This was the Pirates first game against the Rockies of the season, as the previous night had been rained out. I was looking forward to this game because 49 year old Jamie Moyer would be pitching for the Rockies, and I had purchased a ticket directly behind the Rockies dugout.
Batting practice got off to a slow start for me. In fact, I didn’t snag anything for the first 20 minutes. After coming up short on three different balls, I ranged to my left on a Michael McKenry home run ball and caught it on the fly here:
It was a milestone ball as it was my #1,600th.
Later, I called out to Evan Meek, who tossed a ball in my direction. Fellow ballhawk Ian Weir, who was two rows in front of me had it tip off of his glove, and it bounced right to me.
Ball #3 was a clean catch on the fly of a Yamaico Navarro homer here:
My fourth ball of the Pirates BP was a ground rule double hit by light hitting infielder Josh Harrison near the foul pole:
That was it for the Pirates BP, as they wrapped things up shortly after 5.
When the Rockies began hitting, the pitchers still were warming up in right field, so there were no players to shag balls. I used this time to make their job a little easier by glove tricking ball #5.
Carlos Gonzalez wandered over and tossed about 9 balls into the stands. I was about to glove trick an easy ball when he began walking towards it. Since he was making an effort to retrieve it, I didn’t use the glove trick, even though I could’ve quickly and easily snagged it and saved him the walk over. CarGo came over, picked the ball up, and handed it to me for ball #6.
Ball #7 was another simple glove trick in left.
When the pitchers finally made their way over, Rex Brothers tossed me ball #8, and motioned to me to give it to a little kid standing a few feet to my left, so I did.
Ball #9 was a foul ball hit by Troy Tulowitzki. He yanked it down the line into the lower seats. It was already like 5:35, and there were no fans over there. No one seemed to notice or care. So I ran over into foul ground and grabbed it.
I was on a hot streak. I had nine balls and Rockies BP was just getting underway. But, weirdly, I didn’t snag anything else during batting practice, even though this was the crowd shortly before 6 PM at the end of BP:
Before the game started, I waited by the bullpen for Jamie Moyer to come out. There, I asked catching Coach Jerry Weinstein to toss up a ball that was sitting in the bullpen, and he obliged for ball #10.
I then watched Jamie Moyer toss 75 mph heaters:
And then watched him do it later, in the game from my seat.
This was my section:
And the view:
I was just a few rows behind where all the players enter the dugout when they run off the field. The location was perfect, because in the third inning, Casey McGehee chopped a ball in front of the plate that Chris Nelson fielded and threw to Todd Helton for the third out. When Helton ran off the field, he spotted me in my bright Rockies jersey and tossed me ball #11.
It had a nice dirt spot on it from where McGehee had pounded it into the ground. I also noticed a little bit of scuffing. Was Moyer doctoring the ball? Its tough to say, but he kept the Pirates off balance all night, pitching 6 innings and giving up 1 run. Not bad for a 49 year old.
The game itself was probably one of the more exciting ones of the year, as the lead exchanged leads several times in the late innings before the Pirates prevailed.
As you may have noticed, for over a week or so now, I have been blogging every day. The purpose was to increase my readership during the offseason as we head towards opening day, get myself back into the habit of blogging, and count down the days one blog at a time.
In order to reward you for reading, I’ve decided to give away a MLB prize each week. Every Monday, I will post a contest for new item. Then, a winner will be chosen on Sunday, a week later.
So let’s begin by showing you what is being given away in the #countingbaseballs giveaway for this week. It’s…
A Matt Wieters Baltimore Orioles name and number official Majestic shirt. Retail value $22. Brand new. With tags.
Up close front:
Brand new from the store:
Since I’m extra nice, the winner may choose a size MEDIUM or LARGE. If you’re on the bigger side, I’m sorry – I’ll try and have larger shirts in the future. But you could always re-gift if you win. Anyhow, this shirt is sure to please and Orioles fan, or ballhawk that will see the Orioles at a game in 2012. Oh, and I’ll even pay the postage.
How to Enter:
1) Leave a comment.
You can enter up to seven times per week simply by leaving a comment. Non-pertinent, spam, or inappropriate comments will not be accepted. If you comment multiple times on the same blog entry, it still counts as one entry. For example, if you commented on three different blog posts from this week, you’d have three entries.
2) Retweet (RT) my posts on Twitter
You can find me on twitter under 333greystreet. Simply retweet my daily posts with a #countingbaseballs in your RT each day and I’ll count that as an entry. My blog is connected to my twitter so that I automatically tweet once I post a new entry. Each day, I’ll search #countingbaseballs to see who’s retweeted me and enter those users into a hat along with the commenters.
At the end of the week on Sunday, I’ll have Olivia, Amy or I will choose a name from a hat and announce the winner. Maybe we’ll do it on youtube. The maximum number of entries per week is 14 if you leave comments and retweet.
Anyhow, I thought this would be a cool idea to give away some of my extra MLB Stuff.
I’ll end this post with some thoughts about Matt Wieters.
Where does he rank for you among the best catchers in the American League? Who is better than him? Mike Napoli? Carlos Santana? Joe Mauer? Alex Avila? I’ll rank him at 2nd. I like Carlos Santana best, but that’s probably because he plays for my second favorite team and I snagged a game HR ball from him in 2009.
Long suffering Pittsburgh Pirates fans are all too familiar with Matt Wieters. In 2007, the Pirates, led by David Littlefield, passed on Matt Wieters in order to select Daniel Moskos. Outrage ensued at the Pirates’ cheapness and on June 30th 2007, Bob Walk bobblehead night, fans orchestrated a walk out. Fans wore green to the game to signify owner Bob Nutting’s greed and then walked out at a pre-determined time. I was at the game, but I can’t exactly remember when it happened. The game was virtually a sell out, and although a few thousand people left, it wasn’t too noticeable in the grand scheme of things.
Wieters broke into the league in 2009 and has hit 42 home runs and has been an All Star. Daniel Moskos finally was promoted to the Major Leagues in 2011 and although he posted a 2.96 ERA in 24 innings. His H/9 (10.9) and WHIP (1.56) were high. In the Minors, he has a career 4.41 ERA, including a 5.46 ERA in 39 games at the AAA level. So, he really hasn’t proven in the minors that he’ll have a successful big league career yet.
And that catching position, well, the Pirates really REALLY needed Matt Wieters because rather than penciling his name in at catcher every day, over the last three years we’ve had to deal with Wyatt Toregas, Matt Pagnozzi, Eric Fryer, Dusty Brown, Jason Jaramillo, Chris Snyder, Ryan Doumit, Michael McKenry, Erik Kratz and Robinzon Diaz (who we traded Jose Bautista to get!)
God help us Pirates fans.
65 Days until opening day…
On Monday, the ballhawks of PNC Park got groundscrewed. That’s right. It was perfect weather for batting practice, but due to a short and light shower at 4PM, the groundscrew decided to cancel batting practice so that they could essentially have a three hour break before they really had to do anything.
This was the seen from the bridge as Nick and I watched and waited, but never saw a cage.
So on Tuesday, I was hoping to get off to a good start on the longest homestand of the year. Since Pedro Alvarez was sent down today, there weren’t any balls that left the stadium out onto the riverwalk.
When the Cardinals came out, I was able to glove trick a ball that had rolled out of view just inside the bullpen door.
At 5:30, I ran into foul territory where I had kept tabs on a foul ball that was hit into the upper seating area above the cross aisle. I was clearly able to see it from the upper bleachers, making it an easy run and grab mission.
I didn’t get anything else until the end of batting practice, but noticed a toss up as the Cardinals ran off the field hit the right field seats and settle on the warning track in center field. Zac Weiss was perched above another ball on the warning track, and held the spot so I could glove trick that one as well.
I glove tricked the first ball on one attempt by Zac, the second one took much longer. The lacing in my glove is slowly falling apart, and its causing the glove trick to be much less effective. After about five minutes of trying, I finally reeled it in for ball #7, and gave it away to a group of kids. (I made them answer a trivia question to get the ball, since all four of them wanted it. One boy knew the answer to ‘Who wears #53 for the Pirates?’)
After that I left to go home and see Amy and Olivia, watch the movie the Source Code on Blu Ray, and walk to the local ice cream joint to have some ice cream. A great night!
Here’s the six balls that I kept:
Game: 7 balls (1 hit, 3 device, 3 found)
Season: 346 balls (142 hit, 73 thrown, 83 device, 48 found)
Games: 65 games
Career: 1,468 balls