Archive for the ‘ Uncategorized ’ Category

Orioles Season Tickets

I won’t have the shirt contest posted until tomorrow (Tuesday), as I’ve been really busy today, but I’ll count any comments on this post or the last one about Pirates season tickets towards that contest.

Also, I just bought Orioles season tickets to six games.  I didn’t buy a plan, but bought tickets from a connect that I’ve used for a couple years to get my season tickets in Baltimore.  As you know, they must say ‘Season Plan Holder’ on them to get into the stadium early for batting practice.

There’s a couple new baseball games coming out tomorrow too…

Pittsburgh Pirates Season Ticket Design

I got my Pirates season tickets in the mail today.

I love how every spring I get so pumped when I see this package.

When I got home Amy said that a package was waiting for me at the door.  She said she thought it was my season tickets.  She proceeded to say that she’s never seen me run so fast in her life.

I opened it up and laid out the contents.  Three season ticket books, with 81 tickets each, for a grand total of 243 tickets, as well as a few inserts:

The inserts I just discarded, as I was most interested as to what was inside the season ticket books.

There was the all important season ticket holders card, that allows me into batting practice before the general public:

Then I started leafing through the book.  The first page has season ticket holder and individual game pricing.  Most frustrating – additional tickets cost $9 each, rather than $5 like it has always been in the past.  (My season tickets cost $4.93 a ticket, I don’t see why extras shouldn’t cost the same amount.)

The next page features the Pirates schedule along with the Promotional Schedule.

The next pages outline the season ticket benefits along with the ticket exchange program.  The Pirates have one of the best ticket exchange program, allowing fans to exchange tickets to 71 of the 81 home games.

But anyhow, the most important part is the tickets themselves and the ticket design.  This year’s design features four Pirates players in color, while the background is in gray.

Andrew McCutchen was first:

Then Joel Hanrahan:

Neil Walker:

and Jose Tabata:

I’m still not sure if I like the tickets or not.  They seem rather dull.  I don’t know, I’d rate them as mediocre.  Maybe they’ll grow on me.

Here’s a close up of one of McCutchen’s tickets:

The package also contained a letter from president Frank Coonelly.

The letter reads:

Dear Erik,
While it has been a relatively mild winter here in Pittsburgh, even warmer weather and the 126th season of Pittsburgh Pirates baseball are both right around the corner.  The beginning of Spring Training games in sunny Bradenton Florida means that Opening Day at PNC Park is less than one month away.

We are extremely excited to begin the 2012 season.  Last season gave us all a taste of how electric PNC Park can be as we battled for the division lead through the end of July.  Our team learned valuable lessons last season and is determined to execute at a championship level for 162 games in 2012.  We are extremely happy that you will be part of the excitement and fun that together we will create at PNC Park in 2012.

Enclosed you will find your season tickets for the 2012 season, which is packed with great games and promotions.  The season starts off with a bang as we host our in state rivals and Eastern Division Champion Philadelphia Phillies for a three game set beginning on Opening Day, Thursday April 5.  The rest of the season features exciting matchups against our NL Central foes, including the defending World Series Champion St Louis Cardinlas and the Central Division Champion Milwaukee Brewers, and exciting interleague visits from the Detroit Tigers, Kansas City Royals, and Minnesota Twins.  Plus, we also have some great promotions lined up, including an exciting Summer Concert Series featuring Boyz II Men, Daughtry, Styx, and Lifehouse.

On behalf of the entire Pirates organization, thank you for your dedication and support of Pirates baseball.  I look forward to seeing you on Thursday April 5 at 1:35 PM as we officially get the 2012 season started.

Sincerely,
Frank Coonelly
President
Pittsburgh Pirates

What do you all think of the ticket designs?

Are your team’s better?

By the way, I also blogged about the season ticket design in 2011 and 2009.  You can check out those entries by click the links on the corresponding year.

If you’re looking for the shirt I’m giving away, I’ll try and post it soon.

I’m busy playing with my daughter and watching the Buccos on MLBtv – and Matt Hague just went deep for the Buccos.

Opening Day is a month away!

LA Dodgers Shirt Winner

Amy and I just made the LA Dodgers Shirt video. And here’s your winner:

Congratulations!

Here’s your past winners:
I’ve given away a Matt Wieters shirt to Joey Orr,
a Brandon Phillips shirt to Matt Jackson,
a Dustin Pedroia shirt to Stephen D,
a Phillies shirt to Connor,
and this Dodgers shirt shirt…

Check back tomorrow for the next giveaway.

There’s only 32 more days until Opening Day!

February 2012 MLBlogs Leaders

The February leaders have been posted on MLBlogs and yours truly came in 5th place for the month of February.
Thank you to all of my readers who have been checking in on my blog.  A lot of you are fellow bloggers that have left comments.  Whenever you leave a comment, feel free to link your blog so I can check it out, or other readers browsing the comments can take a look.

Here’s the complete top 50 list:
FAN
1. Rays Renegade
2. The Baseball Collector
3. Red State Blue State
4. Plushdamentals
5. Counting Baseballs
6. Cook & Son Bats’ Blog
7. Beisbol 007
8. Rockpile Rant
9. BlueBattingHelmet
10. Blogging ‘Bout Baseball
11. The Brewer Nation
12. A’s Farm
13. mlbblogger
14. Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend
15. The Unbiased MLB Fan
16. Pinstripe Birthdays
17. Phillies Phollowers
18. The Ballpark Guide
19. Brewers Rumors
20. Crzblue’s Dodger Blue World
21. nybisons
22. The Pittsburgh Peas
23. The Rays Rant
24. Bleacher Boy
25. Observing Baseball
26. The Phillies Girl Tells All
27. I’m Not A Headline Guy…
28. westsideculture
29. The Future Blog of the Red Sox
30. If You Write It, They Will Come
31. Rockin’ Redlegs
32. Cream City Cables
33. The Baseball Haven
34. Evan’s Daily Opinion
35. Los bigleaguers
36. Bjarkman’s Latino and Cuban League Baseball History Page
37. You’re Killin’ Me, Smalls!
38. DYNASTY League Baseball from designer of Pursue the Pennant
39. This is a very simple game…
40. The Phanatic Addict
41. Rants, Raves, and Random Thoughts
42. Unfinished Business
43. Brewers Today
44. Minoring In Baseball
45. Sarge’s Phillies Phantasy Camp Diary
46. The Closer
47. La Pagina de Tony Menendez
48. Fish Fry
49. Collection of Baseball
50. baseballqueen

There’s a few missing blogs that I’ll mention in an attempt to get them more views and onto the leader board.
Nick Pelescak’s blog is great, as he puts up in depth summaries of each game he attends.  He’s been inactive in terms of blogging during the offeseason, but his blog should pick up again soon.
Zac Weiss is another ballhawk who writes about the games he attends.  He also has been relatively inactive.  Check his blog out during the season.
CLangan posts daily on a Phillies blog.  He’s not among the top leaders yet as his blog is new, but he did win last week’s T-shirt.

As a side note, the Pirates lost their grapefruit league opener to the Blue Jays 7-1 today.

Remember, that you can listen to the game tomorrow on the radio, and watch the Buccos on TV on Monday.

Here’s their Spring Training schedule:

Saturday, March 3 @Toronto 1:05 PM MLB.com
Sunday, March 4 vs. Toronto 1:05 PM KDKA-FM 93.7
Monday, March 5 @Baltimore 7:05 PM MLB.TV MLB.com
Tuesday, March 6 vs. NY Yankees 1:05 PM KDKA-FM 93.7
Wednesday, March 7 vs. Toronto 1:05 PM MLB.com
Thursday, March 8 @Philadelphia 1:05 PM MLBN (delay), MLB.TV MLB.com
Friday, March 9 @Boston 7:05 PM MLB.TV, MLBN MLB.com
Saturday, March 10 vs. Minnesota 1:05 PM ROOT SPORTS, MLBN (delay)
Sunday, March 11 @Tampa Bay 1:05 PM KDKA-FM 93.7
Monday, March 12 vs. Philadelphia 1:05 PM KDKA-FM 93.7
Wednesday, March 14 @Baltimore 1:05 PM KDKA-FM 93.7
Thursday, March 15 @Minnesota 1:05 PM MLB.com
Friday, March 16 vs. Philadelphia 1:05 PM MLB.com
Saturday, March 17 vs. Tampa Bay 1:05 PM MLB.com
Sunday, March 18 @Minnesota 1:05 PM MLB.com
Tuesday, March 20 @NY Yankees 7:05 PM MLBN (delay), MLB.TV KDKA-FM 93.7
Wednesday, March 21 vs. Boston 1:05 PM ROOT SPORTS, MLBN (delay) KDKA-FM 93.7
Thursday, March 22 vs. Tampa Bay 1:05 PM MLB.com
Friday, March 23 vs. Detroit 1:05 PM MLB.com
Saturday, March 24 vs. Houston 1:05 PM ROOT SPORTS, MLBN (delay)
Sunday, March 25 @Houston 1:05 PM MLB.com
Monday, March 26 vs. Baltimore 7:05 PM ROOT SPORTS, MLBN (delay) KDKA-FM 93.7
Tuesday, March 27 @Philadelphia 1:05 PM MLBN, MLB.TV KDKA-FM 93.7
Wednesday, March 28 @Tampa Bay 7:05 PM KDKA-FM 93.7
Thursday, March 29 vs. Minnesota 1:05 PM KDKA-FM 93.7
Friday, March 30 vs. Tampa Bay 1:05 PM KDKA-FM 93.7
Saturday, March 31 vs. Baltimore 1:05 PM KDKA-FM 93.7

April

Sunday, April 1 @Toronto 1:05 PM MLB.TV, MLBN (delay) KDKA-FM 93.7
Monday, April 2 @Philadelphia 7:05 PM MLB.TV, MLBN (delay) KDKA-FM 93.7
Tuesday, April 3 @Philadelphia 7:05 PM KDKA-FM 93.7

Also, does anyone have any ideas for a new team shirt to give away.  Tomorrow is the drawing for the Dodgers shirt.  Yankees?  Pirates?  Twins?  Mariners?  Brewers?  Nationals?  What do you think.

There’s only 33 days until opening day,  and tomorrow is the drawing to win this LA Dodgers shirt.

2012 Pittsburgh Pirates Preview & Predictions

As many of you know, I am from Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh Pirates are my team.  As such, I’ve decided to dedicate an entire blog entry to their 2012 preview, rather than lumping them in with a division preview. In case you missed my division previews, you can read my AL East Preview, AL Central Preview,  AL West  and NL Central preview by clicking on the links provided.

I’ve decided to post this preview now, on the eve of the Pirates first grapefruit league game – tomorrow vs Toronto.

The Pirates were in first place in late July last year before everything fell apart.  A blown call by Jerry Meals at the plate in the 19th inning of a game in Atlanta seemed to trigger a monumental collapse, as the Pirates finished the season with a 19-43 record.

The National League Central is a weaker division in 2012, having seen the departures of its two best hitters via free agency; Albert Pujols from the Cardinals to the Angels and Prince Fielder from the Brewers to the Tigers.

Let’s see what the Pirates have heading into the season.

The catching position was a bit of a mess last year for the Pirates.  They used EIGHT different catchers last year.  Michael McKenry received the most at bats, but struggled by and large, hitting .222.  Ryan Doumit, Chris Snyder, Jason Jaramillo, Dusty Brown, Eric Fryer, Matt Pagnozzi, and Wyatt Torregas also saw time at catcher in 2011.

To add stability, general manager Neil Huntington added catcher Rod Barajas during the offseason.

Barajas has been a durable major league catcher throughout his career and brings power to the table.  His troublesome spot is hit batting average and on base percentage.  On the whole, this is an upgrade over what the Pirates had last year.

The backup catcher job will probably go to Michael McKenry,

although Jake Fox was also signed during the offseason to be a viable option if McKenry falters or is injured.

Fox has seen time in the majors before, playing most recently with the Orioles last year.  He is a career .237 hitter in the big leagues with 20 home runs in 489 at bats.  He’s got some power.  He has also had years in the minor leagues where he’s hit 21, 24, 25, and 31 home runs.  He’s got more pop, so I personally hope that he makes the team over McKenry, just from a batting practice perspective.  I’ve seen the guy hit in BP in Baltimore.  He does very well in BP.  He can also play first base.

Last year at first base, the Pirates had Derrek Lee for the last two months, who took over for an inept Lyle Overbay, who was ultimately released.  Lee broke his wrist and missed time, but did have a good month with the Pirates, hitting .337 with 7 homers in 101 at bats.  The Pirates wanted him back, but Lee snubbed the city of Pittsburgh and turned down the Pirates arbitration offer, hoping to play for a ‘better’ team or get more money.  He’s still currently unemployed, which should please many Pirates fans.

So without Lee, the Pirates are turning to plan B.  At first base this year, there will be a platoon situation with Garrett Jones and Casey McGehee.

Garrett Jones does very well against right handed pitching, but looks foolish against lefties, hitting just .147 against them in 2011.

When looking at the splits, McGehee, acquired by the Pirates for Jose Veras over the winter hit just .169 against lefties in 2011.  That defies convential wisdom, since he is a right handed batter.  In his career, he is a .261 hitter vs lefies, so hopefully ’11 was an aberration.

Both Jones and McGehee are coming off of down years.  McGehee hit .223 with 13 home runs last season.  In 2009 he hit .301 with 16 homers, and .285 with 23 homers and 104 RBIs in 2010.  He has reported to camp much lighter than last season, which could result in better athleticism and a better season.

Jones burst onto the scene in 2009 with 21 homers in 314 at bats and followed it up with another 21 homer season in 592 at bats in 2010.  Last year he lost his way a bit, hitting 16 in 423 at bats.  Hit batting average was also a career low .243.

My thoughts about this platoon?  I think it’s a slight upgrade over last year.  Overbay was just terrible for the first three months of the season.  If the Jones/McGehee tandem can hit .260/30/100 while they play the 1B position collectively – it’ll be huge.

Neil Walker had a breakout year for the Pirates in 2011.  He was one of the Pirates more consistent performers.

Third base was a major problem area for the Buccos last year.  Pedro Alvarez, the Pirates #1 draft pick, and #2 overall was a complete bust.  He looked completely lost at the plate and his season was a disaster.  He was hurt with a strained quad, and then was demoted to the minors.  The Pirates once envisioned Alvarez as a guy that could hit 30-40 homers by taking advantage of the short porch in right field at PNC Park.  Alvarez certainly has the power – I’ve seen him launch bomb after bomb over the right field wall in batting practice, but has had problems mentally and with conditioning.

Last season the Pirates relied on Josh Harrison to fill the void at third while Alvarez was out.  Harrison was a good replacement, but he is just that – a replacement level player.

During the offseason, the Pirates let Ronny Cedeno walk, disappointed that the shortstop never reached his full potential.  Cedeno was often distracted and not always focused on the game.  As a result, he often had lapses on both sides of the ball and often times found himself in the manager’s doghouse.

Huntington signed Clint Barmes to take Cedeno’s spot as the starting shortstop.  Barmes is a sound defender and an okay hitter.  He hit .244 last year with 12 homers – no where near his career high of 23 homers in 2009.  However, 12 actually was his second best home run season.  A lot of fans are expecting a lot of power from Barnes.  I would advise them not to be too optimistic.  If Barnes can give the Pirates .250 with 15 homers, we should all take it.   By the way, Cedeno hit 2 homers with a .249 average last year, so Barmes represents a slight upgrade.

In the outfield, the Pirates are set in left field with Alex Presley in left, Andrew McCutchen in center, and Jose Tabata in right.  The fourth outfielder position will go to Nate McLouth.  Last year, the Pirates had Ryan Ludwick/Jose Tabata/Alex Presley in left for most of the season, and a failed Garrett Jones/Matt Diaz platoon in right field.

Presley will bring top of the order speed to the Pirates.  He hit .298 last year and missed time with a thumb injury.

McCutchen is the face of the franchise.  Last year he hit just .259 with 23 homers – perhaps pressing a bit to jump start the anemic offense.  McCutchen has a new stance in 2011 – an open one – and hopes that it will help him stay on the ball better.

Jose Tabata was signed to a six year contract during the 2011 season despite playing just a year in the big leagues.  Many fans question his age – he is listed as 23 – and power – career high in the big leagues is 4 (in the minors his best HR year was 8).

Nate McLouth will receive plenty of at bats as the team’s fourth outfielder.  He was an All Star for the Pirates in 2008 before being traded away for Charlie Morton, Gorkys Hernandez, and Jeff Locke (all of whom are still with the Pirates.)  McLouth was awful in Atlanta.  He hit .198 and .228 there with virtually no power.  Even seeing him in batting practice was painful.  It was like watching a high schooler hit.

The Pirates most important part of their team in regards to their success will be their starting pitching.  Last season, the Pirates were in first place or in contention for much of the first half because their starting pitching was over achieving.  The second half, the starting pitching crumbled, as did the Pirates season.

This year, the Pirates brought in AJ Burnett to be the ace.  They are paying him $13 million over 2 seasons.  Fans in Pittsburgh were excited.  It’s been a long time since we had a big name starting pitcher, even if Burnett had struggled a bit the last few seasons.  Burnett’s arrival was going to bump one of the Pirates pitchers from the rotation and create a competition for a rotation spot – likely between Kevin Correia and Jeff Karstens.  However, it never happened, as Burnett bunted a ball off of his face, breaking an oribital bone.

He’s now out for 8-12 weeks, and the Pirates don’t expect him back until June.  Terrible luck.

Without Burnett, the Pirates will look to another new starter in their rotation to help right the ship.  Erik Bedard was brought in via free agency to give the Pirates depth.  Bedard has had some success in his career, but is often injured.  He’s only pitched over 150 innings in his ten year career twice.  Last season he went a combined 5-9 with a 3.62 ERA and 125 K’s in 129 innings for the Mariners and Red Sox.  He brings the strikeout to a rotation that often pitched to contact last year.

James McDonald was acquired two years ago from the Dodgers for Octavio Dotel.  McDonald was 9-9 with a 4.21 ERA last year with 142 K’s for the Pirates last year.  He struggled at the outset of the season, but was one of the Pirates better starters late in the season.  I think he is the most likely to have a breakout season in 2012.

Charlie Morton was a complete surprise in 2011.  He was 2-12 with a 7.57 ERA in 2010.  Last year, he was ace-like.  He went 10-10 with a 3.83 ERA and induced ground ball after ground ball.  He became nicknamed ‘Ground Chuck.’  He LED the National League in home run ratio – allowing just 0.3 homers per nine innings.  Morton had hip surgery in the offseason, and is participating in Spring Training, but is a few days behind the other Pirates pitchers.  It stands to reason that he likely will open the season with the club, but may start out as the team’s fifth starter just as a precaution.

Jeff Karstens was another complete surprise last year.  Karstens bounced back and forth between the bullpen and rotation in 2009 and 2010, posting losing records and ERA’s of 5.42 and 4.92.  When an injury to Ross Ohlendorf gave him a chance last year, Karstens ran with it.  He never stopped.  He was the Pirates ace last season, often among the top 5 in the National League in Earned Run Average.  He finished up the season at 3.38.  It will be very interesting to see what Karstens does to follow up his breakout campaign.

Kevin Correia was an All Star in 2011, but the completely tanked.  He finished with a 4.79 ERA, but tanked it in the second half, becoming injured and posting a 7.23 ERA.  He also could not perform at PNC Park.  His ERA at home was 7.71 with a 2-8 record.  To me, if Burnett would’ve stayed healthy, he was most likely to be demoted from the rotation to a long relief role in the bullpen.  However, Correia gets a chance to prove that he belongs in April and May in 2012.

Brad Lincoln, the Pirates #1 pick in 2006 serves as insurance if a starter gets hurt.  He has a minor league option left and will likely begin the season in the minors.  I know hindsight is 20/20, but guess who was taken after Brad Lincoln in the draft?  Clayton Kershaw, Tim Linecum, Max Scherzer, Ian Kennedy, and Chris Perez.

The bullpen looks pretty set.  Joel Hanrahan will close games.

Evan Meek, returning from an injury in 2011, will likely be the set up man.  Meek’s injury hurt the team last year, as the team struggled to find someone to be successful in the set up role.

Chris Resop could serve as the 7th inning guy if he can be consistent.  Rounding out the bullpen would be Jason Grilli, Daniel McCutchen, and Tony Watson.  Daniel Moskos or Chris Leroux could also be in the mix.

The bullpen was very solid last year for the Bucs.  It looks to be the same in 2012.

So now it’s time for a prediction.

Taking into account the losses and using the stat WAR (wins above replacement):
Paul Maholm, Ronny Cedeno, Derrek Lee, Ryan Ludwick, Jose Veras, Xavier Paul, Matt Diaz and  Ryan Doumit are attributed with 6.6 wins.  Meaning that they were worth 6.7 wins more than a typical replacement player.  Maholm was most valuable with a WAR of 2.6.

The Pirates have 6 new players:
AJ Burnett, Erik Bedard, Rod Barajas, Casey McGehee, Nate McLouth, and Clint Barmes .  Those six are worth 7.1 wins.  Clint Barmes was most valuable at 2.9 WAR in 2011.  McGehee was -1.0.  Burnett was worth 1.1, although he had a down year.

On paper, the Pirates look like they should go 73-89, a one win improvement from 2012.

That’s not what you want to hear though.  That’s not what I want to hear.  So, I’m going to get away from the stats and project that Andrew McCutchen improves over a bit of a junior slump, and that Evan Meek returns to his dominant 2010 self, and that Pedro Alvarez finally breaks out.

My prediction is 81-81, which will bring an end to 19 seasons of losing, and mark the Pirates first winning season since 1992.

2012 Statistical Projections (from baseball yearbook.  Avg-HR-Rbi)
C Rod Barajas .233-21-63
1B Garrett Jones .247-18-66
2B Neil Walker .278-11-68
3B Pedro Alvarez .219-5-32 (Alvarez isn’t even a starter in the BY projections)
3B Casey McGehee .243-16-74
SS Clint Barmes .253-14-5
LF Alex Presley .291-9-43
CF Andrew McCutchen .262-20-77
RF Jose Tabata .278-5-32

SP Jeff Karstens 10-12, 3.77 ERA, 177 IP, 110 K
SP Charlie Morton 9-13, 4.57 ERA, 167 IP, 130 K
SP James McDonald 10-12, 4.14 ERA, 185 IP, 159 K
SP Erik Bedard 6-8, 3.35 ERA, 116 IP, 115 K
SP Kevin Correia 10-10, 5.01 ERA, 147 IP, 92 K
SP AJ Burnett 12-12, 5.19 ERA, 186 IP, 163 K
RP Joel Hanrahan 2.81 ERA, 35 saves, 67 IP, 74 K
RP Evan Meek 2.54 ERA, 3 saves, 64 IP, 55 K

The season basically rests on if Alvarez can finally perform or not.  No pressure Pedro.

What are your thoughts on how the Buccos will finish?  I think they’ll finish 4th.

There’s only 34 days until opening day, and 1 day (TOMORROW) until the first broadcasted game on MLB TV (Yankees vs Phillies). And, just 2 more days to win this LA Dodgers shirt.

The Construction of Oriole Park at Camden Yards

The Baltimore Orioles are celebrating the 20th anniversary of Camden Yards this year.  Its a big season for the Orioles as they attempt to fight their way out of the cellar while celebrating the stadium that started the ballpark revolution of the 1990′s.

I did some poking around some websites and found some great pictures of Camden Yards as it was being built.

I hope you enjoy.

Also, I’ll be in Baltimore on opening day, in hopes of snagging one of these commemorative baseballs that the Orioles will be using this year:

Camden Yards looks like this now:

But it once was a pile of dirt

and a vacant warehouse that would be transformed into one of the most beautiful ballparks in the US.

Incorporating the B&O Warehouse, which was built in 1899, was a fantastic idea.  It brought us back to the old days of baseball, where stadiums were built to fit into the surrounding neighborhoods.

Here’s the outer side of the B&O Warehouse, facing away from the stadium.  Just ahead, you see the building that now houses the Babe Ruth museum.

The Warehouse sat dormant for over 20 years, rotting… until 1992.

That’s when the Orioles completely renovated it to house offices, a team store, restaurants, a ticket office, etc.  What a view.

Here’s the foundation of where the center field seats would later be built:

The unfinished exterior of Camden Yards… (is that a real kid in the picture?)

Construction began in 1989

And it took 33 months of work to get the stadium completed.

It was built by HOK Sport, and was the first of the retro ballparks.

There’s really not a bad seat in Oriole park.  The field is beautiful, the layout is gorgeous, and the Warehouse looming beyond right field is awesome.

Anyone have any idea what part of the stadium this is?  A possible hidden chamber underneath the field or seats?

It looks like the upper deck was the first structure put in place.  The lower level still looks a mess in this picture:

The stadium by the way cost $110 million to build.  By today’s standards, that’s about $180 million.  In contrast with other stadiums that have been built, that’s pretty cheap.

Could this be a flag pole out in the famous right field ‘flag court?’

Possibly…

How excited were the people of Baltimore when this stadium was being built?  Anyone have any personal stories that lived in Baltimore during this time?

The playing surface at Camden Yards is Kentucky Bluegrass.

Once the grass starts getting installed, you know that the end of construction must be close.

A worker takes a breather to look at the beauty that surrounds him:

A view from center field.  The upper level looks just about finished.

Looking towards left field into center field.

A view down the left field line from the second deck:

The stadium looks almost complete except for the lower level seating bowl.

One of the final touches is constructing the giant scoreboard in center field.

Since the stadium opened in 1992, millions have people have enjoyed baseball there, including me.  I’ve been there 9 times, making the four hour drive from Pittsburgh.

Maybe one day soon, the Orioles will get their organization turned around like the Rays did in 2008 to be an annual contender.  In the meantime, at least they have a beautiful venue to play ball in.

There’s only 35 days until opening day, and 2 days until the first broadcasted game on MLB TV (Yankees vs Phillies). And, just 3 more days to win this LA Dodgers shirt.

By the way, welcome to March.  Opening Day will be here before we know it. 

Also, thank you for reading! February 2012 was my second busiest month in the history of this blog.  We logged 11,000 views in the month.  I’ll keep turning out the entries daily as long as you keep reading.  I’m looking forward to doing some ballhawking entries soon!  Opening weekend is going to be very busy for me.

My Glove Reborn! and Spring Training’s 1st game

A couple weeks ago, I wrote about how my glove that I use for ballhawking had snagged its last ball as it was, and was just about completely fallen apart.  I needed a fix, so I sent it off to Jim Dowdell of Mittfix.com to get it redone.

Well, I’ve got it back, and it’s literally like having a brand new glove.

Below are some before and after pictures.

A profile of the glove:

You may notice the stitching has all been completely redone, and the shape of the glove is different.  It looks a little more rigid.

Here’s the backside of the glove:

Before the glove was really flat.  Now there is a nice curved shape to it.

Check out the drastic difference in the pocket.

It used to be really floppy and flimsy.  Now it has a nice pocket that stays that keeps it shape.

Another major difference in the glove is the heel region – the part where I put my hand in the glove.  Before there was a huge opening there.  It was from having 30 feet of string wrapped around my hand at all times in my glove.  That may sound difficult, but I got really used to it.

Now there glove fits like a glove – really snug.

That leads to one issue when it comes to ballhawking though… how am I going to do the glove trick?  I literally feel like I can’t fit anything else into my glove besides my hand.

What do you think I could do?  I was thinking about getting two hooks and just carrying the 30 feet of string in my pocket, and then clipping the hooks together when needed to in order to excute the glove trick, but I’m afraid that when tossing the glove out onto the field for more challenging glove trick balls that the clips could dislodge and I could end up losing my glove.   What kind of clips should I use?  Keychain hooks?  Those seem too big.

Anyhow, despite not being able to have much string in my glove, this was the most important improvement:

A sturdy webbing that will allow the ball to stay in place once I get the rubber band over the ball when performing the glove trick.  Before, the lacing was loose, so the balls kept falling out, making me feel like an idiot.

Here’s one more look at the heel work from Jim:

Again, its basically brand new.

I’ll no longer be worried about my glove falling apart while playing catch before the gates open.

In other news, Spring Training games began today!

There was just one game – the Phillies taking on the Florida State Seminoles.  Just one MLB team, but still, a baseball game was played.  Finally.

And here’s the pictures to prove it from the broadcast:

A pitcher named Austin Hyatt was the first pitcher to throw a pitch in a 2012 game:

Domonic Brown stole a base:

Hunter Pence ripped a double:

And Hector Luna ripped the first home run of 2012 into the left field stands at Bright House Field:

And who doesn’t love reading box scores?  Here’s the first one of the season.

It’s nice to have this to look forward to every day from now until the end of October isn’t it?

There’s only 36 days until opening day, and 3 days until the first broadcasted game on MLB TV (Yankees vs Phillies). And, just 4 more days to win this LA Dodgers shirt.

2012 NL East Predictions and Preview

I’ve been posting 2012 MLB Previews for each division throughout the past two weeks.  In case you missed it, you can read my AL East Preview, AL Central Preview, and AL West preview by clicking on the links provided.

It’s time to move onto the National League.  First up, is the NL East.

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

1ST Place:  Philadelphia Phillies (My prediction: 95-67)

This Philadelphia Phillies were the top team in 2011, winning 102 games, before losing in the first round of the playoffs.  Over the past five years, the Phillies have only improved during the regular season, winning 89 games in 2007, then 92, 93, 97, and 102.  However, I am predicting that they regress a little bit in 2012, thanks to a strengthened National League Eastern Division.

The Phillies have one of the best rotations in the game, despite losing Roy Oswalt.

Anchored by Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, and Cole Hamels – the Phillies shouldn’t experience and losing streaks longer than three games.

The Phillies also added Jonathan Papelbon in the offseason to close games out.  Papelbon is one of the top relievers in the game, despite his 2011 finale against the Orioles, where he blew the game and the season for the Red Sox.

The Phillies have a decent offense.  Ryan Howard is coming off of an injury, and had a bit of an offseason in 2011, hitting just .253 with 33 home runs.

Chase Utley has been in decline the past three years, each year worst than the last.  To be fair, he has been riddled with injuries over the past two seasons.  He hit just .259 with 11 homers last season.

I’m not thrilled with Placido Polonco as the Phillies third baseman.  Third base is a power position, and Polonco is a contact hitter.  He hit .277 with 5 HR and 50 RBI last year, along with a .335 on base percentage.

However, the Phillies brought in Ty Wigginton to be a super utility type player, and he could unseat Polonco as the regular starter at third.

Phillies fans have to be upbeat about their outfield.  They have John Mayberry in left field, or possibly Laynce Nix… Shane Victorino in centerfield and Hunter Pence in right field.

For me, I’m most intrigued with Jim Thome signing with the Phillies.  Thome hasn’t played the field much in recent years, but I’m hoping that he gets some time at first base, and isn’t just a pinch-hit only type guy like Matt Stairs was the final few years of his career.

Here’s their 2012 statistical projections.
C Carlos Ruiz .289-6-43
1B Ryan Howard .259-29-98
1B Jim Thome .266-14-43
2B Chase Utley .279-20-74
3B Placido Polanco .284-6-52
3B Ty Wigginton .258-10-34
SS Jimmy Rollins .279-19-74
LF John Mayberry .261-24-77
CF Shane Victorino .272-18-67
RF Hunter Pence .302-23-91

SP Roy Halladay 19-8, 2.42 ERA, 234 IP, 212 K
SP Cliff Lee 19-8, 2.89 ERA, 221 IP, 210 K
SP Cole Hamels 14-10, 3.11 ERA, 191 K
SP Vance Worley 12-8, 3.90 ERA, 135 K
SP Joe Blanton 5-4, 4.66 ERA, 100 IP, 81 K
RP Jonathan Papelbon 3.34 ERA, 30 saves, 65 IP, 80 K
RP Antonio Bastadro 3.43 ERA, 3 saves, 60 IP, 74 K

2nd place:  Atlanta Braves (My prediction 87-75)
The Atlanta Braves are going to battle it out with the Marlins and Nationals all season long for a wild card spot.  For me, the Braves starting rotation gives them a slight edge.

Tim Hudson is 36 years old, but figures to be the ace of the staff, after posting a 16-10 record with a 3.22 ERA in 2011.

The Braves also welcome back Jair Jurrjens in 2011, despite trying to trade him and Martin Prado for most of the offseason.  Jurrjens had a 2.96 ERA last season.

Tommy Hanson began spring training a bit banged up after being in an accident, but his concussion like symptoms should be cleared up by opening day.  Hanson struggled at times in 2011, posting a 3.60 ERA.

Brandon Beachy led the Braves last year with 169 strikeouts, and continues the trend of top to bottom rotational depth on the Braves.

For their fifth starter, the Braves will choose either Julio Teheran or Mike Minor.   With a rotation like they have lined up, its hard not to choose them as second in the division, no matter how much I don’t like them.

Offensively, the Braves have some stars with Brian McCann behind the plate (24 HR in ’11)

and Dan Uggla (36 HR) at second.  Uggla couldn’t hit his weight for much of the season before going on an impressive 33 game hitting streak to salvage his season.

The Braves also have some questions marks.  Will Chipper Jones be able to play regularly at a high level?  He’s 40 years old now, and hasn’t been able to stay in the lineup regularly for two years now.

Will Jason Heyward’s reconstructed swing hasten him back to the days of 2010 when he was a star rookie?  Or will he struggle again like he did in 2011? (.227/14/14)

Will Matt Diaz defy all odds and actually hit a home run?

How will Tyler Pastornicky do?  He could be the team’s opening day shortstop.

2012 Statistical Projections:
C Brian McCann .263-22-70
1B Freddie Freeman .296-22-83
2B Dan Uggla .253-36-90
3B Chipper Jones .268-18-67
SS Tyler Pastornicky .256-4-29
LF Martin Prado .271-15-67
CF Michael Bourne .290-2-51
RF Jason Heyward .255-19-66

SP Tim Hudson 17-10, 3.05 ERA, 224 IP, 155 K
SP Jair Jurrjens 15-10, 3.57 ERA, 209 IP, 137 K
SP Tommy Hanson 15-8, 3.82 ERA, 177 IP, 171 K
SP Brandon Beachy 11-8, 3.78 ERA, 179 IP, 187 K
SP Julio Teheran 9-6, 4.01 ERA, 126 IP, 70 K
RP Craig Kimbrel 1.81 ERA, 35 saves, 70 IP, 118 K
RP Jonny Venters 2.35 ERA, 3 saves, 84 IP, 88 K

3rd place: Miami Marlins (My prediction 85-77)

The Marlins went on a spending spree this winter as they move into a new stadium this year.  Despite losing out on the Albert Pujols sweepstakes, they did manage to sign impact free agents Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, and Heath Bell.  It’s full steam ahead for the Marlins in 2012.

The Marlins offense looks to be quite good.  They’ve got John Buck, who has power, but struggles to hit for average behind the plate.  He only hit .227 last year.

Gaby Sanchez is a solid first baseman offensively – he hit 19 homers last year.  He’s no Albert Pujols, but he’s respectable.  At least he throws a mean clothesline.  Ask Nyjer Morgan.

Omar Infante and Emilio Bonifacio could share time at second base in 2012.  Bonifacio could also spend time in the outfield, displacing Chris Coghlan.

Hanley Ramirez will garner some attention as he moves from shortstop to third base.  Ramirez appeared to be upset with the move at first, which was necessitated when the Marlins traded for Reyes.  However, he seems to be warming up to the idea of playing third, and hopefully his bat warms too, because he was bad last year.  The former All Star only hit .243 with 10 homers.

Jose Reyes was the batting champ last year, and probably the third best free agent behind Pujols and Prince Fielder in 2012.  He brings speed and excitement to the Marlins.

The outfield looks solid at the corners with Mike Stanton on track to have another monster year.  He launched 34 home runs in 2011, and figures to hit even more as he continues to age and progress as a player.  He’s only 22 years old after all.

Logan Morrison, known more for his antics off the field with his zany twitter alter-ego LoMo, hopes to make a name for himself on it as well this year.  He did well in 2011, hitting 23 home runs, but saw his average dip to .247.

In center field, Emilio Bonifacion will play, or possibly Chris Coghlan.  Coghlan was injured much of 2011, hitting only .230.  Some would say it’s karma after this incident involving fellow ballhawker the Happy Youngster.  Coghlan went on to win the rookie of the year, while the Happy Youngster got a bad rep and faded away from the ballhawking scene.  Maybe the Youngster makes a comeback in ’12?

As far as their rotation is concerned, the Marlins look like they’ll be decent, but not great.

Josh Johnson is returning from an injury, but has the talent to be a front line starter.  He had a 1.64 ERA in 9 starts before being injured last season.

Mark Buehrle is a proven veteran that is a solid #2 starter.

Behind those two, the Marlins have Ricky Nolasco, and Anibal Sanchez.  Nothing spectacular, but acceptable as starters.

Interestingly, the Marlins traded for Carlos Zambrano.  After a rocky career in Chicago, things have been quiet so far on the Zambrano front.

At the back of the bullpen, they’ve got Heath Bell to close things out.  Bell had 43 saves for a poor Padres team in 2011, so he could do even better in 2012.

2012 Statistical Projections:
C John Buck .241-17-66
1B Gaby Sanchez .262-18-76
2B Omar Infante .290-10-59
3B Hanley Ramirez .291-22-91
SS Jose Reyes .318-10-52
LF Logan Morrison .250-24-80
CF Emilio Bonifacio .292-4-31
RF Mike Stanton .265-38-97

SP Josh Johnson 14-6, 2.54 ERA, 226 IP, 216 K
SP Mark Buehrle 13-10, 3.89 ERA, 204 IP, 103 K
SP Ricky Nolasco 13-12, 4.60 ERA, 205 IP, 168 K
SP Anibal Sanchez 9-10, 3.64 ERA, 180 IP, 169 K
SP Carlos Zambrano 11-10, 4.52 ERA, 163 IP, 120 K
RP Heath Bell 2.64 ERA, 41 saves, 65 IP, 65 K
RP Juan Oviedo 4.00 ERA, 4 saves, 63 IP, 59 K

4th place: Washington Nationals (My prediction: 84-78)
The Nationals are an improved team over last year, they added Edwin Jackson and are getting Stephen Strasburg back from an injury that cost him most of 2011.

The Nationals were unlucky and lost out on the Prince Fielder sweepstakes to Detroit and are stuck with Adam LaRoche as their first baseman.  LaRoche should not get Nationals fans excited.  Based on his track record, he will be abysmal until the All Star break and then recover to finish with a slightly above average line.  I’ve seen it in Pittsburgh.  Us Pirates fans were expecting 40 HR and 100 RBI with the short right field fence, but it never came close to happening with LaRoche.  If LaRoche really bombs in his rebound year from injury, the Nats could put Mike Morse at first base and open up a spot in the outfield for Bryce Harper.

Wilson Ramos, acquired from the Nationals for ex-Pirates reliever Matt Capps survived a harrowing ordeal during the offseason when he was kidnapped at gunpoint and held captive.  Thankfully, he was rescued without injury and looks to follow up a 15 HR, .445 slugging season with another decent offensive showing.

The Nationals have a power source at second base in Danny Espinosa.  He slugged 21 homers last year despite hitting just .236.

Ryan Zimmerman just signed a $100 million dollar contract to keep him in a Nationals uniform til 2020.  That’s a serious commitment to what many in the Nationals brass consider the face of the franchise.  Zimmerman was injured for part of 2011, and hit only 12 homers – but if healthy, he’s capable of putting up 25-30 HR on the board while playing excellent defense.  He’ll want to prove to everyone that he’s worth the $100 million.  Although one baseball writer tweeted, “$100 million is an awful lot for a one time all-star.”

In the outfield, the Nationals are set with Michael Morse, Roger Bernadina and Jayson Werth.  Werth was terrible in 2011.  He may have hit 20 homers, but Nationals fans expected more power, and certainly better than a .232 batting average and .389 slugging percentage.  Werth was one of the best players in the league before signing with the Nationals.  His statistics took a nosedive once he joined the team.  He is one of several reasons why the Nationals could be the surprise team in 2012.  Can he return to the Werth that roamed the outfield for the Phillies?

Michael Morse is probably my favorite Nationals player.  If you get the chance to go to a Nationals game, simply stand in left center field and get ready to be bombarded with home run balls.  The guy is a monster.  He reminds me a lot of Mike Stanton in terms of body structure and pure power.  After hitting .303/31/95 in 2011, he could be a candidate to hit 40 homers.

A major question in the Nationals outfield leading into 2012 is if Bryce Harper will be the starting right fielder in 2012.  Manager Davey Johnson said the 19 year old has a chance.  If he makes the team, expect the same level of hype to follow Harper around that Stephen Strasburg had back in 2010.

In terms of the rotation, its much improved after the signing of Edwin Jackson to an 11 million dollar one year contract.  Personally, I don’t think much of Jackson after he spurned the Pirates 3 year $30 million offer to accept less money with the Nationals.  He’s an excellent #2 pitcher though.

The ace of the Nationals is Stephen Strasburg and he may be babied again in 2012 as the Nats seem terrified of him getting injured again.  If Strasburg weren’t on strict pitch counts, his strike out numbers could be ridiculous.  However, he still has amazing stuff and should baffle hitters all season long.  He’s a special player.  I’ll never forget attending his major league debut against the Pirates in Washington DC in June of 2010.

The Nationals’ third starter is Gio Gonzalez, the ex-ace of the Oakland Athletics.  He posted a 16-12 record with a 3.12 ERA in the American League last year.  Reason states that his ERA should drop a little since he doesn’t have to face the DH in the National League anymore.

The Nationals rest of the rotation is average.  At the back end they’ve got Drew Storen to close out games, or possibly new addition Brad Lidge.

2012 Statistical Projections:
C Wilson Ramos .269-16-55
1B Adam LaRoche .243-14-56
2B Danny Espinosa .258-23-72
3B Ryan Zimmerman .296-24-81
SS Ian Desmond .261-8-51
LF Michael Morse .300-30-90
CF Roger Bernadina .238-7-30
RF Jayson Werth .245-20-64

SP Stephen Strasburg 13-6, 2.40 ERA, 139 IP, 151 K
SP Gio Gonzalez 16-11, 3.25 ERA, 211 IP, 208 K
SP Jordan Zimmerman 10-19, 4.33 ERA, 141 IP, 102 K
SP Edwin Jackson 13-9, 3.95 ERA, 203 IP, 156 K
SP John Lannan 12-11, 4.01 ERA, 191 IP, 117 K
SP Chien Ming Wang 9-7, 3.83 ERA, 125 IP, 47
RP Drew Storen 3.01 ERA, 38 saves, 81 IP, 81 K
RP Tyler Clippard 2.34 ERA, 0 saves, 85 IP, 100 K

5th place:  New York Mets (My prediction 62-100)
The Mets are going to be bad in 2012.  They are slashing payroll left and right, and might deal David Wright at the trade deadline this year.

Am I wrong Mets fans?  I think they’ll lose 100 games.  The division is tough, and they are worse than last year.

David Wright is the long bright spot, but there’s really no one to protect him in the order.

Ike Davis has some pop, but will be be consistent throughout the season?

Then there’s Jason Bay, one of the biggest free agent busts since Barry Zito.  After signing a $66 million contract, Bay has done next to nothing.  Maybe moving the fences in at Citi Field will help him some.

Andres Torres, a 4th or 5th outfielder on just about every other team, will be the starting center fielder.

Ruben Tejada is no Jose Reyes at shortstop.  He has no power, but can hit for an acceptable average near .300.

The rotation pales in comparison to the other four teams in the division.  Johan Santana will finally be back after missing an eternity due to injury.  If he’s half the pitcher he used to be, he’ll still be the best pitcher on the Mets.

It’s going to be a long year.  At least watching RA Dickeys facial expressions and knuckleball should be fun.

2012 Statistical Projections:

C Josh Thole .273-4-46
1B Ike Davis .260-20-73
2B Daniel Murphy .318-8-66
3B David Wright .269-20-87
SS Ruben Tejada .288-0-60
LF Jason Bay .252-16-76
CF Andres Torres .237-6-27
RF Lucas Duda .301-13-61

SP Johan Santana 12-7, 2.84 ERA, 162 IP, 142 K
SP Mike Pelfrey 11-11, 4.39 ERA, 193 IP, 106 K
SP Jonathon Niese 10-11, 4.43 ERA, 167 IP, 146 K
SP Dillon Gee 12-10, 4.79 ERA, 179 IP, 134 K
SP RA Dickey 9-12, 3.13 ERA, 201 IP, 125 K
RP Frank Francisco 3.33 ERA, 28 saves, 51 IP, 55 K
RP Jon Rauch 4.05 ERA, 5 saves, 53 IP, 39 K

So, to review,  I have:
1) Phillies
2) Braves
3) Marlins
4) Nationals
5) Mets

I think the Braves, Marlins, and Nationals could be pretty much interchangeable though, as they are all similar in talent level.

What are your thoughts?

Leave a comment!

There’s only 37 days until opening day, and 4 days until the first broadcasted game on MLB TV (Yankees vs Phillies). Also, the first listed Spring Training game on the MLB schedule is tomorrow when the Phillies take on the Seminoles. Also, just five more days to win this LA Dodgers shirt.

Indians ticket design

I’m working on a longer posting that I’ll put up in a bit, but these two topics aren’t related, thus separate threads.

I got a bunch of Indians box office tickets in the mail today. As a full season ticket holder, I was given the opportunity to buy tickets before the general public, so I purchased a bunch for opening day and the Red Sox and Yankees series.

Check out the design:

I like it. I wish the PNC Park box office would take a cue from the Indians and feature their ballpark in the background. Instead, there’s usually some generic background.

Also, I keep checking the mail everyday waiting for my season tickets to arrive. I’m getting antsy. I have three clubs that have yet to send me my season tickets! I believe the Phillies already sent them to their season ticket holders.

Alright, back to today’s main entry…

Los Angeles Dodgers Shirt Giveaway

I’ve been posting everyday (38 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,
a Dustin Pedroia shirt to Stephen D,
and a Phillies shirt to Connor.

This week’s shirt is a Los Angeles Dodgers Majestic Classic Print shirt:

Here’s a close up view of the front:

And it still has tags.

The winner may choose a medium or large size.

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 myself choose a name from a hat and announce the winner.

I haven’t yet done a preview of the NL West, but I think the Dodgers will probably battle it out for third place.  They were in turmoil last year, as owner Frank McCourt’s divorce drove them to the brink of bankruptcy.  Last time I heard, the Dodgers were going to be put up for sale.  New owners could help put the franchise back on track.

The Dodgers were frustrating for me last year when they came to PNC Park.  They refused to toss a single ball into the stands, likely as a result of their financial problems.  I reckoned that players might have been prohibited by coaches.  Nonetheless, I still have one really decent game against the Dodgers, snagging 11 balls.

The Dodgers are led by Matt Kemp, who didn’t let Hollywood or his superstar girlfriend Rihanna slow him down in 2011.

He was many fans’ choice for MVP, and finished second to Ryan Braun as he hit .324 while leading the league with 39 homers and 126 RBI.  Oh yeah, he also stole 40 bases.  Had the Dodgers even been somewhat in contention, I believe he would’ve been the MVP.

It can be argued that the Dodgers have the best position player and pitcher in the National League.  Clayton Kershaw led the league in wins with a record of 21-5, in ERA with 2.28, and strikeouts with 248.  He won the Cy Young for his amazing season.

The 2011 Dodgers won 82 games.  They need some more offensive punch besides Kemp to win in 2012.  Their starting 2B, 3B, SS, and LF combined for 6 home runs last year.

How do you think the Dodgers will do in 2012?  Leave a comment and throw your hat into the ring for the shirt.

There’s only 38 days until opening day, and 5 days until the first broadcasted game on MLB TV (Yankees vs Phillies).  Also, the first listed Spring Training game on the MLB schedule is Wednesday 2/29 when the Phillies take on the Seminoles.  Baseball is here my friends.

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