Happy New Year everyone.
It’s time to set some New Year’s Resolutions.
1) Attend 90 games (which would set a mygameballs.com season record).
Last year I attended 81 games, which was well short of the 100 that I scheduled myself to attend. There were quite a few days where I simply stayed home due to rain, or didn’t feel like taking a road trip to Baltimore.
This year, I’ve made a schedule of games that I’m planning on attending.
The breakdown looks like this:
13 possible games (13)
9 likely to attend (9)
11 attended in 2009 (11)
18 possible games (30)
11 likely (20)
17 attended in 2009 (28)
24 possible games (54)
19 likely games (39)
17 attended in 2009 (45)
21 possible games (75)
19 likely games (58)
4 games attended in 2009 (49)
25 possible games (100)
20 likely games (78)
20 games attended in 2009 (69)
15 possible games (115)
13 likely games (91)
12 games attended in 2009 (81)
I’ve included my 2009 games attended for perspective. It looks like I’ll likely get off to a slow start in April and May, but should start putting up big numbers come June.
2) Snag career ball #1,000
I’d like to get ball number 1,000 in 2010. Ball #422 of 2010 will be the one thousandth of my career. Considering that I snagged 412 in 2009, I think that snagging 422 is feasible. When will it happen? I’ll offer a Nostradamus like prediction of Saturday September 11, 2010 in Cleveland, and it will be a Target Field commemorative ball from the Minnesota Twins.
3) Snag 500 balls in 2010
Lots of IFs involved in this resolution. If I attend 90 games, I’d need to average 5.56 balls per game, almost a full half ball per game above my 2009 average. There’s only been one other ballhawk to achieve this plateau, and that’s Zack Hample (twice).
4) Snag at least one game home run ball
I should be able to snag at least one home run ball if I make a concerted effort to stay through the games in home run territory. Especially at Cleveland in their Toyota Home Run Porch that is a standing room only area in left field.
1) Continue to work out every day
I started this mid way though 2009, and plan to keep it as part of my routine. I may have to do it in the mornings during the summer if I’m going to stay at any of these baseball games.
2) Rep 300 lbs on the bench press (5 sets of 10 reps)
Since I lift alone, I don’t focus on ‘maxing-out’ since I don’t have a spotter. I focus on lifting a weight that is manageable to bench press. If I can do 5 sets of 10 reps with 300 lbs, I’ll be very happy.
3) Be more frugal with my money at baseball games / on baseball trips.
Remember that last game of the season in Cincinnati? Yeah, I spent $100 for that front row seat behind the Pirates dugout. My goal this year is to keep the expenses way down. In fact, I’m thinking about adding a $ spent stat to each game and tallying up how much money I spent on baseball during the 2010 regular season.
What are two things that I love? Baseball and the Dave Matthews Band.
I just got word that Dave Matthews Band is likely to play PNC Park on July 10th, 2010. This would break from recent tradition of playing their Pittsburgh Area shows at the Post Gazette Pavilion in Burgettstown.
The last time DMB played a stadium show in Pittsburgh it was at Three Rivers Stadium in July of 2000. I was there, and it was my first DMB show. Rather fitting that 10 years later, almost to the day, they would return and deliver another stadium concert.
It’s not uncommon for DMB to play stadiums, as in the past few years they’ve held concerts at such venues such as Fenway Park and Busch Stadium.
This will not be one of those cheap 70 minute concerts that follow a Pirates game.
No, this will be an actual full length concert that has nothing to do with a promotion to get fans to come to a baseball game to see a free concert and fireworks.
The question is now, will Pirates season ticket holders be able to purchase tickets before the general public?
A year ago I made a few resolutions.
They were the following:
1) Snag 300 balls during the 2009 regular season.
2) Walk to work every day.
3) Completely stop drinking soda pop.
4) Lose some weight.
I’m glad to report, that after an entire year, I’ve kept three out of four of my new year’s resolutions.
Let’s start with #1.
Coming off a 2008 season where I had snagged 128 balls, I was pretty certain that if I applied myself a little better, that I’d be able to snag 300 balls in 2009. All I had to do was be more agile and get into better position to snag balls. I also had planned on attending more games outside of Pittsburgh, whereas in 2008 I only attended one game outside of PNC Park.
By the end of June, I had already snagged 216 balls, and was well on my way to a 300 season. I snagged #300 with an eleven ball day on August 20th in Nationals Park in Washington DC.
Resolution #2 failed after three months.
I live within a five minute walk to work. I braved cold and snow throughout much of January, February and March and made the short brisk walk. Some where along the way I got tired of it and completely stopped.
Resolution #3 and #4 were the big resolutions that pretty much altered my entire life.
I completely gave up drinking all soda pop and replaced it with only water (and on rare occasions lemonade). To lose weight, I stopped eating cafeteria food at work and began eating Lean Cuisine meals at home during my lunch hour.
The results were pretty apparent after just a few weeks. This was motivation enough for me to continue these resolutions.
For the first part of 2009, I simply replaced soda pop with water, replaced my two pop tart + mountain dew breakfast with a granola bar and water, and ate lean cuisine for lunch.
I also bought a scale and weighed myself every week for motivational purposes.
Results at the end of each month:
Jan 1 = 287 lbs
Feb 1 = 280 lbs
Mar 1 = 269 lbs
Apr 1 = 264 lbs
May 1 = 262 lbs
Jun 1 = 255 lbs
Around mid June or so I began to add exercise to my routine. I began running and lifting weights on a daily basis. At first I started with a one mile run, which has now been increased to three miles. I alternate the weight lifting and running so they are on opposite days. Since I started I’ve added 90 pounds to my bench press and have increased my workouts to three hours every other day.
If you go back and read through all of my entries, I often left most games around 6pm starting in mid June. This exercise routine would be why.
Results since exercise was added:
Jul 1 = 240 lbs
Aug 1 = 232 lbs
Sept 1 = 226 lbs
Oct 1 = 211 lbs
Nov 1 = 208 lbs
Dec 1 = 205 lbs
Dec 29th, 2009 (today)= 204 lbs
As you can see, I’ve lost 83 pounds in 2009.
I have been constantly replacing my wardrobe. All of my XXL baseball shirts that I wore for visiting teams throughout 2009 have been replaced with size L. I’ve lost nine inches off of my waist line, and I still need to get some new shorts for the 2009 season.
What can I do to top my 2009 year in 2010? I’ll have to lay out some resolutions in the next few days, maybe I’ll blog about it.
For now, I’ll end this entry with some pictures of me as I dropped the pounds.
This weekend, the Pirates invited their season ticket holders to PNC Park for a special shopping event. The Pirates home clubhouse would be transformed into a storefront, with jerseys, bats, etc being sold.
The Pirates had decked the exterior of PNC park with Christmas decorations.
They were all authenticated, from various “historic” games, such as balls from Brian Bixler’s first major league hit game, and balls from Nate McLouth’s 19th game of his hitting street.
y were $20 a piece. The only balls I were interested in were ones with the special opening day stamp on them. I wasn’t going to pay $20 or $25 though, so I just moved on.
I eventually made my way to the batting practice hats.
They were reasonably priced at $15. Since my batting practice cap that I had worn throughout the 2009 season was well worn, I decided to get a new one to welcome the 2010 season. The design is slightly different from the old version with the red above the ears being replaced with black. The Pirates introduced the new BP caps at the beginning of 2009, but I held off on buying one since I had just got a BP hat at the end of the 2008 season (thanks to Ian Snell).
Having seen pretty much everything there was to see, I left after purchasing the hat. I made not make it back into Pittsburgh until April 5th, unless there is another season ticket holder event.
Later that night Pittsburgh was struck by the northermost edge of the blizzard of 2009. It made my every-other-night 3 mile run rather trecherous.
The next morning, there was five inches of snow , making my last minute Christmas shopping commute equally trecherous.
When I attended my final game of the 2009 season at Great American ballpark, I had thought that it would be the last time I would step inside of that ballpark for a long time. The gates didn’t open until 5:40, which was beyond frustrating, especially after driving all the way from Pittsburgh. I was planning to turn my road game attention to the Nationals and Orioles.
I was bored the other day, so I started looking around the various MLB sites at the perks that other teams give their season ticket holders.
When I was looking at the Reds’ benefits, this stood out to me:
That’s right, the Reds will be having an early entrance gate for season ticket holders only. It will be just like at PNC Park. Its basically like having the whole park to yourself for 30 minutes.
During the 2009 season, the Reds finished 27th in attendance, just ahead of the Pirates who were 28th. I can assume that the season ticket time will be about just as crowded as it is in Pittsburgh, which is to say, it won’t be.
I started to do some research. I looked exclusively at the Baker’s Dozen plan, which is a pack of 13 games. Its the smallest plan one can buy and still enjoy the benefits of being a season ticket holder.
I zeroed in on the Saturday plan:
Does this mean that the Nationals too will have 30 minutes for only season ticket holders, or is this just a special gate that opens so that the season ticket holders won’t have to wait in a line at 4:30 when the gates open?
Any advice would be appreciated.
The 2009 season was my breakout year as a ballhawk. I started to be more aggressive in asking for balls from players, and chasing down batting practice home runs. In 2008, I was more or less a stationary ballhawk.
My 2008 stats can be found HERE.
On to the 2009 statistical breakdown:
- 81 games attended (including ten without batting practice)
- 6 stadiums 412 balls
- 5.09 balls per game
- Most balls at one game: 14
- Fewest balls at one game: 1
- 9 games with at least 10 balls
- 1 game ball (Laynce Nix foul ball)
BALLS BY MONTH:
April — 50
May — 88
June — 86
July — 14 (what?)
August — 99
September — 68
October — 7
BALLS BY SOURCE:
Thrown — 126
Hit — 168
Glove trick/Device — 69
Found (aka “Easter eggs”) — 49
BALLS BY PORTION OF THE DAY:
Batting practice/pregame– 390
During games (including thrown balls) — 18
After games — 4
BALLS BY STADIUM:
PNC Park — 286
Progressive Field — 85
Great American Ballpark — 15
Camden Yards — 13
Nationals Park — 11
Citizens Bank Park — 2
- 59 Games Attended
- 286 Balls
- 4.85 Balls per Game
- 20 Hit (2.03 per game)102 Thrown (1.73 per game)
- 42 Device (0.72 per game)
- 22 Found (0.37 per game)
- Game High = 14 balls (shares record with Nick Pelescak)
- 13 Games Attended
- 85 Balls
- 6.54 Balls per Game
- 26 Hit (2.00 per game)
- 15 Thrown (1.15 per game)
- 21 Device (1.62 per game)
- 23 Found (1.77 per game)
- Game High = 12 Balls
GREAT AMERICAN BALLPARK:
- 3 games attended
- 15 balls
- 5.0 balls per game
- 9 Hit (3.00 per game)
- 4 Thrown (1.33 per game)
- 0 Device (0.00 per game)
- 2 Found (0.67 per game)
- Game High = 7 Balls
- 4 games attended
- 13 balls
- 3.25 balls per game
- 8 Hit (2.00 per game)
- 3 Thrown (0.75 per game)
- 1 Device (0.25 per game)
- 1 Found (0.25 per game)
- Game High = 6 Balls
- 1 Games Attended
- 11 Balls
- 11.0 Balls per Game
- 4 Hit
- 2 Thrown
- 5 Device
- 0 Found
- Game High = 11 Balls
CITIZENS BANK PARK:
- 1 Game Attended
- 2 Balls
- 2.0 balls per game
- 1 Hit
- 0 Thrown
- 0 Device
- 1 Found
- Game High = 2 Balls
STADIUMS OUTSIDE OF PITTSBURGH:
- 22 games attended
- 126 balls
- 5.73 balls per game
- Most balls in one season season: 412
- Most balls in one season outside of Pittsburgh: 126
- Most balls at one game: 14
- Most balls at home stadium in one season (PNC Park): 286
- Most games in one season with 10 or more balls: 9
- Most batted balls caught in one game: 12 (6/13/09)
- Most thrown/toss up balls caught in one game: 9 (4/21/09)
- Most device balls from one game: 7 (8/11/09)
500th Ball of career (Shane Victorino HR)
- Snagging first career foul ball off the bat of Laynce Nix
- Playing catch with the Dodgers’ Ramon Troncoso for several minutes
- 578 balls
- 2 game balls
- 131 balls outside of Pittsburgh
- 6 major league stadiums with at least one ball
- 96 consecutive game streak (active) with at least one ball
- 156 games attended
- 3.71 balls per game lifetime average
Anyone care for a graph?
Here’s a chart tracking my struggle to maintain a 5.00 balls per game ratio. I ended at 5.09 with a strong September, despite floundering in the 4.70-4.80 range for most of the summer.
Tossing out the two stadiums (Citizens and Nationals) where I only attended one game,
my best stadium was Progressive Field, where I averaged 6.54 balls per game. Its a safe bet that I’ll be attending more than 13 games there in 2010.
My worst stadium was Camden Yards, where I averaged a meager 3.25 balls per game in 4 games, despite having early entrance tickets. I’ll try and focus more on Nationals Park in 2010 if planning a trip to the Baltimore/DC area.
At PNC Park, my home stadium, I put up a 4.85 average, which is respectable considering there were 8 non BP days included in the 59 games I attended there. I began to stay away though when batting practice was threatened, so as not to jeopardize my streak.
That streak now stands at 96 consecutive games with at least one ball.
The streak almost ended on NINE different occasions. Check out the entries from (click the date below):
September 6th, and
On each occasion I snagged only one ball.
On the other side of the coin, there were NINE different games where I snagged at least TEN baseballs. Comi
ng into 2009, my one game record stood at 7.
I’ll use these stats to come up with my 2010 goals. I’ll post an entry on that topic as we get a little closer to Spring Training.
The Pirates are giving away 30 prizes throughout a span of 30 days to season ticket holders that have paid in full.
I got a call from Adam Vizzini, my season ticket representative the other day. He was calling to let me know that I had won one of those prizes.
I was hoping to win a trip somewhere. The Pirates had trips to Florida (Spring Training), Chicago, and Anaheim among the thirty prizes. There was also other amazing things such as winning a pool table, $500 in gift cards, two round trip airfare tickets, and so on and so forth.
So, what did I win?
Its not exactly the most glamorous prize. I could’ve gotten stuck with a Pirate Parrot appearance, a game used baseball signed by the Pirates starting pitcher, a meet and greet with a Skyblast band, or Kids Take the Field (all spots). I would consider those worse than what I won.
I’m not sure when I’ll get to have this lunch, as I work until 3PM everyday during the week, but it should happen sometime this summer.
Good luck to the other season holders that are also in this drawing.