August 2011

8-20-11 Charlottesville VA

Amy, Olivia and I went to Charlottesville VA over the weekend, as it was my last weekend of my summer vacation.  The original plan was for Amy and I to attend the Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds concert and come back early the next morning, but we couldn’t secure a babysitter, so Amy and Olivia stayed in the hotel while I went to the concert.  Amy insisted that I go, even though I told her I wanted to sell the tickets if she wasn’t going to be coming.

It was my 50th Dave Matthews show.  I have seen the band perform 48 times, and Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds play acoustically twice.

As soon as I arrived in Charlottesville something was missing.

My other half.

It sucks to attend a concert by yourself.

Amy and I had spent a weekend in Charlottesville about 10 months and 30 pounds ago (before I started religiously hitting the gym to bulk up rather than lose weight)

In fact, in the background is the very pavilion that I would be at today.

I arrived about an hour before the gates were to open and listened to the soundcheck and took a picture of a monument that everyone writes on in chalk.

As for the concert, I was on the lawn – at the very front.  It was the first time in 50 shows that I ever actually watched a concert from the lawn.  I usually like to be down close.  However, since this venue was so tiny, there weren’t a lot of tickets available.  (The couple in front of me in line paid $580 for two lawn tickets).

This was my view.

I had my Song Bloggie with me, which really underperformed and took a lot of crappy blurry pictures.  The best picture was taken on my old Iphone 3G:

As for the concert itself, I would rank it in the bottom 3rd of all of the shows I’ve seen in terms of setlist.  I was expecting some surprises, but there were none.  It doesn’t help that I attended one of the best Dave and Tim shows of all time at Appalachian State University in Boone NC on 3.29.03.

The highlight of the night was hearing a new song that I’d never heard before, called Sweet.  It was the 159th different song I’d seen Dave play live.  Here’s a video of that which I filmed:

I also filmed some of the song Crush, which was the first song that Amy and I ever danced to:

Anyhow, the next morning, all three of us went back to Charlottesville, stopping at the spot where Amy and I watched the sunrise back in November

so Olivia could see the Blue Ridge Mountains for the first time.

Once we got to downtown Charlottesville, the place was like a ghost town.

Most of the stores were closed since it was a Sunday, so there wasn’t a lot of activity.  We posed at the bar where Dave Matthews got his start and met the musicians that he’d ask to form a band which would become know as the Dave Matthews Band:

And ate at Five Guys restaurant at 11:45 AM (and were the only customers there the entire time):

Then we made our way to the pavilion where the concert took place last night.  It was eerily deserted:

So I made my way up on stage with Olivia.

We also stopped to make our marks at the monument:

And then made our way home.  Amy had a great idea to stop and get our picture taken at the state welcome signs, but we ended up only stopping at the West Virginia one because I was in a hurry to get home.

That concert will be my only one of the summer.  The last time I only attended one Dave concert in a year…  2000.

Wash out

This was the scene at 4PM at PNC Park today on this beautiful Friday.

Think there was batting practice?  Obviously not.  But how brave is that dude that crosses the street half way through in his work clothes.  Really.

I left at 5PM and didn’t even attempt to enter the stadium to get baseballs.  Nick Pelescak also left, and only Zac Weiss had the determination to go gut out a non-bp day, but he is sticking to his goal of snagging 128 balls this year.  The rain out hurts my newest goal of snagging 413 balls in 2011 (which would be my second best single season mark).  Also suffering is Nick’s goal to remain in 3rd place on mygameballs.

Everything has gone wrong this year at PNC Park.  I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if there is no batting practice tomorrow.  I will be taking the rest of the homestand off.

I may make one appearance on Tuesday, as Zack Hample will be in town, and the PNC Park single game record of 16 will be on the line.

As for the game, I saw that Joel Hanrahan blew an 8-8 game by giving up 3 runs in the ninth.  If we have to lose, at least its the anti-ballhawk Joel Hanrahan getting the loss.  Pack your bags bum, your season has been in steady decline, and take your disciple Chris Reslop, I mean Resop, with you.

New Bat

I was in Dick’s Sporting Good yesterday, and saw that they had all of their bats on sale for 75% OFF.

Wow.
I hadn’t had a new bat since I was 14 years old.  Its still the bat I used all the time up until yesterday.  It’s a 34 inch 30 ounce bat, back when -4 was legal.

I decided to buy a 33 inch 30 ounce bat.

It cost $370.  However, Dick’s had lowered the price to $270.  And, after the 75% off it was only $67.50.  And, I bought it with gift cards from Giant Eagle which is running a promotion, so I got 46 cents off my next fill up (of 30 gallons) which is worth $13.80 – so really I paid… $53.70 for a $370 bat.

I went next door to the baseball field to test it out.

Amy and Olivia came and watched.  I went all oppo (right field) in my first round and cleared the fence of the other baseball field at least 10 times.  (You can see the balls start to collect up on the hill out there if you really pay attention.)

The second round I hit to left field.

The complex is three little league fields put together, so the dimensions at the field I was hitting at are probably about 380 feet to left and 330 feet to right field, or something along those lines.  My ultimate goal is to hit that building beyond the left field fence on the fly, but its over 400 feet away, so I have to keep hitting the gym and bulking up.

Anyhow, after 40 swings, we went home.

I need to work on getting my bat speed back after not hitting baseballs since May.  Season ticket holder on-field batting practice is coming up and I’d like to have a shot at hitting one out.  Hopefully I’ll be able to find some time to face some live pitching in the next few weeks.

8-17-11 PNC Park

What a frustrating batting practice.

I started the day on fire, snagging three balls in one minute.

The first was a ground rule double that Nick Pelescak had tip off his glove.  He deflected it into the air, and I caught it about two rows behind him.

Moments later, Steve Pearce hit a home run that landed in the wheelchair seats and settled right up against the railing.  I scaled over the bleachers and reached in and grabbed it barehanded for ball #2.

My third ball was a Steve Pearce home run that I got to a second before Nick here.

After that, I had a terrible batting practice of my life.  The Pirates left the field at 5:02, and I didn’t snag anything else the rest of the day.  I would’ve had a fourth ball, but as I was in the process of glove tricking it, this ****** used his broom to knock it out of my glove and tried to ‘roll it up the wall.’

It’s impossible to roll a ball up the wall anyway because there’s a six inch indentation under the padding.  A minute later, Jaime Garcia came over and picked up the ball and threw it back in.

To make matters worse, he was painted with Joel Hanrahan’s #52.  Dude, wear a shirt – or go to the gym.

Statistics:
Game: 3 balls (3 hit)
Season: 349 balls (145 hit, 73 thrown, 83 device, 48 found)
Games: 66 games
Career: 1,471 balls
Attendance: 22,296

8-16-11 PNC Park

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.
PNC Park
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 I did enter, I managed to catch a Michael McKenry home run on the fly here.

Moments later, at 5:03, the Pirates were done with batting practice and running off the field.

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.

While over there, I decided to look around a little more and found ball #4 behind the Pirates dugout

and ball #5 nearby.

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:

Statistics:
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
Attendance: 20,943

8-12-11 Progressive Field

In my original schedule of games that I planned on attending, I had penned in five consecutive games in Cleveland this week, Tuesday through Saturday.  However, with a new baby and new house, I was only able to make one game.  I chose Friday, simply because the Twins have a bevy of left handed hitters, and the rest of the stadium opens at 5:30, thereby thinning out the crowd in right field a half hour earlier than during the week.

I had some issues on the way to Cleveland, as my car overheated (see the gauge up at the H?) and I had to stop and get coolant at a WalMart.

Therefore, I wasn’t first in line, I was ninth.  To make matters worse, at 4:30, when the gates were to open – the supervisor realized that he didn’t have the scanners for the tickets.  This caused a seven minute delay, meaning I would miss most of the Indians first, and best hitting group.

When the gates did open, the nine people in front of me (five of which had gloves) dilly-dallied getting batting practice T-Shirts – which are given away to the first 100 fans each day.  This provided me an opportunity to run around them and be the first one to enter the seating area.

I immediately found two balls in the front row in right field.  The first of which had a BP stamp on it.

While standing in line I overheard an Indians fan talking about the BP stamped balls and saying that they could be turned in for gift cards or something.  After BP was over, I found THIS article with information about the BP balls, but it was pretty vague, so I’m still wondering what to do when the green stamped balls.  Any help?  Anyone?

There were a few people running around looking for baseballs, so I ran over to Heritage Park with another ballhawk on my tail and spotted ball #3 within reach just under the wall that separates the Heritage Park monuments from the trees.  I reached in and grabbed it without having time to snap a picture.

I returned to the seats to play for home run balls, but not for long, as Travis Hafner blasted one into the trees in Heritage Park.  I ran back over and used the Cleveland stick to snag that one.

When the first group wrapped things up around 4:45, I checked the bullpens for baseballs and noticed a real easy one in the visitors bullpen.  I glove tricked that ball for ball #5,

and a few minutes later got Chris Perez to toss me ball #6 in center field.

I had only been there about twenty minutes to that point and had already snagged six baseballs.  My goal coming into the game was nine, which would’ve given me 250 career balls at Progressive Field, but things slowed way down after that.

The Indians BP sucked the rest of the way, and the Twins had only really one decent group.  It was their second group, which featured Justin Morneau, Jim Thome, and Jason Kubel.  Those guys wore out the two sections closest to the visitors bullpen with baseballs.

Unfortunately, I was only able to snag one on the fly – a clean catch of a Thome home run for ball #7.  I had a lot of close calls, so I headed over to left field for the last group, but failed to snag anything.

I also tried the dugout after batting practice, but all of the balls that were tossed into the crowds went to kids.

So, I went home – and a two hour and 15 minute trip ended up taking about three and a half?  Why?  Well, because my car overheated three times.

It’s not supposed to look like that under the hood:

Coolant was spraying out somewhere, and I have an obvious radiator problem.  The third time I stopped I basically broke down, as my car started clunking and smoking.

After letting it sit for awhile and adding more coolant and water to the radiator, I was able to make it home, but just barely.

I have an appointment to take my car into the shop on Monday, which means that I won’t be able to make batting practice unless I can get a ride.  So, are there any other ballhawks that would be interested in giving me a ride to/from batting practice?  I’ll pay you.  $20.  That’s like a half tank of gas.  Otherwise, plan B would be to bike 14 miles to PNC Park, which no doubt would suck.  Plan C would be to take a bus, but the closest bus stop is a half hour walk away, and I’ve never, ever taken a public bus before.

Anyhow, here are today’s baseballs:

Statistics:
Game: 7 balls (1 hit, 1 thrown, 2 device, 3 found)
Season: 339 balls (141 hit, 73 thrown, 80 device, 45 found)
Games: 64 games
Career: 1,461 balls
Attendance: 31,364

8-7-11 PNC Park

I managed to make it to the final game of the homestand – a Sunday game which followed a night game.  I actually wasn’t even planning on staying – I had some extra tickets to sell, but of course I took my glove with me just in case.  Much to my surprise, when I arrived at 10:55 AM, the Pirates were on the field taking batting practice.  Also, the gates were to open at 11 AM, and I was the first one in line, despite my late arrival.  I guess most of the fans slept in after the late ending of the Train concert last night.

I had heard that manager Clint Hurdle cancelled batting practice on Saturday, despite perfect weather in an attempt to break the Pirates out of their losing streak.  That obviously didn’t work, as the Pirates flailed away at the plate on Saturday and mustered little offense.

So, on Sunday, he took the opposite approach and elected for BP.

Since the seating bowl doesn’t open until 11:30AM, all fans are confined to the riverwalk outfield concourse.  I watched batting practice from behind section 141 in hopes that Pedro Alvarez or Garrett Jones would hit one over the seats and onto the concourse.

It didn’t happen, and my several requests to Andrew McCutchen were met with eye rolls.  At first I thought, ‘wow, what’s your problem, its not like you have to sign autographs.’  I later found out that he had been benched for today’s game for being picked off the night before.

Around 11:08, there were already four easter eggs in the left field seats, and I was keeping an eye on all of them, noting the ones that weren’t picked up by the devious ushers.  Then, I noticed several fans rush into the left field bleachers and pick them up.  ‘Stupid guests,’ I thought, thinking that they had received early access guest passes from the Pirates front office.  I then noticed a steady trickle of fans, and the left field bleachers began to fill up.

I ditched my spot, and headed for left field.  The gates by the bullpen were wide open, and they weren’t supposed to be until 11:30 AM.

It worked out well, as I caught a home run on the fly in section 134.  It was a catch on the run, outstretched and back handed.

Then five minutes later, several security guards started yelling at everyone that they had to leave because someone wasn’t at their post, and we weren’t supposed to be there until 11:30.  It was about 11:18, so I was hoping that we could all just stay for 12 minutes, but it wasn’t to be.

They herded all the fans up like cattle, and slowly pushed us out.  You can see the security guard in the white shirt with yellow sleeves in the picture below.

At 11:30, I ran into foul territory and found ball #2 along the third base line.

I continued around the field and ended up in foul territory along the right field foul line, where I found ball #3.

While there I decided just to stay, as some of the Padres started trickling out.

Coach Jeff Bannister tossed me ball #4 in the right field corner.

And then I inconspicuously changed into my Padres gear.

The Padres pitchers started warming up, and there were only two fans along the right field line.  Me, decked in full Padres gear, and a random Pirate fan.  It seemed a no brainer that I would snag at least one more ball.

It happened as Tim Stauffer finished up his throws and tossed me ball #5.

Moments later, Ernesto Frieri tossed me ball #6.

And I snagged ball #7 when Josh Spence threw a wild pitch that his catching partner couldn’t scoop and ended up in the seats.  I offered the ball back, but they let me keep it.

At noon, all other gates to the stadium opened, and I tried my luck in left field, since the Padres are so heavily right handed, but it was so crowded that I could barely even move.

The Padres hit until 12:20, and as soon as they finished, I went home to be with my family.

Today’s seven baseballs:

Statistics:
Game: 7 balls (1 hit, 4 thrown, 2 found)
Season: 332 balls (140 hit, 72 thrown, 78 device, 42 found)
Games: 63 games
Career: 1,454 balls
Attendance: 35,601

Olivia

I haven’t posted anything in over a week – for good reason.  Amy and I welcomed our daughter into the world – and it was truly amazing – the best day of my life.

Olivia is a perfect little healthy baby – and she has red hair!  When I was about one year old I had red hair, but it lightened to blonde.  My grandpap had red hair as well.    It was a pleasant surprise.

Here’s a few pictures:
10 minutes old:

Sleeping in her daddy’s arms the next morning:

A few days later, at home:

Sleeping in her Daddy’s arms again.

Because of the birth of our daughter, I didn’t attend the Pirates games on Wednesday and Thursday.  We were in the hospital all day on those days, so once Friday came, I went home to get a shower and get a few things, as we wouldn’t be discharged until Saturday evening (I’d skip that game as well).

So, since I was going back to Pittsburgh to our house, I stopped by PNC Park for one hour and attended batting practice.  I got three balls.  The first was thrown by Alex Presley, then I glove tricked two balls and that was it.

I’ve been spending most of my time relaxing at home with Amy and our baby.  However, the field next to my house keeps its lights on after dark, so I get to play baseball every day now.  I’ve just been taking some swings and hitting balls, and collecting them, but still – its like my field of dreams.

Statistics
Game: 3 balls (1 thrown, 2 device)
Season: 325 balls (139 hit, 68 thrown, 78 device, 40 found)
Games: 62 games
Career: 1,447 balls

Best Day Ever

I’m going to be a father within the next 24 hours. I won’t be updating the blog for awhile but will take to Twitter for the first time ever. Follow me there. 333greystreet is the user name.

8-1-11 and 8-2-11 Pnc Park

I do not have the Internet yet as I have just moved into a new house and haven’t had comcast get me set up yet despite trying for 3 days. Anyhow, here’s a rundown of the last two days posted via my iPhone.

On August 1st:
#1 was a home run that landed a few rows behind me that I was able to grab.
#2 was a clean catch of a Cub homer in the 4th row in left.
#3 was glove tricked as was #4. I gave my fourth ball away to a young boy with a glove in the front row.
#5 was a clean snag in the second row in left field.

As for Tuesday August 2nd I only snagged one ball and it was glove tricked.

Statistics
2 games: 6 balls (3 hit, 3 device)
Season: 322 balls (139 hit, 67 thrown, 76 device, 40 found)
Games: 61 games
Career: 1,444 balls

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