Results tagged ‘ Craig Monroe ’

6-13-09 PNC Park

I had been in a slump over the past two days, botching or missing opportunities on 9 balls.  Usually, when players go into slumps, they break out of it in a big way.  That’s what happened to me today.

I was the first one into the bleacher area.  I was looking for Easter Eggs, but couldn’t find any.  Just then, I noticed a ball roll into foul territory and up against the fence near the handicapped seats in foul territory. 

As I got to the spot, I noticed a ball in this somewhat creepy hallway.
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I quickly grabbed ball #1, caught a glimpse of something at the end of the hallway, and made my way to the field area to grab the ball that originally brought me into foul ground.

Someone had left this utility fence open,
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After a few fly balls, he turned and flipped a ball, no-look style, into the crowd.  Most of the people around didn’t see it at first.  I did, and grabbed ball #10.  Double digits.  Ballpark domination.

I caught ball #11 on one of Van Slyke’s over hit fly balls.  I had to stand up on a bleacher to catch the ball.    I had tied my pe
rsonal record
.

Then, some d-bag came and said, “Alright, you’ve got your share.  I’m going to shut you down.  I need one for my son.  See Jimmy, I’ve got him boxed out.”  I just stared at the guy.  He was some 5’7″ guy wearing a yellow Pirates shirt, and he didn’t even have a glove.  I stared right at him.  He had no chance against me.  I’m 6’5″. 

His son kept screaming, “Give me the ball!”  I was hoping he wouldn’t get one.

Soon, Van Slyke over hit another ball.   I didn’t have to move much, and caught the ball once again, with the assistance of standing on the bleacher, for ball #12.  

I made sure to rub the ball up and carefully inspect it in front of the d-bag that was going to “shut me down.”    He just looked and then moved around me to the other side that I had just caught the ball.

His son then got a ball from Joel Zumaya.  It was an International League ball, a minor league ball.  The kid started whining and complaining. 

I stayed in this area for almost the entire batting practice.  A few minutes later, Zumaya started trying to rob home runs.  Van Slyke over hit another one.  I was right there, catching ball #13 on the fly.  At this point I could hear people around me whispering, “How many is that for that guy?”

Zumaya and Jackson took their home run robbing act a bit over into left field and away from the 410 sign near the bullpen, where I had just snagged those 4 balls.  I was going to follow them, but it was insanely crowded.
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Seriously, I’ve never seen a batting practice this crowded at PNC Park.
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Not even on opening day was it this crowded during batting practice.  I’m used to having an entire row open to my left and right, so I can have some range.  There would be none of that today.
photo(62).jpgBatting practice ended a few minutes later.  I tried to get balls during the game, but it wasn’t happening. 

There was a near sell out crowd.  Over 31,000 were in attendance.

The left field bleachers were packed.
100_1533.jpgThe center field and right field seats were packed.
100_1534.jpgHeck, the whole stadium was packed.
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Which is something we’re not used to here in Pittsburgh.
attendance.jpgI left after the 5th inning to get some dessert for my wife and I. 

Here’s a look at today’s baseballs:
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100_1543.jpgAnd the sweet spots:
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Top performances at PNC Park: (double digits)
1)  13 Erik J 6-13-09
2)  11 Erik J 4-21-09
2)  11 Matt G 9-20-08
3)  10 Bryan P 6-1-09?
3)  10 Erik J   5-5-09

STATISTICS:
Game:  13 Balls (12 hit, 1 thrown)
Season: 174 Balls (84 hit, 67 thrown, 24 device)
Games:  33 Games (4 of which didn’t have BP)
Average:  5.27 Balls per Game
Career:  340 Balls
Attendance:  31,411
Competition Factor:  408,343

6-12-09 PNC Park

Today was game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals featuring the Penguins vs the Detroit Red Wings.  Unfortunately, all the fans that weren’t able to get tickets to the game in Detroit seemingly decided to take the the 5 hour trip to see this baseball game.  There were Detroit fans everywhere.  Many of them were probably making the pilgrimage to see PNC Park for the first time, since its an interleague game, its not often that the Tigers come to Pittsburgh.

If today was a test of my ballhawking abilities, I would’ve failed.  Despite being the first one into the bleacher area, I didn’t notice an Easter Egg that was right in front of my friggin face, I had two home run balls pop out of my glove, and I half heartedly went after a ball that ended up bouncing over the fence and skipped past my glove by about two feet.  Had I actually gone for the ball, it would’ve been an easy catch.  4 balls – botched.

I did get one ball during the Pirates portion of batting practice.  Craig Monroe hit a home run to my left that I could tell was going to be way over my head.  I ran to my right and up the stairs under the bleachers.  The ball bounced and hit off the concourse roof and settled near a garbage can.  I reached down and grabbed ball #1.

Ball #2 came from an unknown Tigers batter.  It was a deep fly ball that bounced on the warning track and right into my glove 4 rows back.    I received a couple awkward high fives from Detroit fans, “That’s how we roll in Detroit,” some guy said.  He must have thought I was from Detroit on account of my Tigers hat and shirt.

After misplaying two balls, I caught a Miguel Cabrera home run on the fly in the second row of section 136.  I made sure that I squeezed ball #3 so it wouldn’t pop out.

That was all I got during batting practice.  It was becoming annoying crowded.
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To make matters worse, Andy Van Slyke was messing around the entire batting practice with the pitchers.   He was hitting deep fly balls to the wall so that the pitchers could leap and make home run robbing catches.  He must’ve hit 20 balls into the crowd.  I’ve never seen anything so stupid and dangerous.  Edwin Jackson, Joel Zumaya, and Dontrelle Willis were all taking turns risking their bodies and careers by jumping against the fence and robbing these home runs. 

I tried to catch one for about 5 minutes, but I was too annoyed because it was real crowded around the area that Van Slyke was hitting to (left center field, near the bullpen).  I was waiting for one of the pitchers to twist an ankle.

It was distracting because it was almost as if two batting practices were occurring simultaneously. 

After batting practice ended, I didn’t get another ball until the 4th inning.

I sat on the right field wall for the first four innings. 
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STATISTICS:
Game:  4 Balls (3 hit, 1 thrown)
Season:  161 Balls (72 hit, 66 thrown, 24 device)
Games:  32 games (4 of which didn’t have BP)
Average:    5.03 Balls per Game
Career:  327 Balls
Attendance:   18,369

5-31-09 PNC Park

Today was a Sunday game, a day game after a night game, so there was a good chance of there being no batting practice. 

I was pretty happy when I peered into the gate and saw the cage set up.

Upon entering the stadium, the Pirates were warming up in left field.  I walked over and sat down in this section.

It is a handicapped section.  Its a good spot for catching over throws. 
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I got ball #1 of the day from Ian Snell.  When he was done catching, he simply turned and threw me the ball.  I didn’t even ask for it.  Just another reason why Ian Snell is awesome.

I waited behind John Grabow, who was catching with Sean Burnett, for an overthrow, but it didn’t happen.

Batting practice was beginning,
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STATISTICS:
Game:  3 Balls (1 hit, 1 thrown, 1 device)
Season: 138 Balls (61 hit, 59 thrown, 18 device)
Games: 28 Games (24 with BP, 4 without)
Average: 4.93 Balls Per Game
Career: 304 Balls
Attendance: 19,566

5-29-09 PNC Park

photo(25).jpgI have been in a slump recently.  The last decent day I had was May 11th in Cleveland when I snagged 9 balls.  The past 2 weeks it has seemed like all I could manage was 2 balls.  I needed to get back on track.  I’d seen my average dip from 5.7 per game to 4.8 per game.  Not good.

I attended today’s game with my wife.  We were third in line, and I was the first one into the seats, but there were no Easter Egg balls to be found. 

I got 2 balls during the Pirates portion of batting practice, which isn’t bad, since they only hit for 10-15 minutes while the gates are open.
photo(21).jpgSTATISTICS:
Game:  8 Balls (5 hit, 1 thrown, 2 device)
Season:  130 Balls (57 hit, 56 thrown, 17 device)
Games:  26 Games (22 with BP, 4 without)
Average: 5.00 Balls per Game
Career:  296 Balls
Attendance:  18,236

5-12-09 PNC Park

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The sweetspots:
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STATISTICS:
Balls:  9 Balls (4 hit, 4 thrown, 1 device)
Season: 107 Balls (47 hit, 48 thrown, 12 device)
Games:  19 Games (16 with BP, 3 without)
Average:  5.63 Balls per Game
Career:  273 Balls
Attendance:  11,718

5-5-09 PNC Park

100_1175.jpgHappy Cinco de Mayo!

I attended today’s game with my wife.  I had to wait for her to get home for work, so we didn’t get to the stadium until 4:55 PM, just in time before the 5 PM gate opening.

Usually I get 1 ball during the Pirates portion during the week (they only hit for about 10-15 more minutes after the gates open).  Today, though, I had 4 balls by 5:04.  I’ve never gotten off to a start like that in my life.

Ball #1 was tossed from Nyjer Morgan. 
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STATISTICS:
Game:  10 balls (4 hit, 4 thrown, 2 device)
Season:  84 balls (32 hit, 43 thrown, 9 device)
Games: 16 games (13 with BP, 3 without)
Average:  5.25 balls per game
Career: 250 balls
Attendance: 9,775

4-20-09 PNC Park

Today wasn’t looking good.  It had rained continuously throughout the day.  When my wife and I left for the ballpark at 4:25 PM, it was still pouring.  We went anyway.

For the first half hour, nothing was going on in the stadium.  The tarp was on the field, and there were no players to be seen.  There was a random ball sitting in the middle of center field, but it would’ve been impossible to reach with the glove trick.

At 5:30, the Pirates pitchers came out to stretch and toss.  The rain had relented a bit.  I went down and lined up behind Jeff Karstens, hoping for an overthrown.  It didn’t happen.  I did manage to get Craig Hansen’s warm up ball.  It was ball #1.

The Pirates left the field, and once again, nothing was happening.  We went over to right field to await the Marlins to come out and catch.
100_0875.jpgThe weather still wasn’t looking good.  Water was starting to pond on the warning track.
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Not too bad, I guess.

STATISTICS:
Game:  2 balls  (2 thrown)
Season :  31 balls (13 hit, 12 thrown, 6 device)
Games:  8 games (6 with BP, 2 without)
Average:  3.88 balls per game
Career:  197 balls
Attendance:  8,790

4-18-09 PNC Park

I could only attend batting practice at today’s game because I had Dave Matthews Band tickets for later tonight.

Since today’s game was to begin at 12:35, I feared that there would be no batting practice.  Usually on day games after night games, there is no batting practice.  However, when I was walking to the Center field gate, I could see this. 
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I got to the gates at 9:45 AM, 15 minutes early, and was third in line.  There were two non-ballhawks in front of me, so I felt pretty confident about being the first person into batting practice and claiming any Easter eggs.

I was the first one to the early entrance point, but the season ticket scanner wasn’t there.  A few other security guards came and said we had to wait until the scanner showed up.  I showed them I had season tickets and I even flashed my season ticket card.  They said no one could enter until the scanner showed up.  In the mean time, there were three fans with visitor passes in the bleachers. 

Ryan Doumit crushed a homerun that landed in the bleachers.  All I could do is stand helplessly and watch one of the visitor fans walk over and pick it up.  One missed opportunity.  Doumit hit another ball that hit near the bullpen.  It bounced off a bleacher and rolled down to the front row.  Luckily, the visitors didn’t see this one.  When the employee who scans the early entrance finally showed up 6 minutes late, I ran in and claimed the Doumit HR ball.  It was ball #1.

I asked Nyjer Morgan for a baseball, but he ignored me. 
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STATISTICS:
Game:  6 Balls  (3 hit, 3 device)
Season:  26 Balls  (12 hit, 9 thrown, 5 device)
Games:  6 Games (5 with BP/ 1 without)
Average:  4.33 Balls per Game
Career:  192 Balls
Attendance:  20,755

4-11-09 Great American Ball Park

I attended today’s game with my best friend from my childhood days, Joe Filipowski.  We got to the gates about 10 minutes before they were to open.  I hate how the gates don’t open until 90 minutes before the first pitch.  At 11:40, we were finally let inside.  The Pirates were already in mid batting practice. 

I checked for Easter eggs in left field, but there was nothing there.  With some of the Pirates better hitters coming up and being left handed, we headed over to right field.  I was shocked at how amazingly rude the Pirates were towards their own fans.  I got totally ignored by Zach Duke, Jesse Chavez, Craig Monroe, Eric Hinske, Brandon Moss, and Donnie Veal in right field.  I asked each of them for a ball on more than one occasion, but was ignored.  The irritating part was that they were giving balls to little kids with Reds gear on, even though I was completely decked out in Pirates gear, including their new alternate batting practice jersey.  It looked like it was going to be one of those days.

I decided to try and get a batted ball from one of the left handed power hitters.  Nate McLouth hit one, but it was over my head and some guy just barely beat me to it.  My friend Joe got the first ball of the day, but gave it away to a little kid.  Jesse Chavez pointed the kid out and tossed it to him several rows up, but the kid missed it.  Joe ended up catching up, but out of kindness gave it to the kid.  He later said he regretted giving it away, it being the first ball that he’d snagged since the 1994 Home Run Derby at Three Rivers Stadium.

Moments later, Brandon Moss launched a deep fly ball to right field.  I drifted over about 5 seats and camped out underneath it.  The ball landed squarely in my glove.  It was ball #1 of the day for me, and my first ball of 2009.  It’d been over 6 months since I last snagged a ball, so it was good to finally get one.  If you can find the #1 below, that’s the exact spot I snagged Moss’ Home Run.
41109 RF.jpgI didn’t take any pictures during batting practice because I felt like having my camera around my neck would be a distraction for me and make moving around a little tougher.  After Adam LaRoche and Brandon Moss’s group hit, I decided to move to left field.   It would prove to be a little late because Andy LaRoche was absolutely raking balls into left field while we were in right.

I made my way over to where Matt Capps, Tyler Yates, and John Grabow were standing in left center field.  I asked several times for some balls, but was ignored by Yates.  At least Grabow looked at me, but decided to throw the ball into the bleachers instead.  I made eye contact with Capps.  He got a ball and pointed at me and tossed it.  Out of no where, a Reds fan dives in front of me and steals the ball before it reached me.  (I was in the second row, he was in the first).  Luckily, another ball was hit to Capps.  He turned around and made sure I caught this one, arching it perfectly.  It was ball #2 of the day.  

I then decided to move to the left field line where Ian Snell and Craig Hansen were hanging out.  Since catching a HR ball would prove tricky here, I decided to try and ask every Pirate I could for a ball.  I settled into the second row in one of the sections near the line.  I chose an empty row so I could somewhat move.  Moments later, Craig Monroe lauched a line drive in my direction.  I barely had to move.  There was some competition for the ball from some people in the front row, but since I am 6’5″, I was able to outreach them and made the snag for ball #3 on the day.    The below picture shows the exact locations of balls #2 and #3:
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