Results tagged ‘ St. Louis Cardinals ’

Pirates vs St. Louis Cardinals 4/20-4/22 PNC Park

Well I tried to post the first Cardinals game once before, but things timed out on me, so I just decided to do a brief recap on each of the games in this series.

Unfortunately my computer was not on its best behavior, so pictures will be uploaded later.

Friday April 20th:

Wow a Friday April game, what are the odds? With Nick in Mexico, this was my chance to show that I am a force and that PNC Park is becoming my neck of the woods.

Here is a running total on what I snagged:

1. Easter egg found in Bleacher GA Section.

2. Toss up LF by Pirates Bullpen Catcher Heberto Andrade

3. Toss up LF from long distance by Cardinals coach John Mabry.

4. Toss up Victor Marte. Asked for in Spanish. Someone tried to make fun of the Spanish and when I snagged the bal he tried to threaten me. I laughed and kept walking.

5. Easter egg in CF and the most scuffed up baseball I have ever snagged.

6. Hit ball I got in CF right after the Easter Egg.

7. A toss up from Adam Wainwright. Jose Oquendo the third base coach was blocking Wainwright’s side so I was hoping to get his attention but him and Wainwright both had to field balls at the same time. Wainwright first heard the right field fans, but none of them satisfied him because they didn’t have Cardinals stuff on. Worked out for me in the end.

8. Toss up Chris Maloney the first base coach by the Cardinals dugout after BP.

Misplayed a couple of others or else I would have had double digits for the first time. Still eight was great and the snagging high of the day.

The Pirates lost the game 4-1 and the offense again appeared anemic.

Saturday April 21:

It rained hard all day it was cold to add to it all. I was at the Point Park Softball games earlier that day and it was cold and rainy and I then went to this game. I knew my streak was in jeopardy and that was confirmed with BP being cancelled. Here was how I did.

1. Toss up J.C. Romero. Romero saw my gear and also when his throwing partner Victor Marte nearly threw one into the seat. I was half going for the ball but also saw Romero had a chance to topple over and I helped support him.

2. Toss up Dyar Miller. He was throwing with reliever Marc Rzepczynski and gave me a toss up.

3. Found Rzerczynski. Many Cardinals tried to land their tosses in the upper deck and I found this one in the Pittsburgh Baseball Club.

4. Toss up Euclides Rojas. This was the ball A.J. Burnett used to warm up. It was Burnett used in the bullpen just prior to making his first start in a Pirates uniform.

I would have had more but wasn’t first into the third base side as I had to change gear. Erik benefitted or else I could have ended up with double digits again.

Burnett’s first start with the Pirates ended in a 2-0 victory and Pirates fans had a lot to cheer about.

Sunday April 22

Well once again the gates open 1/2 an hour later and there is no season ticket time, so this day stunk big time. The Pirates finished throwing and the Cardinals had wrapped up their session well before the gates opened for us.

Just to make things even better, both teams threw balls into the seats, but ushers were pocketing balls. Ushers were told during their yearly orientations that they were not allowed to pocket baseballs like they were able to in the past. This put my streak on the line again. Here is how I fared though.

1. Found baseball section 144- Erik and I braved today’s handicaps and I saw a ball go in right field that he missed. I went into the section I knew it was in and saw it was missing. I saw the usher who asked what I was looking for, and of course when I responded I quickly found out that he pocketed the basebll. He tried to act innocent but hey that was proof there that will not be tolerated.

2. Thrown ball from Herbie Andrade- Meant for a child. Had hand out in same place I always do and caught it/gave it to the child.

3. Toss up by Home Plate Umpire Mike DiMuro- It was Buc Day and many tickets and food items were a dollar. Erik gave me a ticket for section 124. The section right below it is 24 which is where the umpires enter and exit. I was able to get down there in plenty of time and get one of the two baseballs given out. Assist to Erik Jabs.

The Pirates lost the game and series 5-1.

Before I end this post I would like to give a couple of shoutouts:

1. There was a PNC Park Supervisor I met on April 20 that was very nice and we got to talk for 10 minutes. He said he reads my blog and had nothing but nice things to say. It was great to see his support and it is a part of why I keep writing.

2. To Erik Jabs for the help he gave me. He was leaving the ballpark and gave me that ticket for section 124 which helped out big time.

3. To Sara Guffey and Kelsey Robertson from the PPU Softball Team. The whole reason I went to the game was to do an interview with Kelsey for the school paper. Just doing an interview in the ballpark was cool and it was nice to sit down for a change.

Baseball Prospectus on select MLB Players

Here is what this year’s edition of Baseball Prospectus which came out before the season said on some players.

Ian Kennedy (21-4 2.88): “Kennedy’s modus operandi has long been pinpoint control, which is what made his utter lack of it with the Yankees so puzzling. The key part of the Diamondbacks’ return in the deal sending Max Scherzer to the Tigers. Kennedy found his form in the senior circuit and put together a very solid season. Despite just middling stuff, he has always excelled at spotting his pitches just so, and he gets an above-average number of called strikes. Just 26 years old, Kennedy has plenty of room to improve, particularly given that he has the ability to lower his walk rate. Probably ineligible for arbitration until 2012 and under team control until 2015, Kennedy doesn’t possess ace upside like Scherzer’s, but he should be a very cost-effective midrotation starter for years to come.”

Jacoby Ellsbury (.321 32 HR 105 RBI 2011 AL Comeback Player of the Year): “It was a strange year for Ellsbury, as the outfielder and the Red Sox training staff could not agree on when and how he broke his ribs: when Adrian Beltre violently staked a claim on a pop fly or when Ellsbury made an outfield dive six weeks later. While attempting to compensate for the pain of the five broken ribs, Ellsbury added a strained lat to his medical troubles. When he returned from his rehab- not soon enough for either Kevin Youkilis or the media, both of whom suggested Ellsbury was soft- he reinjured the ribs and was shut down for the season. If he is finally equipped with a full rib cage, there is no reason to think that Ellsbury will be anything other than the above-average outfielder whom the Red Sox hoped to see in 2010.”

Don Kelly (.245 7 HR 28 RBI HR in ALCS off Ivan Nova): “Versatility is Kelly’s stock in trade, as the longtime minor leaguer fitted around the field like an overcaffeinated bat, acquitting himself well in center and at all four corners. His own bat, however, continued its career long slumber, allowing younger talents like Boesch and Casper Wlss to tipto past him on the depth chart. If he could play shortstop, Kelly might have found a career s Leyland’s Bloomquistian security blanket; instead he’s probably Toledo bound.”

Lance Berkman (.301 31 HR 94 RBI 2011 and .313 2 HR 11 RBI in postseason NL Comeback Player of the Year): “In two Junes Interleague games against the Yankees, Berkman went a futile 0-for-8. Brian Cashman might have taken this as foreshadowing and saved the team a couple of prospects. Slow to recover from knee surgery, Berkman missed the first two weeks of the season and never did find his stroke. Given his age and general conditioning- the only thing that makes it possible to distinguish Berkman from the Met Life blimp is that only one of them has Snoopy tattooed on the side- he might never find it again. At this late stage of his career, Berkman has become a SHINO (Switch-Hitter In Name Only), needing to be protected from southpaws, and deploying him in the field is to be avoided. He did hit .299/.405/.388 (one home run) in September, and he had something of an excuse for his less-than-limber work in a knee that troubled him all season. The little hot streak, the injury and his impressive history were enough to convince the Cardinals to offer Berkman a one-year contract, but their apparent intent to make him the everyday left fielder is, to put it mildly, optimistic.”

Charlie Morton (10-10 3.83): “With an abominable 1-9 record and a 9.35 ERA through his first 10 starts, Morton was so horrible to begin last season that the Pirates stashed him on the disabled list with the aid of a nebulous claim of shoulder fatigue. The team then had him spend time with a sports psychologist before starting him over at square one in extended spring training. Morton posted a 3.82 ERA at Triple-A, then had a couple of decent starts after being called back up to the major leagues in August. However, his results have never matched up with an arsenal that includes a 94-mph fastball with plenty of life and a plus curveball. The best way to salvage Morton’s career seems to be a permanent sabbatical in the bullpen, but the Pirates hard-headedly refuse to give up on the hope that he can become a top-of-the-rotation starter.

Allen Craig (.305 11 HR 40 RBI .243 4 HR 8 RBI in postseason; leaping catch in World Series game seven on Nelson Cruz): “Craig has nothing more to prove in the minors; he’s 26, and he has a major-league bat and a major-league problem with his glove. He has plummeted down the defensive spectrum from third base, displaying bad hands at first and little range in the outfield, but as his career .321/.380/.548 line in Triple-A shows, all that awkwardness melts away when he’s in the batter’s box. With Lance Berkman slated to see the majority of time in left, Craig may get some at-bats against lefties to help cover for the starter’s platoon issues.”

David Freese (.297 10 HR 55 RBI; .397 5 HR 21 RBI a postseason record; ALCS/World Series MVP): “Freese inherited the third-base job last year but couldn’t run with it, as a series of lower leg injuries culminating in surgery on both ankles kept him from running much of anywhere. He’s back to try again this spring possibly healthy but definitely a year older- not a good thing for a 28-yeat-old prospect. Freese has hit everywhere he’s been and gets on base, though the prodigious power he showed in the minors has so far melted under the bright lights, and injuries have reduced his range to below-average. The best-case scenatio for Freese is that he’ll be an inexpensive complement to the millionaires in the middle of the order, but he’s not destined for their tax bracket.”

Jason Motte (5-2 2.25 ERA 9 saves; 0-1 2.19 5 saves postseason): “Motte bounced back from a subpar 2009 to post impressive numbers last year and stake his claim to the oft-sought but rarely fulfilled “future closer” title. Terrorizing the late innings with his upper 90s fastball and devastating slider. Motte led the club with 18.3 Adjusted Runs Prevented, struck out more than a batter per inning, and back a few chunks out of his walk rate. He has yet to find the magic elixir to cure his problems with lefties, however, as portside hitters have abused him to the tune of .292/.384/.466 during his career. If Motte can clean up that particular mess, he might someday earn closer cash.

2011 World Series Game 7

Rangers at Cardinals World Series Game 7
Top 1st
Carpenter (3-0 3.30)

Kinsler
1-0
1b to left field

Andrus
1-0 (Kinsler picked off from first)

2-0
2-1
3-1
4-1 Walk

Hamilton
1-0
1-1
2B RBI to right scores Andrus 1-0 Rangers

Young
1-0
2B RBI to right scores Hamilton 2-0 Rangers

Beltre
0-1
0-2
0-3 swinging K

Cruz
0-1
1-1
GO 5-3

2 runs 3 hits 0 errors
Carpenter pitch count: 18 10 strikes
Rangers 2 Cardinals 0

Bottom 1st

Harrison (1-1 5.02)

Theriot
1-0
1-1
2-1
GO 4-3

Craig
1-0
1-1
FO 8

Pujols
1-0
2-0
3-0
4-0 Walk unintentional

Berkman
1-0
2-0
3-0
3-1
4-1 Walk

Freese
1-0
1-1
2-1
2-2
3-2
2b left field 2 RBI 2-2 tie

Molina
0-1
FO 8

2 runs 1 hit 0 errors
Harrison 26 pitches 11 strikes
Rangers 2 Cardinals 2

Top 2nd

Napoli
0-1
1-1
2-1
1b left field

Murphy
1-0
2-0
2-1
FC 2-6

Harrison
1-0
2-0
Go 3-4

Kinsler 1-1
1-0
2-0
3-0
4-0 Walk unintentional

Andrus
0-1
1-1 Runner advances to third on error by Pujols at first base
2-1
Go 1-3

0 Runs 1 hit 1 error
Carpenter 37 pitches 17 strikes
Rangers 2 Cardinals 2

Bottom 2nd

Furcal
0-1
0-2
1-2
2-2
3-2
1b to center

Schumaker
Go 6-4-3 DP

Carpenter
0-1
1-1
1-2
1-3 swinging k

0 runs 1 hit 0 errors
Harrison 37 pitches 18 strikes
Top 3rd

Hamilton
0-1
1-1
1-2
2-2
Go 6-3

Young
0-1
1-1
1-2
1-3 strikeout swinging

Beltre
Hit by Pitch

Cruz
1-0
FO 7

0 runs 0 hits 0 errors
Carpenter 51 pitches 21 strikes
Rangers 2 Cardinals 2

Bottom 3rd

Theriot
0-1
0-2
FO 9

Craig
1-0
1-1
1-2
2-2
3-2
HR into right 3-2 Cardinals

Pujols
0-1
0-2
1-2
Go 5-3

Berkman
LO 3

1 run 1 hit 0 errors
Harrison 54 pitches 31 strikes
Cardinals 3 Rangers 2

Top 4th

Napoli
0-1
0-2
0-3 swinging K

Murphy
0-1
1-1
2-1
Go 3-1

Harrison
0-1
0-2
1-2
1-3 swinging K

0 runs 0 hits 0 errors
Carpenter 63 pitches 34 strikes
Cardinals 3 Rangers 2

Bottom 4th

Freese
0-1
1-1
1-2
Go 6-3

Molina
1-0
2-0
1b center

Furcal
1-0
1-1
2-1
2-2
1b to right

Schumaker
1-0
1-1
1-2
2-2
Go 3

Carpenter
0-1
1-1
2-1
FO 9

0 runs 2 hits 0 errors
Harrison 77 pitches 45 strikes
Cardinals 3 Rangers 2

Top 5th

Kinsler
Single to left
Andrus
1-0
1-1
2-1
Go 1-4

Hamilton
1-0
2-0
2-1
3-1
Fo 5

Young
0-1
1-1
1-2
1-3 swinging K

0 runs 1 hit 0 errors
Carpenter 78 pitches 43 strikes
Cardinals 3 Rangers 2

Bottom 5th

Feldman (1-0 2.08 ERA) replaces Harrison (4 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 1 K, 77 PT, 45 K)

Theriot
0-1
0-2
1-2
Go 6-3

Craig
1-0
2-0
3-0
3-1
4-1 Walk

Pujols
0-1
0-2
HBP

Berkman
1-0
2-0
Go 3-1

Freese
1-0
2-0
3-0
4-0 Walk Intentional

Molina
1-0
2-0
3-0
3-1
3-2
4-2 Walk RBI Cardinals 4 Rangers 2

Wilson (0-3 6.08) replaces Feldman (2/3 IP, 0 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB 0 K, 29 PT, 13 K)

Furcal
HBP RBI Cardinals 5 Rangers 2
Schumaker
1-0
1-1
1-2
1-2 swinging K

2 runs 0 hits 0 errors
Wilson 5 pitches 3 strikes
Cardinals 5 Rangers 2

Top 6th

Beltre
0-1
0-2
Go 1-3

Cruz
1-0
1-1
FO 7

Napoli
1-0
1-1
2-1
FO 9

0 runs 0 hits 0 errors
Carpenter 88 pitches 50 strikes
Cardinals 5 Rangers 2

Bottom 6th

Carpenter
0-1
0-2
GO 4-3

Theriot
1-0
2-0
FO 8

Craig
1-0
1-1
1-2
2-2
2-3 swinging K

0 runs 0 hits 0 errors
Wilson 16 pitches 10 strikes
Cardinals 5 Rangers 2

Top 7th

Murphy
0-1
0-2
Double to right

Chavez PH for Wilson

Rhodes (0-0 0.00) in for Carpenter (6+ IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 91 PT-53 K)

Torrealba PH for Chavez
0-1
FO 8

Dotel (2-1 2.79 ERA) in for Rhodes (1/3 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, 2 PT- 2 K)

Kinsler
0-1
0-2
0-3 Swinging K

Andrus
1-0
2-0
2-1
3-1
FO 8

0 runs 1 hit 0 errors
Dotel 9 pitches 6 strikes
Cardinals 5 Rangers

Bottom 7th

Adams (2-0 2.35) replaces Wilson (1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 16 PT, 10 K)

Pujols
0-1
0-2
0-3 swinging K

Berkman
1-0
1B infield hit

Freese
1-0
2-0
3-0
3-1
4-1 Walk

Molina
1-0
1B to center RBI 6-2 Rangers

Furcal
0-1
1-1
2-1
2-2
GO 3-1

Gonzalez (0-0 5.40) replaces Adams (2/3 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 21 PT, 13 K)

Schumaker
0-1
0-2
0-3 looking K

1 run 2 hits 0 errors
Gonzalez 3 pitches 3 strikes
Cardinals 6 Rangers 2

Top 8th

Lynn (2-0 3.60) replaces Dotel (2/3 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 9 PT, 6 K)

Hamilton
0-1
1-1
1-2
GO 4-3

Young
1-0
1-1
2-1
FO 3

Beltre
0-1
0-2
0-3 swinging K

0 runs 0 hits 0 errors
Lynn 11 pitches 8 strikes
Cardinals 6 Rangers 2

Bottom 8th

Punto PH for Lynn
1-0
2-0
2-1
FO 8

Theriot
0-1
0-2
0-3 looking K

Craig
0-1
1-1
2-1
2-2
3-2

Ogando (2-0 2.84) in for Gonzalez (1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 15 PT, 10 K)

3-3 looking K

0 runs, 0 hits, 0 errors
Ogando 1 pitch 1 strike
Cardinals 6 Rangers 2

Top 9th

Motte (0-1 2.38) replaces Lynn (1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 11 PT, 8 K)

Descalso replaces Freese at 3B, Jay moves to CF, Schumaker moves to RF replacing Berkman

Cruz
1-0
2-0
2-1
FO 8

Napoli
0-1
1-1
1-2
2-2
GO 5-3

Murphy
0-1
FO 7

0 runs, 0 hits, 0 errors
Motte (1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, 11 PT, 9 K)
Cardinals 6 Rangers 2 Final

Win- Carpenter 4-0
Loss- Harrison 0-2
Time of game: 3 hours 17 minutes
Attendance: 47,399

Cardinals win World Series Title #11

David Freese 2011 World Series MVP .348 1 HR 7 RBI

World Series Game 7 Preview

Wow, what an exciting game six. The game certainly is an instant classic and will go down in baseball history forever. Here is a preview of the match, filled with position by position preview, predictions and more.

Pitching Matchup:

Harrison (14-9 3.39 ERA regular season/1-1 5.02 ERA postseason) v Carpenter (11-9 3.45 ERA regular season/3-0 3.30 ERA postseason)

Edge: This is a tough one to call. Carpenter is the more established pitcher and when push comes to shove he wants the ball and gets the job done. He is pitching on three days rest which did not go so well the first time he did this which was October 2 vs the Phillies when he went three innings and gave up four runs. Harrison needs to go at least six or seven innings for this Rangers team, as Manager Ron Washington put all of his eggs in one basket to get that win last night. The Rangers bullpen is tired and had troubles finding the strike zone. EVEN.

Catcher:

Mike Napoli vs Yadier Molina

Edge: This was becoming a clearer choice, but Napoli’s injury really throws things for a loop. Napoli stayed in the game after turning his ankle when sliding into second base, and the throw from his knees to get Matt Holliday out was a huge play, but he went for X-Rays and they were ruled negative. Molina has improved offensively and Carpenter has said that he is a great “receiver”. His power has not really been seen yet, be he is still knocking runners in. When it comes down to it, though the Cardinals likely could have gone to game seven without Molina whereas, Napoli has been a vital part to the team all of the playoffs and perhaps is the World Series MVP for this Rangers team. RANGERS

First base:

Michael Young/Mitch Moreland vs Albert Pujols
Edge: This was is not so hard. Albert Pujols drew Reggie Jackson comparisons during game three of the World Series. Yes his bat has been mostly silent since then and he made a cutoff mistake in game two, but Texas still fears him a great deal, and they pitch around him as much as possible, especially in game six, when Lance Berkman, the Cardinals’ best hitter that night and in the series had homered and come up huge. Young and Moreland have not done it so much with their bats, and Young made a couple of silly mistakes last night. CARDINALS

Second base:

Ian Kinsler vs Nick Punto
Edge: Punto has been struggling, and Kinsler defensively has been solid. Punto struck out in a couple of key situations last night and Kinsler has had a couple of key hits to keep things going. RANGERS

Shortstop:

Elvis Andrus vs Rafael Furcal
Edge: This is a tough one since they are about even. The Cardinals infield is not great defensively, and Andrus’ range is as good as they come. Both are right there in the top part of the lineup, and Andrus getting those singles for Texas has helped, and he has been the sparkplug the team needs. RANGERS

Third base:

Adrian Beltre vs David Freese

Edge: This is another tough one, because both mean a lot and have emerged as breakout players. You saw how excited the Cardinals fans got when local Freese hit the homer. He and Beltre can turn a game with one swing. Beltre hitting a homer on one knee was a huge game changer as well. Because they have been even this postseason offensively I have to look defensively, and Beltre has a clear edge. Freese made a huge mental error in game six dropping an easy pop up that allowed Josh Hamilton to score. Nelson Cruz, the next batter then batted him home. Beltre was perhaps best in game four, when Derek Holland started and the first out was a line drive straight to him. If he misplays that, this series may be over. Beltre’s defense is often underrated. RANGERS

Left field:

Josh Hamilton vs Matt Holliday:

Edge: Both have battled injuries all season, and currently Hamilton is injured and in any other circumstance other than the World Series would not be playing. Holliday though has been the bigger disappointment. He had a miscommunication in game six that allowed an easy out to drop. He also has had many chances to drive runs in and has been unsuccessful. Hamilton hit a nice home run in the tenth inning of game six. While the Rangers lost that game, Hamilton has toughened out the injury and has been the steadier option in left. RANGERS

Center field:

Craig Gentry/Davis Murphy vs Jon Jay:

Outlook: Cardinals go into game seven with the momentum. They were down five separate times to the Rangers in game six, but were just unable to pull away. The Cardinals are also playing at home and with no chance of rain, odds are in their favor. Gentry and Murphy have been ok, but nothing special, but Jay has done a decent job fielding and hitting. He is the best all-around player of the three. CARDINALS

Right field:

Nelson Cruz vs Lance Berkman:

Extremely tough one. Cruz the ALCS MVP was held in check in the World Series until game six when he unloaded a titanic home run into Busch Stadium’s third deck. Berkman has surprised many this season and was named NL Comeback Player of the Year. His fielding is suspect at best, but his power has been much more consistent than Cruz’s who made a trap on Allen Craig’s single in game one. CARDINALS

Bullpens:

This is about even. Both are decent bullpens, but both have blown leads. The Rangers have blown one bullpen game and Cardinals closer Jason Motte has blown two himself. Rangers have been just a touch better here. RANGERS

Three reasons the Cardinals will win:

1. Allen Craig- I did not list him above, but his production in this series has been invaluable for the Cardinals. He has the power and can come through. This was what the Cardinals saw in him. I would honestly start him over Holliday.

2. Chris Carpenter- Carpenter comes up huge when he gets the ball in the clutch. This is perhaps the biggest game of his career and if Carpenter pitches as he usually does; dominant then the Rangers stand no chance.

3. Fans- The fans will be loud early in response to game six, and the Cardinals need to play to them.

Three reasons the Rangers will win:

1. Chris Carpenter- As previously mentioned, this will be only the second ever time Carpenter is pitching on three days rest. If the Rangers can pound on him early, it makes their bullpen work longer and harder and the fans are taken out of the game.

2. Bullpen is consistent- I expect a bullpen matchup by the seventh inning and this was where the Rangers lost in game six. They struggled to find the strike zone and were overwhelmed by the big moment on baseball’s biggest stage.

3. The Rangers make the smart decision with Pujols- Rangers need to see where Berkman is in the lineup and not just default walk Pujols. Pujols only has one hit since game three, and if you like the matchup, you need to pitch to him. A walk could potentially put a runner in scoring position, and Berkman has been batting in plenty of runs.

Who will win: I really think the first three innings will decide this game. Three innings is how long Carpenter lasted October 2 vs the Phillies when he first pitched on three days rest. If the Rangers don’t have runs on the board, then the crowd will grow even louder and Carpenter will still be in the game. The longer Carpenter is in the game, the less of a chance the Rangers have. That said, I picked the Rangers before the series, and I think that Carpenter starting gives the Rangers their best (and only) chance of winning this game.

Final: Rangers 8 Cardinals 4

MVP: Mike Napoli

I will be live-tweeting @AtoZSportsWPPJ during the entire World Series so be sure to follow me and watch that. I also will be putting an entry on the entire World Series with what happened with each pitch just like I did with the All-Star game, so be sure to look out for that later this weekend.

NL Central Predictions

 I figured that since the season is less than a month ago, I would post this quick entry with predictions for the NL Central this season.

6. Houston Astros (63-99)- True the Astros have Hunter Pence, Carlos Lee, Bill Hall and Clint Barnes but that is not enough. Chris Johnson leads what perhaps is the worst infield in baseball. Brett Myers had a great season last year and is joined by old Phillies teammate J.A. Happ, but the offense will sputter and not give them the leads they need. Manager Brad Mills, had the tough and unenviable job of trying to manage a team that traded away Roy Oswalt and Lance Berkman last season and did well, but lightning does not strike twice.

5. Pittsburgh Pirates (65-97)- The Pirates are just a hair better than the Astros. The Pirates were finally buyers in the free agent market signing Lyle Overbay, Matt Diaz and Scott Olsen to name a few. The Pirates also hired Clint Hurdle to be the team’s Manager and he will be passionate and perhaps bring out the best in this Pirates team. Pitching will be a huge issue as the Pirates offense does not score much which adds pressure on the starters. Either Paul Maholm or James McDonald likely will be the ace of the team and neither is an ace by any means. Other huge problem is that the Pirates cannot win on the road. They will have to if they want success this season.

4. Chicago Cubs (77-85)- Chicago has improved especially with the acquision of Matt Garza, however much of their core is aging. Alfonso Soriano struggles defensively and will strikeout a ton while Ramirez faced a lot of injuries last season. Carlos Zambrano had issues of his own last season, however when he came back was as close to lights out as the Cubs had. Ryan Dempster will be the ace of this team and he is good but not great. Look out for Starlin Castro this season, I think the power numbers will go up, thus making him a complete player.

3. St. Louis Cardinals (85-77)- I honestly had the Cardinals in first place until Adam Wainwright got injured. He will be out for the whole season, and thus they fall to third. They missed the playoffs last year and will just miss again. One player normally does not make the difference, but the irreplaceable Wainwright was a 20 game winner last year and a 19 game winner in 2009. Each team in the NL Central besides the Astros and Cardinals has improved this off-season and that will come to bite the Cardinals. The division is that close this season, and both Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday will have slight regressions this season. Chris Carpenter is also banged up and considering his past that is not a good thing.

2. Milwaukee Brewers (88-74)- Milwaukee easily improved the most in the NL Central this off-season. Their weakness has been pitching as the team has relied solely at times on Yovani Gallardo. Now the Brewers have made a weakness a potential strength acquiring Shaun Marcum from Toronto and Zack Greinke from Kansas City. While Greinke is likely to land on the DL now, he will definitely help this team this season and the city of Milwaukee should not pressure him. I am a little concerned that they are going to disappoint especially with new manager Ron Roenicke now at the helm. We shall see how it turns out.

1. Cincinnati Reds (90-72)- Yes despite all of this fire power, only one team makes it to 90 wins, and just barely. No one is talking about the Reds this season. They if possible are once again going under the radar. Manager Dusty Baker knows what he is doing and MVP Joey Votto will have another great season. The pitching staff has a lot of options and don’t forget that Aroldis Chapman and his 105 mile-per-hour fastball are still in Cincy. The team improved signing World Series MVP Edgar Renteria to play shortstop. This was a great signing and at worst, Renteria who will replace Orlando Cabrera can provide some nice veteran leadership.

 

9/22 Pirates vs St. Louis Cardinals PNC Park

 I decided that I wanted to show up at the gates early so I left my house at 3:00 to get to the bus. I got on the bus however that was the beginning of a long day.

 As the bus headed into Oakland, I got stuck in traffic. I was getting really annoyed as there was a large group of ignorant people in the back of the bus, and I was stuck with them. As I sat on a bus that was not moving, I called some of my friends and talked to my grandmother. It was getting really dark really fast in Oakland, and I asked my grandmother if it was raining at her Elk County home. Sure enough she said that it was raining really hard for an hour. I was not amused.

 Sure enough, a few minutes later it started pouring and I knew that there would be no BP.

 I later found out that the reason for the traffic was a gas leak which closed the road. People were getting off the bus and everyone was unhappy.

 I got off of the bus and was immediately greeted by poaring rain. I had coat or umbrella and thus had to take the full brunt of the rain.

 I walked to the stadium and immediately saw Baseball Joe and Nick Pelescak playing catch under the cover by the Clemente Gate. Despite being covered in rain, I joined right in and made some decent throws.

 After that, I picked up my tickets which were in the PBC Club. Ian Weir was also at the game so this could be my chance to pull away from him and perhaps seal third best PNC Park ballhawk in the BHL.

 Nick decided to leave before the gates opened, and I was the first into the seating bowl. I looked everywhere for a baseball in the left field seating bowl and found nothing.

 Some of the Cardinals were playing catch but it was not 5:30 yet so I was not allowed over there yet. They finished playing and they tried to throw the ball by the bullpen, but one landed on the field right in front of me. I was unable to get it and motioned Jim Saylor to get his 150th snag of the season.

 I was in my Cardinals gear and went over to the first base side. I was the first one over there and Mike MacDougal  just finished throwing and when he went over for signatures I quietly asked him for the ball and he threw me ball number 1 and I thanked him.

 Shortly after, Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright and Jaime Garcia all threw with each other.

 As they threw Jeff Suppan finished his running and both Erik Jabs and I asked him for the ball. Unfortunately for Erik, he didn’t have his glove on and Suppan threw me ball number 2. I quietly thanked him as well.

 When the trio finished throwing, they all talked and Carpenter threw three baseballs to the wall. I managed to bring one to the wall with my glove and got ball number 3. I was happy as I probably did better than I would have at bp.

 Nick later found out about this and I think he was mad that he left.

 As the Pirates relievers entered the bullpen, Evan Meek and I had a quick conversation and then parted ways.

 I had a couple of close calls at the game with snags.

 I took my seat at the PBC and just when I sat a foul ball came up, and I couldn’t get there fast enough.

 I ran to center field and got Andrew McCutchen to toss me his warm up ball. I had the ball sized up perfectly and it was going in my glove, but some man in front of me put his hand in my glove and caught it. I was **********. I sarcastically said “nice catch” and then under my breath called him a ******. That was such a wuss move. If I had caught that ball, I was going to give your kid one of the other balls I caught earlier, but whatever. I just have to push the next person who does that.

 Still three baseballs without BP was good. The Cardinals gave me two baseballs the last time they had a rain delay and they are a good team for snags when they don’t take BP.

 I may go to the game later today but if I do, I won’t be there that long. I have tickets for Saturday and Sunday, so we’ll have to see what happens.

                                                               

 

 

8/25 Pirates vs St. Louis Cardinals PNC Park

 I had been meaning to go to the ballpark either Monday or Tuesday but I was unable to do so and because I had tickets for today’s game I had to settle for that.

 I was at Point Park University earlier in the day for an orientation, and thus was very early in line.

 I made a cardinal sin (no pun intended) that Erik and Nick both did earlier in the season touching the baseball belonging to a person named Joe. The reason I did it was because it was still an hour and a half before the gates opened and I wanted to loosen up my arm a little. When I was informed about this I immediately shook it off and said clear cut that I would break the curse. With Nick and Erik’s per game averages higher and my average in between 1 ball and 2 balls, I did not worry too much about.

 While waiting, Erik finally showed up and I warmed up again. My arm wasn’t ready for long throws but I was warmed up. Eventually, I headed down by the river to catch a bp ball as many of the Pittsburgh ballhawks did as well. BP had started early most likely because the next day was a travel day but perhaps they are onto us.

 Before we headed up, we saw Chan Ho Park fetching a lot of the baseballs, and he asked us what we were doing. We were prepared to leave but when he left we stayed for a minute or two extra in case he decided to throw down some baseballs. When he didn’t we ran up by the gates.

 I got in and sure enough quickly ran in, but there was nothing to be found. It also hurt that just a couple minutes after getting in there, the team ended BP. At this point I was thinking that my chances of getting a baseball were slim. I proceeded to get some more water in me and take my Pirates gear on. Considering the fact that I came to the game straight from Point Park, I had no chance of bringing a change of clothes, so I just kept my white shirt on and hoping a mutual color would be okay.

 I ran into right field and there were no easter eggs for me. The Cardinals batting practice was pretty much dead and then fellow ballhawk Ian Weir got Trevor Miller’s attention and he looked up to see who had called him. We both motioned with a glove so it was going to be a close play. When he tossed it up though I knew that it was headed towards him. I played the honors system and sure enough he came up with it. Shortly after there was a home run that was easily mine if I wasn’t boxed out and this made me wonder if the curse did exist.

 I decided a trip to center field was in order to get Colby Rasmus to hit one my way and plus Trevor Miller was around there so perhaps a toss up could come my way as well.

 Unfortunately Rasmus was hitting the ball to right field and Miller never tossed one up my way. However my luck was about to change when Matt Holliday came up to the plate. He hit a home run to center field that bounced straight to me for ball number 1.

 I was glad as that nixed the potential curse that was looming over me. That was all that I was able to get during BP.

 I then had some down time and seeing that I didn’t pack dinner I spent $10 on two hot dogs and water. The prices for food at the ballpark are absolutely ridiculous.

 It was after I ate my food that I was approached to be with the camera guy and model either the scorecard, yearbook or media guide. I accepted and soon enough I modeled the media guide. Ian passed before the sequence occurred and both had a good laugh out of it. Unfortunately I have no video of it, but afterwards I got to keep the media guide and it was fun to do.

 As for the game Albert Pujols was chasing his 400th home run and I ran accordingly, but things never really worked out, and thus it was a down game. In the ninth inning, Andrew McCutchen tossed  the ball up to section 139. I lazily put my glove up and caught the ball for ball number 2. I was going to give the ball away, but a lady started complaining and said that I had no reason to be in the section, and thus I did not give the ball away. Before she could even try to get the supervisor’s attention, I was long gone.

 I snagged two balls, which was above my average and thus proved myself right about the curse. Unfortunately by being boxed in and letting Ian catch a ball earlier, Ian still leads me by two baseballs in the quest for the third best PNC Park ballhawk. I would have held a one ball lead if I had snagged both. My next game will be Friday September 3rd vs the Nationals which is the Pirates first game back from their road trip.

 

8/21 Pirates vs New York Mets PNC Park

I had a goal this week of obtaining eight snags this week to get my total to 35 total snags on the season. The snags would make me competitive in the quest to become a factor in the BHL and PNC Park ballhawk race.

            The deal was made that I would stay at this game until 8 and thus I would have to act fast. Considering the fact that I blew seven snags earlier I could have made myself the clear leader for the third best PNC Park ballhawk.

            I showed up very early as I tried to be around for all of the Pirates season ticket holder BP time. There was a scare in the area as it looked like rain would put an end to BP and my goals. The cages were close to coming down and I finally was in the front of the line.

            However the rain held off and we got in. Unfortunately, the person who scans all of the season tickets wasn’t there for a few minutes and thus all kinds of Mets fans and clear non-season ticket holders all snuck into the ballpark angering me.

            I ran in behind Erik Jabs and Nick Pelescak. They searched the bottom half of the bleachers for easter eggs. Having never found an easter egg, I figured the bottom was well taken care of and thus took the long shot route of searching the upper bleacher area and sure enough upon checking found ball number 1.

            With Erik finding the foul balls around the area I proceeded to try and block off the area to beat him for the next one, which unfortunately never came.

            By positioning myself there though I was smart, as Jose Tabata stepped up to the plate and hit a home run to the upper bleachers. I had a feeling it would bounce and Nick and a couple of others ran to the upper bleachers to get it but it bounced down and I had the bounce played perfectly. It was my first Tabata home run snag and ball number 2 on the day.

            I soon after got a signature from Chan Ho Park on my first ball and after coming up empty handed during the Pirates portion of BP changed into my Mets orange Under Armour.

            I tried to get a ball from a reliever and failed in my quest for additional easter eggs. I saw Erik and Nick check for easter eggs in right field and thus ran out to center field. I was too late to get a chance at a Beltran ball.

            This made me feel discouraged and the quest for ball number 35 and my goal would be hard. It was especially hard when a father with kids who was back from yesterday was getting all of the toss ups and bounces. He had to have snagged around 20 balls over the course of two days.

            I started to try and brainstorm how I could get to my goal and sure enough I called out to Mets reliever Bobby Parnell in a weird voice in an attempt to be heard. I think I accidentally used a bad impression of Whitney Houston calling Bobby Brown and sure enough he tossed it up my way. It was a little wayward, but I snagged ball number 3 on the day.

            I had achieved my goal and celebrated by heading under the cover of the seats as I figured it would rain. I tried to get Chris Snyder to sign my baseball as he was unable to sign last night and now today he signed my baseball quickly.

            Next week I plan on going to the Tuesday and Wednesday game against the St. Louis Cardinals. These will be hard games as the team is very stingy with toss ups.

Pirates vs. Cardinals 5/8/10 PNC Park

 

            Today was going to be a historic day, and I could feel and sense it. I went with my friend Colston, and I decided that I had to show up on time to take in the full portion of season ticket holder batting practice.

            When I arrived, I saw a few people ahead of me and also saw Erik, Jim and Nick. It was Nick who broke me the bad news that there would be no batting cages set up. Nick then told me he wasn’t going to stay, and I never saw him all night. The weather was absolutely atrocious and naturally I had to come up with a plan B for making that historic snag.

            Once inside the park, I began to strategize. I did briefly talk to Jim and noticed that Erik was not with him. I saw him on the third base side and was surprised to see him there as no one is ever allowed there, however I didn’t care and thus prepared to go over there.

            I did sneak over there and getting into the section wasn’t difficult. Erik left when I came which meant that he had another snag under his belt. I decided to stay over there and was naturally rewarded when Ross Ohlendorf came by. There were a good 6 people with me and Ohlendorf signed for all of them. I realized that I had a pen, but nothing to sign so I managed to wish him well for his start which was to be on Monday.

However, the light bulb finally came on in my head and I asked Ross for a ball. Ross kindly obliged and tossed me the ball. Of course, once he tossed it the wind picked up and I reached over to make a tough catch my first snag of the day. I made sure to thank Ross, and I was especially grateful when someone else asked him for the other ball and Ross told him no because he probably wasn’t supposed to give them away. It then hit me that this ball was the ball that allowed me to break my record from last year. I was glad to get the snag out of my way and move on with my life.

            I went back to Colston as well as Jim and the guys for a little while until I noticed some St. Louis Cardinals pitchers throwing along the first base side. I again managed to sneak off and go towards the first baseline.

            As I was running there, a Cardinal was signing autographs and of course I just missed him. Apparently the Cardinal was Blake Hawksworth but with my main objective getting baseballs, my priorities slightly changed.

            When I went over I noticed the two Cardinals were Jason Motte and Ryan Franklin. I tried to be extremely cautious as the Cardinals always are stingy during batting practice and never throw the ball to fans at PNC Park. When Motte and Franklin threw the ball, relievers Dennys Reyes and Trevor Miller joined in a separate session. It was at this point when Erik sporting a Troy Glaus jersey came down and watched the Reyes and Miller session. Erik eventually snagged a ball asked Reyes for it in Spanish.

            Motte and Franklin each had a ball and I thought I had a great chance at a ball until they tried to throw it across the tarp to see who could throw it farther.

            Reyes began a small autograph session and I quickly got him to sign my baseball.

            Franklin then talked with somebody and unlike last year when he ignored me, he asked me if he could sign my ball and I happily let him.

            It was at this point when I was ready to head back to Colston, when I saw Motte in the dugout. He had a couple of balls and I asked him for one and he quickly threw me ball number 2.

            I then headed back to Colston and after a while, noticed more Cardinals pitching. I had guessed from afar that it was Adam Wainwright and I saw Erik over there as the only one to get the ball from him. I tried to sneak away but they finally had a guard blocking the escalators and stairs meaning I was stuck in left field and Erik was going to get another ball.

            I patiently waited until the gates opened, and there was a big line waiting. Naturally, I wanted to get over to Wainwright and it looked like I would, but of course everybody took their grand old time up the steps meaning Erik got the ball.

            Wainwright was then interviewed by some St. Louis press as he was the starter for the next day’s game. I joined the masses along the first base line positioning myself behind a kid, thus increasing my chances of getting his signature.

            After shaking hands with the press, Wainwright passed through the first baseline not signing one autograph. While everyone else groaned, I saw this as an opportunity to sneak away towards the dugout and get his attention.

            I raced towards the dugout and just beat him. I got his attention, and he asked for the ball and sure enough signed it. I was ecstatic and became elated when the slow crowd at first base finally had come over only to see Wainwright leave, meaning I had the only Wainwright autograph. I felt great.

            By the way, there still was a game that was going on, and I was excited to see it. The game itself was very cold, and by the sixth inning I was officially freezing.

            Still, the show must go on, and I tried for additional baseballs. After adding an autograph from Manny Sanguillen on my game program I marched towards the bullpen only to be turned down once again by Herbie Andrade.

            Andrew McCutchen played the entire game in center field and his warm-up balls were disappointments as nothing came my way, while Erik made another snag.

            The Pirates won the game and I had come away with a nice haul of 2 balls and 4 autographs. Most importantly, I ensured a higher snagging total than last year’s campaign when I caught the throw from Ross Ohlendorf. I did go to the Sunday game against St. Louis. How did I do? You’ll have to read my next post to find out.

9/6/09 Pittsburgh Pirates vs St. Louis Cardinals PNC Park and 9/8/09 Pittsburgh Pirates vs Chicago Cubs

Rarely do I ever attend Sunday games, because it is just too hot and there are kids everywhere, meaning people like me have little to no chance of getting anything. It also doesn’t help that there rarely is BP on Sunday games.

 However, I went to this game because I was getting complimentary tickets as well as a little special something after the game.

 I was expecting to be stuck up in the 300 sections, but I ended up sitting in section 124, right by the umpire exit but a level up, so I was happy.

 When I got to my seat, I noticed a Pirate signing and was excited to find out that it was Ross Ohlendorf. I immediately dropped my bag, and went down to get him to sign. It was a long crowded wait, but eventually Ohlendorf (pictured below) signed my scorecard and I went back to my seat happy.

Ross Ohlendorf by Dave's Family Fotos.

 Not much else occured for me in this game although I got conversations with Herbie Andrade and Denny Bautista (pictured below) about baseball.

 I did not really go for baseballs that day, although I was more in the talking mood talking to a worker about working at the ballpark. He gave me inside information about the park that many don’t know.

 Soon enough, the game was over and I prepared for my special moment. I made the call and then a few minutes later I was face to face with PA announcer Tim DeBacco (pictured below). This was my chance to meet the man behind the infamous voice.

 Before I continue, I am sure many of you are asking me how I got into contact with Tim. I can tell you that I sent him an email explaning who I was and how I enjoyed and appreciated his work. I then asked if there was any chance I could meet him. He responded by offering tickets on a mutually agreed upon date which ended up being this game. We (my dad and I), were also to get a tour of the sound studio as well as talk about my journalism endeavors.

 Tim took us up, and it was really nice, as he had nothing but good things to say and continued to encourage me to continue down the right path. He also gave me a ton of 2009 media guides  he no longer needed including ones from the Cardinals, Phillies and the Mets. I was really excited, and I took a lot away from the discussions Tim and I had. After a few pictures, we all left the ballpark and parted ways.

 Two days later, I was back at the ballpark to see the Cubs face the Buccos. It was a rare school night game, but we were a couple of rows from the field, and it was Arnold Palmer night at the ballpark. I added this entry to this blog because it is a really short one.

 I was looking forward to meeting Palmer and getting a signature, but the Pirates put Palmer in the Lexus Club making it impossible to get to him.

 So not only was that a disappointment, but I didn’t get a ball or signature at the game because of the Palmer ceremony and a need to leave the game early. It also didn’t help that the Cubs had a seven run, eight hit first inning before getting an out. So overall, a bad game all around.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.