February 2012

Philadelphia Phillies Shirt Giveaway

This week’s giveaway is a Philadelphia Phillies T-Shirt.  It is the fourth in a series of weekly giveaways leading up to opening day.  I’ve been posting everyday (30 consecutive so far) leading up to opening day, and giving stuff away to thank my readers.

To date,
I’ve given away a Matt Wieters shirt to Joey Orr,
a Brandon Phillips shirt to Matt Jackson,
and a Dustin Pedroia shirt to Stephen D.

The shirt(s) I’m giving away this week are…

A Ryan Howard Nike shirt.

This shirt not only is very colorful, but also is the perfect shirt to wear when sitting near the Phillies dugout.  Ryan Howard will probably end up with the third out ball in about half of the innings.  Simply stand up in this shirt and raise your glove.  He’ll see the shirt and have to hook you up.

I’m also giving away this Philadelphia Phillies shirt:

It features the ‘classic print’ design, which is one of my favorite Majestic shirts designs.

Or, how about a Roy Halladay shirt?

That’s right, it says Doc-tober, and I think you can figure out why.

How about a clever Hunter Pence shirt?

Get it?  Pence-ylvania… Pennsylvania.

The winner of this weeks entry gets their choice of any of those four shirts.  I can get you pretty much any size you want, as the local sports store has many different sizes in stock.

I post blog entries every day.  All you have to do is leave a comment or retweet my blog link on twitter.

So, again,  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.  If you’d comment three times on the same blog posting, it would could as one.

2)  Retweet (RT) my posts on Twitter
You can find me on twitter under 333greystreet.  Simply retweet my daily posts of my blog link 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 who’s retweeted me and enter those users into a hat along with the commenters.  By the way, you do not need to retweet my every tweet, only the tweets that announce a new blog post and url.  For example, if I tweeted, ‘Rerun of the Pirates Opening Day 2011 on tonight,’ if you retweeted it, it wouldn’t count as an entry.

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.

Also, I’ve decided to giveaway more shirts this week based on the performance of my blog.  For each day that my blog gets over 1,000 views, I’ll choose another Phillies shirt winner at the end of this week.  So, I could possibly be giving away seven Phillies shirts this week.

Why spend $25 in a store or $15 on ebay when you can get them for free here?

Since my blog began in 2008, I’ve had four days that I’ve had over 1,000 views, with my busiest day coming back in April 2011 when I had 11,441 views.

That’s because of THIS VIDEO that I shot.

So far this month, I’ve had a few days where I’ve been between 600-700 views, but haven’t been able to break that elusive 1,000 barrier in a day yet this year.

Maybe all of the Phillies fans out there will change that.  Maybe a Phillies player will tweet this giveaway to Phillies fans and make me honor my offer and give away a bunch of shirts.  I hope so.

Anyhow, my question is, in an NL East consisting of the Phillies, Braves, Marlins, Nationals, and Mets, where do you think the Phillies will finish?

If you have them finishing first?  How far do you think they go in the playoffs?  If they’re not winning their division, who is?

I think the Phillies are too good of a team to not win the division.  The Marlins and Nationals are much improved and will be major players this year, so I don’t think the Phillies will win 102 games again this year, but they’ll be in the mid 90′s and well on their way to another shot at the World Series.

There’s only 45 days until opening day, and 12 days the first broadcasted game on MLB TV (Yankees vs Phillies).

Dustin Pedroia Jersey Shirt Winner

The winner of the Dustin Pedroia shirt as been announced!

Watch the video to see who won!

Congratulations!

Previous giveaways were for this Brandon Phillips shirt which was won by Matt Jackson.    The first winner of this Matt Wieters shirt was  Joey Orr.

I’ll have near gear to give away tomorrow.  I think I’ve narrowed down to a National League team since this past week was an AL giveaway.

46 days until opening day, 13 days the first broadcasted game on MLB TV (Yankees vs Phillies).

Finally! Pitchers & Catchers report to Spring Training

If you’re a true baseball fan, then you get excited each winter when you hear the phrase ‘pitchers & catchers.’  It signifies the end of a long off season and the beginning of a new baseball season.

Today, pitchers and catchers from the Orioles, Twins, Athletics, Cubs, Reds, Phillies, Pirates, Cardinals and Giants reported to spring training.  In addition to the pitchers and catchers, often times position players will show up as well to get some early work in and shake off the rust from the winter months.

I love Spring Training.  I’ve gone to Florida for Spring Training for five years in a row, starting in 2007.   The winters in Pennsylvania are often very gloomy, so heading down to Spring Training really brightens my mood.  I’m not in Florida right now, but I did find some pictures to cheer you baseball fans up from the winter doldrums.

Baseball is back!

New Pirates first baseman Casey McGehee hasn’t played much first in his career, but is already practicing the position in Spring Training:

Pedro Alvarez has been a bust so far in his young major league career.  He’s still young, and the third base job is his to lose.  If he does lose it, McGehee will move to 3B.  Here’s Pedro working on his fielding:

New Pirates pitcher Erik Bedard delivers a pitch while pitching coach Ray Searage does his best not to distract him by not saying anything:

Neil Walker does some soft tossing with Pedro Alvarez:

In the Phillies camp, Roy Halladay pulled into Spring Training in a car from about a hundred years ago:

And Jonathan Papelbon did some long tossing.

The Reds pitchers did some light stretching and for me, might just be the favorites to win the NL Central:

In Giants camp, jerseys for Tim Lincecum, Brian Wilson, and Matt Cain are ready to go for the first day of workouts:

And Matt Cain addressed the media:

The defending World Series champion St Louis Cardinals reported to camp and new manager Mike Matheny fielded a bevy of questions from the media:

While their pitchers worked out on a practice field:

And Yadier Molina showed up to camp with a brand new tattoo.  I guess he’s not counting on winning the world series in 2012, because I don’t see place to fit ’2012′ on that trophy anywhere.

The hapless Cubs were ready to go as Theo Epstein and Dale Sveum held a media session.  The Cubs have so many problems with bad contracts.  Will these guys be able to save this sinking ship?

And Bryan LaHair signed autographs for a young fan at Fitch Park:

The Oakland Athletics had some buzz in camp as news swirled that they may sign ex-slugger and major distraction Manny Ramirez.  In the meantime, the jerseys were hung with care in the clubhouse:

And Tommy Milone warmed up on the A’s spring training field.

The Twins will try and rebound off of a horrific season in which they lost 99 games.  Carl Pavano lounged in the clubhouse and explained exactly how they would turn things around:

And finally, the Orioles reported to their spring training home to try and figure out how to perform better this year than the Yankees, Red Sox and Rays.

Is anyone else excited for the 2012 season?

47 days until opening day, 14 days the first broadcasted game on MLB TV (Yankees vs Phillies), and 1 day left to win this Dustin Pedroia T-Shirt.

Pirates/Yankees AJ Burnett Trade

Earlier today, the Pittsburgh Pirates acquired AJ Burnett from the New York Yankees for $13 million in cash and low level prospects Diego Moreno and Exicardo Cayones.  The Yankees will also cover the other $20 million that is owed to Burnett over the final two years of his current contract.

AJ’s best years may be behind him, but I like the move.  It was a good trade for both the Yankees and the Pirates.  There is no loser in this deal.  The trade allows the Yankees to go out and sign a DH with the money the Pirates are sending in the deal – likely Raul Ibanez, Johnny Damon, or Eric Chavez.  The Pirates deepen a rotation that flopped in the second half of the season last year.

The move gives the Pirates six legitimate starting pitchers in their rotation.

Here’s the Pirates rotation candidates along with their 2011 stats:
Charlie Morton 3.83 ERA, 29 GS, 171 IP, 110 K
James McDonald 4.21 ERA, 31 GS, 171 IP, 142 K
Jeff Karstens 3.38 ERA, 26 GS, 162 IP, 96 K
Kevin Correia 4.79 ERA, 26 GS, 154 IP, 77 K
Erik Bedard  3.62 ERA, 24 GS, 129 IP, 125 K
AJ Burnett 5.15 ERA, 32 GS, 190 IP, 173

So, who comes out of the rotation?  Charlie Morton may not be ready for opening day, as he is coming off of a hip injury.  Assuming he is ready, I think that Kevin Correia is the odd man out.  Correia was a surprising All Star for the Pirates in 2011, but his season drastically changed when he was awarded a spot on the All Star team.  In the first half, he was 11-7 with a 4.01 ERA, a WHIP of 1.28 and a opponents avg/slug of .270/.414.  In the second half, he was 1-4 with a 7.23 ERA, a WHIP of 1.74 and an opponents avg/slug of .338/.597.  He was shut down at the end of August with a strained oblique.  Because of Correia’s contract, I think he would probably fill the role of a long man in the bullpen and be the go to guy if a starter went down.

Will AJ Burnett be successful in Pittsburgh?  I think he will be.  First, he will be out of the spotlight and will be able to focus on pitching.  He also will be close to his home, a mansion in Monkton MD, which is 4.5 hours from Pittsburgh.

AJ chose Pittsburgh in part because of its proximity to his home – he even nixed a trade that would’ve sent him to the playoff likely Angels for Bobby Abreu because he didn’t want to play 100 games on the West Coast.

Secondly, AJ will face a much weaker offense division than in the AL East.  I looked into AJ’s career stats against the current players of each team in the NL Central:
Brewers vs AJ:  .252 BA, .325 OBP, .324 SLG, 1 HR, 111 AB
Cardinals vs AJ: .263 BA, .365 OBP, .343 SLG, 2 HR, 99 AB
Cubs vs AJ: .160 BA, .263 OBP, .230 SLG, 2 HR, 100 AB
Astros vs AJ: .375 BA, .474 OBP, .438 SLG, 0 HR, 16 AB
Reds vs AJ: .192 BA, .261 OBP, .269 SLG, 0 HR, 78 AB

Those are impressive stats.  Too bad Jason Michaels has owned AJ Burnett, or the Astros stats would be lower.  Since the Astros will be playing with minor league caliber players in 2012, I’m not too worried about how he fares against them.

Thirdly, AJ will pitch half of his games in PNC Park, which typically surrenders home runs at a pace near the bottom of baseball.  One reason is because of the Pirates offense, but another is that its a rather large field.

So, what did the Pirates give up?  Besides the cash, not much.  There’s Diego Moreno, a pitcher who throws 98 MPH, but was suspended from the Pirates minor league team for unprofessional conduct for making out with a fan during a game in the bullpen.

His career line in 5 minor league seasons is 11-9, 2.41 ERA, 116 G, 194 IP, 212 K.  When left unprotected in the Rule 5 draft, he went ignored by the other 29 teams in the MLB.

The other prospect is Exicardo Cayones, who is basically a reincarnation of Rafael Belliard, except he plays the outfield.  He has no power whatsoever.

His career line in 3 minor league seasons is .272 avg, .372 obp, .380 slg, 1 HR in 558 plate appearances.  He would be more valuable if he were fast since he seems to be able to get on base, but he only has 14 career steals in 28 attempts in the minors.

Kudos to Neal Huntington for not giving in to the Yankees original request of AJ Burnett for Garrett Jones.

Great trade.

What’s everyone else think of this deal?

48 days until opening day, 1 day until pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training, and 2 days left to win this Dustin Pedroia T-Shirt.

2012 AL East Predictions

Opening Day is fast approaching, spring training camps are set to open any day now, and many teams have begun selling individual game tickets.  Fans all around the country are getting ready for baseball season and offering their opinions on how their team is going to do.  I’ve decided to do the same.  Rather than do a team-by-team break down, I’ll offer my predictions by division.

I’ve also included 2012 Predicted statistics from the 2012 Major League Baseball Yearbook and Fantasy Guide

I’ll start with the American League East.

In 2011, the Yankees took the division, while the Rays capitalized on the Red Sox epic collapse to earn second place and a wild card spot.  Toronto played decent ball in baseball’s toughest division, finishing with as many wins as losses, and Baltimore brought up the rear of the division.

So, here’s my picks:

1st place:  New York Yankees (My projection 96-66)
The Yankees made a major move during the offseason, acquiring Michael Pineda from the Mariners to shore up their rotation.  Their rotation is anchored by CC Sabathia, who along with Ivan Nova, Phil Hughes, Freddy Garcia, and Pineda, should be about average.

The Yankees have a great offense.  C Russell Martin is not much of an offensive threat, but the Yankees have Mark Teixeria, Robinson Cano, Alex Rodriguez, Curtis Granderson, and Nick Swisher to provide the firepower – all of who have 25+ home run potential.  It will be interesting to see how Derek Jeter does as he enters his age 38 season.  Might this be his last as a starting shortstop before age necessitates a position switch to the outfield or DH?  Speaking of Jeter, will he still hit leadoff, or will Girardi put speedster Brett Gardner there?

Of course, the Yankees have a weapon that no other team has in Mariano Rivera, the best closer in Major League Baseball history.

Here’s the Yankees 2012 Statistical Projections (AVG-HR-RBI):
C Russell Martin .242-15-59
1B Mark Teixeira .253-36-108
2B Robinson Cano .308-28-114
3B Alex Rodriguez .271-26-101
SS Derek Jeter .297-8-65
LF Brett Gardner .261-6-37
CF Curtis Granderson .258-35-103
RF Nick Swisher .268-23-84

SP CC Sabathia 21-8, 3.12 ERA, 231 IP, 213 K
SP Hideki Kuroda 15-12, 3.49 ERA, 211.1 IP, 171 K
SP Ivan Nova 14-7, 4.10 ERA, 167 IP, 101 K
SP Freddy Garcia 12-7, 4.13 ERA, 153 IP, 96 K
SP Phil Hughes 13-9, 4.60 ERA, 172 IP, 134K
SP Michael Pineda 13-12, 3.96 ERA, 200 IP, 203 K
RP Mariano Rivera 1.78 ERA, 61 IP, 57 K, 40 Saves
RP David Robertson 2.19 ERA, 66 IP, 98 K, 2 Saves

2nd Place: Tampa Bay Rays (My prediction 90-72)
I kept going back and forth between the Rays and Red Sox for my second place pick.  I ultimately decided that the Rays had a better pitching staff that the Red Sox along with miracle worker Joe Maddon.

The Rays offense isn’t nearly as strong as the Yankees and Red Sox.  They have Evan Longoria, but besides him, there’s not much else that makes me say, ‘wow.’  BJ Upton has been up and down his whole career, but there’s some in the business who think that he could break out in a big way in 2012 – just like Matt Kemp did for the Dodgers last year.

I really like the Rays pitching staff.   All five starters are dependable and should keep the Rays in the game day in and day out.

Here’s the Tampa Bay Rays’ 2012 Statistical Projections:
C Jose Molina .266-8-39
1B Carlos Pena .236-32-93
2B Ben Zobrist .264-18-91
3B Evan Longoria .268-36-91
SS Sean Rodriguez .229-9-51
LF Desmond Jennings .269-15-50
CF BJ Upton .241-20-72
RF Sam Fuld .266-2-23
OF Matt Joyce .270-21-86
DH Luke Scott .249-22-59

SP James Shields 14-13, 3.57 ERA, 227 IP, 226 K
SP David Price 15-11, 3.12 ERA, 219 IP, 216 K
SP Jeremy Hellickson 15-9, 2.92 ERA, 219 IP, 145 K
SP Matt Moore 12-10, 3.99 ERA, 160 IP, 163 K
SP Wade Davis 11-10, 4.09 ERA, 189 IP, 114 K
RP Kyle Farnsworth 2.30 ERA, 23 saves, 55 IP, 51 K
RP Joel Peralta 3.44 ERA, 5 saves, 71 IP, 73 K

3′rd place:  Boston Red Sox (My prediction 87-75)
The Red Sox crashed and burned in 2011, missing the playoffs despite holding a nine game advantage heading into September.  I believe that they will narrowly miss the playoffs again in 2012.  Red Sox nation is excited to have Bobby Valentine at the helm.  A new manager will bring a new voice and hopefully hold all of the players accountable for their actions.  Are the Red Sox players too whiny?  How will they take to Bobby V?  The Red Sox have an offense that rivals that Yankees, but they’re pitching staff isn’t as good.  And my bold predictions are the Kevin Youkilis absolutely tanks this year while Carl Crawford rebounds from a poor 2011.

2012 Red Sox Statistical Projections:
C Jarrod Saltalamacchia .230-18-62
1B Adrian Gonzalez .337-34-136
2B Dustin Pedroia .308-24-101
3B Kevin Youkilis .282-24-99
SS Mike Aviles .275-9-45
LF Carl Crawford .274-13-68
CF Jacoby Ellsbury .316-25-81
RF Ryan Sweeney .272-4-53
DH David Ortiz .292-26-96

SP Jon Lester 16-9, 3.43 ERA, 194 IP, 197 K
SP Josh Beckett 13-9, 3.67 ERA, 191 IP, 176 K
SP Clay Buchholz 13-7, 3.27 ERA, 154 IP, 112K
SP Alfredo Aceves 12-7, 3.72 ERA, 172 IP, 122 K
SP Daniel Bard 4-3, 3.03 ERA, 62.1 IP, 65 K
SP Daisuke Matsuzaka 6-5, 4.89 ERA, 96 IP, 80 K
RP Andrew Bailey 2.52 ERA, 38 SV, 54 IP, 49 K
RP Mark Melancon 3.39 ERA, 4 SV, 72 IP, 67 K

4th Place:  Toronto Blue Jays (My prediction 79-83)
I am the least familiar with the Toronto Blue Jays of the five teams in the AL East.  Their only player that I keep an eye on is Jose Bautista, who for a while was my favorite player on the Pirates. I loved that he was versatile and played infield and outfield for the Buccos.  He used to play center field and toss balls into the stands between innings.  I caught his 10th career home run on the fly.  I’ve loved the guy ever since.  Of course, the Pirates traded him for some bum named Robinzon Diaz, and then he became arguably the best player in the MLB after he left town.

Here’s their 2012 statistical predictions:
C JP Arencibia .223-25-83
1B Adam Lind .246-25-83
2B Kelly Johnson .238-22-59
3B Brett Lawrie .304-13-70
SS Yunel Escobar .298-10-53
LF Eric Thames .257-13-40
CF Colby Rasmus .254-18-62
RF Jose Bautista .284-41-99
DH Edwin Encarnacion .268-21-65

SP Ricky Romero 15-10, 3.30 ERA, 213 IP, 170 K
SP Brandon Morrow 13-12, 4.65 ERA, 201 IP, 230 K
SP Brett Cecil 10-14, 4.08 ERA, 212 IP, 146 K
SP Henderson Alvarez 10-9, 4.13 ERA, 146 IP, 105 K
SP Dustin McGowan 7-8, 4.10 ERA, 123 IP, 102 K
RP Sergio Santos 3.64 ERA, 29 saves, 59 IP, 88 K
RP Casey Janssen 2.78 ERA, 1 save, 58 IP, 53 K

5th Place:  Baltimore Orioles (My prediction: 69-93)
The Baltimore Orioles haven’t had a winning season in years.  Fourteen years to be exact.  They’ve toiled at or near the division for all these years, not able to succeed with the big spending Yankees and Red Sox in their division.  You have to feel bad for them.  I can relate.  My favorite team, the Pirates, haven’t had a winning record in 20 years.  However, I do believe the Pirates have a better chance of a winning season that the Orioles since the Buccos don’t play the Yankees, Rays, and Red Sox 18 times.  That’s tough.  Frustratingly tough.

The Orioles have a few decent players in Matt Wieters, Adam Jones, and Nick Markakis, but not much else.  Their rotation looks dreadful.

2012 Statistical Projections:
C Matt Wieters .280-23-74
1B Mark Reynolds .219-36-85
2B Brian Roberts .260-8-42
3B Josh Bell .260-9-40
3B Wilson Betemit .286-9-44
SS JJ Hardy .266-28-82
LF Nolan Reimold .247-21-72
CF Adam Jones .285-27-83
RF Nick Markakis .286-15-72
DH Chris Davis .273-9-35

SP Jake Arrieta 12-11, 5.05 ERA, 162 IP, 118K
SP Tsuyoshi Wada 11-11, 4.23 ERA, 202 IP, 136 K
SP Zach Britton 11-10, 4.76 ERA, 144 IP, 91 K
SP Brian Matusz 7-15, 5.97 ERA, 146 IP, 118 K
RP Jim Johnson 2.63 ERA, 22 SV, 82 IP 66 K
RP Kevin Gregg 4.25 ERA, 12 SV, 59 IP, 56 K

So, to summarize, I’ve got
Yankees
Rays
Red Sox
Blue Jays
Orioles

How do you think they’ll finish?

Leave a comment.  Thanks to Frank Peavy for pointing out several roster moves that weren’t reflected in this post.  They’ve since been edited.

49 days until opening day, 2 days until pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training, and 3 days left to win this Dustin Pedroia T-Shirt.

Dave Matthews Band 2012 Summer Tour Dates

The Dave Matthews Band released their 2012 Summer Tour Dates today:

5/18/12 Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, The Woodlands TX
5/19/12 Gexa Energy Pavilion, Dallas TX
5/20/12 Gulf Shores Beach, Gulf Shores AL
5/22/12 Aaron’s Amphitheatre at Lakewood, Atlanta GA
5/23/12 Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre Charlotte, Charlotte NC
5/25/12 Comcast Theatre, Hartford CT
5/26/12 Comcast Theatre, Hartford CT
5/28/12 Toyota Pavilion at Montage Mountain, Scranton PA
5/29/12 Riverbend Music Center, Cincinnati OH
6/2/12 The Molson Amphitheatre, Toronto ON
6/3/12 Blossom Music Center, Cuyahoga Falls OH
6/5/12 Comcast Center, Mansfield MA
6/6/12 Comcast Center, Mansfield MA
6/8/12 Saratoga Performing Arts Center, Saratoga Springs NY
6/9/12 Saratoga Performing Arts Center, Saratoga Springs NY
6/12/12 Nikon at Jones Beach Theatre, Wantagh NY
6/13/12 Nikon at Jones Beach Theatre, Wantagh NY
6/16/12 Jiffy Lube Live, Bristow VA
6/17/12 Farm Bureau Live at VA Beach, Virginia Beach VA
6/22/12 Klipsch Music Center, Noblesville IN
6/23/12 Klipsch Music Center, Noblesville IN
6/26/12 Susquehanna Bank Center, Camden NJ
6/27/12 Susquehanna Bank Center, Camden NJ
6/29/12 HersheyPark Stadium, Hershey PA
6/30/12 Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, Bethel PA
7/3/12 Darien Performing Arts Center, Darien Center NY
7/6/12 Alpine Valley Music Theatre, East Troy WI
7/7/12 Alpine Valley Music Theatre, East Troy WI
7/10/12 DTE Energy Music Theatre, Clarkston MI
7/11/12 Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre St Louis, Maryland Heights MO
7/13/12 First Niagra Pavilion, Burgettstown PA
7/14/12 First Niagra Pavilion, Burgettstown PA
7/18/12 1-800-ASK-GARY Amphitheatre, Tampa FL
7/20/12 Cruzan Amphitheatre, West Palm Beach FL
7/21/12 Cruzan Amphitheatre, West Palm Beach FL
8/31/12 The Gorge Amphitheatre, George WA
9/1/12 The Gorge Amphitheatre, George WA
9/2/12 The Gorge Amphitheatre, George WA
9/7/12 Cricket Wireless Amphitheatre, Chula Vista CA
9/8/12 Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre, Irvine CA
9/9/12 Shoreline Amphitheatre, Mountain View CA

In my life, I have attended exactly 50 Dave Matthews Band concerts, yes fifty.  I only saw them once last year in 2011, and that was just an acoustic Dave & Tim show in Charlottesville VA.   I’ve decided that I will attend six concerts in 2012.  I’m likely headed to see DMB at Cuyahoga Falls in after ballhawking a Twins vs Indians afternoon Sunday game.  The game begins at 3:05, so I’ll probably get to stay and watch some of this game before heading south to Cuyahoga Falls for DMB.  It’s only 39 minutes away, and DMB doesn’t take the stage until 8:15, so I’ll have plenty of time to get there.  The last time I was at Cuyahoga Falls was in 2009:

Then, I’ll likely head to see DMB at Starlake, I mean, Post Gazette Pavilion, wait, I mean First Niagara Pavilion in Burgettstown, which is south of Pittsburgh.  Every time I get used to the venue name, they change it.  I’ve seen the most concerts (14) of the fifty there.  The last time I was there, I saw the Mayor, Sean Casey:

He was pretty drunk and kept high fiving me every time he went to the bathroom, but it was pretty cool to have an MLB player right in front of you when you’re not expecting it.  He was really into the concert too.

The icing on the cake will be heading to the Gorge for a second time.  The plane tickets are booked.  While there, I will try and ballhawk one, maybe two games at Safeco Field in Seattle.  The last time I was there was 2010.

It’s probably the most beautiful peaceful place that I’ve been to.

Here’s a video I shot of the amphitheatre when I was there in 2010:

I usually go to lots of Dave Matthews Band concerts every summer, and after taking last summer off, I can’t wait to get back to a few shows.  I love that Dave Matthews Band doesn’t play the same set every night.  You never know when they’re going to pull out a song that they haven’t played in years.

In the fifty shows I’ve been to, I’ve seen 159 different songs played, 929 total songs played, and been to 19 different venues.

I’ll get back to baseball talk tomorrow.

Until then, remember,
50 days until opening day, 3 days until pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training, and 4 days left to win this Dustin Pedroia T-Shirt.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

I’m going to dedicate this entry to my love of baseball.  I love Amy, Olivia and my family most, but I also love baseball.  Here’s what I love about it.  51 reasons.  51 days to opening day.

1.  I love attending a game with Amy and Olivia and snagging baseballs while they watch.
2.  I love turning around after catching a homerun and seeing Amy smiling at me.
3.  I love going to batting practice early before the music is blaring through the stadium and hearing the crack of the bat, the smack of the ball in the glove, and the chatter from the field.
4.  I love the fact that I’ve personally experienced three Pittsburgh Pirates division championships, and will again someday.  When that day happens… Sheer joy!
5.  I love hitting a home run and it barely feels like you hit the ball because you connected so well.
6.  I love watching the ball disappear beyond the fence.
7.  I love when a speedster takes a large lead and makes the pitcher nervous.
8.  I love watching the first game of Spring Training and having the feeling that baseball is back.
9.  I love watching a play at the plate.
10.  I love a 6-4-3 double play when my team turns it.
11.  I love when a manager gets ejected.
12.  I love when the home team is a strike away from winning and the whole crowd is standing, hanging on every pitch.
13.  I love a pennant race.
14.  I love the creative jeers that the bleacher creatures hurl at visiting outfielders.
15.  I love it when the player acknowledges those jeers.
16.  I love a pitcher’s duel.
17.  I love watching a line score at the ballpark when a no hitter is taking place.
18.  I love a diving catch.
19.  I love throwing a perfect knuckleball.
20.  I love scooping a bad throw out of the dirt.
21.  I love watching a prospect’s major league debut.
22.  I love looking at old baseball cards and reminiscing about what life was like when I got that card.
23.  I love finding an easter egg (baseball) hidden in the seats during batting practice.
24.  I love a run down.
25.  I love watching the other team throw a baseball away.
26.  I love watching a pitcher’s pitch count increase well over 100, wondering how much gas they have left in the tank.
27.  I love when the bases are loaded and there’s nobody out.
28.  I love it when the umpires decide to play through a steady rain.
29.  I love going to a road game and experiencing the quirks of a new ballpark for the first time.
30.  I love home run chases among players for the league title.
31.  I love getting my season tickets in the mail and scrutinizing their design.
32.  I love the playoffs and World Series.
33.  I love the All Star game introductions.
34.  I love rivalries.
35.  I love milestones, such as 3,000 hits or 500 home runs.
36.  I love watching great players such as Mariano Rivera pitch or Albert Pujols bat.
37.  I love getting baseballs thrown to me by visiting players after switching my outfit.
38.  I love explaining the game of baseball to folks that are trying to learn more about it.
39.  I love how the game isn’t constrained by time like football, basketball, and hockey.
40.  I love how baseball jargon shows up in everyday conversations, such as, “you threw me a curveball.”
41.  I love how the Baltimore Orioles fans scream “OHHHH” during the national anthem at the “Oh say does that star spangled banner” part.
42.  I love draft day and anticipating who the Pirates are going to pick.
43.  I love when teams take batting practice on Sundays, when I’m not expecting it.
44.  I love when a pitcher breaks 100 mph on the stadium radar gun.
45.  I love it when people leave behind their promotional items after a game and I can get a few extras to sell.
46.  I love the smell of a baseball.
47.  I love competing for baseballs in the stands and also on mygameballs.
48.  I love watching a triple unfold, or a player stretching a single into a double.
49.  I love how the stadium is decked out in red white and blue banners on Opening Day.
50.  I love singing take me out to the ballgame with 35,000 other fans.
51.  I love the same game that I’ve loved since I was a boy, and always will.

What do you love about baseball?

51 days until opening day, 4 days until pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training, and 6 days left to win this Dustin Pedroia T-Shirt.

Dustin Pedroia Jersey Shirt Giveaway

I’ve decided to shift from the NL Central to the AL East for this week’s shirt giveaway.  During the past two weeks, I’ve given away this Brandon Phillips TShirt to Matt Jackson, and this Matt Wieters shirt to Joey Orr.

I’ve decided to give away this Boston Red Sox Dustin Pedroia shirt:

Here’s the back:

Close up of the number:

And $25 tag.

The the way, the winner can choose the shirt in a size SMALL, MEDIUM, LARGE, EXTRA LARGE or 2XL.

I post blog entries every day.  All you have to do is leave a comment or retweet my blog link on twitter.

So, again,  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.  If you’d comment three times on the same blog posting, it would could as one.

2)  Retweet (RT) my posts on Twitter
You can find me on twitter under 333greystreet.  Simply retweet my daily posts of my blog link 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 who’s retweeted me and enter those users into a hat along with the commenters.  By the way, you do not need to retweet my every tweet, only the tweets that announce a new blog post and url.  For example, if I tweeted, ‘Rerun of the Pirates Opening Day 2011 on tonight,’ if you retweeted it, it wouldn’t count as an entry.

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.

So let’s talk a bit about Dustin Pedroia.

Pedroia was the AL Rookie of the Year in 2007 and AL MVP in 2008.  In 2011, he put up similar numbers to that of his MVP campaign, with a career high with 21 HR, 26 steals, and a .307 batting average.  However, overshadowing Pedroia’s successful 2011 was the historic collapse of the Boston Red Sox in September.

The Red Sox had a 9 game lead in September in the wildcard race, and went 7-20 in September to be overtaken by the Tampa Bay Rays.

The Sox have a new manager at the helm, Bobby Valentine, which should help some,  but many of the same players return and questions abound.  Will Jarrod Saltalamacchia hit better than .235?  Can Kevin Youkilis stay healthy?  Will Carl Crawford continue to suck as he looks like a potential huge bust after only hitting .255 with 11 HR.  He’s making 19.5 million this year.  Will age catch up to David Ortiz like it appeared to in ’07-’08? (before Ortiz rebounded to have good seasons the last two years.)  Will members of the starting rotation continue to eat chicken, drink beer, and play videogames while games are going on (let’s hope not).  Can Jacoby Ellsbury repeat his 2011 MVP caliber performance?    How will Clay Buchholz, Alfredo Aceves, and Dice-K fare in the rotation?

It’s a lot of questions, and I don’t think the Red Sox will make the playoffs in 2012.  The Yankees and Rays are, in my opinion, better.  What do you think?

Also, is Dustin Pedroia the best second baseman in the game?  According to the MLB Yearbook and Fantasy Guide that I recently purchased, he’s #1, followed by Ian Kinsler, Robinson Cano, Chase Utley, and Dan Uggla.  Do you agree?  Personally, I think Cano is better – the only thing that Pedroia beats him handily at is stolen bases.

What are your thoughts on the Red Sox and/or Pedroia?

Good luck in this week’s contest.

Hopefully it comes in handy to whoever wins it.  I need a new Red Sox shirt too.  Check out my Manny Ramirez shirt that I used in 2011:
By the way, that’s an excellent pic, as you can see Nick Pelescak’s frustration with the PNC Park crowd.  PNC Park is tough on high attendance games.  There’s 6 rows of bleachers, and everyone packs in.  I only got 4 balls that game, and 7 the next thanks to some luck bounces.

To check out those games, here’s links to
Red Sox PNC Park Game 1
Red Sox PNC Park Game 2

There’s only 52 more days until Opening Day and 5 days until pitchers and catchers report to spring training.

@DatDude BP Brandon Phillips Jersey Shirt Winner

has been chosen!  Watch the video to find out!

The giveaway was for this Brandon Phillips shirt.  This is the second giveaway I’ve done.  I’m posting daily leading up to Opening Day, and giving stuff away each week.  We’ve already given away this Matt Wieters shirt.   Joey Orr ended up winning that giveaway.

Keep reading, commenting, and tweeting!  By the way, if you’re wandering where the baseball I used in the video came from, it came from this game at Great American Ballpark on 10/10/10.

The next giveaway will be tomorrow.  Feel free to drop comments with suggestions about what I should give away.

Congratulations to  Matt – a great ballhawk and former member of the now-disbanded Ballhawk League that I created back in 2009.

There’s only 53 more days until Opening Day and 6 days until pitchers and catchers report to spring training.

Rawlings Glove Restoration

I started playing baseball ‘for real’ when I was nine years old.  I played my first season of little league in the summer of 1990.  When remembering back through my baseball days, I can only ever remember owning four gloves.

My first glove was an all black glove, I can’t exactly recall, but I think it was a Cal Ripken Jr model Rawlings glove.  I loved that glove.  It got lost one summer day when I left it at a baseball field while visiting my grandparents in Connecticut.

In 1993 or so, my dad replaced the glove by buying me a Ryne Sandberg glove.  This is the glove that I still use to this day to do all of my ballhawking with.

I’m assuming the RSE36 you see stands for Ryne Sandberg Edition 36.

In around 1994, I was moved to first base and my dad bought me a Mark McGwire first baseman’s mitt.  The glove was gigantic, and I used it for ballhawking throughout the 2008 season.  I caught 128 balls that year with that glove, almost all exclusively on the fly at batting practices, as I wasn’t a hardcore ballhawk yet.  If it was hit right at me, I’d catch it.  I also caught Jose Bautista’s 10th home run with that glove.

Two years ago, my dad, upon seeing the condition of my Ryne Sandberg regular ballhawking glove, bought me a David Wright glove.  It’s not completely broken in yet, and I haven’t attempted to use it for ballhawking yet, because rigging the glovetrick with it isn’t as easy due to a difference in webbing.

Well, my Ryne Sandberg glove has finally died.  After being flung out onto the field hundreds of times,

resulting in 200+ balls that were glove tricked (including struggling to get ball #1000) – the glove finally begain to fail me.  Even playing catch on the bridge felt like I had a time bomb on my hand.  I never knew when the lacing was just going to pop.

Near the end of the 2011 baseball season, the laces of the glove were becoming unraveled, making executing the glovetrick very difficult.  The baseball would constantly slip out.  It became painstakingly obvious to me that I would need a new glove.

Check out the wear and tear on my beat up Ryne Sandberg glove.

The backside:

The pocket, which is crappy and flimsy from not keeping a ball in it for years in the 90s:

The inside, which, has no padding left.  I basically use the string that I ball up in my glove for padding:

The lacing from the heel is long gone:

And worst of all is this lacing that keeps the webbing in place.  Its loose, so the glove trick is always unreliable and the balls were consistently falling out of my glove when I reeled them in at the end of 2011.

I sent my glove away January 18th to MittFix to have them restore my glove.

I was told it would be 10 business days.  It’s almost mid-February, so I hope to have my glove back soon to show you the new and improving snagging glove for 2012.

There’s only 54 more days until Opening Day, 7 days until pitchers and catchers report to spring training, and 1 day to win this Brandon Phillips jersey Tshirt.

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