June 2009

6-27-09 PNC Park

Today was a Saturday, which meant an extra 30 minutes of batting practice, since the gates open at 4:30 rather than 5:00.

When I got in, I immediately went into foul territory to look for Easter Eggs.  I scoured every row, but found nothing.  I then wasted 14 minutes of batting practice by staying in the left field foul area.  I was hoping Nyjer Morgan or another lefty would slice one down the line, but it didn’t happen.  I watched about six balls land in the left field bleachers during this time.  I then made my way back to my normal spot in left field.

After a short lull, I got 3 balls in maybe a minute.  The first ball went off of a ballhawk’s glove.  He must’ve lost it in the sun.  Either way, I reached down and picked up the ball for ball #1 of the day.  Notice the hole in it.
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Seconds later, a home run was hit at another ballhawk.  He tried to snag it in his hat, but slightly missed it.  The ball rattled around under the bleacher.  He didn’t see it, but I did.  I ran over and picked up ball #2 of the day. 

Moments later, a home run was hit to my right.  Myself, along with three other ballhawks closed in on it, and I was able to grab ball #3 off of the concrete barehanded in the knick of time.

I hit a dry patch.  Near the end of batting practice, Stephen Jackson threw a ball to fellow ballhawk Nick.  For whatever reason, Jeff Karstens turned and looked right at me and said, “There’s one over there,” and pointed in foul territory. 
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STATISTICS:
Game:  6 balls (5 hit, 1 thrown)
Season:  216 balls (112 hit, 74 thrown, 30 device)
Games:  43 games (5 of which didn’t have BP)
Average:  5.02 balls per game
Career:  382 balls
Attendance:  36,032

6-26-09 PNC Park

Ten games in ten days is quite a stretch. I’m not sure if I’ll make it to all of them, but we’ll see. It definitely makes keeping up with blogging a bit difficult. That’s why today’s entry is being completed at the ballpark on my IPhone.

The day started off with dark clouds, thunder, and lightning at the ballpark. Fortunately, it passed without raining. There would be BP.

I got shut out until around 5:20, when a Royals batter hit a ball that rolled onto the warning track in left field. I flung my glove out twice, knocked the ball closer, and reeled in ball #1 of the day. There were some skeptics watching me go for it, wandering how the ball was going to stay in the glove. So, when I pulled it off the track there was some faint applause heard.

I got ball #2 from a Royals righty who bounced it off of the warning track in left field. It took one bounce and landed in my glove two rows back.

The second Royals group was 3 lefties and 2 righties. I decided to go to the left field foul corner. Bad decision. I got nothing there. I went back to left.

The final Royals group was ALL lefties. I waited around in left for awhile, hoping to get a ball tossed up, but had no luck. Juan Cruz was especially rude. I soon noticed a ball in center field. No Royals were in any hurry to snag the ball.

I made my way over and used the glove trick to pull up ball #3 on the day. There was another ball there that was a bit farther out, but I let it go.

Batting practice ended soon after. I went to the upper deck, ending my ballhawking for the day.

At least it’s 6:32 pm and I’m already done with today’s entry!

STATISTICS:

Game: 3 balls (1 hit, 2 device)
Season: 210 balls
Games: 42 (5 of which didn’t have BP)

Average: 5.00 balls per game

Career: 376 balls

Attendance:18,458

6-25-09 PNC Park

There were thunderstorms forecast for the area today, so I wasn’t sure if I was going to attend this game.  When 3:30 rolled around, the weather was beautiful, so I went.  It stayed sunny and nice into the evening.

I was the second one into the stadium, and the first into the bleachers.  Time to hunt for Easter Eggs.  There were none.  I think the sweeper guys have been picking them up.  They’ve noticed us ballhawks sprinting in and looking in every crevice, and may have caught on, picking up the balls just before the gates are to open.  I’ve seen them in the area the past couple days at opening time.

I got on the board early when Robinzon Diaz hit a ball that bounced over the fence near the left field foul pole.  The ball was directly at another ballhawk, but he misplayed the ball, letting it bounce right past him.  I ran over and picked up the ball for ball #1 of the day.

Ball #2 came from Ben Francisco of the Indians.  He hit a home run ball to left center field.  I was in the second row, and could tell that the ball was staying up.  I got up on top of the bleacher and made a full extension catch. 

At 5:30, I decided to run over to the right field wall.  The Indians had multiple left handed power bats pepper the right field seats with homers.  I got to right field at 5:30, but the gates were still closed.  I noticed one ballhawk was already up there.  How’d he get up there so soon?  No matter.  The gate was slightly ajar, so I slipped in and up the steps and found ball #3 lying where the red arrow is indicating to. 
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I then left to go back to left field as I despise the right field wall.

I got ball #4 off the bat of an unidentified Indians hitter.  He hit a fly ball that landed on the warning track.  I was in the fourth row back.  Since it was a fly ball, it was going to take a high hop off the track.  I got up on the bleacher and made the catch over two Indians fans who were also going for the same ball.

That’s all the action I got today.

Today’s baseballs:
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STATISTICS:
Game:  4 balls (4 hit)
Season: 207 balls (106 hit, 73 thrown, 28 device)
Games: 41 (5 of which didn’t have BP)
Average: 5.05 balls per game
Career: 373 balls
Attendance:  30,120

6-24-09 PNC Park

Another hot and sunny day at PNC Park today.

I really wasn’t looking forward to batting practice much today, after seeing yesterday’s performance by the Indians.  Their right handed hitters all take a predominantly opposite field approach when they are taking their cuts, meaning most of their hits are line drives to right or right center field.

I got on the board with ball #1 of the day from Steven Pearce.  He hit a home run that was landing about a row and a half in front of me.  I was able to get my glove on it, but didn’t make the catch.  The ball dribbled into the row directly in front of me, and I was able to quickly pick it up for my first ball of the day.

It helped that this was the scene for the first 30 minutes.
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Season ticket holders only.

The sun was glaringly bright again today. 
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STATISTICS:
Game:  3 balls (2 hit, 1 thrown)
Season:  203 Balls (102 hit,  73 thrown, 28 device)
Games:  40 games (5 of which didn’t have BP)
Average:   5.08 balls per game
Career: 369 balls
Attendance: 20,162

6-23-09 PNC Park

I got to the gates about four minutes late today.  When I got inside, I was discouraged to see that the final group that was batting for the Pirates was all left handed batters (Delwyn Young is a switch hitter). 

I stood in left field and waited and waited for a ball to come out that way.  Finally, near the end of the Pirates portion of batting practice, Delwyn Young turned around and batted right handed.  He hit a home run two sections to my right that I simply had to jog over to and pick up.  It was ball #1.

The Indians came out to hit.  Their first group was also all lefties.  Very discouraging.  I could’ve had another ball, but the rubber band was missing from my glove.  It must’ve gotten lost on Sunday when I went with my dad to play baseball.  I also received a substantial injury on Sunday.  I was going after a fly ball in left field, when I stepped into a huge swamp area left over by the torrential rains from this past Wednesday.  I skidded on my right foot for about six feet, then fell backward.  I landed on my glove hand, but that gave way, causing my elbow to awkwardly bend backward.  It’s been real sore ever since.

Anyway, the sun was blazingly bright today.
photo(2).jpgI lost two balls in the sun.  Completely lost them.  When that happens, I look at other people around me, to see if they’re tracking the ball, so I can pick it back up.  The folks around me couldn’t see either. 
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STATISTICS
:
Game:  2 balls (2 hit)
Season:  200 balls (100 hit, 72 thrown, 28 device)
Games:  39 games (5 of which didn’t have BP)
Average:  5.13 balls per game
Career: 366 balls
Attendance:  19,109

6-19-09 and 6-20-09 Post Gazette Pavilion

I spent Friday and Saturday taking in the Dave Matthews Band at the Post Gazette Pavilion in Burgettstown PA, which is about a half hour or so outside of Pittsburgh.

I wish I could follow DMB everywhere.  According to my concert attended list, these were my 38th and 39th shows that I’ve been to.

What concerts have I been to?  Maybe we’ve been to the same ones:
DMB 2000-07-03    Three Rivers Stadium, Pittsburgh, PA
DMB 2002-04-05    Bryce Jordan Center – Penn State University, University Park, PA
DMB 2002-04-24    Gund Arena, Cleveland, OH
DMB 2002-08-02    Post-Gazette Pavilion at Star Lake, Burgettstown, PA
DMB 2002-08-03    Post-Gazette Pavilion at Star Lake, Burgettstown, PA
DMB 2002-12-22    MCI Center, Washington, D.C.
D&T 2003-03-29    Holmes Center – Appalachian State University, Boone, NC
DMB 2003-06-18    Germain Amphitheater, Columbus, OH
DMB 2003-06-21    Blossom Music Center, Cuyahoga Falls, OH
DMB 2003-06-26    Post-Gazette Pavilion at Star Lake, Burgettstown, PA
DMB 2003-06-27    Post-Gazette Pavilion at Star Lake, Burgettstown, PA
D&F 2003-12-12    Bryce Jordan Center – Penn State University, University Park, PA
DMB 2004-06-24    Germain Amphitheater, Columbus, OH
DMB 2004-06-26    Post-Gazette Pavilion at Star Lake, Burgettstown, PA
DMB 2004-06-27    Post-Gazette Pavilion at Star Lake, Burgettstown, PA
DMB 2004-10-01    Bryce Jordan Center – Penn State University, University Park, PA
DMB 2005-06-04    Post-Gazette Pavilion at Star Lake, Burgettstown, PA
DMB 2005-06-05    Post-Gazette Pavilion at Star Lake, Burgettstown, PA
DMB 2005-06-15    Blossom Music Center, Cuyahoga Falls, OH
DMB 2005-06-25    Hershey Park Stadium, Hershey, PA
DMB 2005-12-06    Bryce Jordan Center – Penn State University, University Park, PA
DMB 2006-06-07    Germain Amphitheater, Columbus, OH
DMB 2006-06-10    Post-Gazette Pavilion at Star Lake, Burgettstown, PA
DMB 2006-06-23    Hershey Park Stadium, Hershey, PA
DMB 2006-08-02    Blossom Music Center, Cuyahoga Falls, OH
DMB 2007-08-07    Tweeter Center at the Waterfront, Camden, NJ
DMB 2007-08-08    Tweeter Center at the Waterfront, Camden, NJ
DMB 2007-08-10    Post-Gazette Pavilion at Star Lake, Burgettstown, PA
DMB 2007-08-20    Blossom Music Center, Cuyahoga Falls, OH
DMB 2008-05-30    Post-Gazette Pavilion at Star Lake, Burgettstown, PA
DMB 2008-05-31    Post-Gazette Pavilion at Star Lake, Burgettstown, PA
DMB 2008-06-17    Darien Lake Performing Arts Center, Darien Center, NY
DMB 2008-06-18    Molson Amphitheatre, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
DMB 2008-06-27    Hershey Park Stadium, Hershey, PA
DMB 2008-07-30    Blossom Music Center, Cuyahoga Falls, OH
DMB 2008-08-07    Verizon Wireless Virginia Beach Amphitheater, Virginia Beach, VA
DMB 2009-04-18    John Paul Jones Arena, Charlottesville, VA
DMB 2009-06-19    Post-Gazette Pavilion at Star Lake, Burgettstown, PA
DMB 2009-06-20    Post-Gazette Pavilion at Star Lake, Burgettstown, PA

Anyway, what’s the baseball connection you might ask?  Well, I was sitting in Sec 6 Row E, directly behind a former MLB player’s box: (scroll down slowly and see if you can guess who he is)  He’s wearing black in the picture:
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Can you identify him?

I’ll give you a hint, 3 time All Star first baseman.  Played for the Indians, Reds, Pirates, Tigers and Red Sox.  C’mon….

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Its Sean Casey!!

When he walked by, I tapped him on the shoulder, “Sean, what’s up man!  Great to see you!”

He acted like he knew me.  “No way man, what’s up dude, how’ve you been.”  Then he asked my name.

I told him I was a big fan when he played for the Pirates in 2006. 

Throughout the night, I proceeded to get 5 more unsolicited high fives or handshakes from Casey.  No wonder they call him the mayor and he was voted by fellow players as the “friendliest player in baseball,” in a Sports Illustrated poll.

No one else around me knew who Sean Casey was.  Not even the security guard in the yellow recognized him.  He checked his ticket at least 3 times when Casey was coming and going.

Pretty awesome.

The second night, 6-20-09 was better.  5th row, center. 
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An amazing concert.   It was without a doubt the best concert experience ever.

Another baseball connection?  Guitarist Tim Reynolds wore a Pirates hat.

Check this review:
From antsmarching.org:
The June 20 at Star Lake outside Pittsburgh, PA was certainly one for the ages. On paper, it looks like the best show in 10 years. Yes, 10 years. But concerts aren’t played on paper, they’re played in venues, and in front of people watching the setlist on AntsLive!. Fans at the show seem to justify the reaction by those watching the setlist as it appeared. Fan reaction from those at the show justifies it as one of the best shows in a while. Reports of the band sounding sharp, energetic, and having a lot of fun are common themes in describing the show. Our own Joe M, who has now officially seen more DMB shows than Dave Matthews himself in 2009, put it at the top of his list of shows for this year a scant few seconds after Halloween ended the show. And it’s no coincidence that there were no Everyday or Stand Up songs either. If you go back to the Hartford show, Night 2, up to the June 21 show, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better run by this band in over 12 years. Really.

If given the choice of attending a DMB concert or going to a baseball game, I’d pick DMB.  Sorry, but I would.

6-18-09 Camden Yards

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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:
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STATISTICS:
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
Attendance: 23,009

6-17-09 Progressive Field

I checked the weather forecast in the morning and saw that there was a 15% chance of rain between 3-5 PM.  Good enough for me.  I went to Cleveland.

There was some rain that I ran into on the way there, but when I got to Cleveland, the streets were dry.  Apparently it had rained a few hours before.  Surely there would be batting practice.

Wrong.  I saw this on my way to the ticket window. 
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It was about 4 PM, and I could see that there were some Brewers in the outfield in tshirts and shorts.  Should I still buy a ticket?

I figured that I might as well.  I went and stood in line while the bright sun shone down.  Surely they’d take the tarp off.

Wrong.

The tarp stayed on.  I listened to the gate worker talk about how there was a 90% chance the game would be canceled due to thunderstorms, and that it would be made up tomorrow.  I thought about just going home.

I had a build a pretty nice streak of games with at least one ball, dating back to August 2008, and I didn’t want to lose it.  But I figured I’d put it on the line. 

When the gates opened, I ran in.  There were no other ballhawks here today.  Just a few old ladies and a couple little kids in line.  I looked for Easter Eggs.  I figured maybe a coach was hitting fly balls before the stadium opened, and maybe one went into the stands. 

I looked for a few minutes before finally finding a soaked ball in the front row by the bullpen.  How did this get here?  Maybe it was from the night before or earlier this morning?  No matter, I was on the board with ball #1.

A few seconds after I picked up ball #1, a teenager appeared from beneath the bullpen roof and rolled ball #2 across the roof to me.  Totally unasked for, but definitely appreciated.

It helped that the stadium looked like this.
photo(82).jpgSince the stadium was so empty, when the Progressive Insurance car shot
off its Tshirt and Scarf around 4:45, I was able to get both of them. 
They were pretty nice.  No annoying ads on them.
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I got my final ball of the day at 4:47.  It came from a kid maybe 8-10 years old wearing a “Willis 51″ jersey.  He was the pitching coach’s son, I think.  The teenager in the picture is the kid who threw me ball #2. 
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A ball had gotten away from one of the Brewers’ pitchers and they left it in center field after they went inside.  When the Willis brothers were coming out of the bullpen, I asked for the ball.  They threw me the ball they were using and kept the ball that was in center field.  No problem.  It was ball #4.

I stayed until about 6:30, and the tarp stayed on the field the entire time.  I decided to leave, because I had a trip planned to go to Baltimore the next day. 

The game ended up being delayed 49 minutes.  On the way home, I faced mother nature’s fury, a trifecta of lightning, hail, and tornados.  It was bad. 
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Today’s baseballs:
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And the sweet spots:
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STATISTICS:
Game:  4 Balls (4 thrown)   – (the EE had to have been thrown into the stands since there was no BP)
Season:   192 Balls (94 hit, 71 thrown, 27 device)
Games:  37 Games (5 of which didn’t have BP)
Average: 5.19 Balls per Game
Career:  358 Balls
Attendance:  15,269

6-16-09 Progressive Field

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I made another trip to Cleveland to attempt to improve upon my four ball showing from yesterday.

I got to the ballpark an hour early to ensure that I would be at the front of the line. 
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The ball was in a little divit, so it took about 3-5 minutes of jostling the ball around until I finally had ball #7 in my grasp.  The ball had “Expect to Win,” written on it.

I received my final ball, ball #8,  of the day off of the bat of Mat Gamel.  He hit a high fly ball to right center that I camped out underneath and made an easy catch.    This particular ball had the phrase, “Best Catch Ever,” written on it.  It made me smile.  I was thinking to myself, “Yea, that was a pretty nice catch.”

I like how the Brewers write these crazy things on their baseballs.  It’s unique.  It’s different. 

When the game began, I went over to the Home Run Porch in left field.  The closest any ball came was a Ryan Garko foul
ball that traveled about 350 feet.  I was about 25 feet away from it and lost a foot race to the spot.

I left about half way through the game.

Today’s baseballs:
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The sweet spots:
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STATISTICS:
Game:  8 Balls (7 hit, 1 device)
Season: 188 Balls (94 hit, 67 thrown, 27 device)
Games:  36 Games (4 without BP)
Average:   5.22 Balls per Game
Career:  354 Balls
Attendance:  22,986

6-15-09 Progressive Field

Since the Pirates are out of town for a week, I decided to hit the road.  I made the 2 hour trip north to Cleveland.  I got to the stadium around 4PM, bought a ticket, and was ninth in line. 

When the gates opened, I sprinted to the right field seats, hoping to find an Easter Egg.  I’d noticed that several other people ahead of me ran to the seats also.  Instead of going directly into the seats, I ran down the concourse towards the visiting team’s bullpen, figuring that all Easter Eggs would already be claimed in center field by those ahead of me.  The move paid off.  I spotted ball #1 laying in the front row, and quickly ran to it and was on the board.

Batting practice was slow today. 
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The Indians only hit maybe 7 balls into the seats in their entire portion of batting practice. 

I did manage to snag ball #2 off of the bat of Victor Martinez.  He hit a home run that sailed about 4 or 5 rows over my head.  I ran back and grabbed the ball, as two other people also were grasping for it.  I made sure to grab this ball off of the concrete with my bare hand.

Ball #3 also came from the Indians.  A right handed batter hit a fly ball that bounced on the warning track and over the fence.  I quickly moved about five feet to my left and made the catch over some lady’s head.  She was sitting down, without a glove, and was mad that she didn’t get the ball.  Also, she didn’t even see the ball until after I caught it. “Ohhhh, yoooouuuuuu…”  she said.  

That was it from the Indians.  The Brewers came out to hit.  Despite being over 7 hours away from Cleveland, a lot of their fans made the trip.

Batting practice was more crowded than usual. 
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STATISTICS:
Game:  4 Balls (3 hit, 1 device)
Season:  180 Balls (87 hit, 67 thrown, 26 device)
Games:  35 Games (4 without BP)
Average:  5.14 Balls per Game
Career:  346 Balls
Attendance:  25415

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