Today, I’ve decided to focus on the final remaining division in my 2012 MLB Predictions series. In case you missed my division previews, you can read my AL East Preview, AL Central Preview, AL West, NL East and NL Central preview by clicking on the links provided.
I’ve used the Major League Baseball Yearbook magazine to provide the statistical projects.
Here’s how I think the NL West will end up:
1st Place: San Francisco Giants. (My prediction 88-74)
The Giants finished in second place to the Diamondbacks last season, but I think that they’ll win a few more games in 2012 with the return of Buster Posey to the lineup. I had trouble picking a winner for the NL West, because I love the Giants starters, the Diamondbacks are solid offensively and pitching wise, and the Rockies offense looks great. Ultimately, I had to go with the starting pitching.
Posey suffered a gruesome injury on a home plate collision that cut short his 2012 campaign. The former Rookie of the Year is healthy now, which should help an otherwise below average offense.
Aubrey Huff struggled a bit last year, hitting just .246 with 12 homers. At age 35, you have to wonder how much he has left in his declining skill set. Ideally, you’d like to see more production from your first baseman than Huff offered last season.
Freddy Sanchez dealt with shoulder issues last year and hopes to be ready for opening day. The former NL batting champ gives the Giants good defense and a solid average year in a year out.
“The Kung Fu Panda” Pablo Sandoval should provide the most pop in the lineup. He walloped 24 dingers last year. Sandoval just needs to keep his weight in check so it doesn’t hinder him defensively.
The Giants outfield is sub par. There’s Melky Cabrera, who has bounced around in recent seasons and would classify as an above average outfielder,
but then there’s Angel Pagan, who doesn’t offer much of anything offensively,
and Nate Schierholtz, who doesn’t offer much either.
The Giants playoff aspirations will hinge on Tim Lincecum and the starting staff. Lincecum has arguably been the best pitcher in the National League since his debut several seasons ago.
Matt Cain, who becomes a free agent at the end of the season, should be motivated to put up huge numbers in his ‘contract’ year. Cain would be the ace of most staffs, but fits in nicely behind Lincecum as the #2 of this staff.
Is it just me, or does Cain look eerily similar to this guy in that picture:
Actor John C Reilly.
Madison Bumgarner had a 3.21 ERA last season. That’s amazing for a #3 starter.
Ryan Vogelsong had the comeback of the decade, rebuilding his career and posting a 2.71 ERA while becoming an All Star at age 34. Vogelsong struggled mightly in Pittsburgh when he was the centerpiece of the Jason Schmidt deal that sent Schmidt off to the Giants. After a couple seasons as a mop up man in the Pirates bullpen, Vogelsong disappeared – he went and played in Japan for awhile – before resurfacing last year to baffle NL batters. What a story.
The 5th man of the rotation will be Barry Zito, who will make 19 million dollars in 2012, and still hasn’t posted a winning record or sub 4.00 ERA in his 5 seasons with the Giants. His contract has really hurt the Giants, who could’ve used those millions and millions of dollars to add more offense. Maybe he should focus more on pitching and less on guitar and destroying his liver:
The closer will be the crazy Brian Wilson. I vote for his 2013 Topps Card to be a landscape of this shot: Nothing more:
Wilson surely will look creepier and creepier as the season progresses. What’s he planning on doing with his beard? Will he ever cut or trim it?
2012 Statistical Projections:
C Buster Posey .297-18-75
1B Aubrey Huff .258-15-63
2B Freddy Sanchez .291-8-56
3B Pablo Sandoval .306-24-77
SS Brandon Crawford .243-6-38
LF Angel Pagan .272-10-73
CF Melky Cabrera .314-11-65
RF Nate Schierholtz .273-11-53
SP Tim Lincecum 14-12, 2.91 ERA, 213 IP, 223 K
SP Matt Cain 12-11, 2.97 ERA, 218 IP, 174 K
SP Madison Bumgarner 13-11, 3.05 ERA, 195 IP, 176 K
SP Ryan Vogelsong 11-10, 3.89 ERA, 204 IP, 174 K
SP Barry Zito 5-9, 4.73 ERA, 116 IP, 85 K
RP Brian Wilson 2.85 ERA, 35 SV, 60 IP, 67 K
RP Sergio Romo 1.99 ERA, 1 SV, 50 IP, 65 K
2nd place: Arizona Diamondbacks (My prediction 85-77)
The Diamondbacks won the division last season with 94 wins, which shocked baseball, especially since they had only won 69 games the year before. 25 win improvements are very rare. Nearly the same team returns in 2012, with new additions Trevor Cahill and Jason Kubel. However, I think that the Diamondbacks greatly overachieved in 2011, and probably won’t quite duplicate their success.
Miguel Montero is one of the better young catchers in the game. He’ll also be a free agent soon and may look for Yadier Molina type money.
Paul Goldschmidt will man first base. He’s some power, but he’s a young player who could face difficulty. He’ll be one to watch.
Aaron Hill used to be really good with the Blue Jays, but lost his way last year when he only hit 8 homers. He hit 36 homers in 2009. What happened?
Ryan Roberts is a defensive liability, but has some power to go along with all of those crazy tattoos.
Stephen Drew had a down year in 2011 and could bounce back after only hitting .252-5-45 in 2011.
The outfield of the Diamondbacks is solid – way better than the Giants. They’ve got Justin Upton, who hit 31 homers last year,
Chris Young, who also has pop – 20 homers in 2011, but has struggled with his batting average and on base percentage,
and Jason Kubel, who only hit 12 bombs in 2011 with the Twins, but hit at least 20 in his previous three seasons.
The starting rotation is anchored by Ian Kennedy, who had the best record in Major League baseball last year at 21-4. Can he duplicate it? I say not likely.
Daniel Hudson will be the #2 starter, who posted a record of 16-12 last year.
Trevor Cahill, and Josh Collmenter are slightly above average and round out the rest of the rotation. The #5 job could go to Barry Enright or Wade Miley.
The Diamondbacks were extremely strong in the bullpen last year. Their weakest link was Craig Breslow, and his ERA was a decent 3.79. JJ Putz had the second best season of his 9 year career when he posted a 2.17 ERA with 45 saves.
Bullpen pitchers are tough to predict though from season to season. I think the Diamondbacks may see a bit of a regression in the later innings this year.
2012 Statistical Projections:
C Miguel Montero .292-17-80
1B Paul Goldschmidt .275-24-78
2B Aaron Hill .265-15-76
3B Ryan Roberts .247-16-57
SS Stephen Drew .261-11-68
LF Jason Kubel .264-20-87
CF Chris Young .235-19-69
RF Justin Upton .286-30-90
SP Daniel Hudson 17-12, 3.23 ERA, 231 IP, 180 K
SP Ian Kennedy 17-8, 3.13 ERA, 207 IP, 185 K
SP Trevor Cahill 15-13, 3.86 ERA, 200 IP, 143 K
SP Josh Collmenter 13-13, 3.50 ERA, 193 IP, 125 K
SP Wade Miley 10-10, 4.32 ERA, 154 IP, 127 K
RP JJ Putz 2.41 ERA, 40 SV, 52 IP, 57 K
RP David Hernandez 3.98 ERA, 6 SV, 75 IP, 72 K
3rd place place: Colorado Rockies. (My prediction 82-80)
Even though the Rockies have used the humidor for a few years to negate the effects of high altitude offense, the Rockies look to have a potent lineup for the coming year.
Ramon Hernandez, formerly of the Cincinnati Reds replaces Chris Iannetta at catcher.
Todd Helton, who once put up ridiculous stats, hasn’t hit 20 homers since 2005, but still can deliver a decent batting average.
Second base could feature Eric Young Jr, Jonathan Herrera or Chris Nelson
I’m not a fan of Casey Blake as the team’s third baseman. He’s 38, and the Rockies should be nervous that this is the season where everything kind of falls apart for him and he needs to be a backup or retire.
Troy Tulowitzki is the Rockies best player, and could possibly win the NL MVP award if the Rockies have a decent year. Not too many shortstops in the game can provide 30 homers and 100+ RBIs anymore.
The outfield looks great. The speedy Dexter Fowler, rumored to have increased his muscle mass, will roam center field.
At the corners, the Rockies have a star in Carlos Gonzalez – who belted 26 homers last year,
and free agent acquisition Michael Cuddyer. Cuddyer hit 20 bombs for the Twins and has been a consistently solid performer.
The Rockies rotation looks iffy. Without Ubaldo Jimenez, there is no clear ace. Possibly Jhoulys Chacin could fill that role. He pitched well at just 23 years old last year.
There’s also Jorge De La Rosa. He was injured last season, but went 5-2 with a 3.51 ERA when he did pitch.
Who will be the closer this year? Rafael Betancourt? He’s got good stuff, but his career high in saves is 8. How will he handle the pressure? I guess we’ll find out.
2012 Statistical Projections:
C Ramon Hernandez .278-13-42
1B Todd Helton .292-13-66
2B Chris Nelson .263-7-32
3B Casey Blake .281-15-73
SS Troy Tulowitzki .311-34-117
LF Michael Cuddyer .301-26-101
CF Dexter Fowler .268-7-51
RF Carlos Gonzalez .307-32-110
SP Jorge De La Rosa 10-4, 3.33 ERA, 127 IP, 126 K
SP Jhoulys Chacin 13-13, 3.58 ERA, 193 IP, 161 K
SP Juan Nicasio 9-10, 3.95 ERA, 171 IP, 140 K
SP Tyler Chatwood 8-13, 4.54 ERA, 157 IP, 86 K
SP Esmil Rogers 9-11, 5.35 ERA, 168 IP, 137 K
RP Rafael Betancourt 2.82 ERA, 27 SV, 61 IP, 78 K
RP Matt Belisle 3.16 ERA, 0 SV, 83 IP, 72 K
4th place: Los Angeles Dodgers (My prediction 76-86)
The Dodgers went 81-81 last year thanks mostly to the MVP caliber season of Matt Kemp and the Cy Young season of Clayton Kershaw. Kershaw was valued at 7 wins above a replacement starter,
and Matt Kemp, a whopping 10 WaR. That’s 17 wins.
Without those 2 guys, the Dodgers might have been 64-98 last year. The fact of the matter is, that they have those two guys, and although I think Kershaw and Kemp will do great in 2012, I don’t think they’ll match their 2011 campaigns.
Matt Kemp however, disagrees. He’s projecting a 50 homer, 50 steal season from himself. For the Dodgers sake, hopefully he can, because the rest of their team is very average.
AJ Ellis as the starter? Replacement level player.
James Loney hasn’t nearly done anything close to what he’s capable of doing. As a youngster in 2007 he hit 15 homers with a .331 average. He’s never bettered either of those numbers since.
Mark Ellis is average at best. He had some good seasons in Oakland years ago, but he’s 35 years old now.
Dee Gordon brings blazing speed to the top of the lineup. He has no power whatsoever, but will make pitchers sweat a little extra when he takes his lead off of first base.
Juan Uribe was horrendous in 2011, hitting just .204 with 4 homers. Ugh.
Andre Ethier didn’t contribute much last year, hitting only 11 homers in 135 games. Where did his power go?
Juan Rivera could take the other outfield spot, hitting 11 homers last year, although personally, I’d rather see Jerry Sands there. Sands hit 35 homers in 2010 and 33 in 2011 between AAA and the bigs. Big power.
Besides Kershaw, the Dodgers also have Ted Lilly – who is a class A jerk during batting practice. Lilly is a soft tossing lefty who has been moderately successful in the major leagues.
Chad Billingsley has had some decent seasons in the past, and is young enough that he could return to the Billingsley of 2007-2008.
The other starters, Chris Capuano and Aaron Harang, are just average at best.
2012 Statistical Projections:
C AJ Ellis .279-8-54
1B James Loney .287-12-72
2B Mark Ellis .260-7-43
3B Juan Uribe .227-8-36
SS Dee Gordon .285-0-29
LF Juan Rivera .261-13-73
CF Matt Kemp .308-35-115
RF Andre Ethier .287-14-66
SP Clayton Kershaw 18-7, 2.41 ERA, 224 IP, 234 K
SP Ted Lilly 11-12, 3.67 ERA, 189 IP, 160 K
SP Chad Billingsley 11-11, 4.03 ERA, 185 IP, 156 K
SP Aaron Harang 13-9, 3.80 ERA, 211 IP, 168 K
SP Chris Capuano 9-10, 4.65 ERA, 163 IP, 149 K
RP Javy Guerra 3.11 ERA, 30 SV, 64 IP, 55 K
RP Kenley Jansen 3.69 ERA, 9 SV, 63 IP, 69 K
5th place: San Diego Padres (My prediction 65-97)
The Padres are in rebuilding mode and went 71-91 last season, quite a disappointment after winning 90 games in 2010. I expect things to get a little worse before they start to get better in San Diego.
Of all five players in the infield, none hit more than 9 home runs in 2011. That’s a major offensive power outage. Granted, the Padres play their home games at the cavernous Petco Park – but they also get to play 81 games on the road.
Nick Hundley looks to be the starter until top prospect Yasmani Grandal, acquired in the Mat Latos deal, is ready.
Yonder Alonso, also acquired in the same deal, will man first.
The O-Dog, Orlando Hudson, has had a nice career as a middle infielder, and will hope to rebound from a .246 avg from last year.
Remember when Jason Bartlett was an All Star and getting votes in the MVP award race as a Rays shortstop? Well he’s far from that now, hitting just 2 homers last year to go along with a .245 average. His WaR last year was a 0.1, meaning he was basically a scrap heap replacement level player. He definitely needs to improve or the Padres could give at bats to Everth Cabrera.
Chase Headley was once a top prospect, ranked #32 overall in the pre-2008 season. It’s four years later, and he only has 36 homers in 2,114 plate appearances to go with a .269 average. He needs to produce, or could risk being non-tendered after the season.
The outfield features Carlos Quentin, Kyle Blanks, and Cameron Maybin. They all possess the potential to put up power numbers and should make for interesting batting practices.
Quentin is still only 29 and may have some good years left in him.
Maybin is the face of the franchise now, signing a five year, $25 million contract in the offseason.
There’s also big Kyle Blanks, who could potentially hit 20 homers.
The rotation features Edinson Volquez, acquired for Mat Latos. Volquez needs a bounce back season after posting a 5.71 ERA in 20 starts last year.
Tim Stauffer could be the ace, posting a 3.73 ERA last season.
The closer this year will be Huston Street, brought in to replace Heath Bell.
It’s going to be another long year for the Padres.
2012 Statistical Projections:
C Nick Hundley .286-13-45
1B Yonder Alonso .285-13-67
2B Orlando Hudson .256-8-53
3B Chase Headley .276-6-46
SS Jason Bartlett .254-3-38
LF Carlos Quentin .251-19-74
CF Cameron Maybin .260-11-42
RF Will Veneable .248-11-47
SP Tim Stauffer 9-12, 3.47 ERA, 171 IP, 118 K
SP Edinson Volquez 7-9, 4.32 ERA, 144 IP, 140 K
SP Clayton Richard 12-11, 4.00 ERA, 191 IP, 130 K
SP Cory Luebke 12-10, 3.64 ERA, 195 IP, 184 K
SP Dustin Moseley 8-11, 3.46 ERA, 182 IP, 106 K
RP Huston Street 3.99 ERA, 27 SV, 56 IP, 51 K
RP Luke Gregorson 3.06 ERA, 4 SV, 65 IP, 59
So there you have it.
How do you think they’ll finish?
There’s only 19 more days. NineTEEN – we are officially in the teens. It won’t be long now. Also, you could win this CC Sabathia shirt tomorrow, so check back for that.
Amy and I just made the LA Dodgers Shirt video. And here’s your winner:
Here’s your past winners:
I’ve given away a Matt Wieters shirt to Joey Orr,
a Brandon Phillips shirt to Matt Jackson,
a Dustin Pedroia shirt to Stephen D,
a Phillies shirt to Connor,
and this Dodgers shirt shirt…
Check back tomorrow for the next giveaway.
There’s only 32 more days until Opening Day!
I’ve been posting everyday (38 consecutive so far) leading up to opening day, and giving stuff away to thank my readers.
I post blog entries every day. All you have to do is leave a comment or retweet my blog link on twitter.
So, again, to enter:
1) Leave a comment.
You can enter up to seven times per week simply by leaving a comment. Non-pertinent, spam, or inappropriate comments will not be accepted. If you comment multiple times on the same blog entry, it still counts as one entry. For example, if you commented on three different blog posts from this week, you’d have three entries. If you’d comment three times on the same blog posting, it would could as one.
2) Retweet (RT) my posts on Twitter
You can find me on twitter under 333greystreet. Simply retweet my daily posts of my blog link and I’ll count that as an entry. My blog is connected to my twitter so that I automatically tweet once I post a new entry. Each day, I’ll search who’s retweeted me and enter those users into a hat along with the commenters. By the way, you do not need to retweet my every tweet, only the tweets that announce a new blog post and url. For example, if I tweeted, ‘Rerun of the Pirates Opening Day 2011 on tonight,’ if you retweeted it, it wouldn’t count as an entry.
At the end of the week on Sunday, I’ll have Olivia, Amy or myself choose a name from a hat and announce the winner.
I haven’t yet done a preview of the NL West, but I think the Dodgers will probably battle it out for third place. They were in turmoil last year, as owner Frank McCourt’s divorce drove them to the brink of bankruptcy. Last time I heard, the Dodgers were going to be put up for sale. New owners could help put the franchise back on track.
The Dodgers were frustrating for me last year when they came to PNC Park. They refused to toss a single ball into the stands, likely as a result of their financial problems. I reckoned that players might have been prohibited by coaches. Nonetheless, I still have one really decent game against the Dodgers, snagging 11 balls.
The Dodgers are led by Matt Kemp, who didn’t let Hollywood or his superstar girlfriend Rihanna slow him down in 2011.
He was many fans’ choice for MVP, and finished second to Ryan Braun as he hit .324 while leading the league with 39 homers and 126 RBI. Oh yeah, he also stole 40 bases. Had the Dodgers even been somewhat in contention, I believe he would’ve been the MVP.
It can be argued that the Dodgers have the best position player and pitcher in the National League. Clayton Kershaw led the league in wins with a record of 21-5, in ERA with 2.28, and strikeouts with 248. He won the Cy Young for his amazing season.
The 2011 Dodgers won 82 games. They need some more offensive punch besides Kemp to win in 2012. Their starting 2B, 3B, SS, and LF combined for 6 home runs last year.
How do you think the Dodgers will do in 2012? Leave a comment and throw your hat into the ring for the shirt.
There’s only 38 days until opening day, and 5 days until the first broadcasted game on MLB TV (Yankees vs Phillies). Also, the first listed Spring Training game on the MLB schedule is Wednesday 2/29 when the Phillies take on the Seminoles. Baseball is here my friends.
My day got off to a great start before the gates even opened. I spent 4:15-4:50 on the Riverwalk outside of the stadium. I did the same thing yesterday, but not even one ball came out.
Today, that would be different. I misplayed one ball that rather than knocking down with my body, I let hit the concrete to play it on a bounce. The ball took a gigantic hop and went right into the river.
The second ball I had a chance on, I made sure to knock the ball down with my body. It was another home run that ripped through a tree, hit me, and settled in the grass, where I smothered it. It was my first ball of the day. It all happened here.
A few minutes later, I cleanly snagged another home run ball on the fly as it one-bounced out of the stadium here:
When the gates opened, Ross Ohlendorf tossed me ball #3. Ross is probably the best BP shagger in the National League. He really hustles after everything.
My fourth and final ball of the Pirates BP was hit into the upper bleachers. I raced up and claimed it about six rows back.
When the Dodgers came out to hit, I was able to glove trick ball #5 here:
Then snagged a ground rule double here,
and was tipped off by the guy in the picture below about another glove trick opportunity, which I reeled in for ball #7.
I went over to right field at 5:30 to look for balls, but there were none. I looked down at section 139, and there was a ball literally at another ballhawk’s feet that he didn’t see. From the front row of the right field wall, it was unmistakeably white and round – an easter egg. I ran down and picked it up for ball #8. It was laying in a little bit of water here:
but it wasn’t completely soaked.
I stayed in center field as Andre Ethier was hitting. I was robbed twice, but managed to get my glove on one of his home runs that I momentarily dropped, but recovered to pick it up here:
I had to reach down and try and make a basket catch, and it hit the bulge of string that I keep in my glove and popped out. Luckily, no one else was in the area though to grab the misplayed ball.
I only needed one more ball for double digits. I still had twenty minutes of batting practice to get it, and Jay Gibbons, the Dodgers best BP hitter was up. I moved up to the steep Clemente wall, where Gibbons had routinely peppered hoome runs the past two days. He hit a home run to my right so I took off to make the catch. However, the right field wall has cupholders that are low to the ground.
I stumbled on one and went straight down, tumbling down into the row below.
I tried to use the seat below to break my fall, but my left arm basically went right through the folded up chair. I bashed the side of my lower left leg, hit the outer portion of my left bicep, and left thigh on the seats and arm rests. It hurt bad, but I popped right up as the ball was about ten feet away in the row I’d fallen into. However, some random guy hastily climbed over three rows and snatched it from me at the last second.
Minutes later the same damn thing happened again. Gibbons hit a home run, I tripped on a cupholder, and this time sort of rolled down into the second row. The ball actually tipped off my glove as I was falling. Again, a random gloveless fan picked it up.
Double digits just wasn’t to be.
I got shut out for the rest of batting practice. I decided that I needed to get 10, so rather than leaving after BP like I had originally planned. I stayed. I decided to get 10 out of the way before the game started, so I went to this building on top of the scoreboard area to claim an easter egg that had to have been thrown there by a player, because its too far to have been hit:
Well, the area was off limits, so I quickly went in, expecting to see a ladder or something on the other side. Instead, I saw this:
Bathrooms. Apparently there’s no possible way to get on top of that roof.
I waited around until the game started and was able to get Garrett Jones to toss me ball #10 after he warmed up before the second inning began.
I added ball #11 before the sixth began with Andrew McCutchen’s outfield warm up ball:
That was all for today. Double digits! A great day.
Here are today’s baseballs:
Game: 11 balls (5 hit, 3 thrown, 2 device, 1 found)
Season: 113 balls (43 hit, 30 thrown, 24 device, 15 found)
Games: 18 games
Average: 6.28 balls per game
Career: 1,235 balls
Let’s get right to it.
My first two balls of the day were off the bat of Chris Snyder. The first was a home run that landed in section 133 near the foul pole.
There was no one there, so I simply had to run over and pick it up.
Snyder hit another ball that bounced over the fence. Several fans reacted to slow and deflected the ball right to me here:
At 5:30, I ran into the center field seats and found ball #1 laying in the front row, it was in the middle section here:
He didn’t hit nearly as many home runs as yesterday, but he did hit one home run that I chased down as it hit a seat a section away from me, and a few rows back:
That was it for batting practice. It was really lame. The Dodgers again, are the worst batting practice team I’ve seen all year.
During the game, I snagged Andrew McCutchen’s warm up ball before the first inning began. I stood in the third row, in the exact spot where the threw it yesterday, and he delivered a perfect strike to me. It was my fifth ball of the day.
That was it for my snagging. I was really tired, so I sat for much of the game. The Pirates ended up losing, knocking them back to .500 on the season at 18-18.
Game: 5 balls (3 hit, 1 thrown, 1 found)
Season: 102 balls (38 hit, 27 thrown, 22 device, 14 found)
Games: 17 games
Average: 6.00 balls per game
Career: 1,224 balls
Today got off to a great start.
I got to the stadium around 4:25 PM or so and went down to the Riverwalk. Look what was waiting for me.
While there, a ball bounced out that the youngest of us grabbed, and another one bounced out that I completely misplayed. I notice a high fly ball that looked like it had a chance. I ran up to the wall, because it looked like it might just barely clear the wall. It did, after bouncing at least twice in the stadium. When the ball reappeared into my field of sight, I was to far to the left, and totally misplayed it. I tried to dive for it, but missed the ball, and one of the ‘new’ ballhawks grabbed it.
The rest of the time we spent staring at the sky, but nothing else came out.
When the gates opened, I ran in and found ball #2 laying on the cross aisle by the handicapped seats in left field. A food service employee actually pointed it out to me. He saw me sprinting, assumed I was looking for baseballs, and said, “There’s one right there.”
My third ball was hit by Steve Pearce. It was a ball that landed in section 133 and it rolled down the stairs under the bleachers and I just waited for it and picked it up.
Game: 6 balls (2 hit, 1 thrown, 1 device, 2 found)
Season: 97 balls (35 hit, 26 thrown, 22 device, 13 found)
Games: 16 games
Average: 6.06 balls per game
Career: 1,219 balls
I was expecting a low output today. I wasn’t able to get to the park until almost 5, and I also had to leave during batting practice to take care of a prior commitment.
When I arrived, my friend Jim saved me a couple minutes by allowing me to join him and Nick at the front of the line.
As I was showing my season ticket ID to get into batting practice early, I noticed a ball bounce into section 138, the section closest to the bullpen. I ran in and located it, putting me on the board quickly.
Seconds later, the Pirates ran off the field, ending batting practice. They literally ended BP as we were entering the bleachers. Unacceptable.
The Dodgers weren’t ready to start yet, so we had to wait for them to throw and stretch their arms out. After about ten minutes of wasted time, the Dodgers started to hit.
I would get my second and third balls with my glove trick. Fellow ballhawk Jim gets an assist on both balls for pointing them out to me, as they were near the bullpen entrance, and I was stationed about three sections away.
Here’s the area of detail, snapped after the snags:
I would go on to snag my fourth and final ball of the day off the bat of Russell Martin. He hit a home run off of a bleacher in section 138 that rolled down a few rows to me.
I was hoping that Manny Ramirez would put some balls into the seats, but he didn’t. He hit one home run ball, snagged by fellow Ballhawk League member Nick Pelescak.
I had set up a video camera hoping to capture a few home run catches during the Dodgers second round, which included Manny and Matt Kemp.
Game: 4 balls (2 hit, 2 device)
Season: 9 balls (5 hit, 0 thrown, 4 device)
Games: 2 game
Average: 4.50 balls per game
Career: 587 balls
Streak: 98 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
Spent@Game: $7.50 ($5 Ticket, $2 Transportation, $0.50 Parking)
Spent in 2010: $21.50 ($10 Tickets, $4 Transportation, $2.50 Parking, $5 Food)
Today would be my final game of the season at PNC Park.
After missing yesterday’s (Saturday’s) game due to rain, I decided that I had to make it to the park one last time, even though it was raining when I left my house.
When I arrived at the park, there was basically no one there at all. Many people stayed away early, which turned out to be a good thing.
Around 11:15, pitchers began to meander out of the Pirates dugout and head toward the bullpen to sit and await to rain to ease up.
I stood by the fence above the bullpen and hoped someone would begin to throw.
Eventually, Charlie Morton (hidden by the bullpen roof) started to throw with Luis Dorante, the Pirates bullpen coach. I watched them finish up at 11:29, one minute before the gate would open to allow me to get close enough to ask for a ball.
There were two pairs of Dodgers playing catch.
I noticed that Ramon Tronsoco didn’t have a partner. I held up my glove and asked him if he wanted to throw a little bit. He nodded and tossed me a ball. Wow. I was finally going to play catch with a major leaguer. In uniform.
We began to throw, and after about ten tosses, I handed my p
hone off to a random guy behind me to take some photos. He had been asking me questions like, “Do you play for the Pirates? Are you friends with him? How do you know him?”
He got the following photos of me:
When I got home, I checked out Youtube for #1 Joe Beimel fan TroyfromWV, sure enough, he had uploaded a partial video of me and Ramon throwing together. Click here–> VIDEO PROOF!
After we threw for awhile, Troncoso’s throwing partner finally emerged from the dugout, and Troncoso tossed me the ball and indicated that he was done. I had ball #5. What a way to get it! I thanked Troncoso, and gave one of my decoy balls to the daughter of the guy that snapped some pictures of me.
When the game began, center field was too crowded to have a great chance at toss up balls.
Plus, the usher told me I had to stay out because I didn’t have a ticket. He was nice about it, and told me there was a big issue on Saturday Night where someone was injured in a fight for a toss up ball. He said the man was going to sue the Pirates, and that outfield between inning toss ups would be discontinued after this year. I was hoping he wasn’t serious, but he seemed to be.
In the second inning, I went up on the right field wall, and got Garrett Jones to pick me out and throw me ball #6 – oh wait, he grossly underthrew me, and the ball hit some guy that was sitting down. The ball caromed off of him, and rolled behind his wife’s backside and sat on her seat. It took them about 10 seconds to find it – and I could’ve easily grabbed it, but it would’ve been too awkward. I watched them oodle over the ball they had just snagged by accident, much to my frustration.
I decided to quit ballhawking and went up to sit in my season ticket seats one last time. I hadn’t sat there much at all this year, but I felt like I needed to say goodbye.
Even though the seats are cheap, and offer no chance at getting a ball – I always liked to just sit and watch a game there. In my seats you’ve got a great view, and they are in the front row of the section.
In the 7th inning, I sat behind home plate,
in hopes of snagging some promotional items from Pirates announcer Steve Blass in the “7th inning throw down.” Blass threw out a bunch of left over giveaway hats, grocery bags, Pirate dolls, candy, etc.
I got my finger tip on a Pirates Alternate hat, but it was just out of my reach and floated down to a lady two rows below me. I didn’t come away empty handed – I caught a piece of Double Bubble bubble gum. Yay.
For the 8th inning, I snuck down and sat behind the Pirates dugout. The Pirates ended up scoring four runs in the bottom of the ninth inning to acheive a walk off win.
I was expecting the players to toss their hats and a few baseballs into the crowd as a thank you to the fans – they’ve done it the past three years on Fan Appreciation Day.
It didn’t happen. The players disappeared into the dugout, gave their jerseys to those fans whose seats had been chosen, and
disappeared for good. Nothing was thrown into the crowd. Very disappointing.
I stayed around until almost everyone was gone, and took one last look at PNC Park.
Was this my last game of 2009? Maybe…
Game: 5 balls (5 thrown)
Season: 405 balls (211 hit, 124 thrown, 70 device)
Games: 80 games (10 of which didn’t have BP)
Average: 5.06 balls per game
Career: 571 balls
Streak: 95 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.