The Pirates are out of town until July 17th, which would mean 17 days without a baseball game for me. I decided to break up the drought by attending a game in Philadelphia.
I’d never been to a baseball game in Philly before, so I was interested to see what Citizens Bank Park had to offer.
I got to the stadium at 2:35, almost 2 full hours before the gates were to even open. I figured that I would give myself some extra time to account for traffic and to stop for lunch. (I ended up not stopping because my GPS directed me to a non-existent phantom Wendy’s. Frustrated, I decided to eat at the stadium.) I was there so early, that the parking attendant thought I worked at McFadden’s.
The first matter of business was to find an open ticket window and buy a ticket for today’s game. I walked past the first base entrance
then realized that the Reds had many more righties than lefties, and I’d have a better chance back in the packed left field seats.
Brandon Phillips put on a show in batting practice. One of his home runs came right to me, I was camped underneath it, ready to make the catch, when at the moment the ball was several feet from my glove, about 5 people’s arms slammed into mine. My arm moved, and the ball tipped off my glove. I didn’t get the ball. Fans in Philadelphia are much more agressive when it comes to going a
fter home run balls in batting practice than in Pittsburgh or Cleveland. In Pittsburgh, us ballhawks spread out and have our own little zones that we tend to stay in. We never run into each other or rob each other of home runs when another is camped under one. Next time I go to a game in Philly I’ll be prepared.
I was shut out for the rest of batting practice and ended with 2 baseballs.
I walked around the concourse. I liked how the Phillies post their line up on a large brick wall at the entrance to the left field gate:
The Phillies top 2 stars for my money:
The Liberty Bell (which gongs after a Phillies player goes deep):
Here was my view from my seat:
The Phillies would go on to knock out starter Johnny Cueto in the first inning and score an amazing 10 runs in the first inning. They would go on to win the game 22-1. I don’t think I’ve ever attended such a lopsided game.
I made my back to my hotel in Philadelphia. (Which didn’t have Internet). Ran a few miles on the treadmill in the fitness center, did 31 floors on a stairmaster, and went to bed.
I then disappeared for the next week (which is why its taken me a week to get this entry up) to the shore.
Game: 2 balls (2 hit)
Season: 226 balls (119 hit, 75 thrown, 32 device)
Games: 46 games (5 of which didn’t have BP)
Average: 4.91 balls per game
Career: 392 balls
It rained for most of the morning in Pittsburgh, in fact, it was still raining when I arrived at the ballpark at 11 AM. This could mean only one thing: no batting practice. I was faced with possibly being shut out for the first time since August 2008.
When the stadium opened the gates to the seating areas at 11:30, I went over to the left field foul line. The rain had subsided. Several bullpen pitchers from the Pirates were warming up. I placed myself behind John Grabow and Ross Ohlendorf and waited for an overthrow.
Directly to me. I didn’t even have to move.
Its not like he randomly tossed the ball up and I got into a scrum and stole the ball away from ticketed patrons. He usually picks out people. I caught the ball, waved thanks, turned and left the section. I could hear some snooty lady and her rotund husband getting on the usher. “He doesn’t have a ticket. He shouldn’t be allowed to do that. Don’t let him back in here. Check his ticket.” Blah blah blah.
I went over to left field for the fourth inning to try and get a warm up ball from Nyjer. I avoided the right field seats thanks to the afore mentioned rudest-usher-in-PNC-Park.
Left Field has a lot more sections and people, so I had very little chance. The ball went to a group of people near the foul pole.
Inning 5. I went back to center field. I stood at the far edge of Section 140, away from the snotty lady. I looked over and they were both staring directly at me. I stared right back at them. I should’ve walked over and offered their spoiled kid a ball. “Excuse me, would you like a ball? ….. Then bring a glove!” and walk away. That’s what I felt like doing, I was in such a bad mood.
I didn’t get the 5th inning ball because it was tossed to the second row. Predictably, the ball fell back onto the field. The same thing happened in the seventh inning. That’s why Nate prefers to throw the ball deep.
Anyway, the miserable family got on the usher again after the fifth inning because 3 of us ballhawks entered the section. The usher came over and told me that I wasn’t allowed to try for warm up balls anymore. He said come back and try tomorrow when there’s different people around. He told Nick and Bryan the same thing. If you’re wondering, here’s what those “folks” looked like:
(To be civil, I am editing this paragraph from what I originally wrote. I’ve taken out most of the colorful adjectives I originally had written.) Its the guy eating, his son, and the lady in the orange.
I could’ve tried in the seventh and ninth, but out of respect for the ushers, I went and sat behind the Reds dugout to see if I could get some foul balls. There are nice ushers at PNC Park, the ones in center field were just doing their job because the supervisor somehow got involved.
I didn’t get any foul balls, and I got shut out at the Reds dugout, so my day ended on a sour note.
To make it worse, the Pirates looked awful again, getting shut out. They haven’t hit a home run now in a week.
Adam LaRoche’s body language tells the whole story:
A few shots from the game:
Johnny Cueto deals to Nyjer Morgan:
Evan Meek (a big Dave Matthews Band fan):
Jesse Chavez (tossed me my first ball of the day:
And the sweet spots:
Game: 3 balls (3 thrown)
Season: 67 balls (26 hit, 34 thrown, 7 device)
Games: 14 games (11 with BP, 3 without)
Average: 4.79 balls per game
Career: 233 balls
When the gates opened, I ran into the bleachers and immediately found ball #1, laying in the front row of section 138. I walked around in each section before turning my attention to the action on the field, and found another Easter egg in Section 136 about 5 rows back, it was ball #2.
The Pirates were hitting for about 10 more minutes, and then the Reds were going to hit. Near the end of the Pirates portion of Batting Practice, Karstens threw a ball to a kid about 6 rows back. Either the throw was a little off, and the kid completely missed the ball. It ricocheted right to me, ball #3. I was then faced with the choice of keeping the ball, or giving it to the kid. I decided to be charitable and glove flipped the ball to the kid, who thanked me.
The Reds then came out to hit. At the end of the Pirates portion of batting practice, a Pirate had thrown a ball into the crowd that someone misplayed. The ball was laying on the edge of the warning track. I didn’t even think about doing the glove trick, because it was directly in the sight line of a security guard.
I changed into my Reds gear, and stood in the front row directly in front of the ball, and waited. Jerry Hairston came over to left center field.
He walked over, and without hesitation flipped me ball #4.
Game: 8 Balls (4 hit, 4 thrown)
Season: 58 Balls (23 hit, 29 thrown, 6 device)
Games: 12 Games (10 with BP, 2 without)
Average: 4.83 Balls per Game
Career: 224 Balls
My dad and I headed to our last Spring Training game on this short trip: Reds vs Pirates at McKechnie Field in Bradenton FL.
We got to the field around 10:20 AM and the Pirates were already half way through their round of batting practice. Luckily, we were once again able to access the spot behind the left field fence. I was told by a guy on Saturday that during the week the area behind the fence was off limits. He was wrong.
Total Balls: 9
Games Attended: 3
Total Career Spring Training Balls: 9
Note: I do not count these balls in my totals. They will be tracked in a separate category and I will not count them in my career ball totals.