Category: Uncategorized

4-4-12 PNC Park Open Workout

You may recall, I blogged that the Pirates were having a pre-Opening day workout and batting practice.  I blogged about it here.

Initially, I thought that it would be for season ticket holders only, as the email was sent under the guise of ‘SEASON TICKET HOLDER NEWS,’ but alas, it was free and open to the public, so it turned into what I would liken to a Kids Sunday game.

I had to work until 2:35, so I didn’t even get down to the park until sometime after 3.

The Pirates didn’t start hitting until after 4, so there was time to talk to Olivia for a bit.

And check out a few minor changes.  Diamond Pizza put a sitting area outside on the concourse beneath the left field GA bleachers.

And a video game station has been installed under the left field bleachers – moved from behind section 101 which is going to be a fancy bar.

When the Pirates started hitting, a ball rolled near the bullpen door, so I went to glove trick it.  It was going to be nice to be on the board.  However, as soon as I took my glove out, a supervisor raced over and told me that it wasn’t allowed.  I have done the glove trick without incident since 2009 at PNC Park, so this was deflating.  I snagged 89 balls last year with the glove trick alone, so my stats may take a big hit this year.  Later on, I watched as the same supervisor (whom I have never seen before, I should also mention- all of the supervisors from last year where great)  raced for and scrummed a ball, which I thought wasn’t right – he gave it away, but still.

I got shut out for a long time, which was frustrating.  There were no ushers working today, so lots of fans were standing on bleachers and sitting on seat backs, which is far more dangerous than me lowering my glove 6 feet.

So, overall, the whole thing was a disappointment.

I ended up moving towards the bullpen where it was more empty, and I came up with a Casey McGehee ball.  It bounced into the seats and took a generous roll right to me.  I just had to pick it up underneath the bleacher as fans from all directions closed in.

I should also mention that I have never seen such aggression from fans in the stands at PNC Park.  There were people diving on concrete, diving up the stairs for balls, etc.

Another disappointment was that all of center field and right field was off limits.  Boo!  So when Pedro Alvarez was up, I just watched helplessly as he peppered the center field seats.

By the way, how much longer does Pedro get before the Pirates ship him out to the minors?  His spring was awful.  He strikes out 1 out of 3 plate appearances.  If Matt Hague hits, I could really see Pedro as the odd man out and Hague could be in the 1B/3B platoon mix rather than being a bench player.

Anyhow, I got another ball from Jeff Karstens near the end of BP.  Karstens flipped it to some kids in the front row, who fought over it and totally missed it.  The ball bounced to me a few rows back.  I picked it up, and gave it to the girl in the pink:

That was a lucky toss up, it was hard to get any players attention during BP because any time they shagged a ball a chorus of ‘HERE HERE HERE HERE’ rang out from the front row.

At 4:40, the Pirates stopped hitting, and the supervisors shooed everyone out of left field, telling the fans that the Phillies had opted for a closed practice.  Thanks Charlie Manuel.

Rather than stand on the Riverwalk outside the stadium while the numerous Phillies lefties hit, we left.

Here’s today’s first baseball:

There’s only one pictured, because I gave the Karstens ball away.

A crappy start to the 2012 season for sure.  Hopefully things will pick up, next week at this time, I will have attended 8 MLB games if my plans/ambitions hold.

2012 Statistics:
Game: 2 balls (1 hit, 1 thrown)
Season: 2 balls
Games: 1 games
Average: 2.00 per game
Career: 1,546 balls

2012 by stadium:
PNC Park: 2 balls in 1 game (1,157 total in PNC career)


A Stroll Around PNC Park

I went to PNC Park yesterday with Amy and Olivia.  Amy had an orientation for the 2012 season, and Olivia and I walked around the exterior of the stadium, and took note of what subtle changes we could see.  In two days, this place is going to be packed, but today, it was a ghost town.

We began at the corner of Federal Street and General Robinson and walked towards the Clemente bridge.  The Pirates main offices are located there on the right:

We stopped at the Center Field gate and peered in, but there wasn’t much to see.  It looked like it does on Sunday mornings when there is no BP.

The Clemente Bridge was a sight for sore eyes.  Beside proposing to Amy on it on Valentine’s Day, it’s also the place of many pre-game throwing sessions with fellow ballhawks.

Did you notice all of the leaves on the trees?  The tulips are in full bloom too.

By the way, while we’re talking about trees… Check out the General Robinson side of PNC Park.

All of those trees, every one, is DEAD.  I thought for sure they would be replaced after last year.  Am I the only one that has noticed?  They are decaying, moldy, and all obviously dead and dried out.

Anyhow, Olivia and I made our way to the left field gate and peered in.

It looks pretty much the same except for a large Rally Pass booth.  In 2012, when you spin the prize wheel, you’ll pick your prizes up right there.  No more walking over to section 101 to get your prize.  That area has been made into a bar.  You’ll really notice it when you walk up the stairs from the Clemente Wall area to the main concourse.  The open air above your heads on the stairs is now covered by a floor which makes up most of the bar.

Also, the Pirates, replaced an old crappy bland scoreboard that announced upcoming games with a more classy looking ‘Home of the Pirates’ sign above the Center Field / Clemente statue gate:

It was time to go down to the Riverwalk.

Oh wait, it was closed.

Oh well, we went down anyhow.

But the riverwalk really was closed.  Fences had been erected in the spot where PNC ballhawks usually do pre-BP ballhawking, waiting for balls to bounce out:

The fences were put in place because the riverwalk was being replaced.  New cement slabs were being put in.

We walked back, took in the Clemente bridge from below:

And walked across the Clemente bridge to get a better view of the stadium:

One thing that you may not be able to tell in the picture above is that the tops of all of the trees in the picnic area and along the riverwalk for that matter had been cut off:

This was done undoubtedly to keep the city skyline unobstructed.

We walked back and around to the Mazeroski statue,

and passed the right field garages which were all opened and reeked of smoke.

There had been a fire in the laundry room.  Cleaners had washed mop heads and dryer sheets and a fire broke out.  There were charred uniforms in the garage.  The uniforms were for workers, chefs and the like – I didn’t see any player uniforms that were burned.  I learned all of this from a boss who was on his cell phone talking about the insurance, and that they had a $100,000 deductible, and that they were having a fire restoration team come in, yadda yadda yadda.

It was nice to be back at the park after months away.

There’s only 2 more days until Opening Day, and tomorrow there is an Opening Day ‘preview’ batting practice, so I should be snagging my first baseball of the 2012 season sometime tomorrow afternoon.  Check back soon!  And also, you have until Sunday to win a Justin Morneau shirt!

WordPress App

As a big time smartphone user, I wanted to let my fellow bloggers know about a cool app that I’ve been using a lot recently.  It’s the WordPress app, and it makes running and updating your blog a lot easier.

Let’s say you want to edit a blog entry because you made a mistake.  Or, you could even be at a ballgame and editing/updating your blog as the action is unfolding in front of you.  You just have to click the entry you want to work on, and from there it’s easy.

Simply type away, like you would do if you were at a keyboard.  You can do pretty much everything that you could do on a computer, even put in pictures and all that jazz.  If you have an Iphone 4S, you can just dictate your text and the phone will do everything for you.

One of the chores of running a blog is keeping up with the comments.  Its really tough to write daily and respond to comments all the time, and lots of time, comments need to be approved if the commenter is posting from a new IP address or is a first time commenter.  You can easily read and respond to all comments on this app too:

The other thing I love about this app is the ability to monitor your site stats.  Sure, you can do it on the computer too, but if you just want to do a quick check of how your blog is faring , just click the stats in the toolbar at the bottom.

You can see monthly:

Weekly (runs Monday to Sunday on the app):


You can also see you daily views as numerical data:

You can also see what your most popular posts have been over the past 7 days.  For me, my divisional previews have been big time view builders for a few weeks now:

You can also check out your referrers to see what sites are sending your blog traffic, as well as what search terms people are using to land on your blog.

It’s a useful too, so if you’re a blogger, I suggest you check it out.

There’s only 5 more days until Opening Day.  Wow.  It’s the end of March.  Time has flown.  Tomorrow I’ll be giving away this Andrew McCutchen shirt, and I’m thinking about doing a tournament to give it away.  Check back for details soon!

By the way, the Opening Day forecast is looking good.  It’ll likely be a bit chilly during BP, but I’ll take it if there’s no rain:

Shirt Contest: The Glove Trick

I assembled my glove trick today.

It’s the first time that I put the glove trick together since I had my glove redone this winter. The tape was used to tape the pen to a strap on the glove so it won’t fall out on the field. The pen holds the glove open. The rubber band holds the ball in place.

Amy, Olivia and I went to a deserted mall parking lot and I placed five balls on the ground. I then went up to the second level of the parking garage. From a height of about twenty feet, I glove tricked the five balls.

The height is way more challenging than the six foot wall at PNC Park. There was a wind to deal with today too, of about 15 mph. This was my first practice with the glove trick since the end of 2011.

Your challenge is this:

Guess how long it took to glove trick all 5 balls. You guesses should be in intervals of 5 seconds. For example, a guess could be 0:05, and that’s all you’d have to post in the comments.
I will also give each commenter 2 guesses. You can use both right away, or be strategic and save one or both for later, as I will close this contest after the FIRST CORRECT ANSWER.

I will then post the video for your entertainment and proof.

The winner gets this shirt:

Its never been worn, its one of the many free shirt giveaways from PNC Park that I got in 2011. It’s a size XL, but the PNC park giveaway shirts wear about a size small, so it fits almost like a large.

Good luck!

Contest closed. Here’s the video:

I’ve determined that the official time is 5:05.

I’ve got to get to bed, so I’ll comb through the responses, do the math, see who’s closest,  announce the winner, and email them tomorrow.

Goodnight all.

8 Days til Opening Day Contest: Guess how many HR

If you read this blog regularly during the baseball season, you often only read about my glove work and snagging. That’s only part of what I love about baseball. I also love hitting. Ever since I was little I loved hitting, I would often go to an empty field and hit off of a tee or throw balls up and hit them just to practice my swing and try to hit balls over fences. Hitting home runs is something I’ve always enjoyed.

Today was a rather nice day in the Pittsburgh area, so Amy, Olivia and I headed to a park.

I brought along my bat and 17 baseballs to practice my home run swing and try and hit some deep flies. I did ok in the first round until I tweaked my back because my front foot slid while I was swinging, thanks to a ridiculously wet infield.

I was still able to swing ok with just a little discomfort, so I decided to continue with my hitting.

The field that I hit at is a large space where three little league fields converge. I moved to the right field corner of this field to hit with the intent of hitting the balls over the backstop and dugout opposite me on the third baseline:

This was the view that I was looking at:

I stationed Amy ( who was holding our daughter Olivia) on the hill up above the dugout. I made sure that she was about 400 feet away or so and out of the range of getting drilled with a baseball. I then asked her to film me hitting my 17 baseballs.

This is the view from the fence that I was trying to hit it over. I stood at the base of the right field score board.

I measured the distance to be 275 feet from where I was standing to the backstop.

The contest is this: Guess, by posting a comment, how many baseballs (0-17) I hit over the fence on the fly for home runs.

Let’s give you some biographical info so that you can make your best educated guess.
Height: 6’4″
Weight: 240 pounds
Bench press max: 285 pounds (I’ve been working on this all winter)
Bat Length: 33 inches
Bat Weight: 30 ounces
*Bat is BBCor standard.
If you need to see my swing, you can watch a video in this blog entry.

So, how many of the 17 balls ended up being home runs? Post your guess!

Contest overview:
-One guess per person
-There can be more than one winner.
-Guesses should be a number between 0-17.
-At the end of the contest, I will post a youtube video for you to watch the results – it’s under 5 minutes long.
-The winners will be contacted by me via email, so make sure the email you use when leaving a comment is current.
-If you won and you don’t get an email, check your spam folder.

So what will you win?

You’ll get an unopened pack of vintage baseball cards from 1985-1995, AND a Dave Matthews Band DVD. The DVD is not a copy, its an actual pressed DVD! Why? Because I love Dave Matthews Band too, not just baseball.

Leave a comment to enter!

Good luck and thanks for reading!

Here’s the video:  Remember, whoever guessed it dead on wins, if not, the next closest guess wins:
Count ’em up!  (You may want to make it full screen, I’m like a spec off in the distance)

I realize now it’s a little tough to tell.  I hit 12 out of 17 for homers.  Connor picked 13, Casey Ward 11, so you both win!  Check your email.

Pirates Preview : Pre Opening Day Workout April 4

The Pirates sent out an email inviting their season ticket holders to come out and watch as the Pirates and Phillies take batting practice and run through drills the day before the Home Opener, April 4th.

Admission will be free.  There is no actual game, the game will be the next day.   Kudos to the Pirates for doing this.  I know that the Reds also open up their gates the day before the opener for their fans, and always thought it was a great idea.

Anyhow, the gates open at 2:30, which poses a problem to me, since I am still working at that time.  I should be able to make it down to PNC Park in time to catch part of the Pirates batting practice and all of the Phillies BP.  Therein lies a potential problem for me.  Should I could the balls I get at the workout in my official stats or not?

Here’s why I shouldn’t:
1)  There isn’t an actual game

Here’s why I should:
1)  Almost all ballhawks count the balls they snag at the Home Run Derby in their collection.  That isn’t a game.  If I remember correctly it’s All Star ‘work out’ and Home Run derby.  I don’t see much of a difference between this and that.
2)  The balls are hit by major league players
3)  The balls are snagged at a major league park, hit by MLB players
4)  Other fans will be in attendance, creating competition
5)  Spring Training is over, so these wouldn’t be considered spring training balls
6)  I’ve seen other ballhawks count less than credible balls such as ball found on tours when no game was taking place, balls that were purchased or won in a team store raffle, balls that were found by another person and held until the ballhawk could claim it, etc etc.  Some ballhawks even count spring training balls in their stats.  I’ve been to spring training.  I once snagged about 10 balls and I was literally the only person standing there.

I don’t see why I shouldn’t count these balls in my collection, so I think I’m going to.

What do you think?  Should I?  Should I definitely not?

Also, I’m doing a contest tonight.  I’m so pumped for the season that I may just do a giveaway every single day leading up to Opening Day.  So check back soon.  Tonight, the first correct answer wins!

There’s only 9 more days until Opening Day, and you have until Sunday to win this Andrew McCutchen shirt.

In case you’re wondering, here’s the forecast for Opening Day, April 5:

Not good – 60% chance of showers.  What else is new in Pittsburgh?

Marlins Park Tour

Not too long ago, the Marlins opened up their park to their season ticket holders to take a lot around and familiarize themselves with the brand new stadium.  I went digging around various websites recently to show you what the new park looks like.

Here’s your sneak peak:

A view from the seats to the right side of home plate, facing left field:

Another view from roughly the same angle:

From farther back:

And looking slightly to the left:

So what are we looking at out there?  If you look closely, left field is awful for BP.  There are 2.5 sections of seating with maybe nine rows.  The rows look like they could be a bit steep, like right field in PNC Park and Cincinnati.

There are bullpens there too that will swallow up most of the home runs hit in batting practice.

Then there’s also a huge sculpture in left center field.

I’m not really sure how I feel about that sculpture.  At first I thought it looked pretty hideous, but I thought the Marlins new uniforms looked awful, but they are starting to grow on me.  Maybe in time the oddly placed piece of art will find a home in my heart.

What do you think of it?  Personally, I would’ve rather them put more seats out there.

Here’s another angle of the Marlins Park sculpture in left center field.  No matter how many angles I look at, I still just don’t really care for it.

Anyhow, here’s a side view of the sculpture.  Take a look at those steps leading down behind it.  Where do they go?  Why isn’t anyone on them?  Are they closed to the public?  That is prime real estate for a home run ball.  If I was a Marlins ballhawk, I’d probably just hang down there all game and gobble up game home runs.

Those steps have to be open to the public!  Look how many of them there are!  It’s wide enough that it looks like it was built for public use.

I tried to find pictures to see where the steps went to, but couldn’t.  Check this out:

That’s right ballhawks.  RAILINGS.  Oh man, LF is going to be awful for batting practice.

Since we’re talking about left field, here’s a view of home plate from left:

That picture kind of sucks, so here’s a better one:

Let’s move over to center field:

Here’s a dead on view of center field:

And here’s the batting eye, looking toward right field.

Notice right field also has those dreadful railings.  That’s not the only problem.  There’s also an overhang, and it looks like it covers nearly the entire lower level of right field.  Getting home runs balls during BP there will be limited, a la Citi Field right field.

You can see the outfield set up from this photo:

Here’s the main seating area in foul territory.  It reminds me of PNC Park with the cross aisle running around the field several rows behind the dugout:

The press box behind home plate:

A look in from near the left field foul pole:

And the right field foul pole:

A view from third base looking out towards right field:

Have you heard about the live aquariums behind the plate?

Should be pretty cool for anyone sitting down close:

A batting practice shot:

And finally, here’s a shot of the scoreboard:

Let’s head out to the concourse:

They look rather crowded, and this was just at fan fest.  If there’s one thing I hate its a crowded concourse.  There’s nothing worse at a baseball game than tiptoeing through a crowd.

Parts of the concourse look pretty snazzy thought:

Here’s a crowd waiting to get in outside:

It will likely look like that before every game, as the Marlins, using poor judgement, are only opening the park 90 minutes early before the games.   STUUUUUUPID!

Finally, the exterior of the building:

Another area outside of the park:

And finally, an aerial of the new Marlins Park:

And there you have it!

What do you all think?  I think the park is nice looking, but I wouldn’t rank it in the top 5 of all of the baseball parks based off of the pictures, maybe not even in the top 10.

I think its going to be h*ll for batting practice, given the layout of the outfield and the late gate opening times.

What’s everyone else think?  Anyone planning on going there this year?

There’s only 11 more days until Opening Day, and you could win this David Wright shirt tomorrow!