I was faced with the decision today of attending the Pirate game or skipping it. This is the weather forecast as of 1PM.
Batting practice would surely be canceled. I may get shut out for the first time since Sunday August 31st, 2008. I decided that since I am now in a competitive ballhawk league, that I had to go and at least try. I knew that my average balls per game would probably take a hit.
I went with my wife Holly and we arrived at the gates around 4:40 PM. The gates open during the week at 5 PM. Walking past the Stargell statue, I peered into the park and saw that sure enough, the tarp was covering the field. There was no batting practice today.
I entered the bleacher section at 5 PM and looked around for some Easter Eggs. There was nothing to be found, since it had been raining and drizzling all day long. Around 5:20, the Pirates pitchers came out to stretch. I followed a group of 6 other ballhawks up the escalator to go into the seating bowl to possibly catch an overthrow. Usually there are security guards that don’t permit entrance until 5:30, but there were none around. When we got to the front row right behind Matt Capps, Tyler Yates and company, a field security guard walked over and told us to go back to left field. Even though it was 5:24, he wouldn’t let us stay.
Meanwhile, the Astros pitchers came out to stretch. I decided that I might have a better chance getting a ball from them since there was a couple little kids and four high school kids watching the Pirates pitchers.
I decided to take the chance. I took off my Pirates sweatshirt exposing my black Astros shirt and donned my Houston hat and headed over to right field.
I lined myself up behind Russ Ortiz and Geoff Geary. I was the only one in the stands behind the Astros pitchers. I had 20 feet to my left and right without a soul in sight. There were 4 balls in play, as 8 pitchers were throwing. Jeff Fulchino finished his tosses and had a ball. I asked him for the ball and he made eye contact with me. He didn’t say anything, but went and talked to a fellow pitcher. A couple minutes later, Fulchino tossed me ball #1.
There were still 3 balls in play. Wesley Wright finished his tosses and gave his ball to a fan a little further down the line. It was a 10 year old kid wearing Pirate gear. Tim Byrdak was joking around and told the kid that he wasn’t done with the ball yet and to toss it back. The kid just stared at Byrdak confused and horrified. Byrdak urged him to toss the ball back. The kid then turned and ran away. It was rather amusing.
Jose Valverde and LaTroy Hawkins finished their tossing next. I asked for the ball. Again, I was the only fan with Astros gear on, so Valverde looked at me and tossed me ball #2. There was one ball left and it was being used by Geoff Geary and Russ Ortiz. I snapped a picture on my cell phone.
The Pirates got some good relief work from their bullpen and ended up losing the game 4-1. Adam LaRoche accounted for the Pirates only run with a Home Run in the 9th inning. It was too little too late.
I tried to get a ball at the dugout after the game from an umpire and the Pirates pitchers, but failed to do so.
As I was ready to leave, I decided to walk around for a minute and collect a ticket stub or two. I notice in Section 124, about four rows back, a circular white object laying on the ground. Seriously? Could this be a ball? Since I waited for the bullpen coach to come in, it took some time and the stadium was basically vacant. I looked closer and sure enough, it was a major league baseball. How did this get here? Was it some little kid who didn’t really even care about it? Did someone catch it and it trickled out of their glove during the game? It was weird. I looked around and didn’t see anyone looking for a ball. There were only a half dozen fans left, waiting down at the dugout. So, I picked the ball up, making it ball #4 of the day. Usually, Easter Eggs that are found count as hit balls, but since there was no batting practice on this day, and it didn’t look like a game ball, I decided it was probably someone’s warm up ball. I’ll chalk it up under the thrown category.
I’m glad I went to the game despite the rain.
Here’s a look at today’s results: ( the media guide was free for being a season ticket holder. The bobblehead was won at a spin-a-wheel g
ame where they are giving away all of the left over promotions from 2008)
And a closer look at those Astros balls.
Game: 4 Balls (4 thrown)
Season: 17 Balls (7 hit, 8 thrown, 2 device)
Games: 4 Games (3 with BP, 1 without)
Average: 4.25 Balls per Game
Career: 183 Balls
Hit List: 183 ties me with former Pirate Chris Duffy for #3769 on the all time hit list.
Today was PNC Park’s Opening Day. I went today with my wife Holly. We got to the gates around 10:30 AM, and waited in line for a half hour. When the gates opened, I rushed in and was the 6th one into the left field bleachers.
Things were a little dry at first. Eventually, two balls were hit and Ian Snell came to the fence to get them. I asked him for a ball and he flipped one over his head without looking to me. It was ball #1 of the day. Luckily, for the first 30 minutes, only season ticket holders are permitted into batting practice, so I had plenty of room to roam.
Game: 5 balls (2 hit, 1 thrown, 2 device)
Season: 13 balls (7 hit, 4 thrown, 2 device)
Games: 3 (3 with BP, 0 without)
Career: 179 balls
Hit List: 179 ties me with Willy Aybar for #3809 all time.
The ballhawk league has completed its first week. Below are the updated standings:
*Denotes no report submitted
1) 38 Happy Youngster
2) 31 Zack Hample
3) 8 Erik Jabs
Average per Game
1) 7.75 Zack Hample
2) 6.33 Happy Youngster
3) 4.00 Erik Jabs
1) 13 Happy Youngster
2) 5 Erik Jabs
3) 2 Bob Fox/Zack Hample
1) 22 Happy Youngster/Zack Hample
3) 3 Erik Jabs/Bob Fox
1) 7 Zack Hample
2) 3 Happy Youngster
1) 6 Happy Youngster
2) 4 Zack Hample/Bob Fox
1) 183,269 Happy Youngster
2) 178,752 Zack Hample
3) 114, 228 John Witt
1) 1 Happy Youngster/Zack Hample
Home Runs Snagged
Happy Youngster (Miguel Cabrera #1 of season)
The Happy Youngster leads most categories after a great week #1. Zack Hample is not far behind. Many ballhawks have yet to begin their season, but that should change this week.
One issue needing addressed is 7 members of the ballhawk league who failed to report their stats to me. I sent an email out on Sunday around 9 AM asking for their stats. I gave them a 24 hour window. Last night at 11 PM, I sent a reminder message. What do we do with non-reporting participants? I was thinking give them 3 strikes, and then remove them from the league? The 3 strike rule would begin next week.
We can still accept new participants into the league for awhile since the season is still Young.
Happy Easter everyone!
My friend Joe and I went to Great American Ball Park today.
It was an afternoon game, so I was worried that batting practice would be canceled. We waited in line for about 10 minutes to get in. At 11:40, when the gates opened, I rushed to left field. The Pirates were taking batting practice!
I was the first one there, but the stadium ushers must have picked up all of the Easter Eggs, because there were none to be found. Yesterday’s starter Paul Maholm was alone in left field. I shouted to him to congratulate him on his great start yesterday. I then asked for a ball. He looked up and threw me a ball. His aim was off and it was wide and to my left. It tipped off my glove and landed a row behind me. Luckily, there was still no one around, so I turned around and picked it up. It was ball #1. I asked Matt Capps, John Grabow, and Tyler Yates for balls in left center field, but was ignored. I didn’t feel like pestering them, so I found an open aisle about 6 rows back that wasn’t being blocked by those long railings I mentioned in Friday’s entry.
Freddy Sanchez soon launched a deep fly ball to left. It was right at me, in the center of the section. However, it was sailing over my head. I hate it when this happens. I don’t have latitudinal range, and get stuck. It happens often at PNC Park. The ball landed about 5 rows back, so I had to climb over the chairs to beat some Reds fan there by a split second. It was ball #2.
Game: 5 balls (3 hit, 2 thrown)
Season: 8 balls (5 hit, 3 thrown)
Average: 4.0 balls/game (8 balls/2 games)
Career: 174 balls
I attended today’s game with my best friend from my childhood days, Joe Filipowski. We got to the gates about 10 minutes before they were to open. I hate how the gates don’t open until 90 minutes before the first pitch. At 11:40, we were finally let inside. The Pirates were already in mid batting practice.
I checked for Easter eggs in left field, but there was nothing there. With some of the Pirates better hitters coming up and being left handed, we headed over to right field. I was shocked at how amazingly rude the Pirates were towards their own fans. I got totally ignored by Zach Duke, Jesse Chavez, Craig Monroe, Eric Hinske, Brandon Moss, and Donnie Veal in right field. I asked each of them for a ball on more than one occasion, but was ignored. The irritating part was that they were giving balls to little kids with Reds gear on, even though I was completely decked out in Pirates gear, including their new alternate batting practice jersey. It looked like it was going to be one of those days.
I decided to try and get a batted ball from one of the left handed power hitters. Nate McLouth hit one, but it was over my head and some guy just barely beat me to it. My friend Joe got the first ball of the day, but gave it away to a little kid. Jesse Chavez pointed the kid out and tossed it to him several rows up, but the kid missed it. Joe ended up catching up, but out of kindness gave it to the kid. He later said he regretted giving it away, it being the first ball that he’d snagged since the 1994 Home Run Derby at Three Rivers Stadium.
Moments later, Brandon Moss launched a deep fly ball to right field. I drifted over about 5 seats and camped out underneath it. The ball landed squarely in my glove. It was ball #1 of the day for me, and my first ball of 2009. It’d been over 6 months since I last snagged a ball, so it was good to finally get one. If you can find the #1 below, that’s the exact spot I snagged Moss’ Home Run.
I didn’t take any pictures during batting practice because I felt like having my camera around my neck would be a distraction for me and make moving around a little tougher. After Adam LaRoche and Brandon Moss’s group hit, I decided to move to left field. It would prove to be a little late because Andy LaRoche was absolutely raking balls into left field while we were in right.
I made my way over to where Matt Capps, Tyler Yates, and John Grabow were standing in left center field. I asked several times for some balls, but was ignored by Yates. At least Grabow looked at me, but decided to throw the ball into the bleachers instead. I made eye contact with Capps. He got a ball and pointed at me and tossed it. Out of no where, a Reds fan dives in front of me and steals the ball before it reached me. (I was in the second row, he was in the first). Luckily, another ball was hit to Capps. He turned around and made sure I caught this one, arching it perfectly. It was ball #2 of the day.
I then decided to move to the left field line where Ian Snell and Craig Hansen were hanging out. Since catching a HR ball would prove tricky here, I decided to try and ask every Pirate I could for a ball. I settled into the second row in one of the sections near the line. I chose an empty row so I could somewhat move. Moments later, Craig Monroe lauched a line drive in my direction. I barely had to move. There was some competition for the ball from some people in the front row, but since I am 6’5″, I was able to outreach them and made the snag for ball #3 on the day. The below picture shows the exact locations of balls #2 and #3:
Welcome to the 16 members who have signed up for the first annual Ballhawk Competition. Since the season will officially begin tomorrow, I would like to get everyone on the same page as to how to report their statistics to me.
Each Sunday, I will send a reminder email to all participants, requesting your statistics for the week. I will then take the numbers that you’ve sent me and plug them into a master spreadsheet.
So, what information will I need? Each week, you will have to send me your weekly totals in:
1) Balls caught – Total number of balls caught for the week.
2) Hit (Batted Balls) – These include home runs, ground rule doubles, foul balls. Also, any balls that you find in the stands when entering a stadium (Easter Eggs) will be considered a batted ball and fall into the Hit category.
3) Thrown – Any ball that you snag that has been thrown or handed to you by a player, coach, or stadium employee. Balls snagged by friends and handed over to you DO NOT COUNT.
4) Device – Any ball that you snag that you would not have been able to get without some kind of device or contraption. (Cup tricks, Glove tricks, Poles, Butterfly Nets, etc)
5) Attendance – In order to calculate your average competition factor I will need to know how many games you attended during the week, and what the attendance was at each one. You can send me the weekly totals (example: 3 games, 112,232) or you can send me game by game totals and I’ll add it up. (example: 4/7 32,232, 4/9 40,000, 4/11 40,000)
6) Game Balls/Home Runs? If you snag a home run ball, ground rule double or foul ball during an actual game, it will count as a game ball. These balls will be included in your hit category. For example, if a ballhawk snags 4 balls in a week, 2 homers in batting practice, 1 thrown ball, and 1 home run ball during a game, they should report 3 hit balls, and 1 thrown ball. Game balls will count as ONE ball in your weekly totals. If you catch a home run ball, send me the mlb.com video link, and I’ll post a link in the Weekly update for everyone to watch.
So, using my final week of the season, I would email the following information:
Total Balls: 12 balls
Hit: 10 balls
Thrown: 2 balls
Device: 0 balls
Total Attendance: 107,857
Game Balls: 0
You can also break it down for me like so if you like:
9/21/08 1 ball (0 hit, 1 thrown, 0 device) 20,311 attendance
9/20/08 6 balls(6 hit, 0 thrown, 0 device) 36,621 attendance
9/19/08 2 balls(2 hit, 0 thrown, 0 device) 26,301 attendance
9/17/08 2 balls(2 hit, 0 thrown, 0 device) 11,883 attendance
9/16/08 1 ball (0 hit, 1 thrown, 0 device) 12,741 attendance
On Sunday Night, I’ll put it all in a spreadsheet and it will look something like this:
The ERR is a formula error that will be corrected once everyone attends a game. I have formulas entered that will come up as ERR if asked to divide by 0.
If you’d like a different display name, such as your last name or a nickname, just let me know.
Any questions about anything, just post a comment!