Results tagged ‘ Andrew McCutchen ’

Pirates vs Houston Astros 7/3 & 7/5 PNC Park

We’re going to start with the things that disgust me about PNC Park first so I don’t forget. Despite it being two games I attended, it was three games, so you get three things that disgust me.

#1 is the America’s Past time video. The guy is so annoying and it is on every game with no variation. It admits we strikeout and the even when the Pirates lose it talks about coming off of a win. Even bringing back something like the battleship animation where at least the teams changed each series is fine. It almost makes me miss the Pirate on the jumbotron that had that cool intro.

#2 Spiderwebs by the bullpen area. For a park that is so huge on cleanliness, you would think the area right in front of command post would always be taken care of. Nope. A couple of series ago there was this big spiderweb. Add that to the bee problem and the clear bug problem and it is a little gross. I ate a couple of slices of Diamond Pizza and put the plate down for 10 minutes during a game and when I looked back down, the plate was full of bugs. I’m glad I finished that pizza.

#3 goes to the Hunt Auction area. I love collecting things in general, baseballs, media guides, programs, ticket stubs, whatever. Hunt Auctions is really the only place where as the commercial says you can take home a part of the game. Game used baseballs in cubes at $25 are rather reasonable but otherwise these prices are ridiculous. $100 for the Mother’s Day lineup card? $65 for a signed Clint Hurdle baseball? $100 for a signed McCutchen baseball? $425 for a signed Derek Jeter baseball? These prices need to be much more reasonable if you really want fans to feel a part of the game.

Tuesday was a downish day since there was no Pirates BP. Snagging opportunities were kind of gone until around 5:30 to begin with as the relievers are tired of tossing baseballs up to us ballhawks.

So I had some time to snap pictures and enjoy myself for a little bit.

Pirates starter Erik Bedard warming up in front of the new AGH banner in the bullpen.

Glad the Pirates had promotions or lineups on the jumbotron…. not

Luis Silverio’s son throwing

When 5:30 came, I got my first ball after the Silverio’s and Euclides Rojas were done throwing. I was on the third base side, and Rojas threw the ball. My glove was off for some reason and I had just beat Kansas City ballhawk Leiming down the steps despite not going as fast as I wanted. The catch was a barehanded one with my left hand for ball #1.

That sadly was it for BP on this day but at least I avoided the shutout which is easier said than done.

My day was not done yet though as I prepared for A.J. Burnett to do battle with Lucas Harrell.

Rojas would help me once more tossing another one up that I grabbed this time barehanded with my right hand. My hands were great today, I could have been on the Allstate All Hands Team today.

The Pirates won once again. Here are a few more pics:

What better way to cool down on a hot day?

Welcome back once again Chris!

You always have to respect the lifers.

7/5/12

It was once again very hot and I knew there would be BP as the Pirates were trying to go for the sweep, but with Carlos Lee gone to the Marlins, I expected both teams to have a tame BP.

I definitely was right on the Pirates end although I got a bit of help.

Euclides Rojas threw me either a duck or a slight knuckleball but no matter, it was ball #1 on the day.

Shortly after Herbie Andrade saw me at the wall and threw me ball #2.

That was it for me during Pirates BP as I have been working the foul pole lately in a change of strategy just to see different things.

At 5:30 I went over to the first base side where Wandy Rodriguez was throwing and when he was done he threw me ball #3. It was a little off but I was able to catch it.

Ball #4 involved a good amount of luck.

A guy was playing the spot I normally do and a batted ball bounced right to him. He had no glove and the ball deflected out of his hands right to me for career snag #350. Right place, right time and I of course gave him back the ball. He was grateful and let me play the spot although it didn’t work out for me.

I also ran into Javier Bracamonte again and went over my motion with him to his nods of approval.

Those were all of the baseballs I snagged at this game. Four has been the magic number for me lately.

Riverwalk fun

Then I saw a tweet from the Pirates that changed the night.

So after ballhawk Ian Weir got some food and generously got me a burger, we went up to the Bowtie Bar a couple of minutes later thinking the tickets were gone but figured it was worth a try.

Well…

So after a nice walk, here we were.

So a nice walk inside and we took in the surroundings.

Then we saw ballhawk Max win a BluRay

We stayed for the whole game which probably wasn’t a smart idea for me.

Why you ask, because I had to catch the T after and this was the wait on both sides.

Fortunately one came the shorter way and everyone flocked to it. I did not want to be a sardine so I waited and took the long way. At least I got to see Heinz Field.

The week wasn’t over though. I skipped Saturday and Sunday due to heat and activities but braves 105 degree heat index for Friday’s game against the Giants. How would I do? You’ll have to read the next entry to find out.

Pirates vs Cincinnati Reds 5/28 PNC Park

I knew today was important. I needed to snag three baseballs to get to 300 in my career and I was hopeful that today would be the day. I would be first in line and again took the chance despite no Pirates BP once again.

When I came into the ballpark I knew I would have to wait the usual 30 minutes on a day game before we are able to go in. I saw the cage up though and knew the Reds would be hitting.

I will just fast forward past those 30 minutes where plenty of balls were again pocketed.

I would be able to get in but just for the last two groups of BP which was not ideal.

I quickly had to measure the situation and stayed in left field upon entering.

There were some Reds fans to my right who were on pitcher Mat Latos when he had baseballs. I took advantage of this after a while after he was close.

“Matt, could I please have that baseball,” I asked.

“Because you said please,” he responded while looking at the rude Reds fans. Ball #1, thanks Mat!

I knew then and there that it was time to leave that area and I had my strategy for the rest of BP all mapped out at that point running to centerfield.

I played a corner area in 141 hoping for a toss up and I got fortunate rather quickly.

The Reds trio of Aroldis Chapman, Alfredo Simon and Jose Arredondo all were in right center and I was ready. A ball game close by to where I was standing and Arrendondo went to retrieve it. I asked him in Spanish and I knew he heard me, but with a kid close by he tossed it to the kid, something I completely understood.

Seconds later, a ball came to a rest at the Clemente Wall. Arrendondo went over and pointed to me before throwing the ball. Ball #2. Muchas gracias Jose!

I decided to stay in centerfield for a short while longer and chase my 300th career baseball in section 139, where I have snagged some Andrew McCutchen toss up balls before innings and also close by where my season tickets for two seasons were.

A Reds batter lifted a flyball to lefty reliever Sean Marshall who was patrolling the area and made the catch as he back pedaled towards me.

“Sean,” I half-heartedly said.

Without making eye contact and with the ball still in his glove, he used his glove to underhand me the ball and I made the catch. A great way to get ball #3 on the day and 300 in my young ballhawking career. I have had my struggles and inconsistencies with that throw when I am on the bridge with Nick and Erik so it is ironic that the ball came that way.

Thank you Sean for baseball #300!

I then went over to first base to try my luck and came away empty handed despite toss up attempts. I also got stiffed at the dugout by a random Reds employee who had changed since the last time the Reds were in Pittsburgh. Oh well, it happens.

I then continued applying massive sunscreen just like the whole weekend, except it was even hotter on this day and I thought I was going to melt.

The first person to enter the bullpen was Bullpen Coach Euclides Rojas. He looked into the ball bag and was inspecting the baseballs, something he normally does. He had already looked up to see me and we had our usual short conversation.

He ended up throwing the two up and I was the first one he threw too. It was ball #4 on the day.

About 20 minutes later Bullpen Catcher Herbie Andrade did the same. He had already said hello but like always he threw with the pitcher and then came in. Much like a previous entry, he carried a baseball in his hand, and I had a feeling that I knew where it was going to end up and I was right, ball #5.

I want to take this short pause to express my appreciation towards both Herbie and Euclides. They both have been great to me these past two seasons and getting to talk to them has been great. I appreciate the help they are giving me towards my charity and even if they didn’t do that, they always make my day when they look up to see if I am there. They always light up, wave and see how I am doing. It is something small, but something I don’t take for granted. When I ballhawk it makes me feel like a ballplayer of sorts, and this daily gestures furthers that feeling and it makes me feel so grateful.

The Pirates would win the game and make it a long day for former Pirate Bronson Arroyo. It was great to see although I wish I was smart enough to watch more of the game from the shade.

The next day’s game May 29th, I was in the press box at PNC Park and I did get four baseballs, three of which I tossed back in and when the Reds didn’t care about the other one, I tossed it to a kid wearing a Reds uniform. I pointed to him and underhanded it his way. Since I was officially a member of the Pirates that day, I will not be counting any of these baseballs.

As for the press pass, I had a plan of attack and got everything I needed before the game began [yes before the rain delay as well].

The articles were all for a website I write for called cityofchampionssports.com and the site is always worth your time and a read as it discusses all things Pittsburgh sports.

I will link you to the articles, so that you can give them a read.

The first two were interviews I had with the Cincinnati Reds.

The first interview was with Reds reliever J.J. Hoover. The angle was that he was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and still lives close by. I wanted just to get his thoughts for a couple of minutes.

http://cityofchampionssports.com/2012/05/31/cincinnatti-reds-reliever-j-j-hoover-reflects-on-his-pittsburgh-roots-2/

As an aside in the middle of the interview, teammate Wilson Valdez started singing the hook to Incubus “Drive”. Here is the link to that song:

I also was given the chance to interview Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips right before the team did their stretches for BP. I knew that he was one of the most outgoing players in the MLB so I was glad that he spent a few minutes with me.

http://cityofchampionssports.com/2012/05/31/brandon-phillips-reflects-on-the-reds-chances-of-winning-the-nl-central/

After the interview was over, we discussed his appearance at the MLB Fan Cave and eating some weird foods with Chef Andrew Zimmern.

http://mlb.mlb.com/fancave/video.jsp?content_id=21858875&topic_id=17160334&c_id=mlb

The main article I wrote was Pirates related and on Pirates relievers Tony Watson and Jared Hughes. Both opened up to me and here is the link to that.

http://cityofchampionssports.com/2012/06/01/tony-watson-jared-hughes-realize-dreams-making-contributions-in-the-bullpen/

All in all a great experience and I hope you enjoyed the articles.

August 16, 2011 was the date I snagged my 100th baseball last season and on May 30 in the series finale against the Reds, I needed three baseballs in order to get there. Would I be able to do it?

Pirates vs New York Mets 5/22 PNC Park

With all of the bad mojo out of the way as well as having snagged the Mets commemorative yesterday, today was a day where the pressure was off.

I came straight from work to the ballpark where I was greeted by my friend Colston. We tried playing catch, as Colston has started bringing his glove to games. His catching needs a bit of work, and I have tried to help.

When the gate opened, I quickly saw that the usher pocketed any likely balls (again). I mean really, you have had enough through all of these years. At least leave some for the patrons, although seeing Pirates BP, there likely were maybe two or three balls in those bleachers. Love how the most random people have been pocketing baseballs, from Prize Wheel workers, to chefs and cleaning people. Random?

I took a spot in left field where Euclides Rojas and I immediately made eye contact. He flashed a ball and threw it my way. I was standing in either the second or third row and the throw was coming in low. Like a first baseman, I used my reach and made a nice catch. Ball #1 and I was so glad to be on the board.

Thanks for the toss up Euclides. I decided to find a photo of him when he was a coach for the Red Sox.

No jokes, Pirates BP was uneventful as always and that was it for my Pirates haul.

The Mets then came over, and BP did not help much to start.

Fortunately I played by the left field foul pole and played for a toss up from former Pirate (for maybe a day) Jeremy Hefner who would throw me ball #2 as a ball came to rest along the warning track.


I played in further left field towards the notch until around 5:50 and then went elsewhere and of course snagged nothing during that time.

At that time reliever Robert Carson who tried hooking me up in left field and missed by a lot and threw one to Manny Acosta.

“Manny,” I immediately called out. I didn’t even have time to tailor my request in Spanish as I had ball #3 in my glove. Hey, I’m not complaining.

That was it until the end of BP where bullpen catchers Eric Langill and Dave Racaniello were packing the remaining baseballs.

I kept calling Dave’s name and asked for a baseball on a couple of occasions. One of them fell from the bag and that would be ball #4. Oh and none of the Mets balls today were commemorative which was fine.

I then went to my usual spot by the bullpen to watch the starters warm up.

After that I went into section 139 where I explained the normal deal I have with the usher Rich there.

“If I catch it, it goes to a kid,” I told him.

It is our deal and he lets me in when it is semi crowded. On this day, I did not have much competition at all, maybe one kids with a glove rows ahead that was crowded.

McCutchen’s throw was short similar to the Rojas ball, so I knew exactly what to do. I reached low and gave the gloved kid the toss up. Ball #5.

Colston and I then went by the bullpen for a bit. A friend of mine in the ballpark hooked me up with an extra pair of tickets. I knew there was a 2K Sports booth outdoors and I wanted to see what it was about. So we left the park with full intentions of coming back, it was ingenius.

How fitting was it that the MLB 2K12 RV was here in Pittsburgh on the day 2K Sports announced there won’t be MLB 2K13.

Oh well, at least I got this picture taken of me.

I have to say it looks like a cool cover. A couple of people said they would buy this.

It does look like a cool cover, but it kind of looks like I did heavy drugs right before the picture. Oh well.

We then went back into the ballpark, and stayed for the rest of the game. It was a shame the Pirates could not hold on as the Mets came back to win the game, but home plate umpire Mike Everitt did toss me a baseball for ball #6 right before he disappeared. That was awesome and my second umpire ball of the year.

Here are some bonus pictures from the game:

I ran into Pirates President Frank Coonelly who still remembers me on a first name basis. Well the Pirate Parrot was in section 141 and got me with his streamer so I saved the president.

Reggie is known as the “Sax Guy” and plays various music to make money. He plays on the Clemente Bridge and you can see him after every game.

Bowling With the Bucs 2012

I will start this entry off by saying that I missed this event so much last year after participating in 2009 and 2010. Despite the high cost, Bowling With the Bucs benefits various charities and is worth every penny. Why don’t I let this pictures do the talking, and then I will come back with comments.

Myself with Pirates bullpen catcher Herbie Andrade. He has been so great to me and I specifically wanted my picture with him first. He was in the lane next to mine for the second straight time which made me extremely happy.

Pirates starter Kevin Correia was in the other lane next to me. He was cracking jokes all night. He guaranteed a home run in his next start which was this past Thursday vs Stephen Strasburg. He ended up going 0-2 with two strikeouts. Oh well.

I wanted this picture so badly in 2008, so I was really excited when four years later, I could get this pic with fellow lefty Nate McLouth.

Here I am with Chris Resop, one of the two Pirates that chaired this event. Glad to see that smile on his face.

The next image was the one you saw in my last entry with Mark Strittmatter. Here I am with Andrew McCutchen. Yes, I am close to blinking but I had to get my picture with him since I did not get one yet.

Well I choked those last frame and lost game one by seven pins.

Who does not love J Hay? This guy is the underdog and a fan favorite. I love how he seemed so excited to be at the event. When he hit the walkoff on Mother’s Day, I was so happy for him.

Garrett was in my lane, which really pleased me.

With this picture of former Pirate John Wehner, I now have a picture with all of the current Pirate broadcasters.

I am with reliever Juan Cruz who was a great non-roster invitee and has only been scored upon once this season.

Posing with infielder Casey McGehee.

Bullpen Coach Euclides Rojas has been nice to me since he kept seeing me early last season. Lately in addition to our hellos, he said that he was glad to see me. I told him as well as Herbie about my charity initiative and they have been even more helpful. I don’t know what I would do without them.

Posing with Pirates reliever Jared Hughes.

Here with reliever and buddy Jason Grilli. We had a nice convo during the offseason and he interacts a lot with the fans on Twitter. Definitely someone to get to know. Infectious personality.

Pirates closer Joel Hanrahan, the other of the two chairs of the department along with Chris and Joel’s wives Kara and Kim. Joel surprised me when he knew my name and then said that, “I was everywhere”. That was pretty awesome if you ask me.

Yes my strained back was still 75-80% but still not please with my second game. I still won the lane though and beat Garrett Jones which is still cool.

All in all Bowling With the Bucs 2012 was great. It was worth every penny which is hard to do since I paid $137.50. I would recommend this event but not if you just want to bowl. I only bowled two games, so if you are going to meet/interact with players and fans and are willing to help out charity, then this event is for you. This event offers more access to the players than a PirateFest does. This also offers you access to almost all of the team, something you may get with only a couple or so players as a season ticket holder.

The Pirates off the top of my head that were not present were hitting coach Gregg Ritchie, pitchers A.J. Burnett and Erik Bedard, catchers Rod Barajas and Michael McKenry and outfielders Yamaico Navarro and Jose Tabata.

Root Sports here in Pittsburgh will have a special for Bowling With the Bucs this coming Thursday at 6 PM Eastern Time. I know I said a couple of small things on there and filmed a less than stellar shot of mine so there is a chance I will make it on.

Finally, a couple of buddies and fellow season ticket holders sit in section 134 of PNC Park and write a blog. They interviewed me in a blog post entitled ‘Bowling with the Bucs’ a Success for Weiss, Fans.

Here is the link to a post, which includes more info on Kevin Correia’s home run guarantee, my charity iniative and how to follow me on various social media networks:

http://section134blog.com/2012/05/09/bowling-with-the-bucs-a-success-for-weiss-fans/

Pirates vs Phillies 4/8/12 PNC Park

“Gates are opening at 11:30 Sundays from now on.”

I should have known right then and there that Sundays were going to suck. In previous years, the gates opened at 11 AM for a 1:35 PM Sunday game. Just the Riverwalk would be open and no gates would be open for 1/2 an hour later. That would hold true and as expected there was no season ticket holder time, and we would be confined to the Riverwalk until noon, which essentially defeats the purpose of going to Sunday games.

Let’s rewind the tape a little bit here. I was first in line, and for 15 tosses caught with Baseball Joe who then randomly cut me off. I was looking forward to a long throwing session, so I was disappointed when it was cut short. Essentially it meant that I had to stretch much longer, which is not nearly as much fun.

Bag ready and first in line at the centerfield gate.

Erik and Nick did show up and came up with the same conclusion that Sundays are crap shoots and not really worth the time.

When noon finally did came, I decided to try right field when it became apparent that I would not be the first one in center for the two Easter Eggs there. I was a little too low for an Easter Egg, and was prepared to head down to center. I was in 142, and that entrance was not opened, and that ended up being a blessing in disguise.

A ball rolled to the wall, and Phillies reliever Mike Stutes went to the wall. I unfortunately did have my Phillies gear on at this point, and I figured he would not remember me from having to watch his glove the day before due to the gear. I guessed I figured right, because when I asked him for the ball, he said, “sure”.

I was prepared for the tossup, but forgot that I was in right field. Things are much tougher ballhawking wise there, and to make things even tougher, Stutes turned his back to me and did an over the shoulder toss. This put to risk the direction of the ball, distance, etc… The ball was slightly left of target, and I was having difficulties tracking it. I also quickly realized that a gloved kid was right behind me, which meant if I misplayed it, the kid would almost certainly get the ball. Fortunately, at the last moment, I found it and placed the glove in the right spot for ball #1. Thanks Mike!

Phillies reliever Mike Stutes. He let me watch/hold his glove and tossed me up a baseball the next day. Has a great Twitter presence as well.

BP was essentially a waste so I tried center and figured it wasn’t worth it. First base yielded no luck, but I figured I would try the dugout again. In an even stranger turn of events, the Phillies fans were nice once again to me, perhaps thinking I was one of them (you fools!) and let me into the front row, right at the steps area where all of the players would run down. I knew from Saturday that no one major would sign, and I wanted to try my luck at another baseball.

Phillies BP ended 10 minutes later, and of course Laynce Nix was the only one who signed autographs.

Then Third Base Coach Juan Samuel was putting the baseballs back in the Phillies bags. I asked him for a baseball in Spanish and he didn’t hear me. I did not panic, and a baseball fell from the bag far enough that I tried again. I asked again for a baseball in Spanish (so glad that I knew he was born in the Dominican Republic). He looked up saw me and it was another over the shoulder toss. It was his only toss and I caught it for ball #2.

Muchas gracias Juan!

That was it for BP, and I of course went to my spot by the bullpen where I again got exactly where I wanted.

From there I saw both team’s lineups and I got very excited.

April 8th Pirates starting lineup

Juan Pierre is starting. YES!!!

I did get to talked to Herbie Andrade and Euky Rojas as always, which is a treat.

I got to see the reliever file in as always and that was fun. I just had a feeling about this game after that walk off, and decided to stay for the duration of the game. Call me crazy, but I ended up right.

Another favorite part of being by the bullpen is watching that day/night’s starters warm up. I can immediately see either by their expression or by my judgment how they will fare in the game minutes later. Here are today’s starters.

James McDonald gets his warm up tosses in.

Vance Worley warms up for the Phillies in preparation for his April 8th start.

Snagging wise, I ended up with two more baseballs. The first was from Herbie Andrade. It was not intended for me, but rather for a little kid. The kid dropped it, and immediately I played hero, stopping the ball and giving it to the kid. Hey ball #3 for me which is great. Herbie gave me a thumbs up, and Euclides Rojas disappeared for a minute and tossed up a baseball of my own for ball #4, which was awesome.

As for the game, the Phillies scored in the first inning again, but the Pirates finally showed offense, their best offensive effort thus far in the season (… yeah not saying much).

David Herndon came in the ninth game with a 4-4 score and the Pirates got that lead off double again. Jose Tabata nearly blew the whole thing once again, but it was Andrew McCutchen who came through with a walkoff single off the centerfield wall and well over the head of buddy Shane Victorino. This meant the Pirates were 2-1 and had won a series against the Phillies in dramatic fashion.

Andrew McCutchen is interviewed on the field just moments after the walkoff win April 8th.

My next game is tentatively scheduled for a week from today, May 20 vs the St. Louis Cardinals. I had a nice throwing session today for 40 minutes. I was moving well, my arm felt great, I threw at least 200 times and my glove was not too bad. I also increased my velocity today and had no issues which was great, especially since my velocity and arm felt the same from start to finish.

Between now and Thursday, I hope to get three blog posts up. I have to blog about my core workouts and will review two books that I read, one of which has not even been released yet.

Until then, Let’s Go Bucs!

Ballhawking thru two homestands

 Due to the rain, there were not nearly as many opportunities to snag baseballs. There was no batting practice every single game I went besides Saturday. I am not counting Wednesday towards my ballhawking stats as I was a media member and covering both dugouts (and there was rain galore again) I had no opportunites to snag a thing.

 Games: 6

 Balls snagged: 25

 Career Balls Snagged: 94

 Top Catches of the homestand:

 1. Saturday April 23 Pirates vs Nationals: Matt Diaz hit a ball that initially looked as though it was going to fall short of where I had set up shop, but it sailed longer. I was prepared to play it off of a bounce, and it did bounce, right off of my leg. I had no time to lick my wound and I dove on the concrete on top of the ball making the snag. It also was ball number 22 of the season.. BHL founder Erik Jabs said that I needed to snag 21 this month to keep pace, and it allowed me to pass this benchmark. Also it took me until July 20, 2010 last season to get to this point, so I am well ahead of my pace.

 2. Tuesday April 26 Pirates vs Giants: I had just missed an Andrew McCutchen toss up in the third as he under threw me. My back had been out and my leg still banged up from the Diaz hit and other injuries. I also had slightly tweaked my ankle. In the fifth inning, Cutch tossed up the ball and I knew this likely was my last chance. Ian Weir had snagged the third inning ball after my misplay, and if I missed it, he was likely to get it. Right behind me was a supervisor so I had to defend him as well. It was the exact same catch as the one on April 14 against the Milwaukee Brewers.

 

 Autographs:

1. Tim Lincecum- I don’t really chase autographs anymore, but with no BP on the field and nothing going on, I tried to get Giants ace Tim Lincecum. It was hard because he started in the middle of the autograph seekers and I was closer to the end of the line trying to gauge where he was. He then was skipping every two or three people, so I went where I thought he would sign, and I ended up correct. He signed the baseball thrown to me by Madison Bumgarner only minutes before. It was a great moment and a great add to a collection which includes Adam Wainwright, Billy Wagner, Ubaldo Jimenez, Andrew McCutchen and more which I cannot think of right now. Lincecum has a scribbly autograph much like Jimenez, so you really can’t tell that it was him who signed it.

Upcoming Dates:

 I plan on being an active member of this homestand. Being at 94 snags, I more than expect to surpass the 100 career snags on this homestand, which has visits from the Houston Astros and Los Angeles Dodgers. The Astros are not great when it comes to BP or toss ups, but you never know. The Dodgers have a new manager but with Matt Kemp, Andre Eihier and others it should be a fun BP. Here are the games I plan on going to at this moment:

 1. Saturday May 7 vs Astros

 2. Tuesday May 10 vs Dodgers

 3. Wednesday May 11 vs Dodgers

 4. Thursday May 12 vs Dodgers

 PLEASE HOLD UP WEATHER!!! WE HAVE ALREADY HAD ENOUGH RAIN!!

 Lastly fellow Pittsburgh ballhawk and BHL member Nick Pelescak asked me if I wanted to go to Washington to see the Nationals play the Giants, but I decided against it as I have finals this week. It actually didn’t seem that expensive to go so very well may take a road trip this year. He also offered to take me to Texas this summer, but with a summer job and limits I declined that invite. Perhaps Washington and Cleveland are possibilities this season.

Pirates vs San Francisco Giants 4/26 PNC Park

 Before I begin, let me explain. This entry is written in a Times New Roman font, and that is because I typed it on my computer before I placed it on here. I had a tight timeline when I first typed this and I figured this would work just as well.

This day started with a lot of promise. I had read a post from Twitter from @BucsInsider and saw that the first 15 people to meet at the Pirates Clubhouse Store would get a pair of tickets to the Pittsburgh Baseball Club for the game. Naturally, I never had a chance to experience this, so I decided to go and sure enough I landed a free pair of tickets to the game. To be honest, with rain in the forecast I would not have taken it otherwise.

 Here is a photo of me posing with the two tickets that I was given.

            When I was in one of my later classes, I saw the rain and groaned as I knew that batting practice was cancelled immediately. I then got a text stating that the tarp would go on the field at four, an hour earlier and it confirmed my worst fears that there would be no batting practice.

            I went to this game with my friend Andrew, and ultimately got the first spot in line. I was just ahead of Ian Weir and Erik and Nick opted not to go because the tarp covered the field.

      Here’s proof of the line behind me. I know not much of a line, but that was the line just moments before going into the ballpark.

           

    And then this is Ian and myself.

When the gates opened, I charged in ahead of the pack. The gates actually took longer to open, because they were trying to work the scanner. I immediately searched thick and thin for Easter eggs and overran one which Ian got. I have mixed feelings about it as of course I wanted to add to my total, but the ball was soaked and was bigger. It essentially was a play that was similar to how I performed on Saturday.

            Evan Meek then came out to throw with a fellow Pirate. I was too far away to see who it was, but he waved to me. He ended up tossing the ball to someone else, and it was almost time for the other gates to open, so I was getting ready to change into my Giants gear. All of a sudden, Meek was walking towards the bullpen. I was well aware that there was a ball in the visitor’s side of the bullpen, and I pointed it out to Meek (something along the line of “Hey Ev I think there is a ball in the bullpen” “Really, where? Oh I see it. Here you go”). He appreciated it, and ended up lobbing it up to me and with no competition I snagged my first ball of the day.

            I then went into the outfield and was about to start searching but I had a feeling that Ian had already searched the area between my time of getting the ball from Meek, and thus I went to the first baseline, where various Giants pitchers were warming up.

            The tarp was still on the field, however there was no rain, nor any impending threat of rain. Various pitchers were warming up, and I ended up getting lucky. Ian was right next to me and had his Giants gear, but I had a leg up on him, as I had gone on ESPN’s website earlier in the morning, and printed up the roster and some pitchers. I was able to correctly identify Madison Bumgarner, and after he finished his running, he picked up the ball. Everyone’s attention was elsewhere, and Ian was motioning for the ball. I somehow got a “Madison” out and before I even asked anything, I was thrown ball number 2, as I made an easy backhanded catch.

            I then tried other opportunities, however those did not work. I decided this was a good time to take a short break. Tim Lincecum had just finished pitching in the bullpen and came out. He ended up signing autographs, and I figured sure why not. I had him sign the ball that Bumgarner threw me, and although his signature much like Ubaldo Jimenez’s looks like weird scribble scrabble, it was cool to have his signature. Thanks Tim for rewarding the few fans that were there!

            I also got to see Brian Wilson but he didn’t sign autographs and his toss up went to the second deck. It was cool to see his beard.

  As for the game, it did not start on time. The game did begin at 7:50 even though no rain even fell. While we waited, we got to see Matt Cain warm up.

 

I missed on Andrew McCutchen’s first inning toss up and Garrett Jones’s second inning toss up although I was in the right section in both instances. With Cutch’s third inning toss up, it was clearly meant for me, however it was underthrown, and I had no play on it and I tried to recover but could not in time and was not happy about it. I continued the trend in the fourth as I was not even close on the Jones tossup.

           Meanwhile Charlie “Electric Stuff” Morton was dealing and pitch six plus solid innings. Good for Charlie after a poor start in his previous outing.

            With no homers heading out let alone my way, I knew that I had thus far snagged two baseballs and thus tied my mark from Saturday despite not even having any BP. In the fifth inning, I set myself up in a similar position to the catch from the Thursday game against the Brewers. Ian was unaware of this position as he had not seen this and neither Erik or Nick were in play, so Cutch gave me a chance, and I made a jump similar to that Thursday catch, and sure enough caught it on the top of my glove again. It was ball number 3 of the day.

            That was it for the day, as despite a cranky back yet again, I was able to run throughout the Riverwalk and left field. I left shortly after nine with the game in the sixth inning.

            The listed attendance for the game was just under 10,000 however clearly less people were at the game.

            I have a big day tomorrow with my media interviews. As a side note, I have been told not to post any of the quotes onto the blog and thus will respect these wishes. I may post an impressions post onto the blog, but we’ll see. Looks to be an exciting day.

            Three snags is pretty good for a non rain day and someone who was tired and had four classes or so. I am now at 94 career baseballs, and thus 100 total should be coming very soon.

          Ballhawking Stats:

     Balls snagged: 25

     Balls given away: 15

     Games: 6

Pirates vs Washington Nationals 4/23 PNC Park

 I was glad that I was not at Friday’s game, as there was no game and it was rescheduled for Monday. I am not going to Monday’s game though although Nationals BP was good on Saturday.

 Today’s game just was not a good one as I just felt tired the entire time. My back always goes out, but that was not the case last night. Still I needed only one snag to get to the 21 balls that Erik Jabs said I needed to get closer to my goal.

  I immediately looked in the second deck for Easter Eggs and because of my three hours sleep the night before, I ended up missing a ball that someone else would find later. Matt Diaz also hit a ball that was in my row, but I was talking to a ballhawk named Mike. I just was so lazy and it was mine if I had even decided to run, but it did not happen.

  I started to give up hope, especially since the usual toss up or two I got during BP was not happening and I was just getting really unlucky.

 Just when I was ready to pack it in, Matt Diaz hit it my way. The ball was heading short, and I was playing the bounce. What I did not expect was that the bounce would be off of my leg and instead of wincing in pain, I dove where I thought the ball would land and got my first ball of the day.

 You can see Diaz hitting at the top of the picture.

 Although I was in centerfield at the time of the picture and was inbetween the two left field sections, I decided to recreate the dive while looking at the camera. P.S. it was raining. This was the result:

 Photo taken by Colston Cooper

 My running at this game was by far the worst of the season, so when an unidentified hitter came up and hit a ball to the second deck, I went running up. I ended up getting the hit ball up there which came to rest in the top row of one of the sections and was ball number two on the day. The rest of Pirates BP was a couple more misses and being ignored for toss ups.

 Nationals BP was not good either as no toss up luck was coming. I even asked Chad Gaudin for one by name and he ignored me. Brian Burgess was tossing up a good deal but did not get any. I missed a few homers at center, just missed it. I then tried right field and immediately when I went up there I adjusted my position and it started to drizzle. The last ball was a bomb hit by Rick Ankiel. I had it sized up perfectly but was two rows too short.

 I then walked around the park, hanging with Nick Pelescak at the Diamond Pizza and speaking to a few people, and we even chased down a squirrel that we found. The pregame festivities ended and then I caught up with Colston as the tarp was applied onto the field. The drizzle was not even that significant, and three or so innings could have been played.

 

I was kept updated throughout the whole thing, and the end of the conversation I was told that the big stuff was coming but slowly. When I asked when, I got no response. Then I waited and about 5-10 minutes later I was told 8:15. I was asking myself what he meant and a couple minutes later, I saw that the tarp was removed from the field and the game would start at 8:15. Guess that answered my question.

 Jeff Karstens made the start tonight, and it was his best start in recent memory. He may have nailed down that fifth spot in the rotation until Ross Ohlendorf comes back.

 I was never close to any Jose Tabata or Andrew McCutchen toss ups the entire night.

 At Nick’s urging, I went to left field, and sure enough Jayson Werth hit a homer right to where I was standing. I was lined up to make the catch, but sure enough Nick and Erik leaped. I was praying that something would happen to where they did not get it. Unfortunately for me, Nick had it and thus I had no play on it. I was not happy, but at least I was in the play this time.

 I had no more luck and around 10, I left. I finally was starting to sprint between the middle of the riverwalk and left field, and  had suffered a cramp in my pectoral muscle that for a second I thought could have been serious. I am more than fine, and I plan on being at the park on Tuesday weather depending. 

 

Totals thus far:

Baseballs: 22

Baseballs Given Away: 14

Games Attended: 5

 Here is a final picture for you:

Why the Pirates have been slumping

Catcher- Chris Snyder just came back and is starting to produce. Ryan Doumit is still not the answer defensively and his hitting was not good either. Jason Jaramillo was sent down and was the best of the three thus far as Snyder was injured. Jaramillo continued his good hitting from Spring Training and defensively is a clear improvement over Doumit. It seemed like the team never traded Doumit and the three catchers either are good offensively or defensively but never both. Thus they all are missing a part of the game and it sets the team back.

First Base- Lyle Overbay has been a mixed bag. This “great defender” blew a play the second game of the season which cost the team a game. Overbay hit a nice home run against St. Louis, but hs hitting is not great. Much like Adam LaRoche, the lefty Overbay is known as a slow starter and this haunts the team. Overbay has not had a hit against lefties and in a power position, and he cost a good deal of money for not producing. He is going to have to do more, or else Steve Pearce may get some looks at first base.

Second Base- Neil Walker has been one of the best performing Pirates. He has picked up where he left off last season. The average is down and the strikeouts are up, however the power has improved and he is showing that he can defensively handle the second base positon. Walker will need to continue hitting like this, and he will have to hit better against lefties. He also struggled during the homestand and he will have to hit better for the hometown crowd.

 Shortstop- Aki Iwamura gave up his position to Neil Walker, and if Ronny Cedeno is not careful, he could be next. Pedro Ciriaco had no reason to be sent down, especially since we have seen Cedeno and Josh Rodriguez get off to less than stellar starts. Cedeno usually starts off fast, and offensively he has not done much and he just is not getting the job done. Rodriguez has also had some good looks and he is just as bad. He was kept for his power, and I don’t see any power and I see a lack of patience at the plate. Cedeno has made a couple of spectacular plays at the shortstop position, however the routine plays such as grounders and turning the double play are just not up to snuff. Every time a grounder is hit his way, I hold my breath as it is an adventure. The shortstop position will need to produce more offensively and defensively will need to field their position.

Third base- Pedro Alvarez is expected to be the next big thing here in Pittsburgh. He is expected to be a power hitter and as a free swinger, is being compared to Adam Dunn. This season he has not met expectations. He is a notorious slow starter and in AAA last year hit in the .220′s this season. Alvarez will heat up when the weather gets hotter. His fielding is another story. His weight is in question and his fielding is inconsistent. He can make the plays half the time, and his arm strength is strong sometimes a little too strong. Steve Pearce has had looks at third and offensively hasn’t done much and defensively hasn’t done anything wrong, but hasn’t been truly tested. For all we know, he can do well but otherwise is could be another Delwyn Young experiment gone wrong.

Outfield- Jose Tabata has been the most complete player this season. He showed commitment to the team by putting on muscle and playing in the winter. He has already stolen seven bases and has added the home run to his game. He did well hitting leadoff but last night was bumped to the number two spot in the order. Despite his speed, he seems unsure in left field when he has to backpedal. Andrew McCutchen is known as a slow starter, however fans expected more from him after he tore the cover off of the ball in Spring Training. It seemed initially as though it would work as he hit two homers to start the season against the Cubs, but has since slumped. Clint Hurdle has tried to get him going again batting him leadoff but he struck out four times and was not a part of the offense. Furthermore McCutchen has as many steals for the team as I do right now- ZERO. McCutchen said at PirateFest that he wanted to have that “Ricky Henderson mentality” and know that the base was his when he would steal a base. He has looked like Lastings Milledge out there as the other day he was caught in a run-down. He like Alvarez will heat up soon. The platoon of Matt Diaz and Garrett Jones has not worked out well so far, with Jones hitting the lone homer. Diaz has been starting more as of late and he got two of the Pirates four hits on Wednesday against the Milwaukee Brewers. They need to produce now as that has been a part of the offense that has been missing. Finally we have not had a good look at John Bowker yet, but we know that he earned his spot with a solid Spring Training. He has been relegated to pinch hitting but has not done much with that. I say give him a start and see what happens.

 Starters- The ace has been Kevin Correia and minus one inning on his start on Wednesday, he has pitched magnificantly. Correia gave up that homer to Fielder and was unable to field a bunt on Wednesday and that cost him, but he was able to pitch well in his previous starts. He will have to continue to pitch well as he is the ace, but I am unsure as to how long he can keep this up. Paul Maholm had his second great start on Thursday against the Brewers but took the loss giving up two runs in the first inning and was not helped by the offense or lack thereof. Paul has looked like Zach Duke at times as he has looked very hittable. He will have to be able to pitch inside more like he is trying to do. Ross Ohlendorf was the weakest looking of the starters, as he pitched ok at best in his first start against the Cubs and now is injured and Jeff Karstens has been forced back into the starting rotation when he will pitch tomorrow against the Cincinnati Reds. Charlie Morton has been nothing but stellar for the team, getting a complete game win last night. He changed his arm angle in Spring Training and the walks are finally down. I believe that before he was tipping his pitches, and now is getting a ton of groundballs due in large part to that newfound sinker. James McDonald was slated to be the team’s ace until his injury in Spring Training. I don’t have much on him, but now he should be able to pitch deeper in the games. He just needs to stop those innings where he labors. He seems to pitch 30-40 pitches in an inning and it effects how far he can go in his starts.

Bullpen- The plesant surprise has been Mike Crotta. That new sinker has proven to be vital and he already is a staple in the bullpen. Chris Resop had some trouble against the Chicago Cubs in the second game of the season, but since has looked pretty good and has picked up from where he left off last season. Joe Beimel is back off of the disabled list and we soon will find out what he has. He can be used in many different capacities and is the lone lefty in the bullpen after Garrett Olsen was designated for assignment. He was ok at best, but he was a good filler. Beimel is in his second tour of duty with the Pirates. Daniel McCutchen was called up during the season and he will now serve as the long reliever with Jeff Karstens now in the rotation. His ERA was a bit high last season and he will have to limit the mistakes. Jose Veras slow the pace of play when he pitches and earned the loss on Saturday against the Colorado Rockies when he gave up three runs in that infamous sixth inning. He has good stuff but needs to place his pitches in more adventageous positions so that he can take command of the batter. Evan Meek is finally coming back after the shoulder injury and before had a couple of bad outings in a row. Meek was sick it cost him dearly as his placement was off. He would leave pitches up to where hitters had no problem hitting him. When he came back Wednesday against the Brewers, his fastball topped at 92 when it usually tops out at 96-97 so the arm is not 100% yet. Lastly, Joel Hanrahan has done a solid job. He is not being called upon to close the game as much as the team only won one of six total games thru the first homestand. Hanrahan is the only closer in the NL Central who has not yet blown a save and he just seems to have extra competitiveness when he squares off against the hitter. Hanrahan is showing the Pirates that the made the right decision when it came to who would close the game.

Ballhawking thru one homestand

Total Balls Snagged: 20

Total Balls Given Away: 14

Total Balls Snagged Via Hit: 8

Total Balls Snagged Via Thrown: 9

Total Balls Found: 3

Total Balls Given Away Thru Four Games Last Season: 7

My favorite Snags Thus Far:

1. First Ball that I snag each year is special, and although it wasn’t exactly thrown or hit, it was found on the bleacher general admission area and the ball had a nice hole in the middle. A nice way to start the season right away.

2. Andrew McCutchen toss-ups were common last season, and I got my first on Saturday when my seats were in section 141. I had no chance of moving, as all of center field was packed, and thus had to hope that someone would drop the tossups, as all I could do was backup the throw. Sure enough two people dropped it, and I correctly predicted where the drop would land, and it dropped right into my glove.

3. My first true run of the year was on Thursday, and I finally was able to run close to 100%. I am almost certain that Ryan Braun hit a BP home run and Nick Pelescak was running right behind me, and I tracked it just in time.

4. Lastly was my most athletic catch so far. Andrew McCutchen was going to toss up hs fifth inning toss-up, and I kept adjusting my position because of Erik and Nick doing the same. Ballhawks were converging all over me hoping I would drop the toss-up as Cutch was throwing me the ball. The throw was a little long, and luckily I timed a jump correctly and got the ball off the top of my glove with the ballhawks breathing down my neck. Not bad, and it showed that I was for real and changed my strategy from last season.

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