I wasn’t planning on attending this game. I was expecting to drop Amy off at work, and then go home to package up all of the bobbleheads that I had sold. Making batting practice more unlikely was the fact that it started to rain at 10:30 AM, a half hour before the gates were to open.
I could see the tarp on the field from the center field (Stargell statue) gate. I thought about leaving, but I thought I noticed that the screens were out on the field in foul territory.
utside the stadium, there were plenty of festivities, including the March of Dimes finish line, right outside the left field gate.
When I entered the stadium, my first ball of the day came from Pirates pitcher Charlie Morton by the bullpen.
When Morton had finished throwing, I called out for his warm up ball. A few seconds later, he tossed a ball up, which I caught. A thirteen year old in front of me was none too pleased, but I hadn’t heard him ask for it. I was going to give it to him until his dad started b*******. He got a ball a minute later anyhow.
The whole stadium opened at 11:30AM, and there was still no action. The tarp had at least been taken off the field, so I walked around the lower level looking for easter eggs, but predictably, there were none.
Since I was having good luck with the glove trick, I invited Jim to glove trick a ball on the warning track that I could’ve had. I figured I’d repay the favor for him laying off on a Miguel Cabrera home run catch yesterday.
I made my way over to center field near the end of the Tigers BP and glove tricked a ball off of the warning track. Originally, the ball bounced on the warning track, and I misplayed it. The ball hit my glove and fell back onto the field. There was a little girl right next to me, so when I glove tricked the ball, I turned and handed it to her.
Batting practice ended at 12:15 PM, (The Tigers didn’t take a full BP, they only hit for about 30 minutes) so there was an hour and fifteen minutes until the game was to begin.
I returned to the game, but was met with bad luck. Garrett Jones tossed his warm up ball to me in the 4th inning, but this guy in the white shirt interfered. The ball was glanced by his arm, hit my glove, and bounced below where a random fan grabbed it.
Basically the same thing happened in the fifth inning, when McCutchen threw his warm up ball to me. I was awaiting the catch in the handicapped section in center field when a guy jumped out of his seat and intercepted it.
Game: 6 balls (1 hit, 1 thrown, 4 device)
Season: 156 balls (60 hit, 36 thrown, 37 device, 22 found)
Games: 25 games
Average: 6.24 balls per game
Career: 1,278 balls
Today was the first day of a weekend long event at the David L Lawrence Convention Center in downtown Pittsburgh known as ‘Piratefest.’
Piratefest has been going on since the late 1980’s, as I remember going to a Piratefest in Monroeville and getting a baseball signed by Jim Leyland, Bill Landrum, Mike LaVailliere, Randy Kramer, Bobby Bonilla, Jeff King, etc.
The Pirates dedicated this first day to season ticket holders only. Earlier this month, I received four tickets to this day, plus 2 additional passes that could be used for any of the three days this weekend. In essence, I was given six tickets. So, I sold two of the for $25 earlier in the week. Leaving me two for today, and two that I would use on Sunday.
I asked Garrett Jones to sign one of the balls from my decoy collection (which is slowly dwindling away.) Decoy balls are balls I take to games to give away on occasion.
I didn’t ask Correia to sign anything, that was probably a jerk move, and in retrospect, I should’ve had him sign the Pirates 2011 Calendar that was given away.
Speaking of that Calendar, it was the highlight of Piratefest for me. The Pirates passed out a bag that included the Piratefest schedule and program along with a full 12 month 12 page Color calendar.
Here’s the front:
It included coupons, which are pretty useless to me.
The $5 off at the Pirates Clubhouse store is only valid on non game days. Also, the buy one get one free ticket offer doesn’t really help me out since I’m a season ticket holder.
Pedro Alvarez, April,
Jose Tabata, August
Andrew McCutchen, October
Pirate Parrot, December
After getting Jones to sign, we headed over to the Piratefest stage and watched ‘Minute to Win It’ Pirates Edition.
The game was hosted by PNC Park ballpark host Joe Klimchak and featured contestants trying to complete tasks in less than 60 seconds with every day household items. For each challenge that a contestant successfully completed in less than 60 seconds, they were awarded a prize and given the option to continue to the next ‘level’ or accept their prize and walk away.
The first two contestants were duds. The first was a young boy who was about 7 years old and was outmatched by the first game, known as Vacuum.
The boy had to transport five M&M’s from one side of the stage to the other using only a straw and his lung capacity to suck an M&M onto the end of the straw and keep it there until dropping it into a bucket at the other side of the stage. He couldn’t manage to get one M&M to even stay on his straw.
The second contestant we dubbed as ‘Perfume Lady’ because she had so much perfume on that it was overpowering. We could smell her from four rows away.
She managed to transport one M&M, which Joe Klimchak decided was ‘good enough,’ then failed miserably at the next task, which was blowing 20 cups off of a table using only a balloon that they could blow up multiple times.
The most successful contestant a fan named Bob, who went through all of the Minute to Win it tasks, before failing to keep three balloons in the air for a minute.
I recorded several of his challenges.
‘Bucket Head’ with Garrett Jones
There are four other videos that I’ll link instead of embedding in this blog of the fan’s other Minute to Win It Challenges. Click the links below to go to see them on youtube:
Defying Gravity (keeping three balloons in the air)
Junk In the Trunk (dancing around to empty 8 ping pong balls from a Kleenex box on one’s hips)
Quick Draw (empty a box of Kleenex using only one hand)
Cup Blow? (blow 20 cups off of a table using a balloon – not sure of the name here)
The other entertainment at the Piratefest stage included an ask the Pirates management session:
It featured Manager Clint Hurdle, General Manager Neal Huntington, and President Frank Coonelly.
We really didn’t hang around to watch because it was rather packed.
On the other side of the convention center, Garrett Jones was challenging fans at Guitar Hero. Yawn. No interest here.
Nearby were the Pirates promotional items for 2011. There aren’t as many as in years past, but here’s what you can expect in the coming year at PNC Park:
The most useful giveaway, and the only one that I ever keep will be Pirates T-Shirts, given away every Friday. Here are several of the shirts that you can look forward to in 2011:
There will be a 1971 Pirates World Series Celebration Canvas Photo Wrap:
A Neil Walker bobblehead (the only one of 2011) and a Pirates Stars and Stripes Floppy Hat:
An Andrew McCutchen Action Figurine and a Pirates hat:
And several of the kids Sunday giveaways:
The Friday session of Piratefest ended at 10PM, but we ended up leaving around 8, having seen enough.
Before taking off, I did the strike zone challenge, and threw two balls from about 15 feet away towards a 1 foot by 1 foot strike zone. One ball in the zone won a PNC Park photo wrap, while two out of two through the zone would win a Pirates T-Shirt.
We’ll be back at Piratefest on Sunday. An entry will be forthcoming.
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