You may recall, I blogged that the Pirates were having a pre-Opening day workout and batting practice. I blogged about it here.
Initially, I thought that it would be for season ticket holders only, as the email was sent under the guise of ‘SEASON TICKET HOLDER NEWS,’ but alas, it was free and open to the public, so it turned into what I would liken to a Kids Sunday game.
I had to work until 2:35, so I didn’t even get down to the park until sometime after 3.
And check out a few minor changes. Diamond Pizza put a sitting area outside on the concourse beneath the left field GA bleachers.
And a video game station has been installed under the left field bleachers – moved from behind section 101 which is going to be a fancy bar.
When the Pirates started hitting, a ball rolled near the bullpen door, so I went to glove trick it. It was going to be nice to be on the board. However, as soon as I took my glove out, a supervisor raced over and told me that it wasn’t allowed. I have done the glove trick without incident since 2009 at PNC Park, so this was deflating. I snagged 89 balls last year with the glove trick alone, so my stats may take a big hit this year. Later on, I watched as the same supervisor (whom I have never seen before, I should also mention- all of the supervisors from last year where great) raced for and scrummed a ball, which I thought wasn’t right – he gave it away, but still.
I got shut out for a long time, which was frustrating. There were no ushers working today, so lots of fans were standing on bleachers and sitting on seat backs, which is far more dangerous than me lowering my glove 6 feet.
So, overall, the whole thing was a disappointment.
I ended up moving towards the bullpen where it was more empty, and I came up with a Casey McGehee ball. It bounced into the seats and took a generous roll right to me. I just had to pick it up underneath the bleacher as fans from all directions closed in.
I should also mention that I have never seen such aggression from fans in the stands at PNC Park. There were people diving on concrete, diving up the stairs for balls, etc.
Another disappointment was that all of center field and right field was off limits. Boo! So when Pedro Alvarez was up, I just watched helplessly as he peppered the center field seats.
By the way, how much longer does Pedro get before the Pirates ship him out to the minors? His spring was awful. He strikes out 1 out of 3 plate appearances. If Matt Hague hits, I could really see Pedro as the odd man out and Hague could be in the 1B/3B platoon mix rather than being a bench player.
Anyhow, I got another ball from Jeff Karstens near the end of BP. Karstens flipped it to some kids in the front row, who fought over it and totally missed it. The ball bounced to me a few rows back. I picked it up, and gave it to the girl in the pink:
That was a lucky toss up, it was hard to get any players attention during BP because any time they shagged a ball a chorus of ‘HERE HERE HERE HERE’ rang out from the front row.
At 4:40, the Pirates stopped hitting, and the supervisors shooed everyone out of left field, telling the fans that the Phillies had opted for a closed practice. Thanks Charlie Manuel.
Rather than stand on the Riverwalk outside the stadium while the numerous Phillies lefties hit, we left.
A crappy start to the 2012 season for sure. Hopefully things will pick up, next week at this time, I will have attended 8 MLB games if my plans/ambitions hold.
Game: 2 balls (1 hit, 1 thrown)
Season: 2 balls
Games: 1 games
Average: 2.00 per game
Career: 1,546 balls
2012 by stadium:
PNC Park: 2 balls in 1 game (1,157 total in PNC career)
I went to PNC Park yesterday with Amy and Olivia. Amy had an orientation for the 2012 season, and Olivia and I walked around the exterior of the stadium, and took note of what subtle changes we could see. In two days, this place is going to be packed, but today, it was a ghost town.
We began at the corner of Federal Street and General Robinson and walked towards the Clemente bridge. The Pirates main offices are located there on the right:
We stopped at the Center Field gate and peered in, but there wasn’t much to see. It looked like it does on Sunday mornings when there is no BP.
The Clemente Bridge was a sight for sore eyes. Beside proposing to Amy on it on Valentine’s Day, it’s also the place of many pre-game throwing sessions with fellow ballhawks.
Did you notice all of the leaves on the trees? The tulips are in full bloom too.
By the way, while we’re talking about trees… Check out the General Robinson side of PNC Park.
All of those trees, every one, is DEAD. I thought for sure they would be replaced after last year. Am I the only one that has noticed? They are decaying, moldy, and all obviously dead and dried out.
Anyhow, Olivia and I made our way to the left field gate and peered in.
It looks pretty much the same except for a large Rally Pass booth. In 2012, when you spin the prize wheel, you’ll pick your prizes up right there. No more walking over to section 101 to get your prize. That area has been made into a bar. You’ll really notice it when you walk up the stairs from the Clemente Wall area to the main concourse. The open air above your heads on the stairs is now covered by a floor which makes up most of the bar.
Also, the Pirates, replaced an old crappy bland scoreboard that announced upcoming games with a more classy looking ‘Home of the Pirates’ sign above the Center Field / Clemente statue gate:
It was time to go down to the Riverwalk.
Oh wait, it was closed.
Oh well, we went down anyhow.
But the riverwalk really was closed. Fences had been erected in the spot where PNC ballhawks usually do pre-BP ballhawking, waiting for balls to bounce out:
The fences were put in place because the riverwalk was being replaced. New cement slabs were being put in.
We walked back, took in the Clemente bridge from below:
And walked across the Clemente bridge to get a better view of the stadium:
One thing that you may not be able to tell in the picture above is that the tops of all of the trees in the picnic area and along the riverwalk for that matter had been cut off:
This was done undoubtedly to keep the city skyline unobstructed.
We walked back and around to the Mazeroski statue,
and passed the right field garages which were all opened and reeked of smoke.
There had been a fire in the laundry room. Cleaners had washed mop heads and dryer sheets and a fire broke out. There were charred uniforms in the garage. The uniforms were for workers, chefs and the like – I didn’t see any player uniforms that were burned. I learned all of this from a boss who was on his cell phone talking about the insurance, and that they had a $100,000 deductible, and that they were having a fire restoration team come in, yadda yadda yadda.
It was nice to be back at the park after months away.
There’s only 2 more days until Opening Day, and tomorrow there is an Opening Day ‘preview’ batting practice, so I should be snagging my first baseball of the 2012 season sometime tomorrow afternoon. Check back soon! And also, you have until Sunday to win a Justin Morneau shirt!
As a big time smartphone user, I wanted to let my fellow bloggers know about a cool app that I’ve been using a lot recently. It’s the WordPress app, and it makes running and updating your blog a lot easier.
Let’s say you want to edit a blog entry because you made a mistake. Or, you could even be at a ballgame and editing/updating your blog as the action is unfolding in front of you. You just have to click the entry you want to work on, and from there it’s easy.
Simply type away, like you would do if you were at a keyboard. You can do pretty much everything that you could do on a computer, even put in pictures and all that jazz. If you have an Iphone 4S, you can just dictate your text and the phone will do everything for you.
One of the chores of running a blog is keeping up with the comments. Its really tough to write daily and respond to comments all the time, and lots of time, comments need to be approved if the commenter is posting from a new IP address or is a first time commenter. You can easily read and respond to all comments on this app too:
The other thing I love about this app is the ability to monitor your site stats. Sure, you can do it on the computer too, but if you just want to do a quick check of how your blog is faring , just click the stats in the toolbar at the bottom.
You can see monthly:
Weekly (runs Monday to Sunday on the app):
You can also see you daily views as numerical data:
You can also see what your most popular posts have been over the past 7 days. For me, my divisional previews have been big time view builders for a few weeks now:
You can also check out your referrers to see what sites are sending your blog traffic, as well as what search terms people are using to land on your blog.
It’s a useful too, so if you’re a blogger, I suggest you check it out.
There’s only 5 more days until Opening Day. Wow. It’s the end of March. Time has flown. Tomorrow I’ll be giving away this Andrew McCutchen shirt, and I’m thinking about doing a tournament to give it away. Check back for details soon!
I assembled my glove trick today.
It’s the first time that I put the glove trick together since I had my glove redone this winter. The tape was used to tape the pen to a strap on the glove so it won’t fall out on the field. The pen holds the glove open. The rubber band holds the ball in place.
Amy, Olivia and I went to a deserted mall parking lot and I placed five balls on the ground. I then went up to the second level of the parking garage. From a height of about twenty feet, I glove tricked the five balls.
The height is way more challenging than the six foot wall at PNC Park. There was a wind to deal with today too, of about 15 mph. This was my first practice with the glove trick since the end of 2011.
Your challenge is this:
Guess how long it took to glove trick all 5 balls. You guesses should be in intervals of 5 seconds. For example, a guess could be 0:05, and that’s all you’d have to post in the comments.
I will also give each commenter 2 guesses. You can use both right away, or be strategic and save one or both for later, as I will close this contest after the FIRST CORRECT ANSWER.
I will then post the video for your entertainment and proof.
The winner gets this shirt:
Its never been worn, its one of the many free shirt giveaways from PNC Park that I got in 2011. It’s a size XL, but the PNC park giveaway shirts wear about a size small, so it fits almost like a large.
Contest closed. Here’s the video:
I’ve determined that the official time is 5:05.
I’ve got to get to bed, so I’ll comb through the responses, do the math, see who’s closest, announce the winner, and email them tomorrow.
If you read this blog regularly during the baseball season, you often only read about my glove work and snagging. That’s only part of what I love about baseball. I also love hitting. Ever since I was little I loved hitting, I would often go to an empty field and hit off of a tee or throw balls up and hit them just to practice my swing and try to hit balls over fences. Hitting home runs is something I’ve always enjoyed.
Today was a rather nice day in the Pittsburgh area, so Amy, Olivia and I headed to a park.
I brought along my bat and 17 baseballs to practice my home run swing and try and hit some deep flies. I did ok in the first round until I tweaked my back because my front foot slid while I was swinging, thanks to a ridiculously wet infield.
I was still able to swing ok with just a little discomfort, so I decided to continue with my hitting.
The field that I hit at is a large space where three little league fields converge. I moved to the right field corner of this field to hit with the intent of hitting the balls over the backstop and dugout opposite me on the third baseline:
This was the view that I was looking at:
I stationed Amy ( who was holding our daughter Olivia) on the hill up above the dugout. I made sure that she was about 400 feet away or so and out of the range of getting drilled with a baseball. I then asked her to film me hitting my 17 baseballs.
The contest is this: Guess, by posting a comment, how many baseballs (0-17) I hit over the fence on the fly for home runs.
Let’s give you some biographical info so that you can make your best educated guess.
Weight: 240 pounds
Bench press max: 285 pounds (I’ve been working on this all winter)
Bat Length: 33 inches
Bat Weight: 30 ounces
*Bat is BBCor standard.
If you need to see my swing, you can watch a video in this blog entry.
So, how many of the 17 balls ended up being home runs? Post your guess!
-One guess per person
-There can be more than one winner.
-Guesses should be a number between 0-17.
-At the end of the contest, I will post a youtube video for you to watch the results – it’s under 5 minutes long.
-The winners will be contacted by me via email, so make sure the email you use when leaving a comment is current.
-If you won and you don’t get an email, check your spam folder.
So what will you win?
You’ll get an unopened pack of vintage baseball cards from 1985-1995, AND a Dave Matthews Band DVD. The DVD is not a copy, its an actual pressed DVD! Why? Because I love Dave Matthews Band too, not just baseball.
Leave a comment to enter!
Good luck and thanks for reading!
Here’s the video: Remember, whoever guessed it dead on wins, if not, the next closest guess wins:
Count ’em up! (You may want to make it full screen, I’m like a spec off in the distance)
I realize now it’s a little tough to tell. I hit 12 out of 17 for homers. Connor picked 13, Casey Ward 11, so you both win! Check your email.
The Pirates sent out an email inviting their season ticket holders to come out and watch as the Pirates and Phillies take batting practice and run through drills the day before the Home Opener, April 4th.
Admission will be free. There is no actual game, the game will be the next day. Kudos to the Pirates for doing this. I know that the Reds also open up their gates the day before the opener for their fans, and always thought it was a great idea.
Anyhow, the gates open at 2:30, which poses a problem to me, since I am still working at that time. I should be able to make it down to PNC Park in time to catch part of the Pirates batting practice and all of the Phillies BP. Therein lies a potential problem for me. Should I could the balls I get at the workout in my official stats or not?
Here’s why I shouldn’t:
1) There isn’t an actual game
Here’s why I should:
1) Almost all ballhawks count the balls they snag at the Home Run Derby in their collection. That isn’t a game. If I remember correctly it’s All Star ‘work out’ and Home Run derby. I don’t see much of a difference between this and that.
2) The balls are hit by major league players
3) The balls are snagged at a major league park, hit by MLB players
4) Other fans will be in attendance, creating competition
5) Spring Training is over, so these wouldn’t be considered spring training balls
6) I’ve seen other ballhawks count less than credible balls such as ball found on tours when no game was taking place, balls that were purchased or won in a team store raffle, balls that were found by another person and held until the ballhawk could claim it, etc etc. Some ballhawks even count spring training balls in their stats. I’ve been to spring training. I once snagged about 10 balls and I was literally the only person standing there.
I don’t see why I shouldn’t count these balls in my collection, so I think I’m going to.
What do you think? Should I? Should I definitely not?
Also, I’m doing a contest tonight. I’m so pumped for the season that I may just do a giveaway every single day leading up to Opening Day. So check back soon. Tonight, the first correct answer wins!
There’s only 9 more days until Opening Day, and you have until Sunday to win this Andrew McCutchen shirt.
Not too long ago, the Marlins opened up their park to their season ticket holders to take a lot around and familiarize themselves with the brand new stadium. I went digging around various websites recently to show you what the new park looks like.
Here’s your sneak peak:
A view from the seats to the right side of home plate, facing left field:
Another view from roughly the same angle:
From farther back:
And looking slightly to the left:
So what are we looking at out there? If you look closely, left field is awful for BP. There are 2.5 sections of seating with maybe nine rows. The rows look like they could be a bit steep, like right field in PNC Park and Cincinnati.
There are bullpens there too that will swallow up most of the home runs hit in batting practice.
Then there’s also a huge sculpture in left center field.
I’m not really sure how I feel about that sculpture. At first I thought it looked pretty hideous, but I thought the Marlins new uniforms looked awful, but they are starting to grow on me. Maybe in time the oddly placed piece of art will find a home in my heart.
What do you think of it? Personally, I would’ve rather them put more seats out there.
Here’s another angle of the Marlins Park sculpture in left center field. No matter how many angles I look at, I still just don’t really care for it.
Anyhow, here’s a side view of the sculpture. Take a look at those steps leading down behind it. Where do they go? Why isn’t anyone on them? Are they closed to the public? That is prime real estate for a home run ball. If I was a Marlins ballhawk, I’d probably just hang down there all game and gobble up game home runs.
Those steps have to be open to the public! Look how many of them there are! It’s wide enough that it looks like it was built for public use.
I tried to find pictures to see where the steps went to, but couldn’t. Check this out:
That’s right ballhawks. RAILINGS. Oh man, LF is going to be awful for batting practice.
Since we’re talking about left field, here’s a view of home plate from left:
That picture kind of sucks, so here’s a better one:
Let’s move over to center field:
Here’s a dead on view of center field:
And here’s the batting eye, looking toward right field.
Notice right field also has those dreadful railings. That’s not the only problem. There’s also an overhang, and it looks like it covers nearly the entire lower level of right field. Getting home runs balls during BP there will be limited, a la Citi Field right field.
You can see the outfield set up from this photo:
Here’s the main seating area in foul territory. It reminds me of PNC Park with the cross aisle running around the field several rows behind the dugout:
The press box behind home plate:
A look in from near the left field foul pole:
And the right field foul pole:
A view from third base looking out towards right field:
Have you heard about the live aquariums behind the plate?
Should be pretty cool for anyone sitting down close:
A batting practice shot:
And finally, here’s a shot of the scoreboard:
Let’s head out to the concourse:
They look rather crowded, and this was just at fan fest. If there’s one thing I hate its a crowded concourse. There’s nothing worse at a baseball game than tiptoeing through a crowd.
Parts of the concourse look pretty snazzy thought:
Here’s a crowd waiting to get in outside:
It will likely look like that before every game, as the Marlins, using poor judgement, are only opening the park 90 minutes early before the games. STUUUUUUPID!
What do you all think? I think the park is nice looking, but I wouldn’t rank it in the top 5 of all of the baseball parks based off of the pictures, maybe not even in the top 10.
I think its going to be h*ll for batting practice, given the layout of the outfield and the late gate opening times.
What’s everyone else think? Anyone planning on going there this year?
There’s only 11 more days until Opening Day, and you could win this David Wright shirt tomorrow!
Yesterday, Chipper Jones announced that the 2012 season would be his last. Jones has been somewhat of a polarizing figure in his career. Atlanta Braves fans love him, while fans of NL East teams, particularly the Mets, seem to hate him.
Well fans, you’ll have one more chance to boo or cheer Chipper Jones this season. Jones will have a farewell tour in the fact that fans will know that this is the last time that they will ever see him play. If the Braves don’t make the playoffs, (which they may not since the NL East is much improved) your last chance to see Chipper Jones will be at PNC Park on October 3rd.
Personally, I like it better when a player of Jones’ caliber lets the baseball world know that this will be it. This way, fans can watch them play one more time. Jones was special in the fact that he played his entire career for one team – a feat that is becoming more rare as the years pass.
Is Jones a first ballot Hall of Famer? Let’s look at his numbers.
He hit 454 home runs, 2615 hits, .304 batting average, .533 slugging, .935 OPS, won an MVP award, 7 All Star appearances. I’d say he is. He’s had a great career.
How’d you feel about Chipper Jones? Like him? Hate him? Indifferent?
I used to hate him because I hated his wry smile and his sunflower seed stuffed cheek. However, after watching him play and watching him hit in batting practice I grew to appreciate him.
I think I’ll be posting more today – maybe another mini contest for a shirt. Check back soon.
Have any of you ever been on a home run chase before? Where you’ve attended a game just for the chance of catching a player’s milestone home run?
I attended 3 games in Cleveland in 2010 in pursuit of Alex Rodriguez’s 600th home run and a possible $250,000 payday. I had it played perfectly too. The first two games, I waited alone down in Heritage Park in dead center field. I couldn’t see the game, but it the ball landed in the trees or flew into the monument sections, I’d have a good 20 second before anyone else could get down there to corral it.
Like most home run chases, it ended in disappointment, A-Rod failed to hit #600 in Cleveland. I also was in on Albert Pujols when he was at #399 at PNC Park, and Derrek Lee & Alfonso Soriano when they were both stuck on #299 at PNC Park.
Personally, I’d sell it. To give it back to the player would be nice and all, but to a regular fan, it’s like hitting the lottery.
So, here is a look at players who are approaching milestone home runs in 2012:
In parentheses are the home runs still needed to reach the milestone.
650 Home runs – Alex Rodriguez (21)
450 Home runs – Albert Pujols (5), Vlad Guerrero (1)
400 Home runs – David Ortiz (22), Adam Dunn (35), Paul Konerko (4)
300 Home runs – Ryan Howard (14), Miguel Cabrera (23)
250 Home runs – Derek Jeter (10)
200 Home runs – Jose Bautista (44), Curtis Granderson (33), David Wright (17), Nick Swisher (15), Justin Morneau (15), Chase Utley (12), Travis Hafner (11), Dan Uggla (10), Adrian Gonzalez (5)
Looking over my master schedule, I could possibly have a shot a Miguel Cabrera’s 300th if he gets out to a hot start near the end of May in Cleveland. If Adam Dunn rebounds, I could have a shot at his 400th at the end of the season, also in Clevelnad. If Justin Morneau can recover from his concussion symtoms, he could be around 14 homers when the Twins visit PNC Park in June.
Will any of you alter your plans this summer for a particular chance at a milestone?
In other non-baseball news, its the first day of spring.
It was 80 degrees in PA, so Amy, Olivia and I headed out to Linn Run state park near Ligonier PA. Olivia was loving the water at this area known as flat rock, which is a giant flat rock over which a rushing stream flows. It’s a natural water slide – but I didn’t swim. I just held Olivia as she kicked in the water.
We were having a blast.
Olivia couldn’t get enough of the water.
Anyway, the wonderful day then took a turn for the worst. Three college aged girls came and joined us at the rock.
There really wasn’t anyone else around. Moments later, two random guys walked up the trail and stopped at the rock too. Our tranquility had been ruined. The girls kicked off their sandals and waded onto the flat rock, just to get their feet wet.
We were about to leave, when one of the girls slipped on the slippery rock and face planted hard onto the unforgiving rock and got washed downstream a bit. Her friends thought it was funny at first. However, her face was split open and it was gushing blood.
It was ridiculous. And gruesome. Blood was running down her arms. Amy offered a diaper to keep on it to absorb the blood, but was turned down, as the girl decided to remove an article of her clothing to use as a compress. She couldn’t walk because she was losing so much blood. The walk back to the parking lot was at least a half mile. Craziness. Thankfully the two random guys carried her back.
I didn’t think it was right to take a picture of it, but there was blood everywhere. After we got back to our car and left, I did snap a photo of the ambulance that came.
Just thought I’d share about my first day of spring. Sheesh.
There’s only 16 more days until Opening Day, and you can win this DAVID WRIGHT shirt on Sunday – the more you comment and read, the better your chances are! And, I’m thinking about doing another one of those 24 hour contests soon…
I’m giving away MLB Stuff every week on this blog to reward my readers.
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,
a Dodgers shirt to Matt Jackson,
a Ryan Zimmerman shirt to Big Brown Fox
a Nick Markakis shirt to NYBisons,
and this CC Sabathia shirt to Teen Reds Fan.
This week, I gave readers a chance to pick this shirt, and then the player.
Here’s how you win the shirt:
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, ‘I’m going to bed,’ and you retweeted it, it wouldn’t count as an entry, only RT with blog links count.
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.
So, what’s everyone think of the Mets’ chances in 2012. In my NL East preview, I buried the Mets in last place and predicted them to lose 100 games. By the way, Spring Training isn’t really a good indicator of how a team will do in the regular season due to the amount of minor league players involved, players just getting their work in, regardless if they’re struggling, etc… but the Mets are 3-11 this spring – worst in the MLB.
As far as David Wright in 2012, things aren’t getting underway well for him. He has a torn abdominal muscle and may not be ready for opening day. Hopefully for Wright, he can recover without surgery. Ryan Zimmerman had surgery for a torn abdominal muscle last year and missed half of the season.
How do you think the Mets will fare in 2012? How about David Wright? Will the moved in fences at Citi Field help him? He hit 30 homers in 2007 and 33 in 2008 – while only hitting 14 last year and posting a career worst .771 OPS and .254 average.
On another note, there’s only 17 more days until Opening Day. And it’s been in the 70’s for about a week here in PA with highs forecast at about 80 for the next three days. Olivia and I are loving this. We can sit on our deck at 7:30 PM and enjoy the birds singing and the sunset behind us.
There’s just one thing missing – baseball games. Soon we’ll be listening to the crack of the bat. Almost there…