February 2012

Indians Season Ticket Holder Presale and Promotions

I’m starting to get a feeling that buying Cleveland Indians season tickets might have been a bad idea.  The only worthwhile perk is a suite for 16 people ‘worth’ $2,000.  I’ve had my season tickets for about sixty games (I’m using the other 21) listed on Stubhub for a couple weeks now, and haven’t sold a single pair.  Ugh.  The competition on the site has similar bleacher tickets listed for $4-$5 for most weekday games, and prices at or slightly below face value for many weekday games.

I sent Cleveland Indians president Mark Shapiro a tweet awhile ago, suggesting that instead of opening the gates at 4:30 for everyone, that they should just let season ticket holders in.  That way I’d be getting more value out of my tickets.  He never responded.  Shapiro is no Frank Coonelly.

So, when this postcard came in the mail the other day offering season ticket holders the chance to buy tickets in advance, I decided to jump on the opportunity to stock up on Red Sox, Yankee, and Opening Day tickets.

I spent my lunch break buying up tickets for Opening Day, and the Red Sox and Yankees series.  Unfortunately, the Indians use Ticketbast**d… I mean Ticketmaster – which rips off fans by charging random order processing and convenience fees.    In fact, my credit card put a freeze on my spending at one point because of all of the quick orders for a team outside of PA.  I had to spend a few minutes on the phone to unlock my card so I could finish my purchases.

By the way, it looks like anyone with the knowledge of a generic password can buy tickets from ticketmaster.  So, if you’re looking to buy Indians tickets early, let me know.

Anyhow, I guess we’ll see how this whole Indians season ticket thing turns out.

Also, the Indians posted their promotions for the 2012 season two days ago.

There’s bobblehead nights (Joe Carter, Carlos Baerga, Sandy Alomar Jr, and Asdrubal Cabrera).

Replica jersey days (Chris Perez, Justin Masterson, Carlos Santana and Charles Nagy).

Along with Dollar Dog nights, Student ID nights, Fireworks, and Tshirt giveaways.

Probably the most useful item that I’d want is the player calendar, which will be given away during the second game of the season.   That’s a 1:05 game.  The Pirates have a game at 7:05 the same day.  Hmmmm??

Anyhow, I thought I would throw this post just before midnight, so as to continue my 21 day posting streak.

There’s only 55 more days until Opening Day, 8 days until pitchers and catchers report to spring training, and 2 days to win this Brandon Phillips jersey Tshirt.

PNC Park Gate Time Change for 2012

How many times have you been to your home ballpark and wished something would be different?  Since I started ballhawking regularly in 2008, I was always bothered by the fact that PNC Park opened its gates at 5:00PM.  I would get to see a small portion of Pirates batting practice, usually ranging from one minute to ten minutes, but typically around five minutes.

In those five minutes, I would usually see players like Luis Cruz, Josh Phelps, Robinzon Diaz, Raul Chavez, Chris Gomez, Luis Rivas, Brian Bixler and Delwyn Young.  These were some of the Pirates bench players from the past few years, and watching them take batting practice wasn’t much of an attraction.

Privately, myself along with my fellow ballhawks and season ticket holders grumbled about how it wasn’t right that we weren’t getting to interact with or see the Pirates take batting practice.  However, we never did much about it.  In August of 2011, Zac Weiss wrote a letter to the Pirates brass.  He brought it to PNC Park and I signed it along with other season ticket holders.  We would only hope that our pleas would be considered and not fall on deaf ears.

I wrote about changing the gate times on January 24th, and posted Zac’s letter there.

Zac had heard from his contact that the Pirates brass were in discussions about opening the gates earlier throughout the winter.  Well, today Zac finally found out about the verdict.  He called me today while I was at work to break the good news.

The Pirates will be opening their gates at 4:30PM for all evening games from Monday-Saturday to season ticket holders only.  Previously, it was 5:00 PM for Monday-Friday and 4:30 for Saturdays only.  (You can read Zac’s new breaking blog post here.)

This is wonderful news for all Pirates fans, and especially ballhawks.  Its an extra half an hour of ballhawking per day!  By my count, that’s 45 evening Monday-Friday games, or 22.5 more hours of time inside the ballpark for us PNC ballhawks, which is almost like attending 22 extra BP’s!

2012 looks to be a great season.  There’ll be a whole lot less of this:

Which is good for those awkward moments when Amy has to work and your friends aren’t there yet.

It wasn’t always bad though.  Here’s the top 3 ballhawks from PNC Park last year, possibly discussing strategy:

There will be less frustrated looks when the Pirates run off the field at 5:03:

More of this: (numbering snagged balls)

And NO MORE OF THIS:

Staring blankly at the sky behind the right center field wall of PNC Park, hoping for a ball to generously take a hop out of the stadium from 4:15-4:53PM.  Also, no more answering the same three questions from every fifth passerby.  1)  Do you ever get any out here?  2) What are you doing? 3) Are they playing right now?

But anyhow,
How awesome are the Pittsburgh Pirates for actually listening to, considering, and executing a fans request?  Huge kudos to them.  And a big thank you to Zac Weiss for having the initiative to write the letter.

How many of you wanted someone about your club or stadium to change?  What would you want changed?  Have you ever tried asking?

PS:
Also, in other non-gate opening time news, this came in the mail for me today:

2012 tickets from my season ticket holder pre-sale.  These are just a bunch of Opening Day tickets and tickets to see Daughtry and the Skyblast dates and such.
It wasn’t the season tickets that I’ve been anxiously awaiting, but tickets from the box office.  I made a wheel:

Here’s the 2012 Pirates box office ticket stock.

Much better than last year.

There’s only 56 more days until Opening Day, 9 days until pitchers and catchers report to spring training, and 4 days to win this Brandon Phillips jersey Tshirt.

2012 MLB Fan Cave Top 50 Applicants

I spent some time watching the Top 50 finalists for the MLBfancave.  For those of you that aren’t familiar with the Fan Cave, its a job based in New York City where the participants basically work for MLB to watch all 2,430 major league baseball games, tweet about the games, blog, and film segments for the MLB website while rubbing elbows with Major Leaguers.

Some of you may be familiar with Zack Hample, who runs a blog and also snagged the most balls on mygameballs last year.  I thought he would be a shoo in for the job, but was surprised to see that he didn’t even make the first cut for the final 50.

Fans can vote for their favorites and the winners will spend all spring and summer in New York City with a dream job.  I decided not to apply because I already have a job and wouldn’t have been able to make it work.

So let’s look at some of the top 50.  To watch their videos, go HERE.

I first watched the lone Pirates’ fan in the top 50, and man was I disappointed.  The video is poor quality, and the fan is monotone and his best reason for being in the fan cave is that Sid Bream broke his heart.  I’m sorry, but I was expecting a bit more.

I then watched Reds fan Emily Szink’s submission.  It was well edited, and definitely better than the Pirates fan’s one.  Overall, I’d rate it as very good.

My eye then caught Amie Matthews for several reasons.  One, her name is Amie, which is my fiancee’s name, (although she spells hers Amy).  Secondly, her last name is Matthews – if you know me, then you know that my favorite band is Dave Matthews Band.  Thirdly, her favorite team is the Cleveland Indians – which is my second favorite team, and a team for which I hold full season tickets.  And finally, she’s from Pittsburgh – my town!  Her video is ok, although she calls Edgar Renteria a bastard.  I didn’t laugh at all during her video though, which is what I think she was going for.  But, it can take a lot to get me to laugh sometimes.

Another candidate was Ricardo Marquez, a failed comedian from Anaheim.  I think that he did a great job with the editing of the video, and although not all of it was funny – it was definitely better to watch than some of these single angle video submissions.  I think this is the type of person that MLB is looking for, and may ultimately make it onto the set of the fancave.

There was quirky Taylor Hensley, who boasts her weirdness and shortness and discusses her love of the A’s.

Joshua Descoteaux seems like a nice guy, and actually stole Zack Hample’s original idea of wearing all 30 shirts.  Josh doesn’t seem to have the personality due to his soft spoken voice.  I think if Hample could’ve edited down his shirt video by speeding up the time that it took for him to remove shirts and getting that to a minute along with a monologue, would’ve nailed it.  Anyhow, sorry Joshua, but your video doesn’t grab me enough to get my vote

Angel Pena’s video was turned off by me after about 30 seconds.  First of all, it was over 4 minutes long, and second of all, it boasted about his job cutting hair for famous athletes.  You don’t need the fancave job dude.  Let a regular fan have it.  Why were you even selected?  I’m not even giving you a picture.

Moving on to James Loney, I mean Nick Hamilton from Los Angeles.  I didn’t make it through this whole video as he lost me after the first minute by rambling on about the Cy Young and Clayton Kershaw.

Then was Greg Ruisi, who is from Connecticut and is a Yankees fan.  Greg seemed a little nervous in his video, so I’m not sure how he’d do on the big stage when he has to interview someone like Derek Jeter.

The next video that I watched was Brian Pasnik’s.  He’s a Cubs fan, and his video features Field of Dream references as well as him chasing down and snagging a fly ball.  I also thought his bit with interviewing Cubs and the Cubs convention was pretty unique and made me smile.  Probably my favorite one so far.

I continued on and watched Christy McGaugh, a writer from Phoenix.  Her video featured movie spoofs, some which I got, some which I didn’t.  It was a good video, but not my favorite.

Brian Domingo’s video caught my attention in that it he had a guitar, so I watched to see what he’d do.  He sang a song about baseball – it was alright – definitely creative.  MLB is looking for creativity.

We have Michael Lazarus, a Stanford senior who is a journalist and college baseball player.  He seemed a bit monotone for me, and his video was just his face, so he lost me after about 50 seconds.

Mike Heidner’s video started out in front of Comerica Park, which grabbed my attention.  He had some comedy bits, including some content about Steve Bartman.  The video had good editing and some special effects, so I thought it was pretty good.

There was Andrew Rodriguez’s video, who seemed bursting with energy in his video, which I’m sure the executives at MLB loved.  I am starting to get bored with these single camera angles though, so I moved on after a minute.

Andy Bishop’s video began with a backdrop of the White House where Bishop asked for fans to vote for him.  It then cut away to him in San Diego, where he smacked a passer-by’s butt, which was awkward and unpredictable enough that it made me laugh.  The rest of the video was like a political ad, and was very well done.  Two thumbs up.

Up next was Angelo Fileccia, who like Mike Heidner, traveled to Comerica Park for his video.  His video relied upon MLB footage of top Tigers plays, and then a brief comedy bit.  Meh.

Trevin Jaggars has a pretty cool name, and hails from Baltimore.  However, when the video started, I was like what the —-?  Then I realized he was trying to rap.  At first I thought he suffered from voice immodulation.   Sorry Trevin, but I could only take about 40 seconds of that.

Kyle Thompson, a St Louis Cardinal fan also featured a rap song, which reminded my of an SNL digital short that you may have seen ‘Like a Boss.’  It was creative, but how many times can you listen to ‘In the fancave?’  Still, he was creative enough to have a well edited video and create that song.

Dave Barclay of Toronto submitted a video that looked like it was edited by a high schooler, but I think it was supposed to look like that.  It was supposed to be funny, but I didn’t get it.

I continued on to watch Jeremy Dorn’s fancave video.  He is an mlb featured columnist, and seemed to be pretty well spoken and knowledgeable.

These videos were really started to wear me out.  A lot of them were becoming redundant.  With several breaks here and there, I soldiered on through watching the videos.    Next up was Dan Sharp whose video was a mirror image.  I liked how he put down football.  Next.

Gordon Mack’s video showed up next – another Phillies fan.  The video seemed like a normal submission video before a rap beat started playing and Mack started rapping quickly.  Sorry.  I couldn’t follow that.  And I hate the Phillies.  NEXT!

Sam Sirico, a Yankees fan, is a film editor, so her video wasn’t as good as it probably should’ve been, which featured her sitting in a seat in front of her closet for much of it.  Still, she’ll get lots of votes from Yankees fans.

Ashley Chavez followed.  She is a Giants fan.  She talked a lot about her favorite baseball moment, which bored me and allowed me to save a minute by heading on to the next video.

Next up was Adam Pozgay, a Mariners fan.  He probably has the most listenable voice, as he definitely sounds like a broadcaster.

HALF WAY DONE.  God.  I think a lot of fans will just vote for whoever is representing their teams.  I can’t see anyone else sitting down and watching all of these.  I’m regretting it.

Soldiering on…

Max Nelson represents the Mets in his video which features several bloopers at the beginning for comedic effect.  Not bad.  The best park was probably when he fake flipped out when the delivery man came.

Ally Williams was another representative of the Giants.  An ex softball player, she majored in broadcast journalism.  She is qualified.  She interned for the 2010 Giants.  She also filmed her video inside of AT&T Park, a stadium I just have to visit soon…

Matthews James  was the next video up as I continued on.  An Angels fan, his video was pretty interesting.  Lots of different scenes, some comedy.  Probably top 10.  I laughed twice.  Once at the bit in the park, and once when he mockingly rejected a Coco Crisp for Roy Halladay fantasy baseball trade.

Kris Neild, sorry, but I only lasted about 30 seconds, these videos are wearing me out.  I need something more to grab my attention.

Sarah Lever from Toronto seemed too soft spoken to me.

Then there was a young Stan Kyles lookalike Shaun Kippins.  Again, after watching about 40 of these videos, his seemed very boring.  Next!

Eddie Mata had a really thick Bronx accent and a pretty cool baseball shirt.  He seemed really passionate about wanting to be on the fancave.  Like the other fan who repped the Yankees, he’ll probably get a lot of votes just for the logo next to his name.

Brian Boynton moonlights as ‘Ranger Man’ in his video.

Surprisingly there was only one Boston Red Sox entrant.  It was Melanie Pellowski.  She’s an on camera sports reporter and has worked with Ken Burns.  She works for Cox network.  In my opinion.  Overqualified.  Let a fan do the job.

Benjamin Christensen sports a pretty mean beard, and flaunts his baseball knowledge as well as personality.

Twins fan Lindsay Guentzel’s video left me clicking ahead to see if there was any interesting scenes, but with one camera angle, I continued on…

Jay Tuohey’s video was interesting because his video was filmed at the site of the old Tiger Stadium.  It was solid with lots of interesting clips.

Brad Jeffers video started out with a Star Wars’eque scrolling text.  NEXT!

Travis Miller’s video focused on his depression from not making it to the 2011 fan cave and showed him training for the 2012 fan cave by running up and down his stairs, racing a train, and playing Wii.

Joseph Meehan is involved in professional wrestling, but seemed a little soft spoken to me.  He said he is involved in story lines of wrestling.  I’m not sure if he’s a writer or an actual wrestler, but it seemed like the video was just thrown together a few hours before the deadline.

Megan Washington is a manager for professional wrestling.  She claims to be a really fun person and a huge baseball fan, but so does everyone else.  She goes through a few wardrobe changes in her video and ends with photo clips and old video clips from her experiences at Spring Training.

Kelsey Shea Weinrich has a baseball middle name, but I didn’t like the video, because I am biased and don’t like the Cardinals.

Richie Benes boasted a familiar last name – remember Andy Benes?  But I didn’t like the way he talked.  He seemed arrogant.  Maybe its a New York thing.  He states he was a professional baseball player, and he actually was.  He played two seasons in rookie league ball, and then bounced around unaffiliated independent league teams.  The amassed 724 plate appearances, never hit a home run, and had a .213 career average.  He has a rude comment for Tim Wakefield, telling him that he’s still crying about Aaron Boone’s home run.  Dude, don’t mess with Tim Wakefield, that automatically is going to make lots of people not like you.  Wakefield is the man, even if he plays for the Red Sox.

Steven Sievwright’s video featured a lot of dry humor at his own expense.  I liked it.  I thought it was funny.

Sam Springli.  Cardinals fan.  College grad.  Unemployed.  Been told he has an entertaining personality.

Rickie Mast’s video had a couple good moments such as, “I’m 30 years old and still collect baseball cards.”  and “John Sterling broadcasts from an electric chair.”

Kurt Peter’s video was tough to hear, but it brought good memories of walking around Miller Park with Amy last May.

Dan Dreger’s video takes us through his daily routine, including his duties at work and is littered with baseball references.  It’s pretty good.

Finally, the last video I watched was Nick Straatman, who appeared to have filmed his video in 1978 based on the video quality.  It was mediocre.

Watching all of these videos has really tired me out.  I feel like going and taking a nap.  At first I thought it wouldn’t be that easy, but to watch and summarize all of them?  Quite an undertaking.

Here’s the top 10, in my opinion.  If you don’t have an hour or two to sit down and watch all of these videos, just watch these:

1.  Andy Bishop
2.  Steve Sievwright
3.  Brian Pasnik
4.  Matthew James
5.  Max Nelson
6.  Dan Dreger
7.  Emily Szink
8.  Amie Matthews
9.  Ricardo Marquez
10.  Ricky Mast

And remember, if you apply in 2013, be creative, interesting, and have different clips to your videos.

How many of you applied to the fancave?  What do you think of these videos?  Which one do you think is the best?  What about the worst?  Funniest?  Leave a comment!

There’s only 57 more days until Opening Day, 10 days until pitchers and catchers report to spring training, and 5 days to win this Brandon Phillips jersey Tshirt.

Buying Cincinnati Reds Season Tickets

In December, I received a brochure from the Cincinnati Reds asking me to renew my season tickets.  I once was a Reds season ticket holder in 2010, when I bought a Baker’s Dozen 13 game plan.  I spent like $90 on one seat for 13 games.  I ended up only attending three games in Cincinnati that year, and snagging 13 balls total, but one of those games was game three of the NLDS, where I snagged six balls and set a single season record.

It was early October, and it was Amy and my first ever road trip together, so I have a soft spot in my heart for Cincinnati.

Without giving away too much information about my 2012 master schedule (we’ll save that for another blog) , it looks like I’ll be attending hopefully at least 10 games there, although I could attend up to 20 games there.

I figured that since the Reds will be a hot ticket this year (they’re going to win the Central) that I would go ahead and buy a VIP plan.  Full 81 games.  2 tickets to each game.   162 tickets in total.  It cost me $1289.50, but I made a lot of that back by selling my opening day tickets from the plan.  I plan on holding back 40 tickets worth and selling the other 122 to at least break even.

So what’s there to like about the Cincinnati Reds and Great American Ballpark this year?  Here’s some of the benefits:

1)  Early access
I’ll be entering at 4:30 many games by buying a BP tour ticket.  If the tickets are sold out, I’d still get in at 5:10 with the season ticket holders, but imagine having BP with just a hand full of other people for the first 70 minutes of batting practice.  That’s right – the general public doesn’t get in until 5:40.  Zack Hample took advantage of this in 2011 and snagged 36 in one game.  What would you rather ballhawk in?  This?

Or this?

The crowds at Great American Ballpark can really suck, especially when you have to factor in those railings in the aisles that block your mobility.  You can pretty much forget snagging much from 5:40-6:10.

2)  Good resell value
I’ve sold 8 of the 122 tickets that I won’t use already on stubhub.  The cheapest opening day seat is currently selling for $109.  That’s for just one ticket!  With the Tigers and Indians coming to GABP, there’s demand.

3)  Opportunity to buy more Opening Day tickets.
All season ticket holders are guaranteed the opportunity to get more opening day tickets.  Meaning, at the very least, if I bought two more for $20 and resold them for $220 – well, you can do the math.  We’re just chipping away at that $1289.50.

4)  Take batting practice on the field.
All full season ticket holders get to take batting practice on the field at Great American Ballpark.  Unlike PNC Park, its for full season ticket holders only, so hopefully there’ll be less people there resulting in more cage time for me.  My ultimate goal is to jack one out of a major league ballpark.  I haven’t been lifting all these weights for nothing.  I haven’t been able to do it at PNC Park yet.

5)  Post-season guaranteed tickets
When the Reds make the post season in 2012, I’ll get to buy more tickets.  Even if I can’t attend, reselling the tickets will make this investment more beneficial.

6)  Unused season ticket exchange program
I used this before in 2010 when I had the Baker’s Dozen plan to exchange my unused tickets for a game later in the season against the Brewers that I could easily spin off to a buyer on ebay.  It’s simple, by mail, and if you can’t get rid of your tickets, then you can request games later in the season.

With the purchase of these Reds tickets, that makes 7 season tickets for 3 different teams that I’m now the owner of.  That’s 567 tickets that I have.

Did I go overboard?  What do you think?  Were the Reds tickets worth it?  I think they were.  All of my tickets for my 2012 games are bought and paid for, and I’m going to get a lot of that money back by reselling the ones I can’t use.

At any rate, if you need a season ticket to get in early to PNC Park or Great American Ballpark, you now know where to turn.

There’s only 58 more days until Opening Day, 11 days until pitchers and catchers report to spring training, and 6 days to win this Brandon Phillips jersey Tshirt.

Current contestants:
Posts: Zac, Craig, Connor, Mateo, Harrison, Stephen, Malcolm
RT’s:  Zac, Craig, Mateo, Brandon, Connor, Daniel P

@DatDudeBP Giveaway Week 2

Last week’s Counting Baseballs blog giveaway was a success.  Joey Orr won this Matt Wieters shirt for his comments and tweets.

For week two, I’ve decided to give away a Brandon Phillips jersey shirt.  Phillips is a gold glove winning, home run hitting second baseman for the Cincinnati Reds, my favorite NL team after the Pittsburgh Pirates.  Brandon is also active on twitter with 206,000+ followers and almost 5,000 tweets.  If you’re not following him yet, what are you waiting for?

The rules to win the shirt are simple.

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 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.

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 show you the Brandon Phillips shirt:

(by the way the winner can choose a SMALL, LARGE, or 2XL shirt)

Name and Number:

Back:

Front:

Reds logo:

Tags:

Let’s finish this post with some Brandon Phillips talk.

Personally, I love Brandon Phillips.  Any time he comes up in batting practice, I anticipate him hitting a bomb in my direction.  Altogether, I have caught 7 of his home runs in batting practices since 2009.  His batting stance is unmistakeable when he steps into the cage.  He’s one of those guys whose stances I would’ve mimicked playing wiffle ball in the back yard.  Additionally, I loved how he publicly stated how he hated the Cardinals in 2010 and also said the Cardinals are ‘Little B*tches.’  If you’re a Cardinals fan sorry, but the Cards are one of my three least favorite teams.

How about Brandon Phillips on the field?  Where does he rank among second basemen for you in the National League?  Chase Utley has been bitten by the injury bug recently, Dan Uggla is streaky as heck, Danny Espinosa has power but struggles to hit his weight, and Rickie Weeks declined from his 2010 career year.  If I had to choose, I’m taking Phillips.  He hit .315 with 10 home runs after the All Star break last year, gives you 20 SB potential, and is as solid fielding second baseman as anyone in the game.

What are your thoughts?

Good luck in this week’s giveaway.  Maybe Brandon can RT a link and give some more Reds fans a chance to win this shirt?

There’s only 59 more days until Opening Day, 12 days until pitchers and catchers report to spring training!

Week 1 Wieters winner is…

As some of you may know, I am posting daily as we lead up to opening day.  In anticipation of opening day, I’m giving away weekly prizes to my readers.  To enter, all that one needs to do is post a comment on one of my blog entries from that week, or retweet one of my blog entries with the #countingbaseballs.

This week, I’m giving away this Matt Wieters jersey shirt.

I compiled a running list throughout the week of everyone that left comments and retweeted my blog posts. At 9:15, I enlisted my daughter Olivia to do the honors. After grabbing a fistful of seven names or so, on her second attempt she came up with two names. She dropped the other one back into the hat and we had our winner:

The winner is Joey Orr.  Congratulations!

Joey has left comments under the handle joeyorr4 and tweets from @joeyorr4

There’s only 60 more days until Opening Day, 13 days until pitchers and catchers report to spring training!  Opening day is exactly one month away!

Check back tomorrow for a new giveaway item.

January Blog Leaders

Mlblogs has posted the top 50 leaders for the month of January, and yours truly finished in 15th place. I guess that’s to be expected, as many readers typically only follow ballhawk blogs during the MLB season. Hopefully, my daily postings leading up to opening day will reel some more readers in.

Here’s the top 40 of the 50: (40 because I couldn’t get all 50 to fit on my screen for a screen shot)

If you want to explore those top 40 blogs further, then you can click HERE.

I think my goal for February will be to break into the top 10.  In January 2011 I was 23rd on the list, and February 2011 I was 25th.  So being in the top 10 would be a huge improvement.

Anyway, in other semi-baseball related news.  Today is Olivia’s 6 month birthday, so we went shopping to see if we could get her any presents.  I ran across a few baseball items.

Check out the hat rack at the WalMart in Delmont PA.

Do you see anything that catches your eye?  Check it out:

If any of you Pittsburgh ballhawks needs a KC Royals hat, the Wal-Mart in Delmont has them for $7.  It’s a must have as the Royals are set to visit PNC Park in June this year.  I didn’t buy one as I already have two Kansas City Royals hats.

Also at WalMart, I couldn’t help myself.  I bought another pack of 2012 Topps Cards.

I got two Pirates, Chase D’Arndaud and Jared Hughes

Ryan Braun and Chipper Jones were probably my two best overall players:

We also stopped in a dollar store, and I froze when I walked past this display:

I picked up a pack of 20 random cards for $1 just for the heck of it.

Here’s what I got:

All crap.

There was a 1981 Dave Kingman card and 1989 Donruss Mark McGwire card, but nothing worth more than 50 cents.

There’s only 61 more days until Opening Day, 14 days until pitchers and catchers report to spring training, and 1 more day to win this Matt Wieters shirt.

I’ve been keeping an eye on the comments and my twitter feed and compiling the list of candidates for the shirt.  I have 43 entries so far. Zac Weiss has posted and retweeted 10 times, meaning he has about a 1 in 4 chance. Also I have Joey Orr down for 7 entries in the drawing.  Remember, to enter all you have to do is leave a comment and/or retweet my blog entry each day.  I’ll throw all of the names into a (Baltimore Orioles) hat tomorrow and let Olivia pick the winner out.

2012 Topps Baseball Cards

I went to Wal Mart last night to buy some sinus medication for a runny nose and sore throat that I picked up after hitting outside on Tuesday against that pitching machine that you may have read about.  Out of a force of habit, I walked by the baseball cards.  Every time I go to Wal Mart, I always have to stop and look at the baseball cards, if only for a second.  It’s a habit that dates back to 1989 when I first started buying them.  Back then, I remember pressing down on the wrappers of some brands and being able to see the top card, and after going through dozens of packs, finally selecting the pack that had the best visible card.

So anyhow, when I passed this caught my eye:

The 2012 Topps Baseball card series was just released.  It turns out, after checking on the website, it was released that day, February 1st.

They had individual packs for $1.98 (12 cards), jumbo packs of 36 cards for $4.99, mega packs of 72 cards for $9.98 and a box which featured certain guaranteed inserts for $19.98 (but it only had 81 cards).

I decided to select the 72 card mega pack or mini-box, or whatever its called:

I busted open the box and went through the cards.  Here’s the design:

Nothing really special or eye popping.  It looks pretty standard to me.

Let’s take a look at what I pulled.

My only Pirate was Michael McKenry.  McKenry is a really popular Pirate despite only hitting .222 with 2 home runs.  I’m not a huge fan in part because he dissed me in Cleveland by totally ignoring my polite request for a ball when I was the only Pirates fan around.  McKenry was also at the center of the Jerry Meals blown call game in late July, where Meals called Julio Lugo safe at the plate, even though McKenry tagged him.  The Pirates lead in the division vanished shortly thereafter as their season spiraled toward a 4th place finish.

The best rookie card that I pulled was probably this Devin Mesoraco:

Mesoraco was called up to the big leagues late last year.  I remember he had a huge following at PNC Park with family and friends wearing ‘Miz” shirts.  He was born and raised near Punxsutawney PA, so he’s a hometown kid.  Plus, of the teams in the central division, the Reds would qualify as my second favorite behind the Pirates.

My favorite card photo was a Reed Johnson card:

I liked the sea gulls racing along with him in the outfield.  It reminded me of all the seagulls that plagued the Indians games last year, and even decided a game last year, if you have a minute, you have to watch this video from MLB.com of the ending of that game.   I was at that game.

One of the unheralded parts of baseball cards is the stats on the back.  I used to hate how Donruss and Upper Deck only featured stats from the last five or so years of veterans.  Topps has always had a complete listing of a players stats.  The most experienced player that I pulled was a Derek Jeter.  The back of his card is impressive.  First ballot Hall of Famer.

Amazingly though, he’s only led the league in a category twice.

The 2012 mega pack also had its fair share of inserts.

There was this Cal Ripken Golden Greats Card:

Ripken was my favorite player for at least four years in my youth.  I used to have a Cal Ripken Jr binder that I collected all of his cards in.

Also a Timeless Talents card:

A Mickey Mantle Classic Walkoffs Card:

A Curtis Granderson 1987 Topps design card:

A Dellin Betaces Gold:

A Gold Futures Alexei Ogando:

A Golden Giveaway card that has a code on the back that unlocks a special prize:

A Derek Jeter Golden Moments Card:

and a Gold Standard Willie Mays Card:

There’s so many insert card sets nowadays, that besides finding an obvious autographed card or relic card, I have no idea if these inserts are worth anything.

Here’s a look at the stated odds in the 72 card pack.  Odds would be lesser of finding these cards in a 12 card pack:

It pretty much looks like every pack has one of those inserts except for the Classic Walkoff card which was 1:2.

So, I enjoyed opening a new pack of cards and seeing a new design.  It’s been something I’ve looked forward to every year since I was a little kid.  I don’t collect cards anymore like I used to, but I still have to buy a pack when the new cards come out each year.

What do you think of the 2012 Topps Cards?  Have any of you bought any and had good luck?

There’s only 63 more days until Opening Day, 16 days until pitchers and catchers report to spring training, and 3 more days to win this Matt Wieters shirt.

Pitching Machine

Winter is my least favorite season of the year.  Besides not being able to enjoy baseball, because I live in Pennsylvania, I have to brave snow and cold temperatures for at least three months of the year.  However, this winter has been much milder than I can remember.  We’ve had some light snowfalls, but nothing that’s caused any transportation problems.  In fact, many districts in the area haven’t even had a two hour delay yet this year.

Yesterday the high temperature reached 61 degrees.  The normal high for the end of January is in the mid-30’s.  I decided to take advantage of the weather and take some swings.

The last time I hit was in early to mid December and I hadn’t picked up a bat in weeks.  I wanted to practice a little bit so when the summer comes I won’t be awful.

For my birthday last year Amy bought me a pitching machine.  It pitches golf ball sized wiffle balls at speeds of up to 60 MPH.

The machine can also do soft toss, or throw curves, sliders, and cutters.  I used it to train for the Pirates in door batting practice session by putting it about 30 feet away, setting it at 60mph, and just trying to make contact.  As a result, in the cage later that day, I didn’t miss a pitch.

I tried to pick up where I left off, setting up the machine maybe 30-40 feet away.

I used the corner of the tennis court as my home plate.

The first round didn’t go so well.  I took mighty swings, trying to hit the ball over the fence that would be equivalent to left field.

But I was too rusty and the machine was too fast.  In fact, my swing felt like a mess.  I’d spent the winter lifting weights, so my swing didn’t feel fluid anymore.

I turned the pitching machine down to a lower speed, and began to finally began to make some solid contact.

Ater about 2.5 rounds and 250 swings later, I packed up the stuff and Olivia, Amy and I went for a walk through the park to enjoy the nice weather.

Including Olivia’s first ever experience of seeing a stream.

I hope the rest of you are enjoying the warm weather, since most of the country has had a really mild winter.

There’s only 64 more days until Opening Day, 17 days until pitchers and catchers report to spring training, and 4 more days to win this Matt Wieters shirt.

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