I went to Progressive Field on Monday, despite an iffy forecast of afternoon showers. When we arrived, it looked as if it could start raining at any moment.
At one point I felt a drop or two, but the rain never materialized, and the Indians took early batting practice, which I watched with Amy, Olivia, and Nick from just outside the Toyota Home Run Porch.
There were several balls that landed in the seats, but the ushers would later pick most of them up later and pocket them for themselves.
Before the gates opened, Nick and I played catch. It was about the fifth consecutive day that I had thrown, and my arm was feeling it. I threw a lot sidearm or 3/4 because my arm was sore.
When the gates opened, I ran in and found nothing.
After a long dry spell to start BP, an Indian hit a ball into the trees at Heritage Park, which I just reached in and grabbed to put me on the board:
My second ball was a clean home run catch here:
And ball #3 was a clean home run catch here on the fly:
which resulted in me being booed because a twelve year old was two rows in front of me, and the ball sailed over his glove by a foot and into mine. I didn’t give him the ball, and he and his dad ended up getting at least four that I saw, since there was no one there.
That was it for the Indians BP. The White Sox BP was pretty bad, as it featured a majority of right handed batters. To make it just a little more difficult, all of the Sox players had pullovers on, so I could only really identify a few of their players such as John Danks and Will Ohman. Plus, a trainer’s son was snagging 85% of the balls in right center, so not a lot of players were snagging flies near the outfield fence for me to put a request in.
I got shut out until 6PM when I found ball #4 in the left field bleachers. Somehow an usher missed it, as it was tucked neatly under a bleacher near a support.
Ball #5 was a disaster. I hate snagging in left field because its so steep. Tyler Flowers, a young catcher with a ton of power hit a home run at me. I started running up the steps in the bleachers, thinking it was way over my head. As I turned to find the ball, the struck me square in the back, bounced around, and rolled down a few rows, where I picked it up. It should’ve been an easy catch for me, but I botched it. I had wanted a Flowers ball, so I guess I should be happy that I at least got one, but still, I feel like I’m off to a rusty start to the 2012 season.
At 6:10, the White Sox ended BP, clearing the field, except for the infielders. In a rare scene, the Sox took infield practice.
It began with the coach hitting balls to the outfielders and working on cutting throws, then it progressed to double plays, etc. It was pretty cool to watch. I stood right behind the dugout and waited.
There were no other White Sox fans around, so I figured I had a good shot to get a ball.
It worked, as Mark Salas tossed me a well worn ball that had been used in infield practice for ball #6.
Amy and I checked out of the hotel around 11:30, and met up with Nick, who had gone out for breakfast. We had five hours to kill before the gates of Progressive Field would open at 4:30, so we walked around Cleveland.
I originally wanted to find a park so I could sit down and read the paper and get out of the sun for a bit. So, we began walking toward Settler’s Landing Park, which I saw on a map on my Iphone. It looked like it was on a little river, which turned out to be a canal. I thought there would be some trees, picnic tables and benches.
I was wrong. We were greeted by a hulking, rusting bridge that looked like it had been swept up by a tornado and driven into the ground vertically. It was such an eyesore.
I guess decades ago it was a drawbridge from a rail line which obviously no longer exists.
We walked around the park, and found nothing but homeless people, and giant sized mushrooms.
After a couple photos of the underside of Cleveland,
we headed toward lake Erie, and walked around the Cleveland Browns Football stadium.
Nick then headed to get lunch and to the ballpark, while Amy and I explored the perimeter of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame,
and visited the Cleveland Science Center, where we grabbed a bite to eat at a Pizza Hut express, and brushed up on our periodic table of elements. Can you name all of them in the photo?
When it came time to enter the stadium, things got off to a tough start. I only got one ball from the Indians. Chris Perez threw a ball toward a couple of fans in the front row, but they interfered with each other and both missed it. You’ll see me standing there, several rows back.
The ball bounced on the concrete and ended up maybe ten rows back, where I grabbed it to get on the board:
The Indians finished hitting at 5:05. When the Pirates came out, the bad luck continued, and I still only had one baseball when 5:30 rolled around and I headed to left field:
Over in left field, my luck changed as Dusty Brown tossed me ball #2 of the day.
I was hoping that my Pirates gear would make me stand out over the other fans.
I headed back over to center field for the Pirates second group, which featured several lefties.
While there, I caught a Lyle Overbay home run on the fly. It was a full extension leaping catch in this area.
The next batter, Garrett Jones, hit a home run that I caught the next section over, also on the fly for ball #4.
I headed back over to left field for the final group, where Jose Tabata tossed me my fifth ball of the day. He’s on the right, talking with Jose Veras:
I finished batting practice in left field, and ended up with five baseballs on the day.
After batting practice Amy and I spun the Prize Wheel. She won a Duncan Donuts buy one get one free iced coffee coupon, and I won a free drink from Circle K stores. Both garbage prizes. Blah.
After that, we got ice cream cones as we made our way to our seats in the upper deck.
It was a losing battle against the ice cream, which melted faster than we could eat it. Amy’s hands were a mess.
After running to the bathroom to get wet paper towels for us to clean up, it was time for the first pitch.
Our seats were in Section 556, Row X, which was the very last row in the upper deck, and they were great. There was a strong breeze the entire time we were there, and it really kept us cool.
I wish we could’ve stayed for the entire game, but we had to leave around 7:40 to walk back to the bus stop to catch our bus headed back to Pittsburgh.
Game: 5 balls (2 hit, 3 thrown)
Season: 232 balls (89 hit, 52 thrown, 56 device, 226 found)
Games: 38 games
Average: 6.11 balls per game
Career: 1,354 balls
Back in Cleveland yet again.
However, it would not be a fun time in Cleveland today.
It would be a record low tying day for me. Record low in terms of balls snagged in 2010 and also record tying low for balls snagged at Progressive Field.
After being shut out for over fifty minutes, I snagged a Shin Soo Choo home run in this area:
It was too deep for me to get to in time to make the catch, so I settled for grabbing the ball off of the concrete.
It was about 5:20. My next ball wouldn’t come until about 6:15 or so.
It was that kind of day.
Season: 268 balls (142 hit, 64 thrown, 26 device, 36 found)
Games: 41 games
Average: 6.53 balls per game
2010 Game Balls: 3
Career: 846 balls
Streak: 137 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
I wasn’t sure if I was going to go to today’s game at Progressive Field. After continuously checking the weather forecast throughout the morning, it looks like rain that had been moving through Cleveland would be gone.
Afterwards, Zack, Nick, Bryan and I went to Heritage Park to see if any balls had landed in the trees there. There was nothing to be found, but we did take a few photo opportunities:
Showing the Target Field balls:
and an even better picture, with a clear view of the Target Field Balls:
Afterwards, we would all go our separate ways. I chose to go to the Twins bullpen area. I had noticed a ball laying in the bullpen.
It was a little too far out to do the glove trick, so I elected to wait and see if I could get the ball tossed up to me.
For lefties, I sat over in right field.
And I stayed on the home run porch occasionally for righties.
I stayed until the very end of the game – the 11th inning.
And watched the Indians win in exciting walk off fashion:
Also, this was likely the last game that I’ll have the #1 game on mygameballs.com, as Zack Hample is poised to remove me from the top spot on Monday.
Here are today’s baseballs:
And the sweet spots:
Game: 8 balls (5 hit, 3 thrown)
Season: 69 balls (43 hit, 13 thrown, 7 device, 6 found)
Games: 10 games
Average: 6.90 balls per game
2010 Game Balls: 3
Career: 647 balls
Streak: 106 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
After leaving PNC Park around 1:25, I made it to Progressive Field in Cleveland, and was in line at 3:32. I was second in line. This would be my second game of the day.
When I ran in, I didn’t find any easter eggs on the ground. I paced up and down each aisle and did manage to find ball #1 and ball #2 laying in seats. The second ball was an International League (AAA) ball – which the Tigers are known to use in lieu of major league baseballs. I was pretty happy because I didn’t have any of these yet this year. After snagging 300 some regular major league baseballs this season, any variation is a welcomed departure from the mean.
Within the span of a minute, I lost out on three home run balls in center field. All three balls bounced on this six foot wide concrete platform seperating the outfield wall from the seats:
The balls took huge hops and landed about 15 rows back, and I wasn’t able to get to any of them in time.
Ball #3 was thrown by an Indians pitcher (standing on the left of the two pitchers).
I had competition from behind, with two guys trying to reach other the seats to grab the ball. I got to the ball a split second before them, snatching it with my bare hand. Guess what? Another Metrodome commemorative!
Things then slowed way down for me. I wouldn’t get another ball for the next half hour.
I watched Miguel Cabrera pepper the left field bleachers with home run balls. There was only one usher there picking them all up, and he had his work cut out for him.
One of Cabrera’s homers nearly hit th
e scoreboard. It landed in the very top row of the bleachers (as marked by the red X in the picture below.)
At 6:00, I ran over to those left field bleachers to look for some easter eggs that the usher potentially may have missed. I searched the rows at the bottom, and watched as one teenager found one. I then ran up towards the top of the bleachers, and found this waiting for me, three rows from the top.
Yes, another Metrodome ball – my fifth commemorative of the day, and ball #9.
Things in left field weren’t going well, so I made my way back over to right field as the final lefties were finishing up.
Curtis Granderson ( i think – a black left handed batter ) – hit a deep home run to my left in right field. Again, it was going to be about two sections over, so I put my head down and ran over to where I judged it was going to land. I ended up making a really nice catch on the run for ball #10 of the day. I got a nice hand from the few people that were still in right field watching batting practice. It was also my fifth consecutive Metrodome ball snagged, and my sixth commemorative of the day.
Two pitches later, Granderson hit another home run to right field. This ball was high in the air, and I had plenty of time to weave and correct my route so I’d be in the right spot. I caught the ball with a basket style catch for ball #11. It was the last hit of BP, as the Tigers then ran off the field. I quickly snapped this picture right after batting practice ended to show all the room I had.
I love weekday batting practices at Progressive Field.
I left after batting practice, happy that after snagging 14 yesterday, I had snagged 15 today (albeit over 2 games). It was a new “one-day” record for me.
On my way out of the stadium, I had a few reminders from the trees that fall was here, and baseball season was almost over.
Farewell Progressive Field – See you next year
Game: 11 balls (8 hit, 2 thrown, 1 device)
Season: 390 balls (208 hit, 117 thrown, 65 device)
Games: 78 games (9 of which didn’t have BP)
Average: 5.00 balls per game
Career: 556 balls
Streak: 93 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
Race for 400 in 2009: Need 10 in 3 games, 3.33 per game
After some deliberation, I decided to attend this game. The game was to begin at 6:05, an hour earlier than normal. Gates open on weekdays at 4:30 for 7:05 games, so I was expecting the gates to open at 3:30.
My wife and I got to Cleveland early, and picked up our tickets at the will call window around 3 and got in line at the gate. A girl came out and set everything up (tables, ropes, garbage cans, signs). She told some people that the gates were to open at 3:30. Yes!
Imagine my displeasure when the girl left to find the workers at 3:30 and returned with, “Uh, the gates aren’t opening until 4:30.”
I had to stand there, already in a bad mood, and listen to an autograph hound talk about his autograph exploits for an hour. He was talking obnoxiously loud. One of those people that wants everyone to hear his conversation.
Evan Longoria takes a big rip:
Carlos Pena takes a lead:
Today’s baseball(s): only one pictured because career ball #288 was given away.
Notice the nice scuffing from where it hit the concrete?
And the sweet spot:
Game: 2 Balls (1 hit, 1 device)
Season: 122 Balls (52 hit, 55 throw, 15 device)
Games: 25 Games (21 with BP, 4 without)
Average: 4.88 Balls per Game
Career: 288 Balls
With the Pirates on the road for a full week, I decided to add two games at Progressive Field. I checked the weather today and since the forecast was favorable, I hopped in my car and took the 2:15 drive to Cleveland.
Since it was Saturday, I had some things working against me:
1) Gates don’t open until 5:30 on weekends
2) Cliff Lee bobblehead day
3) The skies darkened up and it looked like it was going to storm.
When I arrived at Progressive Field around 4, the cage was set up, but I was afraid BP would be wiped out due to the menacing dark clouds. (The lights were on at the stadium).
I walked to the box office and bought the cheapest ticket I could, $9. I then made my way back to the right field gate. It was about 4:15, and a large crowd was gathering. I was about 15th in line. It turns out that there were hundreds of people there for faith night. They were going to hear testimony from Indians player Jamey Carroll.
Imagine my surprise when a supervisor announced that they would be opening the gates an hour early at 4:30! Thank you Jesus!
And stood in line for 10 minutes to buy a cheeseburger combo meal for $9.25.
When the game started I first sat by the foul pole in right field.
But eventually moved to the left field home run porch. Notice all of the fans are standing at the fence.
If a home run were hit, they would have a slim chance of catching it. I stood by the garbage cans, awaiting a home run that would never come.
The Tigers won the game 4-0.
A look at today’s baseballs:
And the sweet spots:
Game: 5 Balls (3 hit, 1 thrown, 1 device)
Season: 89 Balls (35 hit, 44 thrown, 10 device)
Games: 17 Games (14 with BP, 3 without)
Average: 5.24 balls per game
Career: 255 Balls