Category: Dailies

5-6-11 PNC Park

Today I just didn’t have it.  It wasn’t my day.

Nothing happened on the riverwalk…
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Not much else happened for me inside either.  I didn’t get shut out at least.

My first ball of the day was Pedro Alvarez opposite field ground rule double that bounced over the fence.  The ball took a weird hop, and I tried to barehand it.  I dropped the ball, but recovered it at my feet.  I got it here:
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My second ball of the day was a home run catch off the bat of an unknown Astro.  I caught it on the fly here.   Standard catch.
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My third and final ball of the day came at the very end of batting practice.  Fernando Abad, seen here in a group of Astros pitchers,

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turned and threw a ball into the crowd as they were running off the
field.  The ball sailed over my head, landed on the steps, bounced off
the plexiglass to the upper bleachers and back towards the handicapped
seats.  I reached over the railing separating the handicapped seats
from the aisle and caught the ball. 
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That was it for batting practice.

Three balls. 
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Sweet spots:
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STATISTICS:
Game:  3 ball (2 hit, 1 thrown)
Season:  81 balls (31 hit, 19 thrown, 21 device, 10 found)
Games: 13 games
Average:  6.23 balls per game
Career:  1,203 balls
Attendance: 12,728

4-27-11 PNC Park

I elected not to go to last night’s game, as batting practice was rained out by storms rolling through around 4 PM. 

Today was like the movie Groundhog Day, because at the same exact time, a quick thunderstorm popped up.  It rained for about 10 minutes from 3:55-4:05, which was just enough for batting practice to get moved indoors.

I asked Jonathan Sanchez for a ball twice in the first 30 minutes, once in center field, and once by the bullpen.  He ignored me both times. 
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I planned to ask a third time, but his side session went long, and at 5:30 I jogged over to the right field foul line to try to get a ball from a pitcher.

Ryan Vogelsong had finished throwing and was running sprints.  I noticed a ball in his glove.
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I waited patiently for him to finish, and when he did, I asked him for the ball, and he flipped it to me.
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I also asked him to sign my ticket since there wasn’t much else going on:
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4-27-11 (26).JPGA bit later I noticed virtually every fan in the stadium crowd along the right field line.
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The Giants “rock stars” Tim Lincecum and Brian Wilson and his beard were out throwing.
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They didn’t even stop to sign autographs on their way back in. 

As for the game, I spent most of it in the club level.  I didn’t get any foul balls, but Buster Posey hit one three seats away from my seat in the 9th inning after I had left the club.  I just stared dumbfounded at the club seats, it would’ve been such an easy catch.  That’s the way it goes.

Here’s today’s baseball:  #1200:
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And the sweetspot:
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STATISTICS:
Game:  1 ball (1 thrown)
Season:  78 balls (29 hit, 18 thrown, 21 device, 10 found)
Games: 12 games
Average:  6.50 balls per game
Career:  1,200 balls
Attendance: 9,048

4-25-11 PNC Park

Today was the make up game of Friday’s rained out contest between the Pirates and Nationals.

When the gates opened, I ran in and found my first ball of the day in the front row near the bullpen.
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I only got one other ball during the Pirates portion and it was a home run ball that probably was catchable by myself or Nick, but we both missed it and it bounced back onto the field.  Evan Meek picked it up and tossed it to me for ball #2.

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When the Pirates ran off the field, I got Daniel McCutchen to throw me a ball from center field, but it fell well short.  I was luckily able to glove trick it for ball #3.

I also glove tricked ball #4 in left field when the Nationals were hitting.

My fifth ball of the day was a home run hit by an unknown righty.  I made the clean catch here:
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I then struck up a conversation with ex-Pirate Tom Gorzelanny.  I asked him if he still had all the Dave Matthews Band CDs that I sent him a few years back.  He said yeah and then started talking to me about DMB for a bit.
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During the conversation, a batter hit a line drive that bounced on the warning track.  I snagged it as it skipped off the warning track just to my left without moving or breaking conversation with Gorzelanny. 
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I was planning on asking him for a ball, and that ground rule double had just ruined it.

Anyway, the Nationals weren’t taking much initiative in collecting the balls from the warning track, so I glove tricked ball #7 here in left field,
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and glove tricked #8 in section 141.
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I was then tipped off by ex-ballhawk Andrew McDonald about another ball, and glove tricked that one for #9.
DSC00344.JPGMy tenth ball of the day was thrown in right field by Doug Slaten, who seemingly hooked up every fan on the wall.
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After a few missed opportunities for home runs, I tracked down a Matt Stairs home run for Ball #11 that landed in the second to last row on the wall.
DSC00351.JPGThat was all for batting practice.

During the game, I decided to sit in the club seats because there was virtually no one there.  Many fans stayed home to watch the Penguins game.
425-1.JPGHere’s a view of the field from the club seats:
DSC00354.JPGI had a perfect chance at a foul ball.  The place was virtually empty.
DSC00364.JPGIn the second inning, new Pirate Brandon Wood made his bucco debut. 
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He took the first two pitches he saw.  On the third John Lannan offering, he took a rip.  He fouled the pitch off into the second deck.  I jumped out of my seat immediately and went running throw the row to try and make the catch.

I ran to the end of the next section and made the catch at the end of the row seen here:
DSC00357.JPGIt was ball #12 and my first game ball of the season.

Here’s the catch:
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And showing the ball off:
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Video:

The catch was featured on Sportscenter as a lead in to their top 10 plays.

Anyhow, it rained on and off throughout the rest of the night, so I spent some time between innings in the club level to stay dry.
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DSC00372.JPGHere are today’s baseballs:
100_9038.JPGAnd the sweet spots:
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STATISTICS:
Game:  12 balls (4 hit, 2 thrown, 5 device, 1 found)
Season:  77 balls (29 hit, 17 thrown, 21 device, 10 found)
Games: 11 games
Average:  7.00 balls per game
Career:  1,199 balls
Attendance: 12,457
2010 through 11 games: 77 balls (0 balls behind last year’s pace)

4-24-11 PNC Park

It was Easter Sunday, so a big crowd wasn’t going to be on hand, which was a bonus.  However, the previous night’s game had ended around 11PM, and since today was a day game, the chances of batting practice were slim.  Add to the fact that it had drizzled all morning, and there was virtually no chance of batting practice whatsoever.

I got to the ballpark at 11:05 AM, just in time to see three Pirates leaving the bullpen after a side session.  Two of the folks at the bullpen fence had baseballs.  I had missed an early opportunity.
424-1.JPGPNC Park makes everyone stay on the Riverwalk for the first 30 minutes on Sundays, so there wasn’t too much to do.  I noticed that someone doesn’t like Andrew McCutchen so much:

I met a couple ballhawks from Ohio.  It was a father and son duo.  They were friendly and snagged several balls of their own throughout the day.

424-2.JPGAt 11:30, I ran over to where the Nationals were playing catch.
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I got Chad Gaudin to toss me a ball near the dugout as he was walking back after completing his pre-game throwing.

I set up behind Sean Burnett throwing with Drew Storen.  I got Sean Burnett to toss me my second ball of the day after they finished up.
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I camped out near a third ball and waited patiently.  I asked a coach for it, and he asked if I’d gotten a ball yet.  Since it was Easter Sunday, I couldn’t lie.  I told him I’d already got one today, but wouldn’t mind another.  He threw the ball to another ballhawk, but I was hoping that it would give me some good karma.
4-23 and 4-24-11 (160).JPGAfter the Nationals were done, I walked around the park to take pictures and look for easter eggs.

Upper Deck:
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Right Field Upper Deck:
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Riverwalk:
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Seating Bowl:
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Looking out towards the Point:
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Abe was in the park, along with the other Nationals mascot Presidents.
4-23 and 4-24-11 (177).JPGOnce the game started, I got Andrew McCutchen’s warm up ball in the first inning,
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and Garrett Jones’ in the fourth.
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That was pretty much it.

A few more random pictures:
Presidents vs Pierogis:
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The Build a Bunny we got for our baby girl:
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The sweatshirt Amy bought me:
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4-23 and 4-24-11 (188).JPGAnd today’s four baseballs:
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Sweet spots:
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By the way, afterwards, we colored easter eggs:

STATISTICS:
Game:  4 balls (4 thrown)
Season:  65 balls (25 hit, 15 thrown, 16 device, 9 found)
Games: 10 games
Average:  6.50 balls per game
Career:  1,187 balls
Attendance: 9,520
2010 through 10 games: 69 balls (4 balls behind last year’s pace)

4-23-11 PNC Park

Today was a Saturday game, so gates opened at 4:30 rather than 5:00.  I was probably fourth in line or so.  Usually Nick and I play catch on the bridge, but it wasn’t closed off, so I stood and watched two older ballhawks argue about who loves baseball more.
4-23 and 4-24-11 (75).JPGOf course, there would be a threat of rain today, as a cold front passed by dangerously close to Pittsburgh, bringing storms just south of the city.  The wind was howling out to left field, which would hopefully benefit me by pushing fly balls out of the park.
4-23 and 4-24-11 (86).JPGAmy left before the gates opened to go to work on the inside of the stadium, but she took some cool pics.  This is probably my favorite:
4-23 and 4-24-11 (126).JPGWhen the stadium opened, I saw a few balls in left field on the foul line and went over to grab them.
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When I got to the spot, there were three balls there.  One was up against the fence, one was about six feet out, and one was only gettable using the glove trick.  Once I got into the seating area, I noticed Nick running right behind me, and he grabbed the one up against the fencing before I could get to it.  I was able to reach the one six feet out by leaning out over the fence and grabbing it with my glove.  I let the glove trick ball be, as I don’t like using the glove trick while the Pirates are batting.

My second ball was a ground rule double in section 134 that I snagged here:
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That would be all I would get during the Pirates batting practice.  45 minutes.  2 balls.  Poor.

Balls #3 and #4 were glove tricked off of the left field warning track.
4-23 and 4-24-11 (136).JPGMy fifth ball of the day was a home run hit by a Nationals batter.  I was starting to get blocked off by fans, so I took the open row five rows back as I tracked the ball.  It turned out that it was the perfect row and I caught the ball on the fly.
4-23 and 4-24-11 (138).JPGBall #6 was a home run that sailed over my head, hit off the facade of the general admission bleachers and carried back to the lower bleachers.  I out jumped another ballhawk and snagged the ball on the rebound.
4-23 and 4-24-11 (139).JPGMy seventh ball of the day was caught on the fly off the bat of Rick Ankiel in the third row in center field.  This was the view.
4-23 and 4-24-11 (141).JPGAnkiel lofted another fly ball two pitches later than I flat out missed.  It tipped off of my glove.  It was my worst error this year.

At 5:51, the Nationals ran off the field. 
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The was some light rain that was to arrive around 7PM, so the grounds crew wanted to make sure it had over an hour to put the tarp on the field.  It wouldn’t even start drizzling until game time.  That’s our grounds crew for you though.  It cost us about 25 minutes of batting practice.

The game was delayed an hour and eleven minutes by “rain.” 
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It actually was barely raining.  It was a little mist that terrified the grounds crew.  You can tell it was barely raining in the photo above by the amount of fans seated in the outfield sections.  If it was raining, they wouldn’t be there.

What a frustrating day.  I missed at least five balls including a game home run.  This was by far the worst ballhawking day of the year for me.

Here are today’s baseballs:
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Sweet spots:
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By the way, I injured myself after batting practice.  I had a huge bag and I filled it with 59 Andrew McCutchen Action Figurines, 59 First Pitch Magazines, and 59 Scratch and Win Cards.
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The bag was filled to the brim, so I had to carry it in front of me almost a mile to my car.  I couldn’t sling it over my shoulder.  Anyway, I ended up hurting my back, and having back spasms the rest of the night.  I couldn’t even run or jog.

The weight of the bag was about sixty pounds.  Carrying it out in front of me with my arms straight forward was definitely a work out. 
4-23 and 4-24-11 (196).JPGSTATISTICS:
Game:  7 balls (4 hit, 2 device, 1 found)
Season:  61 balls (25 hit, 11 thrown, 16 device, 9 found)
Games: 9 games
Average:  6.78 balls per game
Career:  1,183 balls
Attendance: 18,262

4-22-11 PNC Park, Rained Out

There was an 80% chance of rain forecast for today, and sure enough it rained all day long.

Being the first game of a homestand, Amy and I went to the game.

When we parked at 4:15, it was raining.  When we got to the gate, it was still raining.  We took cover under one of the overhangs.
DSC00073.JPGIt was still dreary and drizzling as 5pm approached,
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and I took a few minutes to familiarize myself better with the Nationals pitchers in case any of them were out throwing or in the bullpen.
DSC00080.JPGAt about 4:53, we got into line, and everything looked normal.  The ticket scanners and giveaway hander-outers were all in place.
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However, 5PM rolled on by, and the supervisor was no where to be found to open the gates. 

About 5 minutes later he appeared and said, “The game’s cancelled.  It’ll be made up Monday at 7:05.”
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4-21-11 (28).JPGIt wasn’t a total wash though, I was able to trade in some tickets at the box office.

Also, rather than get no batting practice, now there is a chance to get an extra BP in for the Monday game, so it’s not all bad.

The weather is looking pretty bad for Pittsburgh the next three days though.  Hopefully Mother Nature cooperates.

Pirates M&Ms

I came home Thursday from work and found this waiting for me.
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It was Amy and my seven month anniversary.
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DSC00047.JPGShe surprises me every month with great presents.

This month:
DSC00055.JPGShe got me Pirates M&Ms and a Pirates gumball machine/candy machine.
DSC00057.JPGThe M&Ms had Pirates logos on them:
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Here’s what they looked like once in the machine.
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For each turn, the machine dispenses about five M&Ms.

Afterwards, we headed out to eat for dinner at Houlihan’s.