Tagged: Dontrelle Willis

6-14-09 PNC Park

Today was a dreaded Sunday afternoon game.  Batting practice is always questionable on a day game after a night game.  Luckily, the cages were set up when I arrived.

The Tigers were the only team to take batting practice today.  When they started, there was only one player in left field doing all of the snagging. 
The created a great chance for a glove trick ball.  A ball rolled to the wall, and I reeled the ball in for ball #1 of the day.

Another ball rolled to the warning track, but I ruined my chance at it.  I threw my glove out, and took one mighty tug on the string to get the ball close to the wall.  The problem was, that the ball rolled underneath a 6 inch indentation at the bottom of the wall.  I looked down and the ball was gone, tucked underneath the padding.  I tried swinging my glove out and slamming it into the ball to try to get it to bounce out.  It did a little bit, but not quite enough.  I tried this about six times when I heard someone yell in my direction.  “HEY!!”  Startled, I pulled my glove up and stopped.  I looked over and it was Pittsburgh’s own Jim Leyland.  He had a big smile on his face.  He walked over, picked the ball up, and handed it to a little kid on my left.  The kid tried to give me the ball.  I wouldn’t accept it.  The kid’s father tried to give me the ball, “we have a whole bag of them here, seriously.”  I wouldn’t accept it.  “I’ll get one,”  I said, “I like to earn them.”  He was shocked.  I heard him telling his wife about how I wouldn’t take the ball.   

There was a ball on the center field warning track that I had my eye on that was untouched for at least 5 minutes.  I decided to go over and glove trick it.  When I got there, I managed to get the ball close enough to the wall to do the trick.  Just then, Justin Verlander came over and said, “I need that.”  He took the ball and threw it towards Joel Zumaya, who was back at shagging pop ups in deep left center.  Verlander would throw a ball in his direction as soon as a pop up was hit, trying to confuse or possibly injure Zumaya.  I’ve never seen such wreckless behavior from a team during batting practice.

I stood in the third row where Zumaya and Edwin Jackson were catching the fly balls, hoping for an over-hit.  It didn’t happen. 

Instead, a Tigers righty hit a deep home run to section 138 that I caught on the fly.  It was ball #2 of the day.

That was it for batting practice.

During the game, I had to get up and move my seat three times because it was so crowded.  There were no empty seats, so I stopped trying to get the outfielders’ warm up balls between innings. 
Game:  2 Balls (1 hit, 1 device)
Season:  176 Balls
Games:   34 Games (4 of which didn’t have BP)
Average:   5.18 Balls per Game
Career:  342 Balls
Attendance: 27565


6-12-09 PNC Park

Today was game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals featuring the Penguins vs the Detroit Red Wings.  Unfortunately, all the fans that weren’t able to get tickets to the game in Detroit seemingly decided to take the the 5 hour trip to see this baseball game.  There were Detroit fans everywhere.  Many of them were probably making the pilgrimage to see PNC Park for the first time, since its an interleague game, its not often that the Tigers come to Pittsburgh.

If today was a test of my ballhawking abilities, I would’ve failed.  Despite being the first one into the bleacher area, I didn’t notice an Easter Egg that was right in front of my friggin face, I had two home run balls pop out of my glove, and I half heartedly went after a ball that ended up bouncing over the fence and skipped past my glove by about two feet.  Had I actually gone for the ball, it would’ve been an easy catch.  4 balls – botched.

I did get one ball during the Pirates portion of batting practice.  Craig Monroe hit a home run to my left that I could tell was going to be way over my head.  I ran to my right and up the stairs under the bleachers.  The ball bounced and hit off the concourse roof and settled near a garbage can.  I reached down and grabbed ball #1.

Ball #2 came from an unknown Tigers batter.  It was a deep fly ball that bounced on the warning track and right into my glove 4 rows back.    I received a couple awkward high fives from Detroit fans, “That’s how we roll in Detroit,” some guy said.  He must have thought I was from Detroit on account of my Tigers hat and shirt.

After misplaying two balls, I caught a Miguel Cabrera home run on the fly in the second row of section 136.  I made sure that I squeezed ball #3 so it wouldn’t pop out.

That was all I got during batting practice.  It was becoming annoying crowded.
To make matters worse, Andy Van Slyke was messing around the entire batting practice with the pitchers.   He was hitting deep fly balls to the wall so that the pitchers could leap and make home run robbing catches.  He must’ve hit 20 balls into the crowd.  I’ve never seen anything so stupid and dangerous.  Edwin Jackson, Joel Zumaya, and Dontrelle Willis were all taking turns risking their bodies and careers by jumping against the fence and robbing these home runs. 

I tried to catch one for about 5 minutes, but I was too annoyed because it was real crowded around the area that Van Slyke was hitting to (left center field, near the bullpen).  I was waiting for one of the pitchers to twist an ankle.

It was distracting because it was almost as if two batting practices were occurring simultaneously. 

After batting practice ended, I didn’t get another ball until the 4th inning.

I sat on the right field wall for the first four innings. 
Game:  4 Balls (3 hit, 1 thrown)
Season:  161 Balls (72 hit, 66 thrown, 24 device)
Games:  32 games (4 of which didn’t have BP)
Average:    5.03 Balls per Game
Career:  327 Balls
Attendance:   18,369