Yesterday, Chipper Jones announced that the 2012 season would be his last. Jones has been somewhat of a polarizing figure in his career. Atlanta Braves fans love him, while fans of NL East teams, particularly the Mets, seem to hate him.
Well fans, you’ll have one more chance to boo or cheer Chipper Jones this season. Jones will have a farewell tour in the fact that fans will know that this is the last time that they will ever see him play. If the Braves don’t make the playoffs, (which they may not since the NL East is much improved) your last chance to see Chipper Jones will be at PNC Park on October 3rd.
Personally, I like it better when a player of Jones’ caliber lets the baseball world know that this will be it. This way, fans can watch them play one more time. Jones was special in the fact that he played his entire career for one team – a feat that is becoming more rare as the years pass.
Is Jones a first ballot Hall of Famer? Let’s look at his numbers.
He hit 454 home runs, 2615 hits, .304 batting average, .533 slugging, .935 OPS, won an MVP award, 7 All Star appearances. I’d say he is. He’s had a great career.
How’d you feel about Chipper Jones? Like him? Hate him? Indifferent?
I used to hate him because I hated his wry smile and his sunflower seed stuffed cheek. However, after watching him play and watching him hit in batting practice I grew to appreciate him.
I think I’ll be posting more today – maybe another mini contest for a shirt. Check back soon.
I didn’t feel like going through another toilsome batting practice in Cleveland, and storms were in the forecast there, so I drove down to Washington DC.
Two other ballhawks were in attendance at this game – Ian Weir from Pittsburgh, and Alex from New York City.
When the gates opened, the Nationals were just beginning to hit, so there weren’t any easter eggs.
I caught ball #1 on the fly off the bat of Wil Nieves. It was a home run that was caught in this area:
During the second group, I won a scrum for a Ryan Zimmerman home run ball that landed two rows in front of me in this area:
That would be all I would get during the Nationals batting practice. Argh. Did I make the wrong choice by coming to DC?
The Braves first group included Jason Heyward
You’re not allowed to go get those balls, as one kid began climbing over the rail, before a security guard angrily yelled at him. I motioned with my glove and string as if to say, “Is it ok if I throw this out there.” The security guard made the non-verbal signal, “Oh yeah, go ahead.”
I flipped the kid a decoy ball and then threw my glove out and nudged ball #8 close enough to the glass so that I could simply reach other and grab it. It took one fling of the glove.
I was about ready to leave the red seats to go check the left field bullpen when yet another home run landed in the gap in front of the red seats.
I glove tricked that ball for ball #9.
Batting practice ended soon after, and I was stuck on 9 balls – just short of double digits.
I really wanted to hit the road, but there were three balls laying in
After standing and talking with Alex for about 20 minutes, Eddie Perez finally came out to the bullpen. He collected the three balls, and I asked him for a ball in Spanish. He ignored me. I continued in Spanish to say, “There’s also one in the flowers over there near the wall.”
Eddie went over and got it and tossed it up to me. Ball #10.
Here are today’s baseballs:
Game: 10 balls (4 hit, 1 thrown, 5 device)
Season: 347 balls (177 hit, 76 thrown, 41 device, 44 found)
Games: 54 games
Average: 6.43 balls per game
2010 Game Balls: 5
Career: 925 balls
Streak: 150 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
It was a dreaded Sunday game. The game last night ended around midnight. Surely there wouldn’t be batting practice.
Each Sunday, I head down to the stadium and peer through the gates around 11:15 or so. If the cages are up, I will stay, if not, I just turn around and go home. No big deal.
I hate Sunday games because there’s always kids everywhere, and there’s always some special event bringing throngs of people.
I was floored when I saw this through the gate Sunday morning:
Game: 5 balls (4 hit, 1 thrown)
Season: 135 balls (83 hit, 29 thrown, 9 device, 14 found)
Games: 20 games
Average: 6.75 balls per game
2010 Game Balls: 3
Career: 713 balls
Streak: 116 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
Today was a tough day for all ballhawks in attendance at PNC Park. There weren’t too many home runs, and of the home runs that were hit, most were to right field and either bounced back on the field, or were gobbled up by fans in the front row.
I was flat out robbed twice by fans in the front row. One by a 50 year old who was in the front row and jumped to make the catch, inches in front of my waiting glove, and another by a college kid who was a row ahead of me and caught a home run barehanded about two inches in front of my glove. In both cases, there was nothing that I could’ve done differently, as I was behind them.
On to the balls that I did snag.
My first ball of the day was a home run off the bat of Steve Pearce. I misjudged the ball a bit. I moved down a row, and barely made a snow cone catch, as I should’ve just stayed put.
My second ball of the day was off the bat of another Pirate. I’m not sure of the hitter, but they lofted a high fly ball towards left center. I could tell it would be short, so rather than getting into a scrum in the front row, I ran back a few rows to about the fifth row back. The ball landed on the warning track and took a 20 foot high bounce and directly into my glove.
The Pirates wrapped things up at 5:20, a little earlier than recently.
Game: 5 balls (4 hit, 1 thrown)
Season: 127 balls (79 hit, 26 thrown, 9 device, 13 found)
Games: 18 games
Average: 7.06 balls per game
2010 Game Balls: 3
Career: 705 balls
Streak: 114 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
I was hoping to have a huge day today since the Penguins had a playoff game. Sure enough, batting practice was pretty empty, but I didn’t have a stand out day.
My wife and I arrive at the park at 4:05 PM and were second in line. I went into batting practice and looked for Easter Eggs, but there were none. There were a couple ushers standing around and they must’ve picked up anything that came out. I settled into my spot in left field and waited.
An unidentified Pirate hit a deep fly ball. He hit it right into the sun, but I was able to catch it on the fly… barely. It almost went over my head. Nonetheless, I had ball #1 of the day.
Nyjer Morgan was shagging balls in the outfield and I called his name, he looked at me and tossed a ball, but it was headed for some random guy with a Pantera hat on. The guy was holding a calendar and didn’t have a glove and looked out of place at batting practice. He reached for the ball and missed it. I picked the ball up on the deflection. It was ball #2. He kind of gave me a look like he expected me to give it to him, but I didn’t. Since I called for Nyjer to throw the ball, I felt like I earned it, plus he didn’t have a glove and wasn’t prepared.
The Pirates portion of batting practice ended and the Braves came out to hit. They weren’t hitting anything deep. To make matters worse, batting practice looked like this:
I had so much room to roam and chase down home runs, but none were coming. One finally did come out, but I misjudged the ball and it was over my head. If I had been one row deeper I would have caught the ball. I slammed my glove in disgust and muttered to myself.
Game: 3 Balls
Season: 20 Balls
Games: 5 Games (4 with batting practice, 1 without)
Average: 4.00 Balls per game
Career: 186 Balls