July 2011

Ballhawking: The First Homestand of the second half

I am up to 91 baseballs now and am fast approaching that 100 baseball mark. Here is what happened:

Mon-Weds vs Cincinnati Reds: I did not attend these games because I was not feeling well. With the bad weather Monday, the streak would have been in jeopardy and Tuesday could have been a nice day. Still it was nice to see a series win from the Pirates.

Fri-Sun vs Cards: Friday was frustrating as I hit traffic and was lucky to get one baseball. Saturday I got eight baseballs despite still being ill and making a last minute decision to come. Saturday games bring out the best in me and it was my best ballhawking game ever. Sunday was nice as I got one baseball but spent some nice family time. The Charlie Morton catch that game was the best of the series. It also gave me the Chris Resop autograph the lone autograph on the homestand which was for my brother.

Targeted games next homestand:

August 1-6 are all possibilities. They are against the Chicago Cubs and San Diego Padres. I know my job will have me miss one of these days and I will not go Sunday. But I already have tix for Friday and Saturday. I likely will go to two of the other games assuming I am healthy. With one of these days being off the table due to work, I will have to choose two of the three days. This could make things fun but I will get tickets for these. I think August 1 is a guarantee because Alan Schuster of mygameballs.com will be there, but outside of that, I have some decisions to make. Again this homestand will get interesting.

Pirates vs St. Louis Cardinals 7/24 PNC Park

I really did not know what to think of this game as I knew the family would be going which meant that everything would be slower than normal.

When we got there, I met up with the people from H.K. Anderson. It was great to meet them and get the tickets as it truly was great to meet them. They all were nice, and gave me the four tickets which were in section 124. We were in row DD which was perfect because as it turned out we were protected and did not have to deal with all of the heat and any potential rain that could come our way.

The game itself was a present for my brother Jonah who will celebrate his 10th birthday on Saturday.

Jonah perhaps was most excited to meet Herbie Andrade. He hears me talking about Herbie all of the time and when I took him by the hand to the bullpen, he was quite excited to see him and say hi. It may have made his day.

I knew that he wanted to try and get signatures and because of that, I brought one of the baseballs I snagged from yesterday’s game just incase I did not get one. I arrived through the gates literally minutes before first pitch, so I missed the potential for BP and was putting my streak in massive jeopardy.

It ended up that I didn’t need to worry at all. I arrived to the bullpen, and apparently Charlie Morton had just finished throwing. He normally will give the baseball to Euclides Rojas, but instead had the baseball and was looking for a fan to throw it to. Naturally, I stuck my glove up.

He decided to throw me the ball over his shoulder to scale the wall, and he did that, but the throw was way off. I had no idea what my surroundings were but I saw two Cardinals fans. I would have to take my eyes off of my brother for a minute, and I ran. It was thrown with some velocity, so I would have maybe seconds to get it. I started running and made an impressive over the shoulder catch while on the run for ball number 1.

People seemed impressed by the catch, and I made sure my brother was safe, which he was. As it turned out, the two Cardinals fans had no idea that a baseball had come up, and I possibly saved them despite the ball going over them. I was just thrilled to get the ball and know that my streak of consecutive games with a baseball had reached 40 games.

Now my focus was solely on my brother getting signatures. I was in the right frame of mind, as the relievers were just making their way over.

I knew that I would have to get my brother out from the bullpen area. I also knew that there was a short end of left field that I would sneak off too. I normally get in trouble for standing there, but I waited.

As usual, the first reliever into the bullpen was Chris Resop.

“Chris, is there any chance that you can sign this baseball for my brother,” I asked.

“I gotta go into the bullpen, but I’ll come back out,” He replied.

Let’s rewind the tape a little bit. The baseball I had brought for my brother was still in my bag, but after Morton threw me the other baseball I quickly switched baseballs when I saw that Morton had thrown me a gamer.

Okay time in, the other guys walked past us and blew us off. Right after Resop gave his greetings to the coaches, he as promised came back and signed for him. It was awesome of him to do that and I wish that more guys signed for my brother but he seemed happy with that signature.

From there, I took his hand again and we walked to our seats, where I sat for the entire game.

The game was a great one as the Pirates won in extra innings. My brother still is not as interested as I would like him to be but we stayed until the top of the tenth inning was over, I know great timing. It was a great game and it was nice to take in the game and know that I was feeling much better and also would not be affected by the heat.

The Pirates will not be back in Pittsburgh until Monday August 1, and there is a chance I will be right there with them. They will be playing the entire week, so I hope to pass the 100 baseballs snagged mark during this home stand. I have come a long way from last year and my goal of reaching 128 baseballs is looking pretty good right now.

Pirates vs St. Louis Cardinals 7/23 PNC Park

Things did not look too good for me this game. I was still sick, my mother described me as “weak-looking” and I had no ticket for this game. This meant that I would have to overpay for my ticket.

My dad left so I could not stubhub the ticket and save money, but I ended up paying $20 for my ticket which is better than I thought I would do. I say this because I talked to a scalper on Friday who said his low price for tickets was $35, which was out of my budget and his price would be higher today.

I was advised not to go to this game as I was sick and considering it all started three weeks with dehydration and the real feel outside would approach 100 degrees for this game, that it would kill me, especially since I had gone to Friday’s game and I had won four tickets for Sunday’s game through a contest done by H.K. Anderson who are in their second year as a sponsor for the Pirates.

Despite going against judgment, I knew that I have had a ton of success on Saturday games, especially Saturday games. Both Skyblast games this season, I have snagged five baseballs and that has helped a ton in regards to raising money for charity with my Ballhawking 2011 Proudly Supporting The Children’s Institute initiative.

With that in mind, I could not turn down going even if I would have to pay more than twice the face value of my ticket. I was lucky that I ran into a buddy that gave me the ticket at the $20 value. I now did not have to worry about getting into the ballpark.

I got on the bus and thankfully did not get into any traffic and arrived second behind Nick who looked like he had been there for days as he was sitting and had made himself at home.

We both waited for Erik so that we could all throw around. Nick left for a little while to walk around the ballpark, so I took 10-20 minutes to get a really good stretch in. I also ran a little bit to see how I would fare and it looked good.

When Erik and Nick came back we all started throwing around. My catching was slightly improved although my movement wasn’t quite there. My throwing was improved and my velocity was about the same to a little faster. I butchered the first grounder thrown to me, but after that had a pretty good grip on it. Turning a double play went well as well, and my route running finally was turning the corner, no pun intended.

After that, we assumed our places at the front of the line, and prepared for the game.

After a quick bag check, we were into the ballpark and searched for Easter Eggs, I found nothing. I knew what I wanted to do in regards to BP, as I had my strategy laid out.

The Pirates were taking cuts and although Herbie Andrade had a couple baseballs, I went for a conversation, explaining to him that I was sick when he asked how I was doing.

I was just waiting for this group that was hitting to stop so that I could assess what to do next.

As I was pondering, Matt Diaz was taking cuts, and during the week he is the only Pirate who hits them to us as Andrew McCutchen and others have already git by then.

I then heard a crack of the bat, and then saw a few people running. I was slow to react, but it deflected off of the area. The ball was coming right to me on the deflection but I had to run over a few steps to box it out. I then heard a “ZAC!!” before I used by second hand to secure it and avoid a scrum for ball number 1.

After the first group stopped hitting, I saw that Lyle Overbay was in the next group so I went over to the first base side, where I found no competition or Easter Eggs.

Both Charlie Morton and James McDonald were in right so I had a good feeling that I could get a baseball over there since Morton is generous with baseballs. With the players hitting opposite field the first two rounds of BP, I knew that I could see some action and sure enough when a ball ended up close to me. I saw Charlie Morton coming for the ball. Before I could even ask for it, Morton motioned to me asking if I wanted the baseball. I said sure and he threw me ball number two.

Ball number three came pretty quickly after that. Overbay hit an interesting ball that hit that notch on the first base foul side that I was able to get.

I then saw the St. Louis Cardinals pitchers come out and start throwing. All of a sudden another ball probably again hit by Overbay sharply hit the first base seats but did not stay for long as it bounced right back onto the field and into the glove of lefty Cardinals pitcher Raul Valdez. Despite wearing Pirates gear, he threw the ball right into my glove for ball number four on the day.

At this point Pitching Coach Dave Duncan came out with a baseball bat, and I said hello to him and we had a very brief conversation. It was cool to pick his brain even if it was for less than a minute.

Soon after the Cardinals started to throw and the first group consisted of Valdez and closer Fernando Salas. Salas nearly overthrew Valdez twice so I was optimistic. I had already thanked Valdez in Spanish for the ball he tossed me, and sure enough Salas overthrew the ball. I did not think that the coast was clear yet, so the four baseballs were in my pocket, and one fell out as I tried to run, so I had to pick that up and then put the baseballs in my backpack before easily finding the ball. After Valdez caught another ball, I asked if he needed the baseball back in Spanish and he told me no and thus ball number five happened.

There were no more overthrows, but Skip Schumaker who was hitting a lot of baseballs sharply hit one into the notch that I snagged for ball number six. At this point I was elated as it was a great day, but I was not done.

There were no more baseballs hit into foul territory during the time I was there. It was 5:25 and the other gates were opening. I was going to try a risky strategy again. I would have to run sick around the whole park, which is common on a Saturday for me, but I would have to go around the entire park ill. I made it and then opted to try right field for once. I had seen someone come into center field and pick up some baseballs. I did not see anyone come into right field, and there were no ushers up there yet so I knew that they had not pocketed any of the baseballs.

I was in a big group going up there, so I could not run, but I still found a couple of baseballs in section 142 for baseball numbers seven and eight. I was quite pumped, but the gate for 142 was not yet opened, which meant that I was trapped.

It did not mean much though, since once the gate opened and I ran into section 141, the Cardinals ended BP because of the heat. Many of their big hitters especially Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday did not even take cuts, so I would not have a chance for double digits.

That was it for the entire game as I did not get a bullpen toss up and settled for another conversation with Herbie. I had to leave after 8 as I wanted to be back home before dark to monitor my illness.

I was pleased with 8 baseballs as I more than made up for my $20 ticket. I also was given three tickets for a Thursday August 3 game against the Chicago Cubs. I likely will be unable to make that game, and can make money by selling these tickets which are actual tickets.

All in all it was a great day, and after BP I was pumping my fists in celebration. It may have been my best day of ballhawking and The Children’s Institute got more money. I am sure that the next homestand will be fun and being at 90 baseballs, the century mark is within reach and next homestand against the Cubs and San Diego Padres may be when I get there. I am very excited about the possibility of reaching the century mark. August should be a wild and crazy month, but first I am going to the Sunday game and may get a baseball or two there as well. Taking a huge risk by going to this game.

Pirates vs St. Louis Cardinals 7/22 PNC Park

This game was a rough one for me, as I was feeling quite ill from effects of dehydration. I also hit a ton of traffic just around Consol Energy Center home to both the Pittsburgh Penguins and Pittsburgh Power. Because of this though, I had to walk from the Center to the ballpark and it was not a short walk, especially when you are just over dehydration. This meant I did not get to the ballpark until around 6.

Inside the ballpark, batting practice was cancelled as it was thundering and raining due to the intense heat. My streak was definitely going to be on the line and with the game starting at 7:35 due to the weather things were not good.

I started to wonder around, but nothing was coming out of it. I set up shop by the bullpen, and ultimately before the game started talked to Herbie Andrade, and he hooked me up with ball number 1, and it was the only baseball I got all night as I sat for the entire game.

It was not a pretty game, as the Cardnals put up a four spot in the first inning, and it put the Pirates in a huge hole. The fans were not pleased, and it was a shame that the Pirates could not win in front of the home crowd, but the Pirates have to stop giving up all of these first inning runs if they want to continue to contend.

Also a question for you readers. For the entire 2010 season and the early stages of the 2011 season, I constantly saw a great fan that collects signatures and the occasional baseball. His name is Danny. We had all kinds of interesting discussions, but I have not seen him at the ballpark in a good while. Does anyone know where he is? Anyone who knows anything will be helping me out a tremendous deal.

For the next day’s game I would go despite being advised not to go and not having a ticket. How would it turn out? You will have to read my next entry to find out.

Getting Red-y for the Reds

The Pirates will welcome the Cincinnati Reds to PNC Park for a three game series starting tomorrow night.

The Reds have helped play spoiler and have helped the Pirates rise up in the standings, but now the Reds want a piece of us as they can finish atop the division.

The Reds are known to not be out of any game at any time, and they come back during many games. With last year’s MVP Joey Votto and Jay Bruce, the team has two power bats and it helps that they have a solid all around team. Let’s break down the series by game.

Monday Game 1: Dontrelle Willis 0-0 3.00 ERA vs James McDonald 5-4 4.42 ERA

This matchup will be interesting. The Pirates have had the Reds number all season and this game could continue that.

Both starters have a lot of question marks. For Willis it is simple, he has a very unortodox delivery and it can result in control problems. He can walk a lot of people and emotions often times can get the best of him. Considering he is just starting his Reds adventure, he may not go that long. McDonald has already pitched as many innings as last season, and he has done it not so well. He looks shaky, cannot pitch consistently and can’t locat that curveball consistently which seems to be his strikeout pitch. He gives up a ton of pitches, and he does not have a pitch that can result in double plays.

This game could be a pitcher’s duel or it could be a slugfest, it could go either way because of the inconsistencies with these pitchers. The Pirates will need to show some offensive potential this series to contend and this could be a great start.

Tuesday Game 2: Mike Leake 8-4 4.28 ERA vs Charlie Morton 7-5 3.80 ERA

Mike Leake has had quite a season of ups and downs. He was cited for taking $60 plus worth of goods at Macy’s and was even sent down earlier in the season. He did seem to have the Pirates number last season, his rookie year.

Morton has definitely improved over last season, but his “Electric Stuff” has been inconsistent. He has had a start skipped, and his pitch counts have lowered. I am not sure what to make of it, but perhaps the All-Star Break helped him take his mind off of baseball. He may be the pitching X-Factor for whether the team will be contenders come August 1.

I think this game will be a lower scoring one but perhaps a 4-3 decision sounds about right. I think the Pirates will run this game and use their aggression as their advantage.

Wednesday Game 3: Johnny Cueto 5-3 2.01 ERA vs Jeff Karstens 8-4 2.34 ERA

This has the potential to be a very quick game as both pitchers have been dominant.

Cueto has shown that he can own us Pirates. He can get a high pitch count on various occasions though and can give up the home runs. He loves when he sees the Pirates and considering how often the Pirates strikeout, why would you not be?

Karstens have quietly been going about his business putting zeros on the scoreboard. In his last outing, he pitched a complete game 83 pitch shutout. He has to be riding a high and he definitely does not need to worry about his confidence. We shall see if this will be a sixth consecutive win for the team.

Outlook: The Pirates have their fans excited, that’s for sure. With the Reds coming in, perhaps we will get an idea of a playoff atmosphere, although attendance will be down as it is a weekday series. I expect the Pirates to take two games in this series. I feel that they will handle Willis without much difficulty and Karstens will help guide the way. I think the Reds will win the second game on the strength of their bat. The Pirates could sweep this though, as closer Francisco Cordero has been known to blow saves. Aroldis Chapman could play an important role in this series, and I think he will impact at least one of these games.

Highlights of First Half

These were my favorite moments from the first half in no particular order:

1. Autographs: I have not been so active with autographs, but I still have received signatures from Tim Lincecum, Matt Kemp, Adrian Gonzalez and Darwin Barney. They were all very nice and with the first three, All-Stars. A lot of big time players can be cocky and not be fan friendly, but these guys were all great.

I got Lincecum’s autograph when the San Francisco Giants were in town and he was signing for every three people, so I made sure to position myself. The signature was scribble, but it was cool.

Kemp was quite cool as him and Andre Ethier were signing. Having snagged my 100th career baseball, I wanted a signature on the baseball, and I am a huge Matt Kemp fan. He has a nice bat, nice speed and can field his position well, so he really is the total package. When he motioned for me to throw the ball, I could not hold back a smile. He was a very cool guy.

Gonzalez was doing an interview and when that was over he went into the dugout, myself and about 15 others called his name, and despite still wearing Pirate gear, he called me first and then asked me if he could use my pen. He has been a beast in the AL this season, and we all saw what he did in the Home Run Derby and All-Star Game, so I was quite thrilled. This was also cool, in that he had someone filming the whole thing, so the whole experience was quite amusing.

Barney was a really interesting one. I just got him on Saturday, right after I fooled all of the Cubs pitchers (more on that later), I fooled Barney. I still had on my Cubs shirt, and others were calling for him, but I was closest to him and had on my Cubs shirt, so he motioned for me to sign, and signed a baseball and then left. I have never had that happen before, and Barney has had a great rookie season at second base for the Cubs. He is hitting over .300 and has a sound bat and is a good all-around player.

I also have received some autographs from Mike McKenry, Clint Hurdle, Jose Veras, Daniel McCutchen, Andrew McCutchen and Jarrod Saltalamacchia. These were smaller signings. I got McKenry and Saltalamacchia on an old glove I brought to a game. Daniel McCutchen was on a ticket. Hurdle, Veras and Andrew McCutchen were all autographs solely for charity. The Hurdle signed program and the Veras signed program each went for $10 and the McCutchen signed baseball went for $36.

2. Milestones reached

I set a goal of 128 baseballs snagged this season and thus far through 26 games, I am at 81 baseballs. I feel that this is a respectable total, and already I have passed the 64 baseballs I caught all of last season.

I got my 100th career baseball in early May when the Los Angeles Dodgers came into town. I picked up multiple easter eggs, and one of them was lucky number 100. At that point it had been just over a year of ballhawking, and this was my payoff. It was a true thrill to get to the century mark, especially since I had no clue that I could even get there.

As happy as I was to snag my 100th career baseball, I was completely unaware when I snagged my 150th career baseball. I was just innocently camping out along the first baseline, and then, Chris Carpenter of the Cubs asks me, “Do you want another baseball?”. I mean what was I going to tell him, no? I mean I am not crazy, but he threw it right on the nose, and I made an easy catch. I thought nothing of it for a while, including after Bullpen Coach Lester Strode ratted me out. But when I was standing by the dugout, I realized that I had got the number, and it was a great feeling. I just am proud of what I have accomplished, and it keeps me going to try and get a higher total.

3. Fool me once shame on you: Fool me five time thank you Cubs!

I have aluded to this in the previous notes. In addition to the Cubs good deeds towards me, it was a Skyblast, and I had snagged five baseballs at the first Skyblast game of the season. Things going into the game looked rough. First it was a Skyblast and the game before it was sold out, and that was just for a t-shirt. The fans finally are starting to come since the Pirates have been winning.

Also, tossups have been huge for me, but they had seemingly stopped after an event in Texas where a fan fell to his death while going for a Josh Hamilton toss up.

Even though I had Cubs gear at that previous game, I got one baseball from Kerry Wood as the rain eliminated BP, and the whole thing was sad as the field was in great shape.

I decided to go to the first base line in the first place because Pirates reliever Tony Watson had hooked me up the previous two Saturday home games. This time, he never even turned and he just threw the baseballs in.

I was a little worried, but was hopeful when the Cubs had showed up. The pitchers started warming up, and first was Matt Garza. He had a couple of close calls, so I got ready and sure enough, he zinged one over the head of a bullpen catcher, which I caught and gave back to them. It was just too easy.

At that point I was still in Pirates gear, but with the team off of the field, I went up to change into Cubs gear. As I prepared to do so, another ball was overthrown and I got that one as well.

When I came back, I positioned myself by John Grabow and their closer Carlos Marmol. Their positions were reversed from Friday and Marmol was closer to me. I had a good feeling about this, and sure enough Grabow misfired. I couldn’t quite reach it in my wheelchair section perch, but then I went up the steps and got it. They wanted that one back, so I threw it to a coach and Marmol ended up throwing me a separate baseball.

Then as previously mentioned when they were done Carpenter asked if I wanted another ball. I guess they wanted to award the lone Cubs “fan” (that part of the park was not quite open and only myself and two others were there) who was there so that was the fifth baseball. It felt like a Ballhawking Hanukkah or Christmas and it was only July. It was amusing to get chewed out by Lester Strode, because when he ratted me out to the players, they knew that they had been duped. I wanted to tell Strode about charity, but decided to choose a better spot and went with option B which is to run.

It is a shame that the team has essentially played themselves out of a playoff spot, as the talent is there, but their little present to me made me fans of them, and they all seemed like great guys even if one of them did not want to play catch with me.

4. Athletic Catches

Catching a baseball is nice, but when you do it in a not so ordinary way, it makes you feel better about it.

Sure I have made a couple of leaping catches on Andrew McCutchen toss ups earlier in the season, but that is not what I am referring to here.

I have had two really good catches this season.

For the first, it was Pirates BP, and I was positioned right by the bullpen when a baseball was hit towards the left field foul pole. I immediately took off, knowing my speed would keep me in the play. A few other Pittsburgh Ballhawks were all over the play and started going for it, as they missed I was already where the ball landed, and it was down to me and another ballhawk. We took two different routes and I was running at close to top speed, and I ended up with it. I didn’t even breath heavily afterwards, I was just thrilled that I showed off my range and earned some respect along the way. I believe that I surprised everyone.

My second was when the Arizona Diamondbacks came into the ballpark. The Pirates would not take outdoor batting practice and the Diamondbacks opted to take BP early so they had already started hitting when I got to the seats. Outfielder Gerrardo Parra was catching pop flies, and he signaled the last one, and it sailed over his head. I had position myself should a misfire occur, and it was bouncing over the fence. As I was judging it, I noticed that I was one row too close and that I was going to have to make a circus catch. To make matters worse, as I tried to make my adjustment, my feet tripped and I fell back into the seat. It was too late to stand up, so I would have to make the difficult catch while on my butt. I reached as high as my arm could go, and I coraled the ball and held on. It was a great catch that earned some praise.

As an added footnote, I also snagged a Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim 50th Anniversary Commemorative Baseball when the Atlanta Braves visited PNC Park. It was in near perfect condition, and having never previously snagged a commemorative ball, so it was a cool experience.

5. Duh Winning

Outside of ballhawking, it has been fun to watch the Pirates win. They won only 17 games all of last season, and not only have the already surpassed that, but they have battled tough and have a winning road record.

The team at home is making improvements after struggling in April, and after the Cubs series had 10 sellouts, something not many could have forseen (although I did). The fans are pleased with the winning, and now are more than willing to buy tickets to see their baseball product on the field.

It has been a frustrating 18 seasons of futility, but the Pirates have achieved many highs.

To start, the team achieved a winning record at the All-Star break and that feat has not been accomplished since 1992, which was the last time the team had a winning season.

Andrew McCutchen, Joel Hanrahan and Kevin Correia all made the All-Star team and it is the first time the team has had three All-Star representatives since 1990. Lately, it is rare that you see more than one Pirate in the All-Star Game, and they usually only get one because each team is to have at least one player represented each season.

Many players have stepped up their game this season and they include Kevin Correia, Joel Hanrahan, Charlie Morton, Jeff Karstens and Daniel McCutchen.

I have spent a lot of time talking about Correia and his 11 wins, Hanrahan and his 26 saves in 26 opportunities, Morton and his Roy Halladay-esque delivery leading to improved performance and confidence and even Daniel McCutchen and his Evan Meek like journey where he had a sub one ERA for a while.

I have not talked much about Jeff Karstens though. He may be the most improved player on the team, and he always seemed to be the odd man out. He had that one hitter against the Yankees, but last season was not even on the 40-Man Roster. He has improved his stuff and now with his role as a starter clear, he is proving that he could be the biggest x-factor of the season and that is big for the team.

There have been many big moments this season. Taking series with packed crowds against the Phillies and Red Sox come to mind. Perhaps the biggest play was the Mike McKenry homer against the Cubs. It was so unexpected and now he gets a standing ovation from the crowd each time he steps up to the plate. Not bad for a guy who was in a supermarket when he found out that he was traded to the Pirates.

Wrapping it up:

All in all, it has been a great first half for both myself and the Pirates. It should be interesting to see what the second half will bring.

2011 MLB All-Star Game

Well, you just saw the National League wrap up homefield advantage with a 5-1 victory over the American League. See I could offer a recap, but I decided to try and keep score of the game, and this has all of the information that you could possibly want. This was a lot of work.

2011 MLB All-Star Game
Chase Field Phoenix, Arizona

Last year: National League 3, American League 1 Angel Stadium of Anaheim

American League Starting Lineup:
1. Curtis Granderson (.269 25 HR 63 RBI)- CF Yankees
2. Asdrubal Cabrera (.293 14 HR 51 RBI) – SS Indians
3. Adrian Gonzalez (.354 17 HR 77 RBI)- 1B Red Sox
4. Jose Bautista (.334 31 HR 65 RBI)- RF Blue Jays
5. Josh Hamilton (.301 11 HR 49 RBI)- LF Rangers
6. Adrian Beltre (.273 19 HR 71 RBI)- 3B Rangers
7. David Ortiz (.304 19 HR 55 RBI)- DH Red Sox
8. Robinson Cano (.296 15 HR 57 RBI)- 2B Yankees
9. Alex Avila (.286 10 HR 46 RBI)- C Tigers
Starting Pitcher: Jered Weaver (11-4 1.86 ERA) Angels

Pitchers:
P Josh Beckett Red Sox 8-3 2.27 ERA

P Aaron Crow Royals 2-2 2.08 ERA

P Gio Gonzalez Athletics 8-6 2.47 ERA

P Felix Hernandez Mariners 8-7 3.19 ERA (Not available to play)

P Brandon League Mariners 1-4 3.44 ERA 23 Saves

P Jon Lester Red Sox 10-4 3.31 ERA (On DL; not eligible to play)

P Alexi Ogando Rangers 9-3 2.92 ERA

P Chris Perez Indians 2-4 2.43 ERA 21 Saves

P Michael Pineda Mariners 8-6 3.03 ERA

P David Price Rays 8-7 3.70 ERA (Not available to play)

P David Robertson Yankees (chosen on player’s ballot; injured) 2-0 1.27 ERA

P Ricky Romero, TOR 7-8 3.09 ERA

P Mariano Rivera, NYY (chosen on player’s ballot; but did not make trip) 1-1 1.85 ERA 22 saves

P CC Sabathia, NYY (chosen on player’s ballot; started Sunday thus unable to play) 13-4 2.72 ERA

P James Shields, TB 8-7 2.33 ERA

P Jose Valverde, DET 2-3 2.70 ERA 24 Saves

P Justin Verlander, DET 12-4 2.15 ERA (Not available to play

P Jordan Walden, LAA (injury replacement) 2-2 2.84 ERA 20 Saves

P C.J. Wilson, TEX 9-3 3.20 ERA

Reserves:

C Russell Martin, NYY .220 10 HR 36 RBI

C Matt Wieters, BAL .264 8 HR 34 RBI

1B Miguel Cabrera, DET .311 18 HR 59 RBI

1B Paul Konerko, CWS (won American League fan vote) .319 22 HR 67 RBI

2B Howie Kendrick, LAA .302 8 HR 29 RBI

3B Kevin Youkilis, BOS (injury replacement) .285 13 HR 63 RBI

3B Alex Rodriguez, NYY (chosen by fans, injured) .295 13 HR 52 RBI

SS Derek Jeter, NYY (chosen by fans, resting after 3000th hit and injury) .270 3 HR 24 RBI

SS Jhonny Peralta, DET (injury replacement) .312 14 HR 50 RBI

OF Michael Cuddyer, MIN .298 13 HR 43 RBI

OF Jacoby Ellsbury, BOS .316 11 HR 49 RBI

OF Matt Joyce, TB .290 12 HR 41 RBI

OF Carlos Quentin, CWS .251 17 HR 51 RBI

DH Michael Young, TEX .323 8 HR 59 RBI

National League Starting Lineup
1. Rickie Weeks (.278 17 HR 39 RBI) – 2B Brewers
2. Carlos Beltran (.285 13 HR 58 RBI)- DH Mets
3. Matt Kemp (.313 22 HR 67 RBI)- CF Dodgers
4. Prince Fielder (.297 22 HR 71 RBI)- 1B Brewers
5. Brian McCann (.310 15 HR 50 RBI)- C Braves
6. Lance Berkman (.290 24 HR 63 RBI)- RF Cardinals
7. Matt Holiday (.324 14 HR 49 RBI)- LF Cardinals
8. Troy Tulowitzki (.268 17 HR 57 RBI)- SS Rockies
9. Scott Rolen (.241 5 HR 36 RBI)- 3B Reds
Starting Pitcher: Roy Halladay (11-3 2.45 ERA) Phillies

Pitchers
Pos Player

P Heath Bell, SD 2-3 2.43 ERA 26 Saves

P Matt Cain, SF 8-5 3.06 ERA

P Tyler Clippard, WSH 1-0 1.75 ERA

P Kevin Correia, PIT 11-7 4.01 ERA

P Cole Hamels, PHI 11-4 2.32 ERA (Not able to pitch as he pitched Sunday before game)

P Joel Hanrahan, PIT 0-1 1.34 26 Saves

P Jair Jurrjens, ATL 12-3 1.87 ERA

P Clayton Kershaw, LAD 9-4 3.03 ERA

P Craig Kimbrel, ATL 2-2 2.35 ERA 28 Saves

P Cliff Lee, PHI 9-6 2.82 ERA

P Tim Lincecum, SF 7-7 3.06 ERA

P Jonny Venters, ATL 4-1 1.46 ERA 3 Saves

P Ryan Vogelsong, SF 6-1 2.17 ERA

P Brian Wilson, SF 6-2 3.14 ERA 26 Saves

Reserves
Pos Player

C Yadier Molina, STL .282 5 HR 31 RBI

C Miguel Montero, ARI .272 10 HR 45 RBI

1B Gaby Sanchez, FLA .293 13 HR 50 RBI

1B Joey Votto, CIN .324 13 HR 55 RBI

2B Brandon Phillips, CIN .290 8 HR 49 RBI

SS Jose Reyes, NYM (chosen by fans; injured) .354 3 HR 32 RBI

3B Placido Polanco, PHI .274 4 HR 39 RBI

3B Pablo Sandoval, SF .303 8 HR 29 RBI

3B Chipper Jones, ATL (injured) .259 8 HR 46 RBI

SS Starlin Castro, CHC .307 2 HR 39 RBI

OF Ryan Braun, MIL (injured) .320 16 HR 62 RBI

OF Jay Bruce, CIN .268 21 HR 57 RBI

OF Hunter Pence, HOU .323 11 HR 60 RBI

OF Andrew McCutchen, PIT .291 14 HR 54 RBI

OF Justin Upton, ARI .293 15 HR 46 RBI

OF Shane Victorino, PHI (won fan vote; injured) .303 9 HR 34 RBI

OF Andre Ethier, LAD (injury replacement) .311 9 HR 44 RBI

TOP 1ST

Granderson
GO 3

A. Cabrera
0-1
0-2
1-2
1-3 K

A. Gonzalez
1-0
1-1
1-2
GO 3

0 RUNS 0 HITS 0 ERRORS
AL 0 NL 0

BOTTOM 1ST
WEEKS
0-1 89 MPH
0-2 91 MPH
GO 3

BELTRAN
0-1 78 MPH
1-1 92 MPH
2-1 72 MPH
2-2 91 MPH
2-3 K 76 MPH

KEMP
0-1 91 MPH
1-1 82 MPH
2-1 81 MPH
3-1 91 MPH
4-1 BB

FIELDER
FO 7

0 RUNS 0 HITS 0 ERRORS
NL 0 AL 0

TOP 2ND
BAUTISTA
PO 8

HAMILTON
1-0 91 MPH
GO 5-3 (Dive by Rolen on play to get grounder)

BELTRE
0-1 92 MPH
0-2 92 MPH
0-2 84 MPH (FOUL)
1-2 84 MPH
2-2 91 MPH
2-2 92 MPH (FOUL)
FO 9

0 RUNS 0 HITS 0 ERRORS
NL 0 AL 0

BOTTOM 2ND
Robertson In; Beckett Injured Warming Up
Weaver’s Line: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 K, 1 BB, 14 PITCHES

MCCANN
1-0 93 MPH
1-1 94 MPH
2-1 93 MPH
FOUL OUT 9 (BAUTISTA SLIDING CATCH IN FOUL TERRITORY)

BERKMAN
1-0 95 MPH
2-0 94 MPH
1B (93 MPH)

HOLLIDAY
0-1 80 MPH
1-1 94 MPH
1-2 80 MPH
2-2 95 MPH
3-2 81 MPH
3-2 FOUL 92 MPH
3-3 K LOOKING
CS 2-4

0 RUNS 1 HIT 0 ERRORS
NL 0 AL 0
TOP 3RD
LEE PITCHING
HALLADAY’S LINE: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, 19 PITCHES

ORTIZ
1-0 91 MPH
2-0 91 MPH
3-0 90 MPH
3-1 90 MPH
3-2 87 MPH
GO 3 (87 MPH)

CANO
1-0 75 MPH
GO 3-1 (86 MPH)

AVILA
0-1 91 MPH
0-2 92 MPH
1-2 76 MPH
2-2 76 MPH
GO 6-3 (92 MPH)

0 RUNS 0 HITS 0 ERRORS
NL 0 AL 0

BOTTOM 3RD
PINEDA PITCHING
ROBERTSON’S LINE: 1 IP, H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, 14 PITCHES THROWN

TULOWITZKI
0-1 94 MPH
FO 8 (95 MPH)

ROLEN
0-1 96 MPH
1-1 85 MPH
1-2 83 MPH
1-3 K 84 MPH

WEEKS
0-1 95 MPH
1-1 84 MPH
1-2 (FOUL) 97 MPH
1-3 K 87 MPH

0 RUNS 0 HITS 0 ERRORS
NL 0 AL 0

TOP 4TH
(PENCE TO LF, UPTON TO RF)

GRANDERSON
0-1 91 MPH
GO 4-3 (91 MPH)

A. CABRERA
1-0 91 MPH
FO 8 (91 MPH)

A. GONZALEZ
0-1 91 MPH
HR TO RF

AL 1 NL 0

BAUTISTA
0-1 92 MPH
0-2 92 MPH
1-2 92 MPH
1B (FIELDER DROPPED BALL)

HAMILTON
1-0 91 MPH
1B (BAUTISTA TO 2B)

CLIPPARD PITCHING
LEE’S LINE 1.2 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, 25 PITCHES THROWN

BELTRE
0-1 92 MPH
0-2 92 MPH
1B 7-2 (PENCE THROWS OUT BAUTISTA)

1 RUN 4 HITS 0 ERRORS
AL 1 NL 0
BOTTOM 4TH
WILSON PITCHING; YOUKILIS TO 3B
PINEDA’S LINE: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 10 PITCHES THROWN

BELTRAN
0-1 93 MPH
1B

KEMP
1-0 92 MPH
1-1 90 MPH
1B (BELTRAN TO SECOND)

FIELDER
1-0 92 MPH
1-1 FOUL (92 MPH)
2-1 90 MPH
2-2 FOUL (93 MPH)
3 RUN HR (BELTRAN AND KEMP SCORE)

NL 3 AL 1

MCCANN
1-0 83 MPH
1-1 92 MPH
2-1 91 MPH
2-3 FO 5 (93 MPH)

UPTON
0-1 77 MPH
LO 4 (88 MPH)

PENCE
0-1 92 MPH
1-1 83 MPH
2-1 88 MPH
3-1 92 MPH
3-2 92 MPH
3-3 K (89 MPH)

2 RUNS, 3 HITS, 0 ERRORS
NL 3 AL 1

TOP 5TH
KERSHAW PITCHING; MOLINA AT C; VOTTO AT 1B
CLIPPARD’S LINE: 1/3 IP, 1 H, 0 BB, 0 K

ORTIZ
1-0 94 MPH
1-1 FOUL (94 MPH)
1-2 95 MPH
1-3 K (87 MPH)

CANO
0-1 FOUL (93 MPH)
GO 3 (73 MPH)

AVILA
1-0 94 MPH
GO 3-1 (94 MPH)

0 RUNS, 0 HITS, 0 ERRORS
NL 3 AL 1

BOTTOM 5TH
WILSON’S LINE: 1 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 22 PITCHES THROWN
WALDEN PITCHING M. CABRERA AT 1B, KENDRICK AT 2B, PERALTA AT SS, ELLSBURY AT CF

TULOWITZKI
0-1 100 MPH
1-1 100 MPH
1B (100 MPH)
CASTRO WILL RUN FOR TULOWITZKI

ROLEN
0-1 100 MPH
1-1 100 MPH
CASTRO STEALS 2B
1-2 85 MPH
1-3 K (99 MPH)

WEEKS
1-0 87 MPH
1-1 FOUL (99 MPH)
1-2 84 MPH
2-2 83 MPH
CASTRO STEALS 3B
GO 1-2 CASTRO OUT AT HOME; WEEKS TO FIRST

ETHIER (NOW BATTING FOR BELTRAN)
1-0 98 MPH
2-0 98 MPH
WEEKS STEALS 2B
2-1 FOUL (99 MPH)
2-2 FOUL (99 MPH)
3-2 FOUL 82 MPH
3-2 FOUL (98 MPH)
3-2 FOUL (98 MPH)
1B RF WEEKS SCORES 9-3-6 ETHIER OUT

NL 4 AL 1

1 RUN 2 HITS 0 ERRORS
NL 4 AL 1
TOP 6TH
JURRJENS PITCHING; PHILLIPS AT 2B, CASTRO TO SS; SANDOVAL TO 3B
KERSHAW’S LINE: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 8 PITCHES THROWN

ELLSBURY
0-1 87 MPH
1-1 83 MPH
2-1 83 MPH
2-2 FOUL (87 MPH)
2-3 K (85 MPH)

PERALTA
0-1 89 MPH
1-1 89 MPH
FO 9

M. CABRERA
1-0 78 MPH
1-1 84 MPH
2-1 88 MPH
2-2 84 MPH
GO 4-3

0 RUNS 0 HITS 0 ERRORS
NL 4 AL 1
BOTTOM 6TH
PEREZ PITCHING; WIETERS AT C; JOYCE AT LF; QUENTIN AT RF
WALDEN’S LINE: 1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 19 PITCHES

KEMP
1-0 95 MPH
1-1 93 MPH
2-1 84 MPH
3-1 94 MPH
3-2 FOUL (95 MPH)
FOUL (94 MPH)
FO 9

VOTTO
1-0 94 MPH
2-0 94 MPH
2-1 94 MPH
2-2 94 MPH
3-2 94 MPH
3-3 K (93 MPH)

MOLINA
2B TO LF

UPTON
FO 7

0 RUNS, 1 HIT, 0 ERRORS
NL 4 AL 1

TOP 7TH
MCCUTCHEN AT CF

QUENTIN
0-1 78 MPH
0-2 77 MPH
1-2 89 MPH
FO 3

JOYCE
0-1 FOUL (87 MPH)
GO 6-3

YOUKILIS
0-1 87 MPH
1-1 77 MPH
2-1 90 MPH
1B

KONERKO FOR ORTIZ

KIMBREL IN FOR JURRENS

JURRJENS’S LINE: 1 2/3 INNINGS, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 23 PITCHES

KONERKO
1-0 97 MPH
2-0 97 MPH
2-1 FOUL (97 MPH)
2-2 98 MPH
2-2 FOUL (98 MPH)
3-2 88 MPH
4-2 BB

KENDRICK
1-0 98 MPH
1-1 98 MPH
2-1 87 MPH
2-2 97 MPH
FOUL (97 MPH)
FOUL (97 MPH)
GO 4-3

0 RUNS 1 HIT 0 ERRORS
NL 4 AL 1

BOTTOM 7TH

PEREZ’S LINE: 1 IP, H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, K, 15 PITCHES THROWN
CUDDYER IN AT 1B, YOUNG IN AT 3B

LEAGUE PITCHING

PENCE
1-0 97 MPH
1-1 FOUL (97 MPH)
1-2 88 MPH
1B

CASTRO
0-1 97 MPH
0-2 FOUL (97 MPH)
0-3 K 87 MPH

SANDOVAL
0-1 FOUL (98 MPH)
1-1 87 MPH
PENCE TO 2B AND ADVANCES TO 3B ON PASSED BALL
2-1 98 MPH
3-1 98 MPH
3-2 98 MPH
2B GROUND RULE RBI

NL 5 AL 1

PHILLIPS
1-0 97 MPH
1-1 FOUL (97 MPH)
FO 7

SANCHEZ FOR ETHIER

SANCHEZ
0-1 FOUL (96 MPH)
1-1 87 MPH
PO 4

1 RUN 2 HITS 0 ERRORS
NL 5 AL 1

TOP 8TH
KIMBREL’S LINE: 1/3 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER 1 BB, 0 K, 14 PITCHES THROWN

VENTERS PITCHING

WIETERS
GO 4-3

ELLSBURY
0-1 96 MPH
0-2 96 MPH
0-3 K (97 MPH)

BELL IN FOR VENTERS

VENTER’S LINE: 2/3 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 4 PITCHES THROWN

PERALTA
1-0 93 MPH
2-0 93 MPH
3-0 79 MPH
3-1 93 MPH
PO 4

0 RUNS 0 HITS 0 ERRORS
NL 5 AL 1

BOTTOM 8

LEAGUE’S LINE: 1 IP, 2 H. 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, K, 18 PITCHES

OGANDO PITCHING

MCCUTCHEN
0-1 FOUL (95 MPH)
1-1 99 MPH
GO 1-3

VOTTO
0-1 97 MPH
0-2 98 MPH
GO 5-3

BRUCE FOR MOLINA

GONZALEZ IN FOR OGANDO

OGANDO’S LINE: 2/3 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, 6 PITCHES THROWN

BRUCE
0-1
1-1 81 MPH
2-1 81 MPH
2-2 95 MPH
3-2 95 MPH
3-3 K LOOKING 95 MPH

0 RUNS 0 HITS 0 ERRORS
NL 5 AL 1

TOP 9TH

GONZALEZ’S LINE: 1/3 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 6 PITCHES THROWN

BELL’S LINE: 1/3 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, 5 PITCHES THROWN

HANRAHAN PITCHING; MONTERO IN AT C; BRUCE IN AT R

YOUNG
1-0 97 MPH
1-1 FOUL (97 MPH)
1-2 97 MPH
1-2 FOUL (97 MPH)
1-3 K 87 MPH

QUENTIN
0-1 98 MPH
1-1 99 MPH
1-2 87 MPH
E 6

JOYCE
1-0 98 MPH
1-1 FOUL (98 MPH)
2-1 98 MPH
YOUNG TO SECOND ON CATCHER INDIFFERENCE
3-1 98 MPH
1B RUNNER TO SECOND AFTER THROW FROM RIGHT OVERSHOOTS HOME

WILSON IN FOR HANRAHAN

HANRAHAN’S LINE: 1/3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, K, 14 PITCHES THROWN

CUDDYER
FO 9

KONERKO
0-1 90 MPH
0-2 89 MPH
1-2 88 MPH
2-2 89 MPH
FOUL (95 MPH)
GO 6-3

WILSON’S LINE: 2/3 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, 7 PITCHES THROWN

FINAL SCORE NL 5 AL 1

NL HAS SECURED HOMEFIELD ADVANTAGE FOR THE WORLD SERIES

WP CLIPPARD
LP WILSON
SV WILSON

TIME OF GAME: 2 HR 50 MIN

GAME MVP: PRINCE FIELDER 3-RUN HOME RUN THAT PLATED GAME WINNING RUN. 1ST BREWER TO EVER BE NAMED MVP AT ALL-STAR GAME.

Pirates vs Chicago Cubs 7/9 PNC Park

I arrived at this game at 3:00 for a game where the gates opened at 4:30.

I then wandered around the ballpark a bit taking pictures of things I normally do not get to appreciate, and then wandered into the Pirates Clubhouse Store. I took a look at some new merchandise, and took some pictures there as well. I saw the Joel Hanrahan All-Star jersey and some other All-Star goodies. They also had an All-Star Game Program with Joel Hanrahan on the cover for $20, which I thought was way too much money. They also had a Pirates hockey jersey which confused me a little.

After a while and some talking, I went back into line and started to throw along the grass close to the Warhol. We threw, did grounders and flyballs for some time before the gates opened.

When the gates opened I searched the top deck for Easter Eggs and found nothing. I took the closest stairwell, so when a ball was hit into the second deck, I could not quite get there in time as I was covered by the bleachers and I do not think I had taken off my backpack yet, which really slowed me down.

I did not stay in left field long, and despite an usher guarding the steps, he never even noticed me as I ran up two steps at a time on the non-functioning escalator.

I was searching for baseballs and did not find anything on the third base or first base side.

I went over to first base to see if the Pirates would do any tossups in batting practice. Tony Watson had been nice to me the past couple of home Saturday games, but with the events in Texas with the fan passing away, the team has not done much of that, and Watson was throwing the baseballs in right away.

At that point, I waited for the Cubs pitchers to come out and pitch. I would have to keep my Pirate yellow shirt on but if there was an overthrow, I would be the only one with a beat on it.

Matt Garza was throwing with Andrew Lane, one of the team’s two bullpen catchers and things appeared to start out fine for the both of them. Then Garza corked a throw the bounced and was misplayed by Lane. It stayed on the field but foreshadowed what was to come.

Just three throws later, Garza threw a hard ball that Lane could not corral. I was very close and it was thrown so hard that I ducked for cover (no idea why) and it missed me by an inch. It stayed at my feet, so I picked it up for ball number 1.

But then I heard Lane talking to me.

“Is there any chance that I can get the ball back,” he asked me.
Without a hesitation, I tossed it back to him and he then told me, “I will give it to you when we are done.”

I was satisfied with that, but I knew now that Pirates BP would end before they were done and thus would get no tossups.

At that exact moment, I remembered when I got Garza’s autograph when he played for the Tampa Bay Rays and smiled as it felt like one of those full circle moments.

As I finished my thought, they were done throwing and Lane saw that I had not moved, and threw me a nice ball. It was the same ball, and thus it could not be counted twice. With the toss though, I noticed that the pitchers were still using game balls as opposed to practice balls.

I decided as usual to stay and watch the Cubs pitchers at work, as there still was a chance for a tossup or an overthrow.

As I was about to go up to change into my Cubs gear, I noticed another overthrow, and I went over and grabbed it for ball number 2. I was ready to throw it back, but no one asked me for it, so I pocketed it and got changed into my Cubs shirt.

When I came down, I positioned myself by the group of John Grabow and Carlos Marmol. Sure enough, Grabow uncorked a wild one and it went into the seats. I ran after it, but couldn’t quite reach it as I was on the lower level and had to go up from the wheelchair section for the ball. I got it for ball number 3.

When I picked it up, Grabow, Marmol and Mark Riggins the pitching coach all calling for the ball back, I threw a toss to Riggins and expected nothing out of it since I already had a couple baseballs and the Cubs saw me get at least one of them.

When they were done, Marmol threw me a different baseball, I ball I snagged for ball number four on the day.

I thought that was going to be it for the Cubs pitch
ers, but apparently not.

Chris Carpenter (yes the Cubs have a Chris Carpenter too) actually asked me, “Would you like another ball?”

I responded with a sure, and he threw a perfect strike. At this point, only two other people were even close to me and they were in the wheelchair area, so I literally had no competition for these balls. That was ball number five on this day, and all of them were from the Cubs just from warming up. How lucky is that?

I was going to stay for an extra minute, but then Bullpen Coach Lester Strode came and semi-scolded Chris for throwing me a ball. “He’s got at least five already.”

I then asked him if he wanted the ball back (see I am a nice guy), and he said yes so I threw him a perfect strike. He then moaned to his pitchers that I had changed my shirt from Pirates to Cubs, they laughed knowing that I had outsmarted them and before I could hear Strode say anymore I left.

Looking back at it now, I should have asked him to come over an explain my charity to him but I did not. Oh well because of the Cubs’ generosity in throwing me gameballs, they currently are my second favorite team, so here’s to you Chicago!

Going back to the Carpenter throw, I noticed something interesting. There are three players in the Majors with the last name Carpenter. The first one is the obvious Carpenter, Chris from the Cardinals. Last year when the St. Louis Cardinals came here, it was raining and he threw baseballs to the edge and I reached for one. Another, Dave threw me a ball just Monday when the Astros came to town and finally this Chris just threw me one. I think things like that are pretty cool.

Finally, after leaving the area I decided to stop ballhawking as I was beat and battling dehydration and went to the Cubs dugout to go for signatures.

I met a couple of cool people there, and the Cubs fans were nice as well. One even told me about how he bought a “W” flag, the flag the team waves when they win a few years ago for $8 and it now costs $50. I think that is pretty cool.

I was unable to get signatures from Aramis Ramirez, Alfonso Soriano or Starlin Castro (the latter two signed for nobody), but I did get Darwin Barney.

I was still in my Cubs shirt, thus I blended in well and motioned for an autograph. He saw me and specifically pointed for me to toss my baseball to him. He signed it, and I was the only one he signed for. That has never happened before, and I thought that was pretty cool.

I also had been texting with a friend Jason who met with me by the dugout. We work together this summer, and he is a cool, laid back guy with a great sense of humor. We hung out as the Cubs finished BP and then we walked along the concourse and went to the bullpen.

Shortly after Pirates Bullpen Catcher Herbie Andrade came in. Since the one day in June when the Arizona Diamondbacks hit in the heat and he saw me speak Spanish to him, we have been talking in Spanish only. Today was no different.

“Herbie,” I said in my familiar greeting, a greeting only he and I have.

“Hola, como esta,” he replied.

“Bien gracia, y tu?” I asked.

“Bien,” he replied before waving and disappearing.

I did not get to do the same to Euclides Rojas but I did get to congratulate Catcher Mike McKenry for the homer he hit the previous night. He waved, nodded and said thank you. The fans gave him a warm ovation when he came out to go to the bullpen and again during his first at-bat. He may end up being the Chuck Norris of this team.

After that, Jason left, and after there was no bullpen tossup or first inning toss from Jeff Karstens, I left to sit in my seat.

I actually watched almost the entire game from my centerfield seat.

When Andrew McCutchen was shown to have made the All-Star team, I was the first to give him a standing ovation, and the crowd followed suit. I may not think highly of him as a person, but he is a great ballplayer that commands respect everytime he steps up to the plate.

As for the game, the team lost and the first inning was a huge reason why.

Third Base Coach Nick Leyva waved Alex Presley home in the first inning and it was quite clear that he would be out by a country mile. It was not pretty to watch. The team was trailing 2-0 despite getting two extra base hits in the first inning.

The team should have done much better than they did against Ryan Dempster. Dempster was hurt and missed a start and with a 4.99 ERA, the team had many opportunities to score.

When I left my seat after the sixth inning, I noticed that the mobile Pirate Gear store along the Riverwalk already had Andrew McCutchen All-Star shirts. That was pretty fast, that’s for sure.

The Pirates lost the game and Marmol got his 19th save.

It was a Skyblast night, and thus it was the team’s 10th sellout of the season. .38 Special was the performer, and they started off quite strong with “Rockin into the Night” but after at least to me seemed flat. I am young, so I did not appreciate the act that much, although the couple of songs I knew were sung well. It just wasn’t as loud or aggressive as I wanted.

The fireworks also were a miss. They did not mix well with the songs, and one seemed to go off by mistake during a song. When they were to go off, they started out weakly as if they were mistakes. The display also seemed way too familiar. I have been to many Skyblasts lately and none of the fireworks really surprised me.

Still it was a nice way to end the first half of the season from a ballhawking perspective. I have snagged 81 baseballs thus far in the season putting me on a great pace to pass my preseason goal of 128 baseballs snagged. I also attended 26 games in the first half of the season meaning barring injury I will eclipse the 40 game mark this season.

It has been a great first half, and now I can take a short break from ballhawking and plan for the second half of the season and Cincinnati. With the Pirates in the hunt it could be an interesting second half from both a ballhawking and baseball perspective.

Pirates vs Chicago Cubs 7/8 PNC Park

Well yesterday it rained all throughout Pittsburgh. Working in Monroeville which is an additional 15 minutes away from Downtown, we were hit by rain all day.

Apparently the little rain that hit Pittsburgh was enough to tarp off the field (makes sense) and cancel BP (does not make sense). I had to enter the ballpark late, as my Monroeville bus hit traffic and nearly crashed and the Downtown bus hit a little traffic. I could not get inside until 5:15. The field was in good condition though.

With no Pirates in sight, I put on my Chicago Cubs shirt and hoped for the best. I hoped that the Pirates relievers would come out, but they had already thrown, so it was just the Cubs.

While I waited for the relievers, Ramon Ortiz had finished running, and signed a few autographs and posed for a picture with me. Alas I did not bring my camera and it was a cell phone picture, meaning that you will not be able to see it.

I saw today’s likely starter Ryan Dempster throwing and he seemed fine. He then signed for the fans.

Then the relievers came out and threw and then some signed autographs.

The first to finish throwing was Kerry Wood and he finished right by where I was. While others called for him, I had my Cubs gear on and motioned for him to throw the ball with my glove by putting it up. He made a perfect throw, and it went in my glove for ball number one.

Pregame there were only four baseballs which were given, and I got one of them.

With the fan in Texas passing away, toss ups are likely going to stop for now, and perhaps for the full season. This could cost me quite a few baseballs, and I have no idea if this will continue during batting practice or not. I guess I will find out during BP later today.

I did not get anything else during the game, and I left before Mike McKenry hit that home run, which if I was standing over there would have been an easy catch. Oh well, considering I had a major bout of dehydration for the early part of the week, I did not want to stay for the whole game.

Tonight should be another sellout, and the game should be interesting.

MlbBlogs Honor

Remember how earlier in the year I cracked the top 50 fan blogs at number 50? Well, now I am at number 41 on the list.

I just wanted to post this short entry to thank you for your support and also to keep reading and enjoying. Thanks again!

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