I decided that rather than doing three separate entries, that I would lump all three Orioles games together in one entry.
I began Monday on the Riverwalk, which ended up being a waste of time for about the tenth game in a row. There simply hasn’t been any action there since Pedro Alvarez went on the disabled list.
Upon entering the stadium, I caught two baseballs on the fly within the first two minutes of batting practice. They were both hit by Matt Diaz, and I caught both of them here:
I wasn’t expecting a huge crowd on Monday, but I was wrong. There were enough fans that things got crowded enough where range became a problem at 5:30. During the Orioles batting practice, I glove tricked a ball along the wall in left field, and caught an unidentified Orioles home run on the fly here:
After batting practice I got some extra tickets scanned and got two bags filled with photo wraps. It was too crowded to compete for outfield toss ups, so I watched most of the game from beneath the left field bleachers.
There was a gigantic crowd for a Tuesday, with over 33,000 in attendance for a 1971 World Series stein.
The Pirates stopped hitting at 5:03. Wow. Three minutes of batting practice time. Nice.
Nick Markakis hit a home run that landed just out of reach in the ivy in center field. I went over to take a look at the ball, and deemed that it was definitely gettable with the right device. I let it go though, as there was a supervisor nearby.
I left immediately after batting practice.
There as no batting practice today, as it was a day game after a night game, and the players needed the extra sleep. (Poor babies).
Anyhow, the Markakis ball from yesterday was still in center field:
So I grabbed a squeegee and prodded it loose, reached through the railing and grabbed it to avoid a shutout.
When the Orioles came out to throw (and only two sets of pitchers came out), I was lucky enough to snag a ball from Clay Rapada.
He tossed his ball towards the crowd, and two other fans tried to make the snag along with me. The ball clanked off of our hands/gloves, bounced on the warning track, where I snagged it with my right hand almost immediately.
In other news:
I had x-rays done on my hand that I hurt on June 7th when racing Nick into foul territory to snag a ball. Since then, I’ve had no strength in my middle and ring fingers and can only move them minimally. Since they haven’t been healing, I decided I needed to go to the doctor, even though I’m one of those stubborn people that hate going to doctors.
The x-rays came back negative, but the doctor said I have tendinitis, and must refrain from using my left hand for the next five days. That’s my glove hand. Not good. She gave me some anti inflammatory meds and said to come back if it doesn’t get better.
To cap things off, I tweaked my back on the way to the doctor by lifting and carrying a giant trash bag with nineteen 3- pound boxes in it. I can’t win.
6/20: 4 balls (3 hit, 1 device)
6/21: 2 balls (1 hit, 1 device)
6/22: 2 balls (1 thrown, 1 device)
Season: 240 balls (93 hit, 53 thrown, 59 device, 26 found)
Games: 41 games
Average: 5.85 balls per game
Career: 1,362 balls
Attendance: 22,447, 33,806, 19,418
*Last year on 6/22 I had snagged 249 baseballs in 38 games. 132 of the 249 from last year were batted balls. I miss Lastings Milledge.
Amy and I checked out of the hotel around 11:30, and met up with Nick, who had gone out for breakfast. We had five hours to kill before the gates of Progressive Field would open at 4:30, so we walked around Cleveland.
I originally wanted to find a park so I could sit down and read the paper and get out of the sun for a bit. So, we began walking toward Settler’s Landing Park, which I saw on a map on my Iphone. It looked like it was on a little river, which turned out to be a canal. I thought there would be some trees, picnic tables and benches.
I was wrong. We were greeted by a hulking, rusting bridge that looked like it had been swept up by a tornado and driven into the ground vertically. It was such an eyesore.
I guess decades ago it was a drawbridge from a rail line which obviously no longer exists.
We walked around the park, and found nothing but homeless people, and giant sized mushrooms.
After a couple photos of the underside of Cleveland,
we headed toward lake Erie, and walked around the Cleveland Browns Football stadium.
Nick then headed to get lunch and to the ballpark, while Amy and I explored the perimeter of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame,
and visited the Cleveland Science Center, where we grabbed a bite to eat at a Pizza Hut express, and brushed up on our periodic table of elements. Can you name all of them in the photo?
When it came time to enter the stadium, things got off to a tough start. I only got one ball from the Indians. Chris Perez threw a ball toward a couple of fans in the front row, but they interfered with each other and both missed it. You’ll see me standing there, several rows back.
The ball bounced on the concrete and ended up maybe ten rows back, where I grabbed it to get on the board:
The Indians finished hitting at 5:05. When the Pirates came out, the bad luck continued, and I still only had one baseball when 5:30 rolled around and I headed to left field:
Over in left field, my luck changed as Dusty Brown tossed me ball #2 of the day.
I was hoping that my Pirates gear would make me stand out over the other fans.
I headed back over to center field for the Pirates second group, which featured several lefties.
While there, I caught a Lyle Overbay home run on the fly. It was a full extension leaping catch in this area.
The next batter, Garrett Jones, hit a home run that I caught the next section over, also on the fly for ball #4.
I headed back over to left field for the final group, where Jose Tabata tossed me my fifth ball of the day. He’s on the right, talking with Jose Veras:
I finished batting practice in left field, and ended up with five baseballs on the day.
After batting practice Amy and I spun the Prize Wheel. She won a Duncan Donuts buy one get one free iced coffee coupon, and I won a free drink from Circle K stores. Both garbage prizes. Blah.
After that, we got ice cream cones as we made our way to our seats in the upper deck.
It was a losing battle against the ice cream, which melted faster than we could eat it. Amy’s hands were a mess.
After running to the bathroom to get wet paper towels for us to clean up, it was time for the first pitch.
Our seats were in Section 556, Row X, which was the very last row in the upper deck, and they were great. There was a strong breeze the entire time we were there, and it really kept us cool.
I wish we could’ve stayed for the entire game, but we had to leave around 7:40 to walk back to the bus stop to catch our bus headed back to Pittsburgh.
Game: 5 balls (2 hit, 3 thrown)
Season: 232 balls (89 hit, 52 thrown, 56 device, 226 found)
Games: 38 games
Average: 6.11 balls per game
Career: 1,354 balls
I booked Amy and I tickets on megabus.com for a bus headed to Cleveland for the Pirates-Indians series. It cost me $3 to go there, and $5 for the return fare, since I booked it a couple weeks in advance. You can’t beat that.
This was my second game of the year at Progressive Field, which is way down from last year when I attended 19.
Upon entering the stadium and looking for baseballs, I found one in Heritage Park in center field. Unreachable with my arm, I used the ‘Cleveland stick’ to reach under the wall and snag this one.
My second ball of the day was a Travis Hafner home run that landed several rows behind me that I was able to grab before a couple of other fans.
Moments later, Hafner hit another home run that I snagged on the fly for ball #3.
A couple minutes after that, I noticed a ball land in the trees of Heritage Park. I ran over and was able to reach in and grab it without the use of any device.
In the meantime, there were a few balls in the bullpen. I ended up glove tricking one of them after at least 10 attempts at knocking the ball closer to the wall. Once the ball was close enough to the wall, I reeled it in for ball #5, and was given a round of applause by those fans who watched the whole ordeal.
When the Pirates came out to hit, one of the Buccos hit a home run that landed on the bullpen roof in center field.
I used the Cleveland stick – which reaches 6 feet (plus at least three feet of my arm length) to just barely reach it.
Less than a minute after snagging ball #6, Daniel McCutchen ran past while doing sprints and flipped a ball up into the stands, right to me. I didn’t even ask for it. Maybe it was my bright gold shirt. Regardless, it was my seventh of the day.
I finished batting practice in left field and was tossed #8 by Jeff Karstens. I had given up asking Jeff Karstens for balls in 2009, because he had completely ignored every request that I ever put in for a ball. I didn’t even ask for this particular ball. A batter hit it off the left field wall, Jeff ran over, picked it up, looked at me, and fired it right to me.
After batting practice, I was thrown ball #9 in the Pirates bullpen by bullpen catcher Herbie Andrade.
I left right after that, despite needing just one more for double digits. Amy was waiting in the hotel, and I wanted to go out to eat with her.
We went to East 4th street, where there are a few restaurants and was seemingly the only stretch of any street in Cleveland that wasn’t abandoned and boarded up.
We ate at Zocalo – a Mexican restaurant, and it was fantastic. The entrance was a little iffy, but everything else was first class.
After that, we walked back to the hotel room for a brief 15 minute pit stop, and then went back out to explore the city. We walked around for an hour or two, and watched the fireworks after the game from the rooftop on a parking garage downtown.
Those couple hours were by far my favorite of the entire weekend trip.
Game: 9 balls (3 hit, 3 thrown, 3 device)
Season: 227 balls (87 hit, 49 thrown, 56 device, 226 found)
Games: 37 games
Average: 6.14 balls per game
Career: 1,349 balls
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.
Today was the final day that the Diamondbacks were in town, and I for one, am not sorry to see them leave. They just don’t hit many balls into the stands, which makes for a boring batting practice.
To make matters worse, the Pirates did not hit today. They skipped batting practice, so at 5PM, when the gates opened, the Diamondbacks were already on the field hitting.
And ball #3 was a ground rule double that I snagged in section 136. Nick Pelescak gets an assist as he slowed the ball down by deflecting it. Playing ground rule doubles can be a tricky thing.
and moments later I snagged another ground rule double for ball #4 in virtually the same spot.
Game: 6 balls (3 hit, 2 thrown, 1 device,)
Season: 192 balls (74 hit, 44 thrown, 49 device, 25 found)
Games: 32 games
Average: 6.00 balls per game
Career: 1,314 balls