Washington and last season with the Pirates, and thus I am fairly certain that Hanrahan will stay a Pirate.

 2. History will repeat himself- Remember that Ian Snell/Jack Wilson to Seattle? Well I see something similar happening right now. Well I see potential for Paul Maholm and Garrett Jones to be packaged in a deal. I find it unlikely for the Pirates to pick up the $9.5 million option for Maholm. He has not really had a breakout season much like Wilson, but is amongst the tops of the most popular players. The Pirates should have traded Jones last season, but since that deadline he has been Snell like. He cannot perform at home and has seemingly fallen out of favor. The team now is trying to bring Jones up a bit by giving him some time at first base. I could see this being a blockbuster deal much like the Seattle trade. It could be a deal for some fringe players or prospects with the hopes of a player or two working out. I could see Oakland as a possible destination, as Billy Beane is always loaded with prospects and Josh Willingham is a player rumored to leave assuming he recovers from his injury. This would not be a popular trade, but Brad Lincoln and others are being blocked and letting go of Maholm could help this team, and come next season getting rid of Jones could allow for Pedro Alvarez to put on a little weight and move to first.

 3. Matt Diaz, Lyle Overbay other mediocre signings not to be traded- I know these off-season acquisitions usually are dealt, but I just do not see how these guys even have a chance for them to get traded. At least players like D.J. Carrasco and Octavio Dotel worked hard for the team and gave the team a chance to get players that could better help them in the long term. Diaz cannot field, has struggled against lefties and has no pop at the plates, no homers is ridiculous. Overbay had a little window of opportunity, but just has not panned out, and I just do not see much opportunity there.

 Those are my thoughts for now, but perhaps closer to the date, I can make some more detailed predictions.

Book Review: The Captain: The Journey of Derek Jeter

 I decided to do one more review on another baseball book that I wrote. The book is called The Captain: The Journey of Derek Jeter, written by Ian O’Connor.

 I saw this book on the list of books coming out this year, and was excited about this one as well. I became even more excited when I saw O’Connor on ESPN 2’s First Take to discuss/tease the book. I immediately checked the book out from the library.

 I got the book as soon as it came out, and the timing of the book could not have been better. Jeter was approaching 3,000 hits at the time, and reading about his career was interesting.

 I have read a ton of books including The Yankee Years written by Joe Torre, Living on the Black written by John Feinstein and featuring ex-Yankee and now retired pitcher Mike Mussina and The Last Night of the Yankee Dynasty written by Buster Olney. This book perhaps offered up the most information on Jeter, and was very detailed.

 I was saddened that Jeter himself did not formally participate in the book, although O’Connor is a journalist and thus talked to Jeter on numerous occasions as he covers the Yankees. Jeter likely did not want to cooperate with the book as he feels that books written about him make him feel closer to retirement.

 A great thing about the book was how much research went in. The book involved Jeter’s pre-MLB years, and O’Connor talked to his coaches from those years and profiled other players being drafted early, and the book did not miss anything at all.

 It also focused on Jeter in the clubhouse, and discussed Jeter’s relationship with Alex Rodriguez in detail. It was touched upon in The Yankee Years  but no one went into greater length about it than O’Connor. The book mentioned how pre-Rodriguez Yankee years, they could not be closer, but when A-Rod finally was on the Yankees that it took a while for their relationship to get to where it needed to be.

 This book is a great read and I highly recommend it to any Yankee fan or baseball fan in general. No stone is left unturned.

Grade: 5 out of 5

Jim Riggleman resigns reaction

 Well the story of the week this week besides yesterday’s Pirates win over the Boston Red Sox to get the Buccos above .500 again, is the resignation of former Washington Nationals Manager Jim Riggleman.

 Before his resignation I found Riggleman to be rather similar to John Russell, as he seems to lack the passion compared to other managers, although he unlike Russell is actually willing to occasionally come out of the dugout to discuss a call.

 Perhaps this is why his resignation comes as a surprise. What may serve as an even bigger surprise is that he seemingly issued an ultimatum on Washington.

 In short, he saw himself as a placeholder, and wanted to call the team out on their bluff, and in a sense wanted to find out if he was in their long term plans, and ultimately he was proven correct.

 Where do I weigh in on this? I support Riggleman. I know that by doing what he did, that he more than likely will never be a Major League Manager ever again (although his .445 winning percentage doesn’t do him any favors either), but there is nothing wrong with his timing, in fact his timing of this was perfect. The team had just won a game to get over .500 and with Steve Strasburg coming back next season, several young players guiding the team and several more on the way, the team will only get better.

 So he was more than in his rights to ask for a contract extension through next season, which was only an additional $600,000, also known as his salary this season. It would have been a small price to pay for a lifer, who has played as well as managed and coached in the Major Leagues. His experience would have helped these young prospects blossom and prepare for long successful Major League careers.

 I am disappointed that Washington’s front office blasted Riggleman. I can understand their point of view, that the team is winning and that the season is not the time, but if Riggleman was not the long term answer, then they should have told him earlier and allowed him the opportunity to leave. By doing what they did, they come off rather free to the casual fan, but in truth, I have a feeling that their instability and betrayal could come back to haunt them.

 This very well could be the end of Riggleman in any Major League capacity, and that is a shame, but since he is a lifer, it would make some sense that he went down swinging.

Book Review: Nobody’s Perfect: Two Men, One Call and a Game for Baseball History

 I have been reading a lot of book lately, most of them having to do with baseball, and I decided on reviewing this one.

 When I saw that this book was out, I could not wait to read it, but I finished the book a little disappointed.

 The book provided a lot of details regarding the “one-hitter” thrown by then Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galaraga and the call made by umpire Jim Joyce that ended up costing Galaraga a perfect game.

 The cool thing about this book, was that the chapters alternated between the two, and provided some information about the story of both men before they made it to where they are today. I did not know much about either of them, and it was interesting to learn about them both, especially Galaraga trying to pick up the English language.

 There were two big disappointments for me. I thought that the font size was way too big, and at 240 pages, it read as a very short book. Being that this was on my must read list, I had high expectations but the book read way too quickly and that left me sad.

 Another big disappointment was the lack of information on both after they made it to where they were. Galaraga consistently talked about the near perfecto, but never talked about what it felt like to be traded (during his honeymoon). He never mentioned reactions from the family or any of his time with the Tigers outside of the perfecto start. Joyce never mentioned any of his time as a Major League Umpire outside of the perfect game, and thus I felt as though I was not getting the full story. This would have been a great time to extend the book from 240 pages, and it was an opportunity missed. It was as if the author that actually wrote the book had these guys for only a few days and thus did not get the full story.

 Overall, this is the first book about the near perfecto and perhaps it coming out less than a year was a detriment as there was a lot missing. Still, the details of what is in the book, are wonderful and if you do want to learn more about what happened during the near perfecto and reactions afterwards in addition to some background info on these two men then it is worth a read.

 Grade: 3 Stars

Pirates vs Baltimore Orioles 6/21 PNC Park

 Earlier in the season we saw the Pirates take on the Detroit Tigers, but now in June it was down to the nitty gritty with the Interleague play starting.

 The Pirates had a tough series in Cleveland and lost a laugher in the first game of the series. Apparently also ballhawks are now being watched in a complaint that a couple of them “bump into people” which is not true. I was glad that I was working and did not have to deal with that.

 I did have work again on this day, and it ended up hurting me. I was on a bus heading back from Monroeville which was running late, and instead of taking the Edgewood Township exit, the bus took the obviously crowded traffic right by the tunnel heading towards Squirrel Hill. I had to run home and still was cutting it close. I ran out and caught a bus around 3:30.

 I was holding out hope for a miracle, and the bus was moving ok. I should have known better, and of course once I passed Pitt, the bus driver spent two minutes admiring the front of the bus, as a few green lights came. Cars and busses alike passed us. The driver wondered why we got into traffic, and I was cursing the heavens. I was on busses for at least two hours of the day, and I was just miserable and was not pleased at all.

 Finally, I got off the bus, and ran from close to Point Park, through the Clemente Bridge, getting there at 5:15.  I met up with Colston and we found out that the Hall of Fame Club was not open, and thus had to go through the crowded centerfield gate.

 By the time I got to leftfield, Pirates BP was well over, and the Orioles were hitting. I met Avi Miller, and his friend Zevi, the only two legit Baltimore ballhawks who were willing to show up so good on them. PNC is a very hard place to ballhawk and I think many of the Baltimore ballhawks have it easy with the spacious left field there. Left field here, as well as right field are no picnic.

 I decided to go to centerfield to search for baseballs, and found nothing. I did see though, that I was a little winded from being outside sprinting in the sun all day and the running from earlier. I was still running about as fast as normal. I saw a supervisor pocket a baseball which I was not pleased to see, as that costs my charity money and that is not  cool.

 Speaking of not cool, three balls were laying on the wall in right center, where John Russell and two others were. It was funny to see Russell since he never had a personality. He just finished throwing, and he sat with his legs crossed for at least five minutes. I could hear him talk as well, and his monotone voice was funnier than ever. I saw the one ball, and he finally did as well and people in right and myself were calling for it. I was in the corner spot, and thus I got the toss-up and caught it for ball number 1.

I was unable to come up with anything else during Orioles BP and things were crowded, which made sense since 33,000 plus showed up.

 I went by the bullpen and had conversations with both Euclides Rojas and Herbie Andrade, with the Rojas conversation being in Spanish. I got no bullpen toss-ups, but the highlight was being right by the jumbotron to see the 1971 celebration. I took a ton of pictures of this event, and it was quite cool.

 I had no luck on tossups, but it was easier to move than I would have thought with 33,000 plus there. It was the second largest crowd for a Tuesday game in PNC Park history, and showed that the 1971 reunion could draw a large crowd.

 It was a nice game for the Pirates, and allowed the fans to look back to 1971, which was nice.

 I do like the way that Baltimore played and hope to see them more often, perhaps a trip to Baltimore will be in store next season.

 The Pirates finished the series with a win today to win the series, much like 1971.

 After a day off, the Boston Red Sox come to town. They just lost a series to the lowly San Diego Padres, so we have hope especially with Carl Crawford who was picking it up landing on the DL. Some other components such as Clay Buchholz going on the DL also come to play. Adrian Gonzalez has picked up his game, and is red hot, and David Ortiz also is seeing the ball well, which complicates everything as the DH rule will obviously be abolished. Still the team is studded with starts, and Tim Wakefield will make a return to PNC Park starting the Saturday night game of the series. The Pirates will have their hands full.

 Tickets are sold out for all three games as far as I know, and I will be at the Saturday game which was sold out a good while ago. We shall see what happens during the weekend, and hopefully the Pirates will show up and make their fans happy, because we all know what the Red Sox can do.

Pirates vs New York Mets 6/13/11 PNC Park

 I was contemplating going to Sunday’s Pirates game, but it was not in the budget, and I also opted not to go to Stage AE for the big Pittsburgh sports autograph session as he lines were big and I needed a big time day off from all of the standing that would occur. In truth, I had tired myself out from all of the frantic running and my body felt fine until Sunday morning when I woke up and my legs were on fire.

 Still, I had a ticket for Monday’s game and I decided to still go as it was the last game of the home stand and the last one I would attend until June 21 vs the Orioles.

 I had to go to Point Park first to get some scheduling done first, so when I arrived at the gate to PNC Park I was third in line behind Baseball Joe and Ian Weir. Ian though knows how fast I run, and thus gave me his spot as he knew I would pass him up regardless. Baseball Joe cannot keep up with any of us, so I knew that I would be first into the bleachers.

 While I waited for the gates to open, I threw around for over an hour. I once again have switched to a new throwing motion. It started out looking similar to James McDonald and Jeff Karstens, but ended up becoming more of a Tim Lincecum delivery. I never tired while throwing and was throwing a lot of strikes. I did not throw 100% or close to it, because I was sore still and was by the gate and didn’t want to ruin things. I also used my curveball which had a lot of movement to it.

 Finally, I stopped throwing as it was getting time to start to go into the ballpark. I ran in and was the first one to the bleachers again, but I found nothing on either level of left field, meaning the ushers once again picked up all of the baseballs. What else is new?

 Before I could say McCutchen, Pirates BP was over, and speaking of which Andrew did hit in the last group today as he had the day off.

 The Mets quickly started to hit, and I waited for all of the Pirates to come off the field before I changed, as many of them are upset with other ballhawks that they have caught changing. I am still in their good graces unlike others and I would like to keep it that way.

 In left an unknown Met hit a baseball to the opposite field where Jason Pridie was playing, and he threw one to Nick Pelescak who was having glove problems and dropped it. Nick did get it, but I told Jason I could catch, and sure enough the next ball that went over there he tossed up to me, and of course I caught ball number 1.

I still had some time before I searched for Easter Eggs. I noticed that Scott Hairston was trying to throw a ball up, and I gave him a target and it did not look like he was aiming for anyone in particular and airmailed the throw to the walkway in between the two decks of left field. I got a glove down on it just before someone else got it and got ball number 2. To show a little gamesmanship I gave the ball to the person that just lost out on it. It still counts for me, and made me feel good.

Finally it was time to get ready to run in to the other parts of the outfield. The supervisors were close to a minute late in opening the gate, and I was a little worried. I opted for center instead of right, and lead the pack into center and found nothing. Ian Weir later told me that I had a good lead on him and it seemed like the more he ran, the further away I got. It didn’t help though.

 I asked Dave Racaniello the Mets bullpen catcher for a ball and he told me that it was new so he could not toss up that one. I then got his attention by saying that Zack Hample said hi and we had a very brief conversation.

 After a few minutes, balls were being hit to center, and reliever Bobby Parnell who threw me a tossup last year was retrieving the baseballs. He had not been friendly with tossups this series, but with the baseball on the warning track, it was worth a try.

 Nick and Ian were also in on it, but I made sure to get his attention last and say please, and sure enough he tossed it my way. It was coming in low so I had to reach over the wall for ball number 3.

 I was unfortunate as that was my last snag for Mets BP which was cut a little short.

 I was given seats for 120 and PBC club level, but never went to either as I stood most of the game. As for the game, it was frustrating. Xavier Paul and Garrett Jones were in the outfield, and Paul was messing up the whole tossup process and it was making me upset.

 I did have a shot at a Paul tossup, but a ball that was intended for me, was predictably underthrown.

 I just decided to stay in my seat and eat and then stand around some more.

 The Pirates had a great effort at this game winning 3-1 and having another great pitching performance from Paul Maholm. With the win they had a 6-4 home stand, which helps considering before they were struggling to win at home.

 In the ninth inning, I tried to run to the umpire’s tunnel after the game, right after the Andrew McCutchen toss up (he had come in as a defensive replacement with Paul taking over right in the latter parts of the game). Unfortunately I was cramping up, and needed another pitch or two. I got down there quickly, and was about to make it, but I was not in a position for Hunter Wendelstedt to toss me one of the four baseballs he had.

 People were moving slowly so I could not make it to the Pirates dugout, and I had to leave. I did not even stay to see if Herbie Andrade or Euclides Rojas were tossing up baseballs.

 Since June 3, when people have pledged money for each baseball I have caught, I have snagged 25 baseballs. With two donors pledging a dollar and another 50 cents, I have amassed $62.50 for The Children’s Institute. Not a bad haul, but of course, the more I catch, the better that number gets.

 Again if you wish to help out contact me on here or yngzc@yahoo.com and I can get you started.

 Thanks as always for reading. With orientation for my summer job this week and the job starting next week, I am unsure as to when or what my next entry will be on. I know I will have an entry on my next game but again, that is a week away, so we will see. Also, with my summer job now beginning, it may take more time for the entries to come up, so please be patient.

 I did not take pictures of this game for those of you who are asking, as I was tired and constantly running around. I am sure my next game entry will be full of pictures though.

Pirates vs New York Mets 6/11/11 PNC Park

 I needed one ball, and the good news was that the weather held off. I was quite pleased with that.

 I inspected the razor grass with Nick Pelescak, and despite wearing shorts did not itch at all, whereas Nick who found the only ball in there was itching like crazy before the gates opened.

 I had arrived right around 3:15, and was first in line, which surprised me. I guess Baseball Joe is allergic to sellouts as that is normally his spot. Still, I would get a running start which would help.

 Not much else to report before the gates opened, other then Erik Jabs, Nick and myself playing catch on the street. I went long so, I made some long throws, and with the sprints I ran, worked up the biggest sweat.

 Finally it was about time for the gates to open, and I ran in. Immediately I spotted a ball, and was about to grab it. For some reason, an usher snatched it in plain sight right in front of my eyes, and never gave it back. I was FURIOUS, as it is the rule for ushers to not pick up any balls under any circumstances, and believe me when I say that Frank Coonelly is going to hear from me, as this is inexcusable. Meanwhile, I could have picked up a couple of others, but Nick got there first and honestly I was not happy. I love how people mess with me when the money is going to charity. Smooth.

 Pirates BP was not going well for me, as nothing was really being hit close to me, and I was not getting any toss ups, so I left the area and headed down to right field.

 I found no Easter Eggs there, but decided that since I would play the dugout, that I should give it a try. Sure enough, Tony Watson, the recent callup came up with a ball after a minute or two, and I motioned him with my glove. The two others that were there just got baseballs, so I was the clear choice, and he threw a perfect ball to me for ball number 1.

 I had done it, I had reached 65 baseballs on the season after 64 all last season! I am really pleased that I will set a new record, and regardless of what happens from here on in, no one can take that away from me.

 I went to the dugout shortly after, but no one tossed any baseballs up. After all of the players left, I changed to Mets gear.

 I did not get lucky there along the first baseline either and searching centerfield found nothing.

 I also played right and left and got nothing. It was just one of those games, and now with the sellout crowd filing in slowly there just were not many opportunities to do anything.

 People even were already getting drunk and the obvious culprits were in the Bleacher General Admission seating area.

 After BP, I got changed back into my sweaty Pirates shirt, and met with Joanne and Paul of buccozone.com. They were really nice and perhaps I will be writing for them in the future.

 I then went by the bullpen and said hello to Herbie Andrade quickly and hoped for a tossup, but again was unsuccessful. It also was the first start in a Pirates uniform for Wyatt Toregas.

 Toss ups were tough to navigate with the sellout crowd and thus I ended up with only one baseball.

 As for the game, it was a rough start for starter James McDonald, but the offense showed some life and Andrew McCutchen continued his June tear. He needs to continue to pick it up, as the offense is not up to snuff right now.

 The bullpen also did great work, and that Jose Veras offspeed pitch to strikeout former Pirate Ronny Paulino to end the eighth inning may have been the second biggest baseball related cheer for the night.

 The biggest cheer of the night that was baseball related was when closer Joel Hanrahan notched the save, thus allowing the Pirates to hold on for a tight 3-2 win.

 

Still the vast majority of the crowd was there to hear Huey Lewis and the News. I decided to leave my centerfield seat in favor of the Riverwalk. I stood by a lot of drunk people who were being dealt with by a supervisor. I stayed my distance and was not too concerned.

 While I waited the Pirates played the legendary “More Cowbell” Saturday Night Live skit.

 

The performance and the fireworks turned out nice, and the crowd seemed pleased, I just hope they actually enjoyed it and did not enjoy it because they were all drunk out of their minds. Here are some highlights:

Huey Lewis singing it up

 

Fireworks light up the night sky

I never knew that Gordon Ramsay played an instrument or was in Huey Lewis and the News

Huey Lewis sings Power of Love

Pirates vs New York Mets 6/10/11 PNC Park

 This game could have been it. Three snags and I would eclipse the 64 baseballs I snagged last season, which was my high.

 I somehow got to be first in line, and with the supervisor allowing us to run, I ran into left field, where with some guidance from the ushers found ball number 1.

 Things once again got quiet as the Pirates bats have not been that great during BP, and thus there was just a lot of standing.

 I stood near the bullpen with Danny, and a grounds crew member retrieved a ball in the bullpen, where it was tossed to me for ball number 2. That was all the help that I got during Pirates BP.

 Three ball were sitting in left field, when the Mets started taking cuts. Manager Terry Collins came to retrieve the baseballs.

 I asked him for a toss up, but he literally told me, “If I tossed up all of the baseballs, then BP would be over in 10 minutes”. What? That makes no sense as it was just three baseballs, which although the Mets are financially lacking right now, it is no problem to toss me one baseball.

 I then searched for Easter Eggs in centerfield, and was all by myself for a couple of minutes, and found nothing. I stayed there for most of BP but did go by the bullpen and asked Pitching Coach Dan Warthen for a ball, and he said no. So I went back to centerfield.

 I did not get anything for Mets batting practice despite trying and running around.

 Here are a couple of pics from the game. My camera was pretty low this game, so these were the only two pics that I took.

 I took this picture of the musical performance still going on during the Friday Block Party right outside of PNC Park.

 

 Kevin Burghardt of SNY, New York’s TV station doing a report from the section I sat in.

 

I did not get any help from the toss ups either, so I ended with two baseballs. I was not too happy with this, and the forecast again looks dicey with another sellout coming to the game tonight. There is a great chance that there is no BP, and this would mean that my streak is definitely on the line. Hopefully I can get at least one today, so that I can pass last year’s total. This game definitely will be interesting.

Pirates vs Arizona Diamondbacks 6/9/11 PNC Park

 The Diamondbacks were in for the last game of a three game set, and things looked great for the Pirates, as they had already won the home series.

 I was so pumped to see Pirates BP at this game, but at 1:30 I received a text message saying that the Pirates would not be hitting outside and in fact would not even arrive at the ballpark until 5 P.M. Understandably I was quite upset as rain was supposed to be at this game, the D-Backs quit BP early the previous day and I thought I would get shutout. I also wanted to meet with/talk to Joel Hanrahan to see if he had a chance to read my letter. I found out that the reason for this, was Manager Clint Hurdle did this in Colorado and it happened to fall on this day. The players were technically not even allowed before 5 (although Ryan Doumit, Evan Meek, Lyle Overbay and Charlie Morton came in early) and thus BP would be indoors for the Pirates.

 I saw Nick Pelescak had beaten me to the ballpark and I would be third in line. He was heading down for BP, and I had not yet told him the bad news. As he headed down, I texted him “don’t even bother, the Pirates aren’t even hitting”. I guess he never got it, as Erik Jabs who I had already told had to go down and get him. It wasn’t all that bad though, as we threw on the Clemente Bridge for a little while.

 When we finished throwing, I found out that the D-Backs started hitting. Erik and Nick got into their gear, but I stuck to my guns and kept the Pirate gear on. Colston then arrived, and I searched for Easter Eggs, and found n0thing.

 I immediately started to worry that the shutout would happen and end my streak.

 I did not have to worry for too long though, as Gerardo Parra who signed an autograph for me a couple of years ago was being hit fly balls by a coach. On his last one, he under ran it, and it bounced into the seats. I had a beat on it, and took a huge risk. Jim Saylor was in on it, and if I messed up, then he would have an easy play on it.

 I realized my momentum would carry me into the sit, so I would have to make the catch sitting down. I tracked where it was, and stayed where I was, stuck my glove up, and it settled up on the top of my glove. I think I surprised everyone, including Parra and Jim and I had ball number 1.

 Erik and Nick wearing D-Backs gear helped, as Joe Beimel was warming up along the side with Euclides Rojad as Ray Searage looked on. I had to call his name three times, and he threw me the ball. It was slightly underthrown, so I put a second hand on it, and I caught it for ball number 2. Thanks Joe!

 It looked like I would get my third ball of the day as Charlie Morton was approaching and there was a ball, but before I had any chance, a D-Back reliever, most likely Zach Kroenke got it.

 As I waited for 5:30 to come closer, I had a brief Spanish conversation with Bullpen Catcher Herbie Andrade, and it inspired me to use at least five languages while at the game. I was using English, Spanish, French, Hebrew and Russian into sentences and Colston was just confused, but it was actually quite fun for me. I am so glad to know so many languages.

 I headed towards the gate at 5:30 and opted to go for centerfield, but came up empty handed, I was considering staying there as it was one other person and Jim there, and no competition, but when I saw the Pirates relievers coming out, I knew I would have to go. This would be my chance to talk to Joel.

 I patiently waited close by Joel, and Chris Resop, as the relievers all threw and ran around. In the middle of the throwing, the D-Backs finished their BP, and thus Nick came now decked in Pirates gear. He was close by, although we never talked; he was steaming that his leg got bloody in a scrum. Nick was hoping to probably get the tossup from the duo of Daniel Moskos and Tony Watson.

 Meanwhile, the Pirates just finished their throwing, and Joel Hanrahan had been looking at me the whole time. Did he know that I was the one who wrote the letter? I am still not sure, but he pulled out the ball from his glove and gave me a good toss. Just as I was about to catch it, some random person who just showed up, snatched it before it landed in my glove. It made me upset but obviously I could not show that. Joel had a ball in his pocket, and saw what happened, and knew I wasn’t at fault and gave me another chance. This time, it was an easy catch for ball number 3 on the day. Thanks so much Joel!!

 The relievers then ran, and I followed Joel to the dugout as I still had yet to talk to him.

 Fortunately, he stopped to sign something so then I shook his hand.

 “Hi I am Zachary Weiss, the one who wrote you the letter,” I said.

 “Yeah I gave it a read. I threw you a ball, didn’t I,” he said.

 “Yes you did, and I am very appreciative,” I said. “As you know, people have pledged money which will go to The Children’s Institute, so I thank you for helping out. It means a lot to me, as I was there in Kindergarten when I was behind on my motor skills.”

 We then talked for about half a minute longer before he told me he had to go. He gave me a pound, and left. I am so appreciative that Joel helped me out, and what Erik and Nick said about him being cold is not true. He is a great guy, and as the closer of this team is doing a great job of shutting down any and all that stand in his way. I hope that he does well for the rest of the season and for the rest of his career.

 After Joel left, Colston and I walked around the concourse area and ran into a few faces. Dave Plavi was one of those faces, and I mention him because he bought the Kirk Gibson autographed baseball. I will not say the price, but Dave’s contribution as you all know will help support The Children’s Institute and Ballhawking 2011 Proudly Supporting The Children’s Institute, and I could not be more grateful. Feel free to follow Dave on his blog www.daveon79.com! Thanks so much Dave for your generosity!

 I decided to set up shop by the bullpen before the game to watch Jeff Karstens warm up. I did not get a baseball out of it, but still watching Karstens pitch lately has been a joy, and he had another solid start. The team (perhaps because they were not due until 5) did not score a run at all, and thus the .500 record is no more.

 As for where I sat, I once again was given PBC tickets. I spent my game there and as per usual talked to Joe Klimchak and let him pitch me a ball. We have a special bond, as we are both lefties. I got into the familiar catcher’s crouch and made a backhanded catch on his pitch. I joked to him that the team may need me soon with Doumit and Snyder on the DL. The team now has Dusty Brown as their starting catcher and Wyatt Toregas who was not even hitting .050 in AAA. With Jason Jaramillo close to coming off of the 7-day-DL we could have a little relief, but if not then perhaps placing a claim today for catcher Jake Fox would not be bad.

 Going back to the game, we left the PBC in the eighth, and I opted to stay to try for the last tossup. Of course I loused who was tossing it up, as Andrew McCutchen had just thrown it the previous inning. Xavier Paul had the toss up and I truly thought that he would go to right field, but alas he was looking right into 140, the section I was standing.

 I had the glove up, and Paul was looking at me, and sure enough the throw was right in my direction. Unfortunately it was underthrown, but the guy who bobbled it, somehow bobbled it up and it fell right into my row. I had picked a row where there was no one else there. Still with Jim a section over, I had to quickly find the ball on the ground before Jim got there. Thus I put down my left leg to mark my territory and box out Jim a little. I just got it before Jim could compete and I held up ball number 4. It kind of felt like Man vs. Wild there for a second.

 With that ball I left and called it a day. I was pumped to get four, especially when I really thought it would be tough to get one. Weather is looking really dicey for tonight’s game with 40% chance of severe weather from 6 PM until onwards. This could jeopardize all or part of BP, so again I will be putting my streak on the line. I am only three baseballs away from breaking my mark of 64 baseballs caught last year.

 Here are some pictures from the game:

Dusty Brown now the Buccos starting catcher prepares for warm ups.

Jeff Karstens dealing from the bullpen.

 Our PBC usher playing his fake guitar inbetween innings, and keeping things fun.

 

 Baseball Quiz time, here is the question….

… there is the answer…

… and here was what was inside the box of mystery.

Lastly, it is not too late to help out my Ballhawking 2011 Proudly Supporting The Children’s Institute. Any donation will go a long way towards helping children, and it would mean a lot to many people. Please consider helping out, and I thank you in advance! 

 Until my next entry, Let’s Go Bucs!!!

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