I’ve been posting 2012 MLB Previews for each division throughout the past two weeks. In case you missed it, you can read my AL East Preview, AL Central Preview, and AL West preview by clicking on the links provided.
It’s time to move onto the National League. First up, is the NL East.
I’ve also included 2012 Predicted statistics from the 2012 Major League Baseball Yearbook and Fantasy Guide.
1ST Place: Philadelphia Phillies (My prediction: 95-67)
This Philadelphia Phillies were the top team in 2011, winning 102 games, before losing in the first round of the playoffs. Over the past five years, the Phillies have only improved during the regular season, winning 89 games in 2007, then 92, 93, 97, and 102. However, I am predicting that they regress a little bit in 2012, thanks to a strengthened National League Eastern Division.
The Phillies have one of the best rotations in the game, despite losing Roy Oswalt.
Anchored by Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, and Cole Hamels – the Phillies shouldn’t experience and losing streaks longer than three games.
The Phillies also added Jonathan Papelbon in the offseason to close games out. Papelbon is one of the top relievers in the game, despite his 2011 finale against the Orioles, where he blew the game and the season for the Red Sox.
The Phillies have a decent offense. Ryan Howard is coming off of an injury, and had a bit of an offseason in 2011, hitting just .253 with 33 home runs.
Chase Utley has been in decline the past three years, each year worst than the last. To be fair, he has been riddled with injuries over the past two seasons. He hit just .259 with 11 homers last season.
I’m not thrilled with Placido Polonco as the Phillies third baseman. Third base is a power position, and Polonco is a contact hitter. He hit .277 with 5 HR and 50 RBI last year, along with a .335 on base percentage.
However, the Phillies brought in Ty Wigginton to be a super utility type player, and he could unseat Polonco as the regular starter at third.
Phillies fans have to be upbeat about their outfield. They have John Mayberry in left field, or possibly Laynce Nix… Shane Victorino in centerfield and Hunter Pence in right field.
For me, I’m most intrigued with Jim Thome signing with the Phillies. Thome hasn’t played the field much in recent years, but I’m hoping that he gets some time at first base, and isn’t just a pinch-hit only type guy like Matt Stairs was the final few years of his career.
Here’s their 2012 statistical projections.
C Carlos Ruiz .289-6-43
1B Ryan Howard .259-29-98
1B Jim Thome .266-14-43
2B Chase Utley .279-20-74
3B Placido Polanco .284-6-52
3B Ty Wigginton .258-10-34
SS Jimmy Rollins .279-19-74
LF John Mayberry .261-24-77
CF Shane Victorino .272-18-67
RF Hunter Pence .302-23-91
SP Roy Halladay 19-8, 2.42 ERA, 234 IP, 212 K
SP Cliff Lee 19-8, 2.89 ERA, 221 IP, 210 K
SP Cole Hamels 14-10, 3.11 ERA, 191 K
SP Vance Worley 12-8, 3.90 ERA, 135 K
SP Joe Blanton 5-4, 4.66 ERA, 100 IP, 81 K
RP Jonathan Papelbon 3.34 ERA, 30 saves, 65 IP, 80 K
RP Antonio Bastadro 3.43 ERA, 3 saves, 60 IP, 74 K
2nd place: Atlanta Braves (My prediction 87-75)
The Atlanta Braves are going to battle it out with the Marlins and Nationals all season long for a wild card spot. For me, the Braves starting rotation gives them a slight edge.
Tim Hudson is 36 years old, but figures to be the ace of the staff, after posting a 16-10 record with a 3.22 ERA in 2011.
The Braves also welcome back Jair Jurrjens in 2011, despite trying to trade him and Martin Prado for most of the offseason. Jurrjens had a 2.96 ERA last season.
Tommy Hanson began spring training a bit banged up after being in an accident, but his concussion like symptoms should be cleared up by opening day. Hanson struggled at times in 2011, posting a 3.60 ERA.
Brandon Beachy led the Braves last year with 169 strikeouts, and continues the trend of top to bottom rotational depth on the Braves.
For their fifth starter, the Braves will choose either Julio Teheran or Mike Minor. With a rotation like they have lined up, its hard not to choose them as second in the division, no matter how much I don’t like them.
Offensively, the Braves have some stars with Brian McCann behind the plate (24 HR in ’11)
and Dan Uggla (36 HR) at second. Uggla couldn’t hit his weight for much of the season before going on an impressive 33 game hitting streak to salvage his season.
The Braves also have some questions marks. Will Chipper Jones be able to play regularly at a high level? He’s 40 years old now, and hasn’t been able to stay in the lineup regularly for two years now.
Will Jason Heyward’s reconstructed swing hasten him back to the days of 2010 when he was a star rookie? Or will he struggle again like he did in 2011? (.227/14/14)
Will Matt Diaz defy all odds and actually hit a home run?
How will Tyler Pastornicky do? He could be the team’s opening day shortstop.
2012 Statistical Projections:
C Brian McCann .263-22-70
1B Freddie Freeman .296-22-83
2B Dan Uggla .253-36-90
3B Chipper Jones .268-18-67
SS Tyler Pastornicky .256-4-29
LF Martin Prado .271-15-67
CF Michael Bourne .290-2-51
RF Jason Heyward .255-19-66
SP Tim Hudson 17-10, 3.05 ERA, 224 IP, 155 K
SP Jair Jurrjens 15-10, 3.57 ERA, 209 IP, 137 K
SP Tommy Hanson 15-8, 3.82 ERA, 177 IP, 171 K
SP Brandon Beachy 11-8, 3.78 ERA, 179 IP, 187 K
SP Julio Teheran 9-6, 4.01 ERA, 126 IP, 70 K
RP Craig Kimbrel 1.81 ERA, 35 saves, 70 IP, 118 K
RP Jonny Venters 2.35 ERA, 3 saves, 84 IP, 88 K
3rd place: Miami Marlins (My prediction 85-77)
The Marlins went on a spending spree this winter as they move into a new stadium this year. Despite losing out on the Albert Pujols sweepstakes, they did manage to sign impact free agents Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, and Heath Bell. It’s full steam ahead for the Marlins in 2012.
The Marlins offense looks to be quite good. They’ve got John Buck, who has power, but struggles to hit for average behind the plate. He only hit .227 last year.
Gaby Sanchez is a solid first baseman offensively – he hit 19 homers last year. He’s no Albert Pujols, but he’s respectable. At least he throws a mean clothesline. Ask Nyjer Morgan.
Omar Infante and Emilio Bonifacio could share time at second base in 2012. Bonifacio could also spend time in the outfield, displacing Chris Coghlan.
Hanley Ramirez will garner some attention as he moves from shortstop to third base. Ramirez appeared to be upset with the move at first, which was necessitated when the Marlins traded for Reyes. However, he seems to be warming up to the idea of playing third, and hopefully his bat warms too, because he was bad last year. The former All Star only hit .243 with 10 homers.
Jose Reyes was the batting champ last year, and probably the third best free agent behind Pujols and Prince Fielder in 2012. He brings speed and excitement to the Marlins.
The outfield looks solid at the corners with Mike Stanton on track to have another monster year. He launched 34 home runs in 2011, and figures to hit even more as he continues to age and progress as a player. He’s only 22 years old after all.
Logan Morrison, known more for his antics off the field with his zany twitter alter-ego LoMo, hopes to make a name for himself on it as well this year. He did well in 2011, hitting 23 home runs, but saw his average dip to .247.
In center field, Emilio Bonifacion will play, or possibly Chris Coghlan. Coghlan was injured much of 2011, hitting only .230. Some would say it’s karma after this incident involving fellow ballhawker the Happy Youngster. Coghlan went on to win the rookie of the year, while the Happy Youngster got a bad rep and faded away from the ballhawking scene. Maybe the Youngster makes a comeback in ’12?
As far as their rotation is concerned, the Marlins look like they’ll be decent, but not great.
Josh Johnson is returning from an injury, but has the talent to be a front line starter. He had a 1.64 ERA in 9 starts before being injured last season.
Mark Buehrle is a proven veteran that is a solid #2 starter.
Behind those two, the Marlins have Ricky Nolasco, and Anibal Sanchez. Nothing spectacular, but acceptable as starters.
Interestingly, the Marlins traded for Carlos Zambrano. After a rocky career in Chicago, things have been quiet so far on the Zambrano front.
At the back of the bullpen, they’ve got Heath Bell to close things out. Bell had 43 saves for a poor Padres team in 2011, so he could do even better in 2012.
2012 Statistical Projections:
C John Buck .241-17-66
1B Gaby Sanchez .262-18-76
2B Omar Infante .290-10-59
3B Hanley Ramirez .291-22-91
SS Jose Reyes .318-10-52
LF Logan Morrison .250-24-80
CF Emilio Bonifacio .292-4-31
RF Mike Stanton .265-38-97
SP Josh Johnson 14-6, 2.54 ERA, 226 IP, 216 K
SP Mark Buehrle 13-10, 3.89 ERA, 204 IP, 103 K
SP Ricky Nolasco 13-12, 4.60 ERA, 205 IP, 168 K
SP Anibal Sanchez 9-10, 3.64 ERA, 180 IP, 169 K
SP Carlos Zambrano 11-10, 4.52 ERA, 163 IP, 120 K
RP Heath Bell 2.64 ERA, 41 saves, 65 IP, 65 K
RP Juan Oviedo 4.00 ERA, 4 saves, 63 IP, 59 K
4th place: Washington Nationals (My prediction: 84-78)
The Nationals are an improved team over last year, they added Edwin Jackson and are getting Stephen Strasburg back from an injury that cost him most of 2011.
The Nationals were unlucky and lost out on the Prince Fielder sweepstakes to Detroit and are stuck with Adam LaRoche as their first baseman. LaRoche should not get Nationals fans excited. Based on his track record, he will be abysmal until the All Star break and then recover to finish with a slightly above average line. I’ve seen it in Pittsburgh. Us Pirates fans were expecting 40 HR and 100 RBI with the short right field fence, but it never came close to happening with LaRoche. If LaRoche really bombs in his rebound year from injury, the Nats could put Mike Morse at first base and open up a spot in the outfield for Bryce Harper.
Wilson Ramos, acquired from the Nationals for ex-Pirates reliever Matt Capps survived a harrowing ordeal during the offseason when he was kidnapped at gunpoint and held captive. Thankfully, he was rescued without injury and looks to follow up a 15 HR, .445 slugging season with another decent offensive showing.
The Nationals have a power source at second base in Danny Espinosa. He slugged 21 homers last year despite hitting just .236.
Ryan Zimmerman just signed a $100 million dollar contract to keep him in a Nationals uniform til 2020. That’s a serious commitment to what many in the Nationals brass consider the face of the franchise. Zimmerman was injured for part of 2011, and hit only 12 homers – but if healthy, he’s capable of putting up 25-30 HR on the board while playing excellent defense. He’ll want to prove to everyone that he’s worth the $100 million. Although one baseball writer tweeted, “$100 million is an awful lot for a one time all-star.”
In the outfield, the Nationals are set with Michael Morse, Roger Bernadina and Jayson Werth. Werth was terrible in 2011. He may have hit 20 homers, but Nationals fans expected more power, and certainly better than a .232 batting average and .389 slugging percentage. Werth was one of the best players in the league before signing with the Nationals. His statistics took a nosedive once he joined the team. He is one of several reasons why the Nationals could be the surprise team in 2012. Can he return to the Werth that roamed the outfield for the Phillies?
Michael Morse is probably my favorite Nationals player. If you get the chance to go to a Nationals game, simply stand in left center field and get ready to be bombarded with home run balls. The guy is a monster. He reminds me a lot of Mike Stanton in terms of body structure and pure power. After hitting .303/31/95 in 2011, he could be a candidate to hit 40 homers.
A major question in the Nationals outfield leading into 2012 is if Bryce Harper will be the starting right fielder in 2012. Manager Davey Johnson said the 19 year old has a chance. If he makes the team, expect the same level of hype to follow Harper around that Stephen Strasburg had back in 2010.
In terms of the rotation, its much improved after the signing of Edwin Jackson to an 11 million dollar one year contract. Personally, I don’t think much of Jackson after he spurned the Pirates 3 year $30 million offer to accept less money with the Nationals. He’s an excellent #2 pitcher though.
The ace of the Nationals is Stephen Strasburg and he may be babied again in 2012 as the Nats seem terrified of him getting injured again. If Strasburg weren’t on strict pitch counts, his strike out numbers could be ridiculous. However, he still has amazing stuff and should baffle hitters all season long. He’s a special player. I’ll never forget attending his major league debut against the Pirates in Washington DC in June of 2010.
The Nationals’ third starter is Gio Gonzalez, the ex-ace of the Oakland Athletics. He posted a 16-12 record with a 3.12 ERA in the American League last year. Reason states that his ERA should drop a little since he doesn’t have to face the DH in the National League anymore.
The Nationals rest of the rotation is average. At the back end they’ve got Drew Storen to close out games, or possibly new addition Brad Lidge.
2012 Statistical Projections:
C Wilson Ramos .269-16-55
1B Adam LaRoche .243-14-56
2B Danny Espinosa .258-23-72
3B Ryan Zimmerman .296-24-81
SS Ian Desmond .261-8-51
LF Michael Morse .300-30-90
CF Roger Bernadina .238-7-30
RF Jayson Werth .245-20-64
SP Stephen Strasburg 13-6, 2.40 ERA, 139 IP, 151 K
SP Gio Gonzalez 16-11, 3.25 ERA, 211 IP, 208 K
SP Jordan Zimmerman 10-19, 4.33 ERA, 141 IP, 102 K
SP Edwin Jackson 13-9, 3.95 ERA, 203 IP, 156 K
SP John Lannan 12-11, 4.01 ERA, 191 IP, 117 K
SP Chien Ming Wang 9-7, 3.83 ERA, 125 IP, 47
RP Drew Storen 3.01 ERA, 38 saves, 81 IP, 81 K
RP Tyler Clippard 2.34 ERA, 0 saves, 85 IP, 100 K
5th place: New York Mets (My prediction 62-100)
The Mets are going to be bad in 2012. They are slashing payroll left and right, and might deal David Wright at the trade deadline this year.
Am I wrong Mets fans? I think they’ll lose 100 games. The division is tough, and they are worse than last year.
David Wright is the long bright spot, but there’s really no one to protect him in the order.
Ike Davis has some pop, but will be be consistent throughout the season?
Then there’s Jason Bay, one of the biggest free agent busts since Barry Zito. After signing a $66 million contract, Bay has done next to nothing. Maybe moving the fences in at Citi Field will help him some.
Andres Torres, a 4th or 5th outfielder on just about every other team, will be the starting center fielder.
Ruben Tejada is no Jose Reyes at shortstop. He has no power, but can hit for an acceptable average near .300.
The rotation pales in comparison to the other four teams in the division. Johan Santana will finally be back after missing an eternity due to injury. If he’s half the pitcher he used to be, he’ll still be the best pitcher on the Mets.
It’s going to be a long year. At least watching RA Dickeys facial expressions and knuckleball should be fun.
2012 Statistical Projections:
C Josh Thole .273-4-46
1B Ike Davis .260-20-73
2B Daniel Murphy .318-8-66
3B David Wright .269-20-87
SS Ruben Tejada .288-0-60
LF Jason Bay .252-16-76
CF Andres Torres .237-6-27
RF Lucas Duda .301-13-61
SP Johan Santana 12-7, 2.84 ERA, 162 IP, 142 K
SP Mike Pelfrey 11-11, 4.39 ERA, 193 IP, 106 K
SP Jonathon Niese 10-11, 4.43 ERA, 167 IP, 146 K
SP Dillon Gee 12-10, 4.79 ERA, 179 IP, 134 K
SP RA Dickey 9-12, 3.13 ERA, 201 IP, 125 K
RP Frank Francisco 3.33 ERA, 28 saves, 51 IP, 55 K
RP Jon Rauch 4.05 ERA, 5 saves, 53 IP, 39 K
So, to review, I have:
I think the Braves, Marlins, and Nationals could be pretty much interchangeable though, as they are all similar in talent level.
What are your thoughts?
Leave a comment!
There’s only 37 days until opening day, and 4 days until the first broadcasted game on MLB TV (Yankees vs Phillies). Also, the first listed Spring Training game on the MLB schedule is tomorrow when the Phillies take on the Seminoles. Also, just five more days to win this LA Dodgers shirt.
After a poor performance on Sunday, I was hoping for some luck. It wouldn’t happen, at least not on the Riverwalk.
A ball flew out of the stadium about 100 feet to my left and landed in the river. The ball was very reachable with my water device, but the device failed. It never was able to scoop up the ball, and after a minute or two, the ball sank.
To make matters worse, as I was attempting to snag that ball from the river, a ball bounced out of the stadium right where I had been previously standing. It would’ve been an easy snag. That one ended up in the river, and sank to its final resting place in the depths of the murky Allegheny as well.
When the gates opened, I snagged ball #1 off the bat of Andrew McCutchen. It was a home run that landed in the front row near the bullpen. I ran over and picked it up, as the other ballhawks were searching for balls down by the left field foul pole. McCutchen was in the last Pirates group because he was given the day off from starting today, despite having an 11 game hitting streak, and being 6 for 12 lifetime against Mets starter Mike Pelfrey. Cutch would later enter the game late and single to extend his streak to twelve games.
A few minutes later, McCutchen hit an absolute blast more than half way up into the second deck of bleachers. I ran up and found it after a brief search for ball #2.
Ball #3 was glove tricked at the base of the wall in left field when the Mets were hitting, as the Pirates ran off the field at 5:05 again. Lame.
My fourth ball was tossed by Jason Pridie. I had asked him for a ball a few times earlier, and this time he tossed it high above the other fans right to me four rows back.
Ball #5 was glove tricked over by the bullpen.
My sixth ball was a home run hit by an unidentified Met. It landed in a small crowd of people and shot straight up in the air. I hopped up and snagged it.
Less than a minute later, I snagged ball #7 on the fly, on the run in section 134. It brought a few grumbles from the crowd, as the average fan doesn’t like seeing someone get more than one ball, especially in such a short span of time.
A minute after that, I snagged ball #8, which landed on the cross aisle in left field, bounced off the upper bleachers, and rolled to the railing separating the wheel chair section from the aisle, where I had been blocked off from getting up onto the cross aisle. I reached down and grabbed the ball.
Another ball was left unattended by the bullpen, so I went over and glove tricked that one for ball #9.
I then made my way over to right field and was able to snag a Daniel Murphy home run ball that landed in section 140. It hit near the top of section 140, and I snagged it as it trickled down a few rows right to me.
That was ball #10, making today a total success.
I would snag another ball, #11 of the day behind section 141. I caught it on the fly between the wall and the seats that you see here:
I had to jump for the ball, as the ball carried on me a little, and I was boxed in by the seats from behind.
Ball #12 came during the game and was thrown to me by Garrett Jones in the 5th inning. I picked a nice open space on the Clemente wall and got him to toss me his between inning warm up ball.
That would be the last ball I snagged today, as I spent the seventh inning with Amy on her break. She bought me this with her Pirates Bucks ($5 Gift Certificates that workers get every game):
It’s a therma base pullover – like what the players wear during BP when its chilly. I am lucky to have such a wonderful fiancee.
Game: 12 balls (7 hit, 2 thrown, 3 device)
Season: 218 balls (87 hit, 49 thrown, 56 device, 226 found)
Games: 36 games
Average: 6.06 balls per game
Career: 1,340 balls
Amy and I were up at 7AM today as we drove out to our new house with a building inspector. The purpose of the inspection was to make sure there wasn’t anything majorly wrong with our new house that we recently purchased. After living in dorms in college, a small townhouse, and a one bedroom apartment, it’s now time to get my dream house. Especially since our daughter is due in just seven and a half weeks. So, after spending just under $200k, I was hoping that there wasn’t going to be any needed fixes, since the house is newer.
We spent time standing around in the master suite while the inspector did his thing in each room and the bathrooms.
The most alarming thing that happened, for me, was the discovery of a stink bug. Here I am crushing it in the bedroom.
I hate those things.
After that, we moved downstairs to the family room, where the worst discovery was that the racks in the dishwasher could use replacing.
Lastly, after an inspection of the kitchen, it was down to the basement and the theater room.
There wasn’t really any bad news to be reported. A little bit of normal settling was found, but it shouldn’t be a major problem.
So, overall, the house inspection was a success. Amy and I went back to our apartment, took a 2.5 hour nap, then headed to PNC Park.
Upon entering, there were no balls, but after a few minutes of being shut out, I noticed a lefty slice a ball down the line. It settled by the fence in foul territory.
I ran over and was able to grab it with an extreme full body stretch.
Ball #2 was a scrum ball that another fan botched (in the black). It hit his glove, and trickled a few rows down to me.
Ball #3 was snagged via the glove trick by the foul pole in left field.
Herbie Andrade made it interesting as he fired balls at my glove as I reeled it in. I had some trouble at first because my glove is basically falling apart, with the lacing coming undone. Herbie hates me anyway since he saw me change into Diamondbacks gear earlier this homestand. He refused to toss me a ball the other day because of that very reason.
I would go the entire Mets batting practice without snagging another baseball. As they ran off the field, I glove tricked a ball near the bullpen, bringing my total on the day to six.
I stayed for the whole game, but didn’t snag anything else. It was a standing room only sellout crowd. Anyway, the Pirates won. The game ended in a timely fashion too, so hopefully there will be batting practice tomorrow.
Game: 6 balls (4 hit, 2 device)
Season: 205 balls (80 hit, 47 thrown, 53 device, 25 found)
Games: 34 games
Average: 6.03 balls per game
Career: 1,327 balls
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.
What? A Sunday day after night game? You know I usually don’t go to those. But today, I did.
Here’s the link. Thanks to Alan Schuster of mygameballs.com for the tip.
STATISTICS: (note: corrected addition errors from previous entries)
Game: 1 ball ( 1 found )
Season: 471 balls (236 hit, 103 thrown, 66 device, 66 found)
Games: 73 games
Average: 6.44 balls per game
2010 Game Balls: 5
Career: 1,049 balls
Streak: 169 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
Balls in the month of August: 120 (19 need
ed to break 1 month record)
Balls needed to break single season record: 72
There was some rain in the forecast for today, so the Pirates started BP a bit earlier than usual. The gates opened at 4:30, and the first group had already finished by that time. Therefore, we missed out on Chris Synder, Andrew McCutchen and Ryan Doumit.
My first ball came off the bat of Andy LaRoche. Nick Pelescak and I converged, and in an attempt for the ball, I lost my balance and began to fall forward, but caught myself by bashing the back of my lower leg on the bleacher. It hurt, but I was able to make the catch.
Daniel McCutchen, aware of the Ballhawk League asked, ‘How many points was that one…” “Do you get extra if you draw blood?”
In the meantime, I had noticed a ball on the field, directly against the two foot high fence in foul territory in front of the handicapped seats:
On my way over, I found ball #2 laying in the aisle, and then made my way over to pick up ball #3 off of the track.
Ball #4 was also hit by Andy LaRoche. He hit a foul ball into the seats down the left field, line.
Game: 5 balls ( 2 hit, 1 device, 2 found )
Season: 469 balls (236 hit, 101 thrown, 63 device, 64 found)
Games: 72 games
Average: 6.51 balls per game
2010 Game Balls: 5
Career: 1,048 balls
Streak: 168 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
Balls in the month of August: 119 (20 needed to break 1 month record)
Balls needed to break single season record: 74
Another sunny day in Pittsburgh got out to a great start thanks to Joel Hanrahan.
He threw me ball #1 near the beginning of batting practice, and then went on a generous binge of tossing balls to virtually every fan in attendance during the Pirates STH only time. I believe every ball he shagged was flipped into the bleachers. As a side note, Hanrahan’s toss to me was my 100th thrown ball of 2010.
Ball #2 was a home run from Lastings Milledge that hit a bleacher and popped up into the air about 10 feet. I snagged it when it was on the way back down.
Ball #3 was also a home run hit by Milledge. It was hit deep over my head, and I had to dive on the concrete underneath this stairway
Game: 7 balls ( 3 hit, 2 thrown, 1 device, 1 found )
Season: 465 balls (234 hit, 101 thrown, 62 device, 62 found)
Balls in the month of August: 114
Games: 71 games
Average: 6.55 balls per game
2010 Game Balls: 5
Career: 1,043 balls
Streak: 167 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
Balls in the month of August: 114 (25 needed to break 1 month record)
Balls needed to break single season record: 79
I woke up at 6:45 AM in Philadelphia, left my hotel about 7:20, and was in New York City just shy of two hours later. This was the first time I had driven to New York City, so I didn’t know the ins and outs of where to park, so I parked in a stadium lot for $19. I was the first car in the entire lot.
I took a few pictures of the exterior of Citi Field from the parking lot:
I told Capps that we missed him in Pittsburgh. When they finished up, Burnett had the ball and tossed me ball #5 on the day.
The Nationals batting practice was just brutal. Very few home runs were hit into the stands, and I ended batting practice with five balls.
At one point during the bore-fest, I took a video of the Nationals batting practice which you can view below: (at least the Mets have good taste in music)
The game began, and I went to my seat in the upper deck (after being kicked out of the section behind the Nationals dugout).
In the first inning, I saw one of the more exciting plays I’d seen in awhile. Josh Willingham hit a ball off the wall with the bases loaded. Immediately, I said, “That’s a grand slam.” In the upper deck, I could see the ball was clearly to the right of the home run line. The umpires missed the call, and we got an instant replay review.
Since the umpires let the play go, I got to see Adam Dunn bowl over the catcher, and then watch Willingham get thrown out trying to stretch the play into an in the park Grand Slam.
Of course, the umpires got the call right, and much to Mets’ fans dismay, Willingham was awarded his grand slam.
You can watch the play below if you’re into excited bases clearing hits:
After a couple innings, I went exploring and took a few pictures of the concourse:
View from the upper deck:
Walking towards the right field foul pole:
Right field corner concourse:
Walking towards the Shea Bridge, under the Pepsi deck in right field:
The Shea Bridge:
View from behind the center field seats:
Food court area behind the center field score board:
Under the left field deck:
Left field corner:
Main concourse behind home plate, near the Jackie Robinson rotunda:
And the pearl of Citi Field, the Jackie Robinson rotunda:
I only stayed about half of the game, because I needed to try and get home before 10 PM, as I had to be up for work the next day.
Game: 5 balls (2 hit, 2 thrown, 1 device)
Season: 17 balls (10 hit, 2 thrown, 5 device)
Games: 4 games
Average: 4.25 balls per game
Career: 595 balls
Streak: 100 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
2009 through 4 games: 17 balls
I decided to make one final trip this week to see a baseball game outside of Pittsburgh. My brother joined me for the four hour drive down to Baltimore. We arrived about an hour before the gates opened, and were the first ones in the park.
I ran to the right field foul pole to get early entrance with the season ticket that I had bought, and sprinted around the seating bowl. When I got to left field, I had it all to myself for about 2-3 minutes.
I found ball #1 laying in the front row.
Ball #2 was a home run hit by Adam Jones into the section closest to the bullpen. I sprinted over and back several rows to pick up my second ball of the day.
Minutes later, Matt Wieters hit a line drive home run in my direction. I ran to the spot where I thought the ball was going to land and got there just in time to make the catch of ball #3. I was aided by the fact that there weren’t many season ticket holders that come to week day games. Look at the crowd at 5:15:
Game: 6 balls (4 hit, 1 thrown, 1 device)
Season: 198 balls (98 hit, 72 thrown, 28 device)
Games: 38 games (5 of which didn’t have BP)
Average: 5.21 balls per game
Career: 364 Balls
Today was the Mets’ second of four games in Pittsburgh, and my second attempt at getting a commemorative ball.
I got to the gates a little after 4 PM and was second in line. When the gates opened, I jogged into the bleachers and was the first one there. I saw a ball as I entered one of the sections. I quickly ran down and grabbed ball #1, as other ballhawks were right behind me. Much to my surprise…
it was a Shea Stadium commemorative ball from last year. Nice! I still would’ve rather had a Citi Field ball, but I’ll take it.
Moments later as I moved towards the foul pole, I found ball #2. Finding two Easter eggs is an awesome start, usually there aren’t any.
Ball #3 came from Tony Beasley. He made sure that all of the regular ballhawks got a ball today. What a good guy.
When the Mets came out to hit, there weren’t many pitchers shagging in the outfield. A ball was hit to the 410 sign in center field. It was very glove “trickable.” I started to make my way over to get the ball. Just as I got to the bullpen, a deep ball was hit right at me. Mike Pelfrey ran back and made the snag. I thought, “Great. He’s going to pick up that ball too.” Luckily, Pelfrey didn’t see it, and walked back to center field. Moments later, I reeled up ball #4.
I went back towards the foul pole when a fellow ballhawk and PNC Park regular, Dan, pointed out another ball to me. It must have rolled to the 410 sign when I was walking back to my spot. I went over and reeled in ball #5 after one failed attempt. I think I will need a new rubber band soon. The one I have might be getting to stretched out.
In the middle of the Mets batting practice, Gary Sheffield launched a deep home run to my left. I could tell it was a bomb, so rather than positioning myself in line with the ball, I ran back to the cross aisle that seperates the lower bleachers from the upper deck bleachers. The ball hit in the cross aisle and rolled partly under the overhang of the upper level bleachers. I reached down and gloved ball #6.
I made a huge mistake by heading over to center field for the last group. The final group taking batting practice was predominently left handed, so I figured I’d have a better shot. There was only one right handed batter.
Check out how empty batting practice was. There aren’t many people in the left field bleachers.
Within minutes, he was surrounded by security guards. A man in a suit came out with a clipboard and the negotiating began. It lasted about an inning. I’m not sure what the kid asked for, but there were about 4 things written down on the sheet of paper on the clip board.
It got me thinking what I would ask for if I had caught the home run. I decided that I’d ask for a game ball signed by Jaramillo, the chance to deliver the ball to him in person, and his word that he’d toss me 1 ball at any batting practice I attended (if he was in the outfield and I asked for one.)
Later in the game, I was getting
thirsty. I decided to go fill up my water bottle. As I was passing this Nacho Express stand, something caught my eye.
Yes, you guessed it. Another Easter Egg.
I had to almost lay on the ground to get that picture. I had to reach around the side of the stand to get ball #8. People probably thought I was a big weirdo for laying on the ground and reaching under a Nacho Express stand, but when they saw I pulled a ball out, I saw a few surprised faces.
I went back to center field in the ninth inning to try and get Nate’s warm up ball. His throw hit some guys arm, richoted right in front of me, but I wasn’t ready and misplayed it. Some one picked the ball up 2 rows ahead of me.
I then headed to the dugout. I had to run half of the way there, because Matt Capps got 3 quick outs. I just barely made it to the dugout as umpire Ted Barrett was coming off the field, but was in a terrible spot, off to the side of the tunnel. He gave two balls away, but not to me.
That was it for today.
When I arrived home I had this waiting for me:
I had been waiting all day for it, since I was off work today, but it didn’t arrive until after I left for the Pirate game. It was my Super Deluxe copy of Big Whiskey and the Groogrux King, Dave Matthews Band’s new album.
The CD was released today, and I had ordered it off of the Warehouse (fan club) so I could get some bonus items.
I spent the rest of my night looking through the booklets and watching the DVD. I didn’t listen to the CD the whole way through until the next day because I wanted to blast it, and it was too late to do that. I’d reccommend picking it up at Target or Best Buy for $9.99 this week. It’s their best album since 1998. Seriously.
The sweet spots:
Game: 8 Balls (4 hit, 2 thrown, 2 device)
Season: 151 Balls (67 hit, 62 thrown, 22 device)
Games: 30 Games (26 with BP/4 without)
Average: 5.03 Balls Per Game
Career: 317 Balls