The New York Mets are in town for a four game series. I would stay for the entire game, as my fiancee Amy had to work today.
The day got off to a good start as Kevin Correia tossed me ball #1 of the day shortly after the gates opened. Here he, second to the left. The group you see below from left to right is Chris Resop, Joel Hanrahan, Daniel McCutchen (obstructed), Kevin Correia, and Josh Harrison.
Hanrahan especially seems to dislike the regular ballhawks, for no other reason than he sees us get balls. I wish he’d be a little less rude about our hobby. It wasn’t that long ago (2009) that he had a 7.71 ERA for the Nationals and was dubbed ‘Gas-Can’ Hanrahan for his ability to come into the game and douse the situation with gasoline for the other team to blow the game wide open.
Now he’s a shut down closer. He just seems a bit arrogant / unfriendly, which I hope will change.
My second ball was a ground rule double that took a huge bounce, hit off of a railing separating the handicapped section from the lower bleachers, and settled at my feet, basically. Here’s a straight on view of where I snagged it:
That was all I got during the Pirates batting practice, which ended around 5:14. When the Mets came out to hit, I was able to glove trick a ball in left field, despite manager Terry Collins closing in on it. It was a quick 10 second glove trick execution. Unfortunately, Collins stayed in the left field corner and gobbled up at least three other balls I could’ve glove tricked.
And at 5:30, when right field opened, I was able to get Jason Pridie to throw me one as well.
My sixth ball was glove tricked a bit later back in left field near the foul pole. I stood in foul territory to the right of the foul pole.
My seventh and final ball was a home run hit by Ronny Paulino. I was distracted by a potential ground rule double by the bullpen. The next ball was a home run that I caught a glimpse of as it was in mid flight. Since I got a late break on the ball, I wasn’t able to get into position to make the catch, but I did catch it immediately as it hit a bleacher and deflected right to me here:
As for the game, I tried for two warm up balls, failed, and walked around to pass the time until the 7th inning, when I would leave to go get the car to park close by so Amy wouldn’t have to walk far when she got off of work.
Tomorrow brings a Saturday Sky-Blast sold out game. Fun.
Game: 7 balls (2 hit, 3 thrown, 2 device,)
Season: 199 balls (76 hit, 47 thrown, 51 device, 25 found)
Games: 33 games
Average: 6.03 balls per game
Career: 1,321 balls
Note: Last year, my 33rd game was on June 15, 2010.
My stats after that game were:
2010 through 33 games: 206 balls (110 hit, 53 thrown, 19 device, 24 found)
Average: 6.24 balls per game
If you hadn’t noticed, I have snagged 34 less batted balls through the same amount of games. That’s because BP at PNC Park has been pretty poor by and large this year. Statistics last year were buoyed by the likes of Lastings Milledge and Ronny Cedeno in the final group. My thrown balls are almost the same, glove tricks are way up, as the other glove-tricker at PNC Park isn’t being as aggressive as he was last year. So, with crappy Pirates BPs everyday, all regulars at PNC are experiencing deflated stats. Nick Pelescak had 173 last year at this point, all of our ‘hit’ numbers are down.
Amy and I spent the afternoon being shown a couple houses by a realtor and then headed to PNC Park.
Today was a Fireworks night, and the Phillies were in town. AND it was the largest crowd ever recorded in PNC Park history. That doesn’t make a good ballhawking environment.
Fan-photo day with the players on Federal Street from 3-4 pm.
Immediately upon entering, Kevin Correia tossed me a ball to put me on the board.
I would go the next thirty minutes without snagging anything. The home runs that were hit, were over my head and were gobbled up by other fans. Eventually, a fan in the front row misplayed a home run ball. The ball hit his glove square and fell back onto the field. It was an easy glove trick opportunity. I asked the fan, who was maybe 14, if he wanted me to get the ball for him. He said yes, so I glove tricked it, and handed over ball #2.
And another was a Chris Snyder bomb that sailed between the rotunda and upper bleachers and bounced into a concession stand, where it was thrown to me by a worker.
At the end of the Pirates BP, I was flat out robbed by a Phillies fan. Daniel McCutchen looked directly at me and tossed me a ball. This guy in Phillies gear, who the ball was clearly NOT intended for, quickly reached in front of my glove and intercepted it.
My fifth ball was glove tricked here during the Phillies BP,
and I glove tricked another near the end of the BP over along the left field foul line. That was it for today.
There wasn’t much point of trying for home run balls unless they were right at me or toss ups. Here was my view for the last 45 minutes or so of batting practice:
After batting practice, I left, went to the gym.
Here are today’s baseballs (five pictured because one was given away):
Game: 6 balls (1 hit, 2 thrown, 3 device)
Season: 173 balls (66 hit, 39 thrown, 45 device, 23 found)
Games: 28 games
Average: 6.18 balls per game
Career: 1,295 balls
I got to the ballpark around 4:45 pm, and this was the scene at the Riverwalk.
The stairs leading down were blocked off with caution tape because the Allegheny River was overflowing. However, I went down anyway. One ball bounced out as I arrived. Had I been five seconds earlier I would’ve had it, but it wasn’t meant to be.
Here’s a different angle:
My first ball of the day once the stadium opened was snagged here. It was a home run that I chased down here:
The Pirates batting practice continues to be less than stellar, as they fail to reach the seats very often. Once the Pirates were done hitting, I changed into my Brewers gear, and the action began.
The Brewers first group contained Carlos Gomez, Jonathan Lucroy, Ryan Braun, and Prince Fielder. They hit a bunch of homers.
I snagged my second ball in section 134 off the bat Jonathan Lucroy.
My third ball was a home run hit by Ryan Braun. I could tell that it was going to be way over my head, so I ran back under the bleachers and snagged it under the rotunda.
My fourth ball was glove tricked right next to the Pirates bullpen door.
I also saw this there:
However, it was 5:28, and I had knocked it snug against the wall and couldn’t see it anymore, as I couldn’t lean out over the wall because of the fencing. I gave up and let it go. Totally forgetting about it.
I checked in right field for an easter egg or two, but there was nothing there, and I didn’t want to miss out on all the action in left field, so I returned to left. The second group also put plenty of balls into the seat.
Rickie Weeks hit a home run ball that I chased down under the rotunda for ball #5. And moments later, a batter that I believe was Casey McGehee hit a home run that also went under the rotunda which I tracked down.
My eighth ball was a glove trick ball snagged right by the 325 sign:
That was it for batting practice. After batting practice, Nick tipped me off to a ball in the bullpen. It was the same ball that I started working on at 5:28 that I had knocked against the wall. I had totally forgotten about it.
Thanks to Ian Weir for taking the picture.
Ball #10 came around 6:55 when Kevin Correia, the Pirates started finished his warm ups in the bullpen. I asked politely for the ball, and he looked up and tossed it to me.
Moments later, Ball #11 came from Jose Tabata in the first inning. I noticed he was looking at a group of college aged folks, so I went and stood directly to their right. Since I was the only one with the glove, he fired me a perfect strike. He put some zip on the throw too.
Notice how small the crowd was at game time. There was a Penguins playoff game, and I doubt that half of the 8,000 fans that bought tickets actually showed up.
Pretty cool huh?
Well, despite the small crowds, I didn’t snag another ball.
Here are today’s 11 baseballs:
And the sweet spots.
Season: 47 balls (17 hit, 9 thrown, 14 device, 7 found)
Games: 7 games
Average: 6.70 balls per game
Career: 1,169 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.