January 2012

Ballhawk Spring Training?

Opening Day is just around the corner.  Tomorrow we’ll flip our calendar to February and be just two months away from the glorious month of April, which brings about warmer weather, longer days and most importantly baseball.

Some of you that read this blog are ballhawks.  Others of you are simply baseball fans.  What do you do in the offseason to stay busy?  For you ballhawks, how do you prepare yourself for the coming season?  Do you glove trick balls from your second story window, while your neighbors stare in bewilderment?  Do you head to the local high school football field and have a friend hit fly balls at you while you’re in the bleachers as track passerbys give you a what-the-hell face?  Do you watch repeats of MLB games on MLBtv all winter?

I don’t do any of that stuff, but I am doing some training.

In 2011, I saw my statistics plummet.  My total balls dropped from 544 in 2010 to 422 in 2011.  I also saw my balls per game drop from 6.18 to 5.41.  More alarmingly my batted balls dropped from 260 in 2010 to 178 in 2011.  I’d like to bounce back in 2012.

I thought that my weight had something to do with the drop off.  (I’ll look more into those stats soon in a future entry.)  In 2010 I weighed 196 lbs and  was very lean, ripped and muscular, from hours and hours at the gym.

I pretty much stopped working out at the end of the 2010 season and began gaining weight.  In June 2011 I weighed around 230.  When I went to a high school graduation, I couldn’t even fit into my suit pants.

On July 1 last year, I started lifting weights again.  However, I kept gaining weight. On January 1, 2012 I weighed 250 lbs.  A lot of it is muscle, but there’s fat too.

I started to worry that if I didn’t reverse the trend that I would end up around 300 lbs again, like on January 1 2009:

And I did not want that.

So for the past two months I’ve been hitting the gym hard core.  I lift every other day, and run on the days opposite my lifting days.  I’m up to running 4 miles every other day in an effort to get in shape for the ballhawking season.

The running is pretty monotonous, but sometimes there’s something good on.

Since December 1st, I’ve been to the gym 60 of the last 62 days, including 37 consecutive days since Christmas.   I’ve lost 8 pounds in the month of January, so that’s good.  I’d like to be down to about 225-230 by the time opening day rolls around.  I only stay for about an hour because the rest of my time I’d like to spend at home with this cutie:

and this hottie:
(Amy pic)

So what have you diehard baseball fans been up to this offseason?  Are you getting ready to the upcoming season?

Let me know to enter this contest, and remember, only 65 more days until Opening Day.

#countingbaseballs Giveaway Contest 1

As you may have noticed, for over a week or so now, I have been blogging every day.  The purpose was to increase my readership during the offseason as we head towards opening day, get myself back into the habit of blogging, and count down the days one blog at a time.

In order to reward you for reading, I’ve decided to give away a MLB prize each week.  Every Monday, I will post a contest for new item.  Then, a winner will be chosen on Sunday, a week later.

So let’s begin by showing you what is being given away in the #countingbaseballs giveaway for this week.  It’s…

A Matt Wieters Baltimore Orioles name and number official Majestic shirt.  Retail value $22.  Brand new.  With tags.

The front:

Up close front:

The back:

Brand new from the store:

Since I’m extra nice, the winner may choose a size MEDIUM or LARGE.  If you’re on the bigger side, I’m sorry – I’ll try and have larger shirts in the future.  But you could always re-gift if you win.  Anyhow, this shirt is sure to please and Orioles fan, or ballhawk that will see the Orioles at a game in 2012.  Oh, and I’ll even pay the postage.

How to Enter:
1)  Leave a comment.
You can enter up to seven times per week simply by leaving a comment.  Non-pertinent, spam, or inappropriate comments will not be accepted.  If you comment multiple times on the same blog entry, it still counts as one entry.  For example, if you commented on three different blog posts from this week, you’d have three entries.

2)  Retweet (RT) my posts on Twitter
You can find me on twitter under 333greystreet.  Simply retweet my daily posts with a #countingbaseballs  in your RT each day and I’ll count that as an entry.  My blog is connected to my twitter so that I automatically tweet once I post a new entry.  Each day, I’ll search #countingbaseballs to see who’s retweeted me and enter those users into a hat along with the commenters.

At the end of the week on Sunday, I’ll have Olivia, Amy or I will choose a name from a hat and announce the winner.  Maybe we’ll do it on youtube.  The maximum number of entries per week is 14 if you leave comments and retweet.

Anyhow, I thought this would be a cool idea to give away some of my extra MLB Stuff.

I’ll end this post with some thoughts about Matt Wieters.

Where does he rank for you among the best catchers in the American League?  Who is better than him?  Mike Napoli?  Carlos Santana?  Joe Mauer?  Alex Avila?  I’ll rank him at 2nd.  I like Carlos Santana best, but that’s probably because he plays for my second favorite team and I snagged a game HR ball from him in 2009.

Long suffering Pittsburgh Pirates fans are all too familiar with Matt Wieters.  In 2007, the Pirates, led by David Littlefield, passed on Matt Wieters in order to select Daniel Moskos.  Outrage ensued at the Pirates’ cheapness and on June 30th 2007, Bob Walk bobblehead night, fans orchestrated a walk out.  Fans wore green to the game to signify owner Bob Nutting’s greed and then walked out at a pre-determined time.  I was at the game, but I can’t exactly remember when it happened.  The game was virtually a sell out, and although a few thousand people left, it wasn’t too noticeable in the grand scheme of things.

Wieters broke into the league in 2009 and has hit 42 home runs and has been an All Star.  Daniel Moskos finally was promoted to the Major Leagues in 2011 and although he posted a 2.96 ERA in 24 innings.  His H/9 (10.9) and WHIP  (1.56) were high.   In the Minors, he has a career 4.41 ERA, including a 5.46 ERA in 39 games at the AAA level.   So, he really hasn’t proven in the minors that he’ll have a successful big league career yet.

And that catching position, well, the Pirates really REALLY needed Matt Wieters because rather than penciling his name in at catcher every day, over the last three years we’ve had to deal with Wyatt Toregas, Matt Pagnozzi, Eric Fryer, Dusty Brown, Jason Jaramillo, Chris Snyder, Ryan Doumit, Michael McKenry, Erik Kratz and Robinzon Diaz (who we traded Jose Bautista to get!)

God help us Pirates fans.

65 Days until opening day…

One day ballhawking trips from Pittsburgh

I have my 2012 season all planned out, and it looks like I’ll be hitting up five cities that I’ve ballhawked at before.  It looks like best case scenario I’ll make about 12-20 games in Cleveland, six to Baltimore, maybe six-ten in Cincinnati, two in Washington, and two in New York City.  Of course, much of that is subject to change.  I only attended 16 away games total during the 2011 season, down from 28 in 2010 and 22 in 2009.

It’s important to try and keep the costs of these trips to a minimum, which is why many times, I’ll team up with Nick Pelescak to split the cost of the trips.

Take a look at how much one trip costs for one person.  These prices don’t include hotels, because usually when I go, I come back right after BP or the game.  Also, tickets for the game aren’t included, this is strictly a transportation chart:

I calculated the trips at various amounts depending on the gas prices.  Right now, it’s about $3.50 in the local area, but it’s expected to approach and possibly top $4 per gallon during the summer.  Also, the miles in the chart above are round trip.

The easiest way to eliminate hefty transportation costs would be to team up with one or two other ballhawks and split the expenses or take a low cost bus carrier, like Megabus.

I took megabus to Cleveland three different times last year, saving myself about $210 in gas, tolls, and parking.  My total cost for those three trips?  $9.  If you book early enough on megabus, you can get tickets for $1.

Currently, megabus only has one trip to Pittsburgh to Cleveland and one returning trip from Cleveland to Pittsburgh.  Last year there were at least 4 different trips.  I caught a bus around 11:45AM in Pittsburgh and made it to Cleveland at 2:30ish, went to batting practice, and then hopped on a megabus around 8PM and arrived home just before 11pm.

The site currently is only accepting reservations through the end of March.  I typed in Wednesday March 28th to see what routes were available.  The only ticket to Cleveland from Pitt departs at 7AM, arriving in Cleveland at 9:30AM.  The only returning ticket leaves Cleveland at 8:15 PM and arrives in Pittsburgh at 10:55 PM.  This is a real bummer, as I won’t likely take the bus if I have to get up that early and spend all that time waiting around in Cleveland.

So, hopefully I can team up with some fellow ballhawks to make some trips.

Any of you have any tips for keeping costs down?

67 more days until Opening Day…

Ballfields of PA: Dravosburg Ballfield

It’s been quite awhile since I blogged about any baseball fields in my area, but as I am blogging daily leading up to Opening Day, I figured I would continue this series sporadically.  I visited the ballfield in Dravosburg PA back in mid November, and am just getting around to blogging about it now.

When I first looked at the field on google maps, it looked like a good poke could land a ball in the Monongahela River.

However, you’d have to hit one over 400 feet in the air to do that.

The field features a scenic view of the Mansfield Bridge, which connects Dravosburg to McKeesport & Glassport.

Upon entering the field, I noticed a HUGE problem.  Do you see it?

Yeah, huge power lines running right over short stop.

Every hit I had passed through those lines, with a ball hitting a power line once.

Here’s a view of the backstop from the pitcher’s mound:

And here’s big problem #2:

Yes, that’s a waste treatment plant just a few dozen feet from fair territory.  How many foul balls do you think land in there?  A lot I’m guessing.  In fact, I played here once in 2009 with a friend and lost two balls that I fouled off into the sewage vats.

Anyhow, here’s the view looking in from deep left field:

And looked toward center field:

The dimensions of the field were about 300x330x300 from left to right, so it’s not like it should’ve been that challenging to hit a home run.

I took some big hacks

But all of my hits came up just short.  (can you see the ball in the picture below?)

I’m blaming it on the chilly weather, and a brisk wind blowing in from right field.  Also,  the fact that I got a haircut the previous day after 9 months could have mentally sapped my power.  Who knows.

In short, the only good thing about this field is the dimensions.  I would not recommend ever playing here.

Ratings:
Condition:  D
Dimensions: A
Location/Surrounding Area:  D (due to power lines and sewage plant)
Parking/Access: A
OVERALL:  C-

Other fields I’ve blogged about
Riverfront Park, Boston
Wylie Park, Elizabeth
Peterswood Park, Peters Township
Washington Park, Washington PA
Thomas Jefferson High School Field, Jefferson Hills PA
Clairton Resident Park, Clairton PA
West Field (Homestead Grays), Munhall PA
South Fayette
South Allegheny

68 days until Opening Day…

How to sell tickets on Stubhub

I have used the site stubhub to buy tickets in the past.  I’ve bought tickets for far below face value on the site.  Now that I’m a full season ticket holder for three different teams, I can’t attend every game, obviously.

So, I turned to stubhub to sell the tickets because it is the most used internet site to purchase tickets.  I was surprised at how easy it is to sell tickets.

Here’s a walkthrough if you’d like to consider selling your tickets on stubhub.  First, select the game or games you’d like to sell.  It’s really easy if you’re a season ticket holder, you can just check every box.  If you’re only attending several games, then leave those boxes unchecked as you will not want to sell them on stubhub.

The second step is to say if you have the tickets or not.  Since I don’t have my season tickets, I picked a time when I definitely knew I’d have them.

Also on this screen, you will need to type in the quantity of tickets you have, and their location.

Next, is the fun part – pricing your tickets.  Stubhub lets you see the average unsold ticket price along with the average sold ticket price in a box to to the right of the game each game.  It’s awesome.  Having that data is really helpful.

I would suggest listing your tickets competitively, especially is you’re like me and have tickets in the bleachers, where there’s lots of competition in terms of volume of tickets available in the same section on stubhub.

Another cool feature, is ‘See Your Payout.’  You can click it and a little drop down box will tell you exactly how much you’ll be paid after stubhub takes its commission.   You can easily edit the ticket price to get your desired net amount.

There is a lot of competition on stubhub among sellers.  To be competitive during weekday games, I would need to price my tickets for less than $10.  To break even on a ticket in the bleachers, I’d have to sell for $10.59.  But look what tickets go for on the first weekday game of the year:
There’s lots of tickets available for $4-$5.  And, I remember at the end of the year last year, many of those tickets cost less than $1.  I once bought tickets from Stubhub for 25 cents (which was like $5.50 or whatever after fees).  Still, that seller made nothing from those tickets.

That’s why stubhub can be great for buyers.  However, if it were a high demand game, the buyers would pay over face value.

Anyway, after setting prices, stubhub lets you choose if you want to be paid via check or paypal.  After submitting your credit card info so that your address can be verified, a summary screen comes up.  It is a list of every game that you listed along with the price, and your payout (what you’ll receive after fees)

If everything looks great, you just click list tickets and you’re done.

The only other thing that I’ll need to do is when the tickets arrive, I’ll simply need to type in the ticket barcode numbers into stubhub.  Stubhub will then deliver the tickets electronically to the buyer’s email address with the barcode generated on them.  I don’t need to worry about mailing any tickets, or leaving tickets at will call.  It’s great!

Its an easy to use site.  I just thought I’d spread the word.  I wish I would’ve attempted to use stubhub last year.

Only 69 more days until opening day…

Cleveland Indians Season Tickets

In 2010, I bought a 20 game plan to the Cleveland Indians.  It was a pick-a-plan where I was able to choose the games that I wanted to go to.  It was really nice, because I always had my ticket in advance.  In 2011, I didn’t renew, mostly because the Indians have no worthwhile benefits for partial season ticket holders, and also I wasn’t going to make it to many games in Cleveland.  Recently, I’ve compiled my 2012 master schedule, and it appears that I’ll be able to attend somewhere around 20 games in Cleveland.  So I decided to go all in and buy a full 81 game plan.

Yes, I can do math.  I realize that I’m taking on 61 games of tickets that I won’t use.  I plan on using stubhub to get rid of those.  I’ll sell the tickets for games against the Yankees, Red Sox, and Tigers for slightly more than face value and the ones I won’t use against other teams for slightly less than face value.  Hopefully, I’ll be able to get my money back.

Also, the Indians give each full season ticket holder a game day suite with 16 tickets and 3 parking passes – a $2,000 value.  I plan on selling the whole suite or ticket by ticket, and making my money back that I’ve invested.

My season tickets cost $1458, so if my plans work out, I’ll make that money back on those 61 games and break even.  That way it’ll be like I’m getting those 20 games for free.

By the way, I bought 2 season tickets in the bleacher section.

Anyhow, I’m pretty excited.  Progressive Field is in my opinion, the best field for ballhawking.  My statistics back that up.

I average the most balls per game at Progressive.  Low crowds, a 4:30 gate opening time, and a vast expanse of seats for the crowd to thin out across makes Progressive Field my ballhawking paradise.  The only thing that would make it better would be for the Indians to allow season ticket holders only in at 4:30, and everyone else at 5:00.  I’m working on getting them to consider that…

I also bought full season tickets to another club.  You’ll just have to stay tuned to my daily postings to find out which one.

70 more days until Opening Day…

 

The Competition on Mygameballs.com

For the past three years, the top three ballhawks in terms of balls snagged have remained fairly constant.  Zack Hample, Erik Jabs and Nick Pelescak have been at or near the top each year.  In 2009, the year ended with Hample first, Jabs second, and Pelescak fourth.  In 2010, Jabs finished first, Pelescak second, and Hample third.  This past year, Hample finished first, Jabs second, and Pelescak third.

However, with the hobby of ballhawking growing, ballhawks have become more serious.  Many are making multiple road trips to different cities to increase their games attended and thereby inflate their balls snagged total.  It is quite possible that a new ballhawk challenges for the top spot, or the top 3.  Let’s take a look at the candidates (not named Hample, Jabs, or Pelescak)  that could challenge for a top 3 spot (in no particular order):

Garrett Meyer (garrett37):

2011: 324, 4th place in 2011.  Career: 437
Garrett snagged 324 balls in 2011 and put pressure on Nick Pelescak throughout the season for third place before slightly fading in September.  Garrett has a the daunting task of snaggingbaseballs in Kansas City, which features the latest opening time in the major leagues.  Although KC allows paying customers in early for a BP tour, they confine all fans behind the dugouts.  If Garrett plans some lengthy road trips during the summer to ballhawk friendly parks while KC is out of town, he could be a major contender.

 
Rocco Sinisi:

2011:  273, 7th place in 2011. Career: 369
Rocco ballhawks regularly in Cincinnati, and despite his age, he has emerged as Great American Ballpark’s top ballhawk.  Rocco has an advantage of utilizing a BP tour in which he gets earlyentrance into GABP an hour before the general public.  He also finds handfuls of baseballs in the seats that help inflate his overall numbers, and make him a serious contender.  If Rocco continues to improve as a ballhawk, and he has many tricks up his sleeve, a 300+ season is probable.  I have seen him in person in Cincinnati, Cleveland and Pittsburgh.  Plus, if I am not mistaken, he is retired, so making it to weekday games even in another city is an option.

 
Dave Stevenson (flavadave10)

2011: 311, 5th place in 2011 Career:  311
Dave emerged as Baltimore’s top ballhawk in terms of balls snagged in2011.  I had the opportunity to see him in action, and although he’s not the top Baltimore ballhawk in terms of snagging hit balls, he does quite well with getting balls tossed to him.  He also has a huge advantage of living in the Baltimore/Washington DC area.  The Nationals and Orioles have an extremely staggered schedule, so when the Orioles are home, the Nationals are on the road and vice versa.  So, Dave could easily attend over 100 games and snag 400-500 balls if he really wanted to dedicate himself.  If he snagged 311 in his rookie season, whoknows what he could do to follow it up?

 
Tim Anderson (gu3)

2011: 235, 8th place in 2011 Career:  323
Tim started off 2011 putting pressure on Nick Pelescak for third place, even passing him up early in the summer but faded as the weekspassed in terms of balls snagged.  He did however garner national attention for snagging nine game home run balls.  The question will be if Anderson strives for total baseballs or game home runs (or both).  Also, since he ballhawks in Baltimore, attending a bunch of extra games in Washington DC is always a possibility.

 
Devin Trone (devoT)

2011:  281, 6th place in 2011.  Career: 421
Devin attended the second most games in 2011 with 88 and has the benefit ofliving in a region where he can attend multiple games.  Since he lives in the Los Angeles area, although Anaheim seems to be his home ballpark, making a short trip to Dodger stadium isn’t out of the possibility.  I also thought I heard that LA is opening 3 hours early for season ticket holders in 2012, which would present Trone numerous opportunities to rack up big numbers.

 
Rick Gold (jqfc)

2011: 224, 9th place in 2011.  Career:  1,241
Gold is yet another Baltimore ballhawk, which presents him with the opportunity to attend many road games by taking a short trip to Washington.  He attended 79 games in 2011, and averaged three per game, so by attending 20 more, he could easily reach a 300+ season.  Gold also seems to pride himself on catching home runs as his main source of balls and doesn’t often seem to call out for balls or use a glove trick- if he starts doing those, then watch out.

 
Ben Weil (piazza)

2011: 214, 10th place in 2011.  Career: 258
Weil attended 84 games in 2011, and snagged 214 balls, an average of 2.55.  He lives in New York, so he has to deal with tough crowds, but could be poised to improve.  He also has the advantage of having piles and piles of jerseys at his residence for each team.

 
Alex Kopp (akopp1)

2011: 168, 14th place in 2011.  Career: 214
Alex Kopp is, in my opinion, likely to have a breakout season in 2012.  Despite placing in 14th place in 2011, he averaged 5.60 balls per game, which was second place among all ballhawks attending at least 30 games.  I met him in Washington DC once over the summer and he snagged at least a dozen balls.  If Kopp attends say, 80 games, he could easily end up in the 400-500 ball range.

 
Ben Huff (bhuff)

2011: 172, 13th place in 2011.  Career: 239
I was in Baltimore for a few games this summer and Huff stood out to me as the most athletic ballhawk.  He seemed to have the best range and catch the most batted balls of the regulars there.  However, he faded throughout the season and eventually dropped out of the top 10 on mygameballs.  Again, he has a huge advantage, as do the other Baltimore ballhawks of living near Washington DC.  If him and another friend team up to take road trips, his totals could be off the charts.

 
Mateo Fischer (fischerm)

2011: 161, 15th place in 2011.  Career:  222
Fischer earned some recognition as a runner up for junior ballhawk of the year.  For only being 17, he is a well-traveled ballhawk, often attending a good deal of road games.  However, he will be limited by his age, as he will have school to deal with – thereby making it tough for him to attend weekday games during the school year.

 
Zac Weiss (wewill1992)

2011: 137, 16th place in 2011.  Career: 205
Weiss was PNC Park’s most improved ballhawk in 2011, and was the only regular to improve upon their 2010 season.  (All other PNC ballhawks suffered a drop off of about a ball per game in their average.)  Weiss’ game consists mostly of using conversation to get balls tossed to him, and using his blazing speed to locate Easter eggs.  Weiss really needs to improve upon his hit ball snagging ability to become a major contender.  He’s spending this offseason bulking up and honing his baseball skills to become a serious threat to the other ballhawks of PNC.  He’s probably also one of the most prepared ballhawks, usually arriving first at the gate and preparing with a lengthy warm routine and throwing.  With a goal of 206 baseballs in 2012, he’s not going to be in the top three, but could break into the top 10 on mygameballs, thereby giving him All-Star ballhawking status.

This list features many ballhawks who have yet to really establish themselves, as only one, Rick Gold, has over 500 baseballs.  There are a handful of ballhawks who didn’t actively compete in 2011 because they either took some time away from ballhawking or simply decided not to update their stats on mygameballs.com.  A list of top 2012 contenders is incomplete without mentioning Happy Youngster (1,143 career balls), Shawn Bosman (1,112), or Greg Barasch (1,099).

Good luck in 2012 everybody.

71 more days to opening day…
(and 71 more entries?!)

Gate Time Change? Please?

Recently, PNC Park held a training sessions for all of their employees.  All employees are required to attend this training to make sure that they are aware of the facility’s rules and regulations.  I was there this weekend.

Since I don’t work there, I waited outside.

Most of the information that my source told me was presented to the staff was stuff that I already knew.  The session is more of a review for current staff and is more helpful for new employees of the park.  However, you can’t work without completing your ‘Grand Slam’ training.

There isn’t much new to report.  For you fitness enthusiasts, you can now ride your bike to the park and take your helmet in with you.  Motorcycle helmets are not allowed.  Also, you fans can bring in as much water as they please as long as its sealed and fits into a 16x16x8 container.

I was hoping to get some new information about a possible adjustment to the gate times.  Fellow ballhawk Zac Weiss wrote a formal letter to the head of operations of PNC Park in September that several ballhawks and season ticket holders signed which asked the Pirates to consider opening the Center Field Gate at 4:30 rather than 5 PM.  This would allow the fans to actually watch the Pirates take batting practice and enjoy watching their home team shag fly balls, hit homeruns, etc.

Typically, the Pirates portion of batting practice ends at around 5:03 PM.  There has been much documentation about this on my blog, Nick Pelescak’s blog and Zac’s blog.  If you kept up with us throughout the 2011 season, you saw us a lot of the time complaining about the early end time for batting practice.

Early entrance to PNC Park is a perk.  It’s the ultimate perk for me.  Without it, I can definitely say that I would not be a season ticket holder.  Season Ticket holders should be rewarded and treated great to keep them returning year after year.  I admit, we are treated well in Pittsburgh, but I think that this one minor tweak would make PNC Park’s season ticket benefits the best in the country.

There are many other stadiums that open early for season ticket holders such as Cincinnati, Baltimore, New York Mets, San Diego, Detroit, Texas, etc.  There are some stadiums such as Cleveland, Washington and Atlanta that open at 4:30 to all fans.

The Pirates definitely have room for improvement in terms of season ticket sales.  They are making some strides, but this simple perk would accelerate that process.

From the Pirates perspective, they may not want to open at 4:30 because they would have to pay staff an extra half hour of pay each day.  Really though, they’d only need to pay one or two security guards to stand in left field, the ticket scanner, and the ticket supervisor the extra money.

If they wanted to, they could even have a season ticket holder only gate that opens at 4:30.  They would just need to open the Stargell statue or left field gate to season ticket holders.  Only season ticket holders with cards could have their tickets scanned to let them into left field.  Currently, we have our tickets scanned twice.  The first scan is to get into the stadium, and then another scan by the bullpen to let us into left field.  By creating a season ticket holder only gate, it would eliminate the need for that extra security guard to stand by the bullpen for a half hour.

Anyhow, Zac Weiss informed me through his contacts that the topic of opening the gates earlier for season ticket holders was being discussed at a meeting this month.

By the way, to finish off this entry, I’d like to share Zac’s letter to the Pittsburgh Pirates that got the discussion started on whether or not to open the gates at 4:30:

From the desk of Zachary M. Weiss
August 18, 2011

Dear Pittsburgh Pirates organization:

I write to you today to make a very simple request, please fix PNC Park. You brag about being the ‘best ballpark in America’ but in order to achieve this status you need to treat those fans that have been loyal for all of these years with some more respect; the season ticket holders.

 There is a reason why us season ticket holders pay for our tickets, some of which are quite expensive and that is to watch the team, however, we also love meeting the players and getting to know them. Every weekday, the gates open at precisely 5 O’clock and this is a problem. By the time us season ticket holders get into left field to watch the team hit, they are off the players. We are lucky to even see our team hit for three minutes, and it is a shame.

It is my belief that opening the gates at 4:30 on weekdays and Saturday games is very reasonable. It would allow for season ticket holders to experience an almost entire batting practice. This allows for people such as myself to try and catch baseballs, others to get that elusive autograph and for children to meet role models and perhaps even heroes. Us season ticket holders are a family, and these 81 home games are all we have together because of various things going on in our lives…

In the end, we all want the Pirates to succeed; we are all season ticket holders and furthermore fans of the team. We all just want our experiences to be more enjoyable each game and to make new memories that we can tell our co-workers, friends and families about. The more word spreads, the more excitement will build over the Pirates and even more business for the team. Think about it, the choice is yours.

Sincerely, Zachary Weiss

72 more days until opening day…

#11 on 2011 Top 100 Blogs List

Recently, mlblogs released the top 100 blogs of 2011.  The rankings were based on the total number of visitors throughout the year.

I finished the year #11 on the list, which is pretty respectable.  I would’ve liked to crack the top 10, but now I have something to shoot for in 2012.  My blog does fairly well during the baseball season, for example, in April I was #3 for the month, May I was #7, June #7, July #5, August #8, and September #10.

The offseason months kill me though as I blog far less, which is in part why I’ve started blogging daily every day from now until opening day.

The complete list for the 2011 calendar year can be found HERE

You’ll find several other PNC Park ballhawks blogs there (Click their pictures to read their blogs).  There is Zac Weiss, who finished #61:

Nick Pelescak, who finished #77:

If you’re a ballhawk and would like to leave your blog link in the comments section, by all means feel free to.  I’m thinking of eventually compiling a master list of ballhawk blogs.

By the way, in case you’re wondering, the #1 blog in terms of view went to Zack Hample (in the yellow):

His blog captivated readers as he went to all 30 stadiums in 2011 and attended almost 140 games.

There are 73 more days until opening day…

Season Ticket Pricing Around Baseball

Continuing with my countdown to Opening Day, there are 74 days left, which gives fans plenty of time to purchase season tickets to their favorite team.  To help you choose, or just to save you from hundreds of clicks across thirty different websites, I’ve compiled all season ticket and benefit information in this single blog entry for you.

I’ve left a link to the benefits of each team after my pricing and benefits description.  Enjoy.

NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST

Atlanta Braves
The Braves have some really affordable tickets for their full season.  Fans can choose any seat in the Upper Box level for $471.  Even better, an Upper Pavilion Season Ticket is only $370.  Outfield seats are $1132 per ticket.  The Braves benefits are well worth it as they offer on field batting practice, including warming up in the pitcher’s mound, shagging fly balls in the outfield, and a behind the scene tour.http://atlanta.braves.mlb.com/atl/ticketing/season_tickets.jsp#tab4

Miami Marlins
The Marlins are christening a new ballpark this year, and have signed lots of high priced free agents to keep expectation high and fans in the seats.  The cheapest season ticket is in the upper deck and costs $810.  Tickets in the outfield cost $1,012.50 for the upper deck sections and $1215 for the lower level.  The benefits offered are very vague.  There’s a short generic list on the webpage that includes 10% off in the team store.

http://miami.marlins.mlb.com/mia/ticketing/season_tickets.jsp

New York Mets
The Mets cheapest season ticket is $972 – to sit way up in the very upper deck of the outfield (left field).  If you wanted to sit in the outfield and catch a home run, those season tickets are $2,341 per seat.  Perhaps some awesome benefits could offset the price?  A look at their webpage shows a 15% off discount in the team store, and an opportunity to exchange tickets.  Additionally, the Mets allow STH early access to Citi Field, but only on Saturdays and Sundays.  If you spend the $972, they’ll also throw in a Citi Field tour.  Meh.

http://newyork.mets.mlb.com/nym/ticketing/season_tickets.jsp

Philadelphia Phillies
The Phillies are a large market team, and their prices reflect it.  The cheapest season ticket costs $1,316 to sit in the nose bleed seats.  Outfield seats are a whopping $2,794 per ticket.  Yikes.    The Phillies are one of the top drawing teams, so they don’t need to offer good benefits to get folks to buy season tickets.  On their benefits page they list a Season Ticket Holder Picnic along with the standard exchange dates that all teams offer.  I’m happy I don’t live on the eastern side of PA.

http://philadelphia.phillies.mlb.com/phi/ticketing/season_benefits.jsp

Washington Nationals
The cheapest season ticket for the Washington Nationals would cost $815 – and that’s to sit in the Upper Outfield Gallery.  If you’d like to sit in left field or right field for your season tickets, well, that would run you $1,630 per seat.  Pricey.  As far as benefits, the Nationals will give a STH a Ticket Holder ID which entitles them to 15% off.  Other perks include Free Spring Training Tickets, an exchange program, complementary tours, and other “events.”  The Nationals do offer fans to take batting practice on the field, but only if you have a fortune invested in the club and you are a Suite Holder.  No one else gets to hit.

http://washington.nationals.mlb.com/was/ticketing/sth/benefits_chart.jsp

NATIONAL LEAGUE CENTRAL

Chicago Cubs
The Cubs aren’t even selling season tickets.  They only offer a season ticket holder waiting list.

Cincinnati Reds
The Cincinnati Reds offer upper deck Kroger Bleacher seats for $632 if you pay before January 13th – afterwards its $672.  Seats in left field cost $1,584 ($1,665 after 1/13) , and a right field season ticket costs $1665 ($1746 after 1/13).  The Reds also have a decent benefits package.  Full season ticket holders get to take batting practice on the field, receive early access to Great American Ballpark (30 minutes, and give away free RedsFest tickets.  The on field batting practice almost makes spending $672 worth it alone.  I was a Reds partial season ticket holder in 2010 with a 13 game plan.  I thought that getting into GABP 30 minutes early would be a huge advantage, but it really isn’t, because the Reds allow tour groups in even before the season ticket holders, so there was always a bunch of people in there when I ran in.

http://cincinnati.reds.mlb.com/cin/ticketing/season.jsp?loc=incentives

Houston Astros
The Astros were the worst team in baseball last year, losing 106 games.  Surely they’d have affordable tickets?  Not really.  The cheapest ticket way up in View Deck II is $1,079.  If you’d like to sit in those infamous Crawford Boxes and catch shallow fly balls, I mean home runs, it’ll be $3,071.  Right field is a bit more affordable at $2,241.  OK, so the Astros ticketing prices aren’t that great for a terrible team.  Their benefits are alright though.  They give away a Free Group outing of 20 tickets to each season ticket holder, as long as you attend the game in April or May.  Each season ticket account also gets 2 free Spring Training tickets.   As for their events, season ticket holders can watch batting practice early before the regular gates open on selected dates and they get their own Season Ticket Holder gate.  Other perks are an MVP card that gives the holder 15% off and a few other standard perks.

http://houston.astros.mlb.com/hou/ticketing/season_benefits.jsp

Milwaukee Brewers
The Brewers are taking deposits on full season plans, and only have the pricing per game available.  Their cheapest ticket is $12 per game for an already existing season ticket holder, which comes out to $972.  To sit in the outfield, you’d have to buy a loge bleacher ticket, which would run you $1377.  However, if you’re a new season ticket holder, you’d have to pay $1539.  Welcome aboard!  Pay a $162 tax for joining!  The Brewers drew over 3 million fans in 2011, so they really don’t need to concern themselves with awesome benefits.  They give fans the opportunity to order additional tickets before the public, flexible exchange options, and the chance to buy playoff tickets.  That’s about it.

http://mlb.mlb.com/mil/ticketing/sth/benefits.jsp

Pittsburgh Pirates
The Pirates have one of the most affordable season ticket plans.  Their cheapest season ticket costs $399.  Left field bleacher seats only cost $699 per seat.  Center and right field seats are $1,053.  In addition to being affordable, the Pirates have lots of great benefits such as: Early entrance to PNC Park on Monday-Saturday, Taking Batting Practice on the field, play catch on the field, take batting practice in the PNC Park batting cages, Piratefest tickets, a Food and Beverage credit ($50), 15% off at the clubhouse store, and 2 Club tickets (more tickets if you have more than one season ticket.  The Pirates great prices and benefits make me feel lucky that the Pirates are my home team despite their miserable play on the field.

http://pittsburgh.pirates.mlb.com/pit/ticketing/sth/benefits_2012.jsp

St Louis Cardinals
It’s almost February, and the Cardinals are still taking deposits.  Click on the seating and pricing option, and there is no pricing information available.  Get with it Cardinals.
The Cardinals benefits are extremely generic and bland.  Season ticket holders get an ID card to give them a discount at the team store, and that’s about it.http://stlouis.cardinals.mlb.com/stl/ticketing/season.jsp#benefits

 

NATIONAL LEAGUE WEST
Arizona Diamondbacks
The Diamondbacks offer an upper deck seat for $498.  Their left and right field seats are all priced at the same rate, $996, not bad for a defending Division Champion.  The Diamondbacks have the best benefit of all, opening the gates early for season ticket holders on Monday through Saturday games.

http://arizona.diamondbacks.mlb.com/ari/ticketing/season_tickets_benefits_new.jsp

Colorado Rockies
The Rockies benefits are generic and pale in comparison with some other teams, so let’s get right to the pricing.  The Rockies cheapest season ticket is $640 in the upper deck.  Left Field Pavilion seats are $1,120 and right field box seats are $1280.

http://colorado.rockies.mlb.com/col/ticketing/season.jsp

 

Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers have been going through some tough financial times recently, so widening their season ticket base would definitely be beneficial to them.  For the first year in 2012, season ticket holders will be allowed into Dodger Stadium early to watch batting practice.  I’ve heard that it will be a full hour before the rest of the gates open.  Additionally, fans get to play catch after some games on the field.  When I looked at their season ticket prices, I was struck by how affordable they are.  Seats in the top deck are $405.  Left field pavilion seats are only $729 – the same as the Cleveland Indians and almost as cheap as the Pirates.  Right Field is $1215.

http://losangeles.dodgers.mlb.com/la/ticketing/season.jsp

San Diego Padres
The Padres website has said check back soon for 2012 Ticket Prices for over a month.  Seems to me that their ticket staff is just lazy.  For a team that finished in last place in their division in 2011, they should get motivated and provide some interesting and affordable ticket options.  I’m not sure what a ‘let’s wait until a couple weeks before opening day to unveil our 2012 ticket prices’ will do in terms of brining in new customers.  No joke – the Pirates had all of their 2012 ticket prices out and were recruiting 2012 season ticket holders in AUGUST last year.  The Padres benefits listed were still for 2011.  Their unused season ticket exchange program is terrible, with only 5 exchange dates.  Although nothing is listed here, I do believe that they allow season ticket holders early entrance to Petco Park.

http://sandiego.padres.mlb.com/sd/ticketing/sth/full_season_benefits.jsp

San Francisco Giants
The Giants are completely sold out of left field season tickets ($1750) and Arcade (Right Field, $2500) season tickets.  The cheapest ticket available was a $1775 upper deck season ticket, although there is a $1000 ticket that is sold out.  The Giants offer some perks such as 20% off, and invitation to special events, but after looking at every team’s benefits, they all start to look the same.

http://sanfrancisco.giants.mlb.com/sf/ticketing/sth/benefits.jsp

AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST
Baltimore Orioles
The Orioles call Camden Yards their home, considered one of the better ballparks in baseball to watch a game.  Season ticket holders get early access into the entire seating bowl of Camden Yards, whereas non season ticket holders are confined to right field for the first half hour.  Also, the Orioles give away free Spring Training tickets along with free minor league tickets and ballpark tours.  Additionally, season ticket holders get Free Admission to Area Museums.  The cheapest season ticket at Camden Yards is $988 on their website, with left field being $2025 and right field being $1215.

http://baltimore.orioles.mlb.com/bal/ticketing/season.jsp#orange_carpet

Boston Red Sox
There aren’t even any season ticket links on the Red Sox website, so…

New York Yankees
After looking through dozens of seating categories, the Yankees cheapest season ticket is $1620, and it is Grandstand level seating in the upper deck.  The season ticket map is ridiculous with lots of different pricing for yellow sections, so I can’t really tell how much an outfield season ticket would be, but it looks like it’d be $5670.  By the way, the Yankees benefits are extremely generic.

http://newyork.yankees.mlb.com/nyy/ticketing/season_tickets.jsp#benefits

Tampa Bay Rays
The cheapest Rays ticket costs $930 for an upper deck seat.   That seems pricey for a team that struggles to draw fans despite being in contention consistently the past couple years.   An outfield seat costs $1506.  For individual games  a confusing 4 tier pricing approach is used, so it’s better to buy a season ticket.  For example, a seat in the upper deck could cost $9, $12, $17, or $19, depending on the opponent.   Their benefit lists the opportunity to enter through a season ticket holder gate, but says nothing about early entrance to batting practice.  I’m thinking it might be like Washington, where there’s a special gate for STH, but everyone still gets in at the same time.   Not much here, no wonder no one goes to their games, despite a great team.

http://tampabay.rays.mlb.com/tb/ticketing/sth/benefits.jsp

Toronto Blue Jays
The Blue Jays are offering season ticket holders the benefit of entering the stadium early to watch batting practice from a designated Season Ticket Holder Area (it better be in the outfield somewhere).  It sounds like it could be a deal where you just stand on the field though.   The cheapest Blue Jays ticket is $635 Canadian.  ($616 US) Outfield seats for $1907 Canadian. ($1861 US)

http://toronto.bluejays.mlb.com/tor/ticketing/season_tickets_benefits.jsp#tab1

AMERICAN LEAGUE CENTRAL
Chicago White Sox
The White Sox cheapest season ticket is $974, and it looks like the cost is $2270 to sit out in the outfield bleachers.  The White Sox benefits are vague and generic and list season ticket holder gifts and events as one of their top benefits.

http://chicago.whitesox.mlb.com/cws/ticketing/ticket_plans.jsp?loc=benefits

Cleveland Indians
The Indians offer some decent benefits, such as a Suite for free (includes 16 tickets) which is a $2000 value.  They also give away a free Terrace Club Membership, and Free Club seats to one game.  Their cheapest ticket is $648 in the upper deck, but you can get a left field bleacher season ticket for just $729.    Right Field and Center Field seats are $1701 per season ticket.

http://cleveland.indians.mlb.com/cle/ticketing/season_tickets/season_benefits.jsp

Detroit Tigers
Detroit was hit hard by the recession, and still hasn’t recovered.  It looks like the Tigers had Skyline season ticket plan for $5 per game which has sold out.  So, the cheapest season ticket a ballhawk can purchase now is in the upper deck and costs $1294.  But get this, for only $5 more, you can buy a bleacher ticket in the outfield for $1279.  Outfield box cost $3317, and RF Grandstand cost $2021, and the Comerica Park was inconclusive as to where these sections are located – its all just one color.
The Tigers have the most important benefit available this year.  From their website:  “Exclusive Season Ticketholder early entry to select games.”  That’s important, because in the past Comerica Park has been a 90 minute stadium – meaning that they open their gates 90 minutes before the first pitch, one of the latest opening times in the majors.   STH also have their own gate.

http://detroit.tigers.mlb.com/det/ticketing/season.jsp?pg=full

Kansas City Royals
The Kansas City Royal host the All Star game in 2012, making their season ticket base grow.   The cheapest season ticket is $648 for seats known as Hy-Vee Outfield.  An Outfield box seat is $1863 per ticket.  They Royals have a long list of benefits, but most of the best ones, such as taking batting practice on the field are for the big spenders.  It’d be nice if they’d open their gates early to season ticket holders, since KC has the latest opening time of any stadium in the majors.   The best benefit of all is getting an All Star Game strip with tickets to the Futures Game, Home Run Derby and the All Star game.

http://kansascity.royals.mlb.com/kc/ticketing/sth/sth_benefits.jsp

Minnesota Twins
Currently the Twins are only taking deposits, but they list their cheapest ticket as $11 in the upper deck.  Seats in the outfield are $22 per seat.  That’s $891 for their cheapest seat, and $1782 for an outfield seat.  The Twins offer some cool benefits such as giveaways throughout the season.  They also let season ticket holders in early on Monday-Thursday to watch batting practice from right field, but it appears that a limited amount of fans that can participate, so you have to be pre-chosen.  Everything seems that way.  Batting in the cages indoors?  Sure, but they only select 18 season ticket holders.  How about take batting practice on the field?  Sure, they offer that too – to 12 season ticket holders.  http://minnesota.twins.mlb.com/min/ticketing/sth/gen/benefits.jsp

AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
The Angels saw their season ticket holder base jump 4,000 in the week after the signings of Albert Pujols and CJ Wilson.  Their season ticket prices are $9.50 for the cheapest seat in the View All Star Upper Deck Area ($769.50 for the season), and $17 for left field ($1377) or $14 per game for right field ($1134).  The Angels benefits are standard and boring.

http://losangeles.angels.mlb.com/ana/ticketing/ssh_benefits.jsp

Oakland Athletics
The Athletics cheapest seat is a bleacher seat which costs $720, that’s also prime home run territory, all the way from right to left field.  The A’s benefits suck.  Buy season tickets and get a pin.  Whoop dee doo.

http://oakland.athletics.mlb.com/oak/ticketing/benefits.jsp

Seattle Mariners
The Mariners cheapest season ticket is $1025 for a left field bleacher ticket.  Not bad.  Its the upper bleachers in left field though.  If you want to sit in center or right field, well that’ll be $1754.  The Mariners offer nothing to get excited about benefits wise.  Nothing stands out here.

http://seattle.mariners.mlb.com/sea/ticketing/sth_info/benefits.jsp

Texas Rangers
The Rangers have a season ticket plan for only $334 in the upper deck (Grandstand reserved).  Now THAT’S a bargain!  The Rangers have also been known to have a season ticket holder gate that opens early and lets season ticket holders in before the public, although they don’t advertise it on their benefits page.

http://texas.rangers.mlb.com/tex/ticketing/full_season.jsp#benefits

 

74 more days!

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