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.
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.
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.
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)
I booked Amy and I tickets on megabus.com for a bus headed to Cleveland for the Pirates-Indians series. It cost me $3 to go there, and $5 for the return fare, since I booked it a couple weeks in advance. You can’t beat that.
This was my second game of the year at Progressive Field, which is way down from last year when I attended 19.
Upon entering the stadium and looking for baseballs, I found one in Heritage Park in center field. Unreachable with my arm, I used the ‘Cleveland stick’ to reach under the wall and snag this one.
My second ball of the day was a Travis Hafner home run that landed several rows behind me that I was able to grab before a couple of other fans.
Moments later, Hafner hit another home run that I snagged on the fly for ball #3.
A couple minutes after that, I noticed a ball land in the trees of Heritage Park. I ran over and was able to reach in and grab it without the use of any device.
In the meantime, there were a few balls in the bullpen. I ended up glove tricking one of them after at least 10 attempts at knocking the ball closer to the wall. Once the ball was close enough to the wall, I reeled it in for ball #5, and was given a round of applause by those fans who watched the whole ordeal.
When the Pirates came out to hit, one of the Buccos hit a home run that landed on the bullpen roof in center field.
I used the Cleveland stick – which reaches 6 feet (plus at least three feet of my arm length) to just barely reach it.
Less than a minute after snagging ball #6, Daniel McCutchen ran past while doing sprints and flipped a ball up into the stands, right to me. I didn’t even ask for it. Maybe it was my bright gold shirt. Regardless, it was my seventh of the day.
I finished batting practice in left field and was tossed #8 by Jeff Karstens. I had given up asking Jeff Karstens for balls in 2009, because he had completely ignored every request that I ever put in for a ball. I didn’t even ask for this particular ball. A batter hit it off the left field wall, Jeff ran over, picked it up, looked at me, and fired it right to me.
After batting practice, I was thrown ball #9 in the Pirates bullpen by bullpen catcher Herbie Andrade.
I left right after that, despite needing just one more for double digits. Amy was waiting in the hotel, and I wanted to go out to eat with her.
We went to East 4th street, where there are a few restaurants and was seemingly the only stretch of any street in Cleveland that wasn’t abandoned and boarded up.
We ate at Zocalo – a Mexican restaurant, and it was fantastic. The entrance was a little iffy, but everything else was first class.
After that, we walked back to the hotel room for a brief 15 minute pit stop, and then went back out to explore the city. We walked around for an hour or two, and watched the fireworks after the game from the rooftop on a parking garage downtown.
Those couple hours were by far my favorite of the entire weekend trip.
Game: 9 balls (3 hit, 3 thrown, 3 device)
Season: 227 balls (87 hit, 49 thrown, 56 device, 226 found)
Games: 37 games
Average: 6.14 balls per game
Career: 1,349 balls
It was a Sunday day game, and there was no batting practice. I still went to the game though. Surprisingly, it would be my best game of the week.
From 11-11:30 on Sundays, fans have to stay on the Riverwalk. They are not allowed to enter the main seating bowl, even if they are season ticket holders. While I was waiting near the bullpens, Chan Ho Park got my attention and threw me a ball. He threw it from center field, so I moved back 20 feet before he threw it to give myself plenty of room to make the catch.
Park then motioned for me to give it to a little kid, so I did. He hooked me up with a second ball for me to keep a minute later. However, it was a little short and bounced off the flag pole base and over my head.
Luckily, few people were in the park at the time, so I chased it down easily here:
I took 2 rounds on the field with 310-340-360-340-310 dimensions and had one home run – over the 340 sign in left center.