Results tagged ‘ Paul Maholm ’

7/24 Pirates vs Chicago Cubs PNC Park

After all of the fun Monday night going into the wee hours of the morning of this game, I got a couple hours of sleep and then went to work.

I would meet up with my friend Zean around first pitch, but obviously first thing was first.

I went into the ballpark and proceeded to again stink up the joint in Pirates BP. Story of my life. Oh well, things happen.

I would not get shut down completely though thanks indirectly to an unlikely source in Juan Cruz. Cruz has been injured since the middle of July and he threw an onfield session of 25 pitches on two ocassions. He was throwing to a Pirates trainer with Euclides Rojas watching. I was the only one watching the session and when they continued throwing during BP, I was rewarded with ball #1.

The Cubs took a little while before BP and then got it going.

I relied on Tony Campana who promised me a ball and underhanded it right to me a few minutes later to get ball number two.

I then went to center field where I quickly ID’d former Red Sox pitcher Justin Germano and seemed to be the only one who knew who he was since the Cubs don’t have names on the back of their BP jerseys. He would toss me ball #3.

The Pirates would lose the game though due to Paul Maholm dealing in one of his final starts as a Cub.

Random pic time:

Pirates vs Chicago Cubs 5/26 PNC Park

I had to miss the Friday game because it was the last time until the fall that I had to teach tennis. What I appeared to miss was any chance of snagging the Astros commemoratives though. The Cubs had just finished playing them and I really thought I missed the chance of another commemorative baseball.

It was going to be a hot day, so I opted to arrive 15 minutes before the gates opened to conserve energy. I did a quick round of stretches and then went into the ballpark.

Of course I did not find any easter eggs. I then took a look at my surroundings and was surprised to see that the Cubs were already out. Ugh, I would have to make a quick decision.

I opted to go over to the Cubs side and there were no easter eggs to be found.

Some of the Cubs had started throwing while some did not when I arrived over to the first base side.

Fortunately the area was pretty much empty and I was in a perfect spot for an overthrow.

My friend Colston again was with me at this game and had run over with me. Immediately I saw a ball by the bag with the Astros commemorative ball and knew that was my chance.

I could not ask yet though, as the Cubs were throwing. Cubs pitcher Rafael Dolis was throwing with their bullpen catcher Andrew Lane. There was a slight overthrow that rolled to the base of the wall. I grabbed it (not a commemorative) and immediately knew the drill and tossed it back to Lane.

“We’ll be sure to give it back to you when we are done,” Lane said.

After a couple more throws Dolis looked for me and fired for ball #1. I will not count the ball twice since it was the same ball.

Muchas gracias Rafael.

A couple of minutes later Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster started signing autographs. I wanted a picture since he has a foundation and since I snag for charity I thought it would be cool, but unfortunately Colston did not bring his camera. Oh well, in a weird twist, Dempster had a ball, saw my glove and tossed it to me (no commemorative). Ball #2 and I was glad to get one from him, since I respect him, and the way he pitches.

Thanks Ryan, you do great work for the community and it was awesome to hear that you were at the Miracle League event that morning. Thanks for helping me out!

I was still in my Pirate gear when another bullpen catcher Franklin Font came in from the bullpen and had a baseball in his glove. He saw me and flipped it my way for ball #3 (no commemorative). Random, but awesome.

All of a sudden I remembered, wait a second, I still see that Astros commemorative baseball there and I really want it. Fortunately, I saw Travis Wood walking my way and I knew this was my shot.

“Travis, any chance you could please get me that ball right over there (I point to the commemorative),” I asked.

“Sure no problem,” he said.

He went over to get it and I realized I had the ball Font gave me in my glove still. Wood handed the commmemorative to me and I offered to give back the other ball but he told me to keep it. Fine by me, ball #4.

Travis Wood with the lifeline!

At this point, the pitchers had stopped throwing and it brought back memories of last season when I got five Cubs baseballs in 10 minutes and it felt like deja vu all over again.

So in the spirit of it all, I saw the Cubs position players throwing and I went over there and lined myself up. All of a sudden I saw Joe Mather and his throwing partner finish. He then pointed to me with his glove. It was a long throw and it was for me. The ball came in perfectly and I made the catch for ball #5.

That was it until Cubs BP started. A ball got hung up close to the area I was standing. I knew that I could not reach it outright. I did not have a glove trick, but I did have a coat.

So I tried a glove trick with the coat, slightly putting in a small part of the glove and pulling. I was getting very close, but then saw someone, maybe a camera guy and asked him if he would give the ball a kick. He did, ball #6.

That would be it for the game although I stayed by the bullpen and watched the starters warm up. This was a special day though, as Kevin Correia and former Pirates starter Paul Maholm were the starters. It was great to see Maholm back and even though the Cubs uniform looked weird, he still looked like the Paul of old. The Pirates would go on to win the game and hand the Cubs their 11th straight loss.

I also was a big winner as I had snagged my fourth commemorative which was awesome.

From right to left in order of snagged: Dodgers 50th anniversary, Marlins Park, Mets 50th anniversary and Astros 50th anniversary. All that’s left is Orioles and Red Sox.

I decided to risk a Sunday BP to try and snag some more baseballs. Would it pay off?

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.

Notes about my media experience AKA this is last post until I post the interviews

1. I arrived around 3:30 and was the first in line for clubhouse access at 3:30. I saw a few players and Pirates Manager Clint Hurdle said a quick and pleasant hello to me. Evan Meek then saw and remembered me and gave me a pound. Was he feeling better? I would think so, and he was available to pitch tonight and he pitched a 1-2-3 inning

2. I had no idea what to expect when I got into Clint Hurdle’s office. The only time I had ever seen an office was in Bob Knight’s autobiography, and his office was a MESS. I completely had no idea what was going to happen coming in and I had no idea who I would interview, and what I would ask. I walked in and saw Clint Hurdle waiting for us. We all put our recorders on the desk and asked questions of Clint. As a fan, it is easy to ask him a question, however I was a little overwhelmed by the situation. People were asking questions left and right, and I had no set gameplan and thus I just took it all in (no Clint Hurdle pun intended). The first question is always the hardest but when the postgame came, I got the last question and used it to talk about Evan Meek in the bullpen and breathed a huge sigh of relief.

 3. I then left the clubhouse and stayed on the field for all of Pirates BP.

 4. My first image of the field was all kinds of yellow jerseys, a large group likely the pitchers were in center with the players stretching directly in front of me by the third base side. I first was welcomed by Euclides Rojas and we shook hands. Pedro Alvarez, Rojas and Luis Silverio all were communicating to each other in Spanish. From what I saw the whole time of BP, Pedro was the LOUDEST of all of the players. Pedro then asked me a little later in English how I was and I tried to respond in Spanish to keep it going but he continued in English. Oh well, at least I tried to fit in.

 5. Andrew McCutchen then came on the field and he said hey to the Alvarez and Silverio and I totally expected him to walk past me. Everyone knows how I feel about Cutch, however at the ballpark, he is in his element, Mr. Personality. He was dancing in the outfield, singing along with Pedro in a girly voice during a song and usual antics. He actually said a “Hey boss” to me before quickly asking how I was, and responding to my reply. That likely was the best exchange we have ever had and I now respect him 1/22 more.

 6. Charlie Morton hit a BP homer and so did Paul Maholm who had to contend with the much tougher right field. The pitchers had a good laugh at Maholm’s expense when he hit five or six balls that hit the top of the cage and didn’t go much further. They had home run distance but kept connecting with the cage.

 7. When Pirates BP ended it started to get cooler than it already was and I just had a long sleeve dress shirt on. I went inside back into the press area. At this point, the players were changing and a saw a lot of bare body parts (nothing too graphic) and a lot of tattoos. Players were getting showers and they all were wearing sandals and hanging out. I decided to first interview Charlie Morton. Again, I had absolutely NO clue what I was going to ask anyone, and so I got the nerves out of the way pretty quickly. My first question to Morton was about the whole Electric Stuff buzz that was on Facebook and Twitter, and you will just have to wait for his response, but he was laughing and smiling the whole way which was the goal, to loosen him up. We talked about his new arm angle, comparisons to Roy Halladay, working on control of the arm angle, momentum and much more.

 Photo taken by Colston Cooper on a separate occasion

 8. An interview I really wanted to do was with Mike Crotta. I don’t hear much from the press about him and I wanted to really talk about his sinker and I was given that chance. It was an interesting interview and the sinker is the focal point of that interview. After this interview I went back to observe Brewers BP.

 Unrelated photo taken by my friend Kayla Thompson

 9. I tried to find out if they were going to increase security or do anything in response to the tasing, however I was told that nothing will be done. This confuses me, although next to no one would be/was at the game. It will be interesting to see if they consider changing in the future.

 10. After Brewers BP, I grabbed some dinner and then headed up to the press box, where I grabbed the pre-game sheets and then sat and enjoyed the game. I know what some people are thinking, and to answer your questions, yes I was able to watch the Penguins game as well, as it was on a TV right in front of me.

 11. The game had a very fast pace to it through the first few innings as both Kevin Correia and Brewers pitcher Shaun Marcum were pitching no-hitters, but Correia blinked first and then allowed a homer to Prince Fielder and the Pirates lost 6-0.

 12. Towards the end of the game I received a free media guide. The media guide much like the one I received in 11th grade was spiral bound. I also received a thumb drive which contained every MLB team’s 2011 media guide. I love reading the media guides and this is hours of great reading, and also potentially a lot of helpful ballhawking resources.

 13. I then went down with the rest of the press, and after the meeting with Hurdle and my question, we went into the clubhouse. We then were called back into Hurdle’s office where we were told that Chris Snyder would come up and Jason Jaramillo would be sent down. I am posting this again, just because I was one of a few people to first find out.

 14. We then interviewed Kevin Correia and I asked another question. Considering I heard that he was swearing upon entering the clubhouse, he was no problem in terms of speaking to.

 15. Jason Jaramillo agreed to his final interview before leaving Pittsburgh. He is sad not to be with the team but realizes that he likely will have more of a chance to play in Indy and hopes to be back up in Pittsburgh really soon.

 16. From there we all interviewed Lyle Overbay as he was a former teammate of Marcum’s.

 17. Things died down, and the other media members left for the night. I decided to spend one last interview being with Joel Hanrahan. We talked mainly about the closer position and also how he has grown as a closer and player since his Washington days.

 Photo taken Opening Day.

 18. It was an eventful and successful day for me, and not bad considering I had no gameplan coming in. I now know that I will need to plan for who I want to interview and at least have an idea of what to ask. Also there is a chance that I could get media credentials once a homestand, and that could be exciting.

 The next entry will be the transcript. What you just read before was a summary of what happened. There was quite a bit more, but you get the idea. Expect this next entry Friday or Saturday. I did take a decent amount of pictures, and I am unsure if I can get them to work or not.

Some MAJOR Announcements

1. Change of plans, I will be going to part of tonight’s game. That is assuming that there is batting practice. I likely will stay through the first Cutch toss up and then leave as I have class. I am hoping for a couple of baseballs, but that all depends on whether or not there will be BP.

2. In the fallout from the events of Saturday’s tasing and other fan activities, I was the first one to Facebook/Twitter the video my buddy Erik took and now it is viral and he has been interviewed by numerous media outlets. I also found out that my FanFoto was in the same gallery as the man who was tased and sure enough they were later pulled from the gallery. I have received some media attention myself as Sunday night I was interviewed by local WTAE in Squirrel Hill.

 I responded to a Facebook post they had and a short while later they messaged me stating they wanted to send a camera crew and gave me a couple of phone numbers. Then at 9:30 I met them and it went well. Being a journalism student, I knew they could only use a soundbite as the reporter had a lot of explaining that went along with her piece and they chose one that fit, although they told me they could have used much more than what they did. I even took a side there but it was not used in the package.

 Yesterday I tweeted that I was by the bullpen during the events and was able to see everything that occurred and that ultimately led to more media for me. At 11:30 this morning, I was interviewed by Stan Savran about what I saw and I answered openly and honestly. It was great to do, and I was finally able to state my opinion.

 Finally, I was asked earlier on Facebook what my opinions were regarding the matter by a writer for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, and I gave him permission to use whatever he wanted for the story. That article could be published as soon as tomorrow, and I would put that up here as well.

3. As I said earlier, I was by the bullpen during the whole tasing and I got to see everything as my view was unobstructed. I got to see police come up to the section, the man come down, the man get tased and the woman get arrested. The aftermath was quite scary as police with night sticks and tasers were directly behind me along with 20 other people and the woman. I personally side with the officers. Once that man struck the PNC Park employee, the police were allowed to bring down the man and arrest him by any means necessary. The crowd did not help anything by chanting and getting in the way. People blame the police for making things worse and while it is hard to not fault the police a little bit, the crowd getting in the way did not help anything and made the job take a lot more time and energy than it needed to. I will have more in this in my college newspaper as I wrote an opinion piece and will put it on here when it is published.

4. The biggest news for me perhaps is that I will be a member of the media tomorrow. I have received a press pass, and will be conducting interviews as soon as the clubhouse opens at 3:30. I do not have a gameplan quite yet in terms of who I will interview and even what to ask, but I may just ad-lib it all. I have been told not to talk to Andrew McCutchen and Pedro Alvarez and will honor that and also will not bother Paul Maholm, who is that night’s starter. It will be an interesting night and I am sure that I will blog about my adventures.

5. Lastly, I still will be honored on the field Thursday. I have called my Pirates representative, and will try to figure out how I will get my tickets so I can partake in at least 30 minutes of BP.

 My next two blog entries will be on tonight’s game if I attend, and about tomorrow’s media session. It is an exciting time for me right now and it will be interesting to see how the next couple of days go.

4/7/11 Opening Day PNC Park

 I was getting over a nasal drip and allergies but despite being told that the game was “sold out”, I bought my ticket from Point Park University.

 It all came down to a good night’s sleep so after watching Survivor, I immediately went to bed to get that extra half-hour of sleep.

 I then fulfilled my obligations, and ended up contributing to a university radio show for two hours before getting some final preparations for the game in and then making the short walk from Point Park to PNC Park.

 I fully expected a line to back all the way until the street but the line was not nearly as long. I actually cut to the front of the line with all of the ballhawks, and no one complained which is great.

 I slowly but surely caught up with a lot of the ballhawks starting with Harold, Jim Saylor and Ian Weir before quickly jogging down the steps and trying to play homers off of the riverwalk.

 The Pirates had started BP early, because of the on-field activities scheduled for 12:40. The gates were expected to open at 11:30 so needless to say, us ballhawks were not pleased. During my couple of minutes down there after the long jog, I was beaten to a ball by both Erik and Nick and my reactions were not great.

 Still this was a game that I initially did not commit to, and thus this would be a strike (no pun intended) extra for me.

 Going into the game I want to snag at least three. That was what I snagged last season in my ballhawking debut, and I want an overall average of three or higher to make my ballhawking goal.

 Erik, Nick and I all went up early in hopes that the ballpark would open at 11 and it did. I got in just ahead of Ian and behind Erik and Nick. The familiar sprint was something I missed a lot and I started searching the lower portions of left field for easter eggs but was coming up empty. This was when the light bulb clicked. I decided to search the second deck as no one was up there.

 This ended up being a wise move, as when I went up, I saw a white speck and sure enough I was on the board with ball number 1. It was just too easy, and in fact I could not have asked for more. I was not feeling great and to get on the board like that brought a smile to my face. I quickly surveyed the ball and saw that it had a decent sized hole in it which meant that someone must have had a lot on their swing. I have no idea who hit it, but just for the heck of it will say Tabata.

 The first Evan Meek sighting of the 2011 season occurred after he threw a ball to Erik and Nick and actually said, “It’s 1-1 who’s going to come out on top”.He said that he would get us all later and I jokingly responded, “I thought what we had was something special” which drew a laugh out of him. He obviously knows/is more than willing to contribute to our collections.

 I did not get lucky though and he never tossed me up one. Also fans decided to sit in the most random places in left field and just blocked my path towards everything. It was very annoying and I swore quite a few times under my breath as it was clearly amateur hour. For obvious reasons, I will not repeat what I said on this blog, but it is ridiculous, we have gloves and moving around you just makes it that much harder and more likely for somebody to get hurt.

 I also was trying to take pictures for the blog and missed out on two snags which easily could have been mine, and at that point I thought that I was doomed.

 Pirates BP ended and I got nothing else, and I got quite upset as I changed into my Rockies gear. I knew that my chances of getting to my goal were getting more slim by the second as the sellout crowd of 39,219 fans filed into the stadium.

 I started out Rockies BP in left field and was coming up empty handed and decided to move my efforts to center field. After some time in center, nothing was happening and I was trying to figure out what to do. Left field was packed at this point and it would have been very hard to be mobile and right field was tough, so I decided to stay.

 Shortly after, an unknown Rockies player hit a ball to the warning track. I lined it up and knew that this was my chance. I had the corner spot in center and lined it up. Now I had a new glove and it was broken in very well but this was the first test of my new glove. I never had a chance to throw with anyone because I was sick and the weather was terrible. Also no one was throwing when I showed up. So this was it, and in short I blew it.

 The ball did a one hopper into my glove and it just fell out. To make matters worse, the fans in center let out a collective groan. The third bit of bad news was who saw it. Matt Lindstrom threw me my 64th and final ball of the 2010 season, and now he was a Rockies reliever. Would he remember me? No was the answer, but he provided another memorable moment.

 I asked Matt if he could help me out and toss me up the ball. He legitimately told me “You dropped it”. That was his actual quote and he mockingly sounded like a first grader. After the “grief” that Lindstrom gave me, he softly tossed up ball number 2.

 I then decided to go for the trifecta and challenge myself. I would ballhawk in right field. I only did this a couple of times last year and it did not go well. I think I will ballhawk a little more there especially with some of the hitters that the NL Central has. I first went up and chatted with Big Yellow, Randy Page. The last I had seen him, was when he came onto my radio show for a couple of segments to talk Pirates baseball, so of course it was great to see him.

 Of course once I went to right field, the Rockies hit a cold spell. I think maybe one of their hitters even made it over the wall during their entire BP time.

 I of course shifted my position and then of course is when that one home run came, right in a place where if I was situated in my previous spot, then I would have been able to snag it.

 Still a short time later, an unknown Rockies player had a ball close to the warning track and being the only person remotely close to wearing Rockies gear, I thought that I had a chance to snag it. It ended up that the player threw a terrible toss and it started to go down the stairway in the section I was in. I was closest to the steps and sprinted down the steps getting the ball ahead of five others chasing the ball and thus met my goal with ball number 3.

 I left right field after the snag, and moved back to center. I did contemplate chasing foul balls but the Rockies weren’t hitting many out. Troy Tulowitzki was hitting some balls out to left but not many people were able to move to try and get the snag so it got swallowed up by a sea of hands. I came close to a snag of a homer in center. It took a huge bounce and if the guy who snagged it had bobbled it, I would have made an easy snag, but it was not to be.

 Rockies BP ended a few minutes after and then the waiting game began. I clumsily looked for my bag that I had left in left field for five minutes until I found that it was moved down.

 I then headed to the bullpen, which ended up being my seat for the whole game, because I did not want to sit in my designated seat in the bleacher general admission area.

 I was able to watch Paul Maholm warm up which never gets old but he put the baseball in his back pocket and thus I did not get the toss up. I quickly grabbed my things, and moved over to the fenced area right by the bullpen as I knew how the whole move to that area thing would work and I looked quite smart as I got the closest spot that I could.

 Closer to the middle of the game, bullpen coach Euclides Rojas got my attention. He explained to me that he was going to throw me a ball but to give it to the little child standing to my left. I agreed and he threw me a nice easy to catch ball and I snagged it for ball number four. I immediately gestured a thank you with my glove and with him watching, quickly gave it to the child. I half expected him to throw another my way, but it was not to be.

 I then stood and enjoyed the game, and nothing else snagging wise came my way.

 Let me correct myself for a second, there was not much to enjoy about the game as the Pirates lost 7-1.

 The highlight of the game at least according to fan applause was a fan who in the ninth inning went onto the field. Two security guards responded a little late, but got on the field. I was surprised that only those two, who were stationed in right field were the only two out. The man encouraged the crowd and the ovation grew louder when he deked a security guard and made him fall onto the grass. Eventually though he was contained and the security person by the bullpen said that the man would be fined $500. The fans all cheered him amidst taking cell phone videos, and a minute or two later Pirates reliever Jose Veras mimiced the man’s actions.

 Lastly, the pregame stuff was all nice as the Pirates spent the majority of the time honoring Chuck Tanner who recently passed away. Also Jeff Banister was given the “Pride of the Pirates” Award. Former Pirates Manager and current Rockies Manager Jim Tracy, went out onto the field today with a mixed reaction although I would say that at least 80% of that reaction was in a negative direction.

 My next game will be on Saturday against these same Rockies, and Mr. Electric Stuff himself Charlie Morton is expected to go. I was supposed to be interviewed by my school paper but that will not happen. Hopefully I will be able to catch with the glove on Saturday before the game.

 

The New Atkins Diet: Garrett Atkins cut and other notes

 1. The Pirates have unconditionally released Garrett Atkins today. Atkins hit .129 this spring managing only four hits in 31 at-bats. I along with many others predicted that Atkins would stick with the team, and my main reason was that Atkins played under Clint Hurdle in Colorado, however he never really got it going. Many also had anticipated that after his dismal season with the Baltimore Orioles last season that being reunited with Hurdle would help, as Atkins found a great deal of success in Colorado and the hitter’s friendly Coor’s Field, however that never came into fruition.

 2. Left-handed reliever Justin Thomas and right-handed pitcher Fernando Nieve were both reassigned to Minor League Camp, and neither was expected by anyone to make the 25-man roster and was evidenced by Thomas pitching in only 4 1/3 innings and Nieve being rocked in the early portions of Spring Training.

 3. Scott Olsen and Joe Beimel have both been injured for almost all of Spring Training and now Olsen is out of the fifth starter race and Pirates GM Neal Huntington “may be out of the bullpen competition”. There is a strong possibility that Olsen will start the season on the disabled list as he has recovered but according to Huntington, “…not where he needs to be”. Olsen spoke to the media today, and based off of those conversations, it is almost certain that he will start his year on the DL. With this news, it appears that Charlie Morton will be the fifth starter on this team as Brad Lincoln’s status is unknown. Morton has had a great spring and is getting his confidence back which will help this team.

4. Opening Day is April 1 in Chicago against the Cubs and either Paul Maholm or Kevin Correia will get the ball for the Pirates. Whomever loses this competition will receive the consolation of throwing the home opener April 7 vs the Colorado Rockies. I am sure that if it was up to the fans and even Correia, Maholm would get the ball, as he and Doumit are the longest tenured Pirates. Other than his start against the Red Sox, Correia has not fared well this spring and Maholm not great either however has shown promise and made adjustments.

 These are some of the Pirates news and notes for the day, and I am going to be posting an entry within the hour on some Pirates and their strengths/weaknesses.

Pirates Pre-Season Forecast

 Pitcher with the most to prove:

 1. Ross Ohlendorf- Ohlendorf is a great guy, but he only had one win last year. He pitched quite well last season but never received any run support. This year he got a huge raise in $2.1 million and he will have to pitch well and stay healthy.

 2. Kevin Correia- Correia pitched himself out of the San Diego Padres rotation while they were in the middle of the playoff race. Correia pitched with a heavy heart as his brother passed away and this season will have to prove that the Pirates made a smart decision in signing him. Thus far, it has not looked like a great investment as he has looked overmatched in Spring Training, but only time will tell.

3. Charlie Morton- Morton is expected to be the team’s fifth starter, and if he pitches the way he did early last year, then the team will struggle mightily. Morton has shown that he has been capable of pitching well, bouncing back from an Andrew Jones home run earlier this week and then calming down to take down the Yankees. If Morton can control his emotions and his pitching, then it could very well inspire his teammates.

4. Joel Hanrahan- Hanrahan has emerged as the closer, but he has to prove to management that he can handle the job. He was traded from the Washington Nationals due to his inability to close games. He “shared” closing duties last year with Evan Meek, although he closed almost all of the games. He blew a few games and thus I am concerned that he cannot finish the job.

 Winner: Charlie Morton

  Morton showed a lot of promise as a September call-up and even further by his willingness to go to the Dominican Winter League to work on his makeup. I think this season could be the season Pirates management expected from Morton in 2009 but if he does not succeed, then the Pirates may lose their patience with him.

    Hitter with the most to prove:

 1. Matt Diaz- Diaz was signed during the off-season and will be splitting time in right field with Garrett Jones. This experiment happened before when the Pirates got Lastings Milledge. Milledge like Diaz said the right things, but ultimately underachieved. At this very moment, Diaz is hitting .308 this Spring and will have to perform well.

 2. Jose Tabata- Tabata came up and at least in my opinion underachieved. I expected so much and his playing of left field was not great and only had speed. This off-season he has clearly bulked up and hopefully will have a much better season. He is in the Pirates future plans, but this season could be an indicator to how he does offensively.

 3. Pedro Alvarez- Alvarez was rumored to gain weight this off-season in what was considered the biggest no-big deal story of the Pirates off-season. Pedro is being compared to Adam Dunn and will need to rack up the home runs and have moments like that walk-off home run in Colorado. He a huge part to the Pirates offense so if he fails, so does this team.

 4. Ronny Cedeno- Cedeno is an average defender and a below average hitter. He is hitting .217 this Spring and is only starting because there is no one who can replace him, although Pedro Ciriaco is having a nice spring. Cedeno needs to have a good season, or else there will not be any real reason to keep him in the lineup.

 Winner: Matt Diaz

 Cedeno is right up there but Diaz is going to be a big part of the offense especially since we could always use help hitting southpaws.

 Finally here are my thoughts for 2011 season predictions.

 Team MVP: Andrew McCutchen

 Cutch is the best all-around player on this team and should put up similar numbers to last season.

 Ryan Doumit will be released and not traded.

 Paul Maholm will be traded to the New York Yankees and either Matt Diaz or Garrett Jones will be traded.

 Pirates will have another winning April and will once again fall apart in May

 Charlie Morton will have the most wins on the staff followed by Ross Ohlendorf, although no starter will have double digit wins

 Jeff Karstens will somehow get back into the starting rotation

 Brad Lincoln will come up to the big club and perform well

 Rudy Owens will struggle when he comes up a la Brad Lincoln. He will be Brad Lincoln 2.0

 Chris Snyder will continue the catching curse and he will get injured and Dusty Brown and Jason Jaramillo will platoon a la Jaramillo and Robinzon Diaz from a couple seasons ago.

 Pirates will steal bases left and right… and will largely be successful

 Cutch will be the Pirates lone All-Star this season

 It will be the Pirates hitting that sets them back as Ray Searage will do a good job as Pirates pitching coach

 The Pirates will have a 42-39 record at home and thus will have road issues once again.

Pirates lose one of the family

 Yesterday it was announced that Pirates manager Chuck Tanner had passed away at the age of 82 after a long illness.

 There was reaction from many in the baseball world and all reactions were positive, as that was the kind of person that Tanner was. I never personally met Tanner, but from everything I have heard from people, he was just the nicest person and great to be around.

 Former Los Angeles Dodgers Manager Tommy Lasorda referred to Tanner as a “brother” when commenting on Tanner’s passing.

 Current Pirates pitcher Paul Maholm noted that he enjoyed every conversation he had with Tanner was a great and enjoyable experience.

 Pittsburgh-born Neil Walker understood Tanner’s impact as well, as he knew how important he was in Pirates history.

 Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig also remarked on Tanner’s legacy and what he will leave to the game of baseball.

 There was so much reaction and love from Pirates fans everywhere on Facebook, Twitter and other social mediums.

 If the Pirates do not observe a moment of silence on Opening Day and then make a patch on the jerseys with his name or number then it may be the lowest point in Pirates history.

 Again, I did not have the pleasure of meeting Tanner, he made you feel like you knew him with his kind nature and calling him Chuck just seemed so fitting.

 Shortly after the 2006 All-Star Game in Pittsburgh, where Tanner received a loud ovation from the crowd, Tanner had cancer and survived which prompted Pittsburgh Post-Gazette columnist Ron Cook to ask why Tanner could not live another 30 years or so.

 Regardless, Tanner won the hearts off all of Pittsburgh and he will always be remembered.

 Rest in peace Chuck!

Ross bosses Pirates in arbitration case

 Earlier this week the arbitration case of Pirates pitcher Ross Ohlendorf was heard. Ohlendorf wanted a salary of $2,025,000 and the Pirates wanted $1.4 million. Those values aren’t significantly far but they were far enough for a case to be heard.

 The court ruled in favor of Ohlendorf and Ohlendorf will earn his desired salary of $2,025,000 for this, the 2011 season. Ohlendorf figures to be the number four starter for the season behind James McDonald, Paul Maholm and Kevin Correia.

 For the Pirates their record is three wins and four losses in the arbitration process. Ohlendorf in his own words says that he has a good relationship with the Pirates front office, and this salary increase is a huge increase from his previous salary of $439,000.

 This arbitration case was the first since Jack Wilson’s in 2004, when the court ruled in favor of Wilson.  

 Many people have argued that Ohlendorf does not deserve this raise as his record was 1-11 in 2010. While this may be true, that is not all that is taken into account. Ohlendorf was injured throughout the year and it affected his command, not to mention that all of his Pirates career is taken into account as well. Ohlendorf also pitched all kinds of quality starts and only racked up so many losses as he received no help from his team. Our offense seemed to always sputter when Ohlendorf made his starts, and our defense made all kinds of errors behind him. Ohlendorf also had an ERA of 4.07 which is right around Major League average.

 Ohlendorf will have a much better year this season, and will put this behind him and go out and prove that he is better than what last year’s record shows.

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