Results tagged ‘ Houston Astros ’

3-20-10 Osceola County Stadium

Today was day 2 of the Spring Training trip and my dad and I were back at Osceola County Stadium to see the Astros and Yankees.

The day started off well when I went and watched some of the Astros minor leaguers at one of the practice fields,
photo(920).jpgand found this just beyond the center field batter’s eye.

It was the only ball I would get for about the first half hour or so.  When the Astros second string started hitting at the practice field directly adjacent to Osceola County Stadium, I was ready.
photo(921).jpgRodriguez would go on to knock in a run with a base hit here.  I captured it all on video:

Robinson Cano:
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My dad and I left the game after all the regulars came out of the game and headed for Bradenton FL.  We would see the Pirates and Rays the next day…

Today’s baseballs:
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The sweet spots:
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Spring Training Statistics:
Game: 8 balls
Trip: 22 balls
Spring Training Career: 30 balls in 5 games

3-19-10 Osceola County Stadium

I attended my first Spring Training game of the year today with my dad.  We traveled from Orlando to nearby Kissimmee FL to see the Blue Jays take on the Houston Astros.  Of course, we arrived early.

Although Osceola County Stadium has no access points to get behind the outfield wall, it doesn’t matter because the Astros take their BP on the adjacent practice fields.  One is easily able to walk behind any of those practice field fences and await balls to sail out.

Check out the aerial view of the complex:
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When we arrived, two fields were being used by minor leaguers, and the Astros were using two fields.  They were just running and stretching, so there was some time to hunt for Easter Eggs.  After not too long, I found one.  It had sailed over the centerfield batters eye on the ’9 oclock field’ (if you look at the 4 practice fields as 12, 3, 6, 9 oclock in the photo above).  It likely had landed on the road, bounced, and settled in the grass.  It had likely been there a day or two as it was a bit damp.

I snapped a quick shot before picking it up.
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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

5-30-09 PNC Park

Today was the first of three Skyblast dates throughout the summer at PNC Park.  Basically its an hour long concert/fireworks show.  The bands are always “B” List bands, with past bands being Smash Mouth, Styx, Live, PovertyNeck Hill Billies, etc.  The band tonight was the Zac Brown Band.

The stadium was sold out, so there would be some more competition than usual during batting practice.  I attended this game with my wife.  We were the 4th and 5th people in line.  Unfortunately, by the time the gates opened, the 3 people ahead of us had swelled to 11 through the process of sparing/cutting.  There went any chance for Easter Eggs out the window.

After about 5 minutes of batting practice, I got ball #1 from Ian Snell.  
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Ian gets a lot of crap for his inconsistencies, but he’s one of my favorite Pirates.  He’s definitely not stingy when it comes to giving away baseballs, so you have to respect that. 

One of the groups that came up was mostly lefties, so I abandoned left field and went into foul ball territory. 
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STATISTICS:
Game:  5 Balls (3 hit, 2 thrown)
Season:  135 Balls  (60 hit, 58 thrown, 17 device)
Games:  27 Games (23 with BP, 4 without)
Average:  5.00 Balls Per Game
Career:  301 Balls
Attendance:   37,167 (sell-out)

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

4-15-09 PNC Park

I was faced with the decision today of attending the Pirate game or skipping it.  This is the weather forecast as of 1PM. 

weather.jpgBatting practice would surely be canceled.  I may get shut out for the first time since Sunday August 31st, 2008.  I decided that since I am now in a competitive ballhawk league, that I had to go and at least try.  I knew that my average balls per game would probably take a hit.

I went with my wife Holly and we arrived at the gates around 4:40 PM.  The gates open during the week at 5 PM.  Walking past the Stargell statue, I peered into the park and saw that sure enough, the tarp was covering the field.  There was no batting practice today.

I entered the bleacher section at 5 PM and looked around for some Easter Eggs.  There was nothing to be found, since it had been raining and drizzling all day long.  Around 5:20, the Pirates pitchers came out to stretch.  I followed a group of 6 other ballhawks up the escalator to go into the seating bowl to possibly catch an overthrow.  Usually there are security guards that don’t permit entrance until 5:30, but there were none around.  When we got to the front row right behind Matt Capps, Tyler Yates and company, a field security guard walked over and told us to go back to left field.  Even though it was 5:24, he wouldn’t let us stay.

Meanwhile, the Astros pitchers came out to stretch.  I decided that I might have a better chance getting a ball from them since there was a couple little kids and four high school kids watching the Pirates pitchers.

I decided to take the chance.  I took off my Pirates sweatshirt exposing my black Astros shirt and donned my Houston hat and headed over to right field.

I lined myself up behind Russ Ortiz and Geoff Geary.  I was the only one in the stands behind the Astros pitchers.  I had 20 feet to my left and right without a soul in sight.    There were 4 balls in play, as 8 pitchers were throwing.   Jeff Fulchino finished his tosses and had a ball.  I asked him for the ball and he made eye contact with me.  He didn’t say anything, but went and talked to a fellow pitcher.   A couple minutes later, Fulchino tossed me ball #1

There were still 3 balls in play.  Wesley Wright finished his tosses and gave his ball to a fan a little further down the line.  It was a 10 year old kid wearing Pirate gear.  Tim Byrdak was joking around and told the kid that he wasn’t done with the ball yet and to toss it back.  The kid just stared at Byrdak confused and horrified.  Byrdak urged him to toss the ball back.  The kid then turned and ran away.  It was rather amusing.

Jose Valverde and LaTroy Hawkins finished their tossing next.  I asked for the ball.  Again, I was the only fan with Astros gear on, so Valverde looked at me and tossed me ball #2.  There was one ball left and it was being used by Geoff Geary and Russ Ortiz.  I snapped a picture on my cell phone.
0415091753.jpgThe Pirates got some good relief work from their bullpen and ended up losing the game 4-1.  Adam LaRoche accounted for the Pirates only run with a Home Run in the 9th inning.  It was too little too late. 

I tried to get a ball at the dugout after the game from an umpire and the Pirates pitchers, but failed to do so. 

As I was ready to leave, I decided to walk around for a minute and collect a ticket stub or two.  I notice in Section 124, about four rows back, a circular white object laying on the ground.  Seriously?  Could this be a ball?  Since I waited for the bullpen coach to come in, it took some time and the stadium was basically vacant.  I looked closer and sure enough, it was a major league baseball.  How did this get here?  Was it some little kid who didn’t really even care about it?  Did someone catch it and it trickled out of their glove during the game?  It was weird.  I looked around and didn’t see anyone looking for a ball.  There were only a half dozen fans left, waiting down at the dugout.  So, I picked the ball up, making it ball #4 of the day.    Usually, Easter Eggs that are found count as hit balls, but since there was no batting practice on this day, and it didn’t look like a game ball, I decided it was probably someone’s warm up ball.  I’ll chalk it up under the thrown category.

I’m glad I went to the game despite the rain. 

Here’s a look at today’s results: ( the media guide was free for being a season ticket holder.  The bobblehead was won at a spin-a-wheel g
ame where they are giving away all of the left over promotions from 2008)
100_0757.jpgAnd a closer look at those Astros balls.
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STATISTICS:
Game:  4 Balls (4 thrown)
Season: 17 Balls (7 hit, 8 thrown, 2 device)
Games:  4 Games (3 with BP, 1 without)
Average:  4.25 Balls per Game
Career:  183 Balls
Hit List:  183 ties me with former Pirate Chris Duffy for #3769  on the all time hit list.
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4-13-09 PNC Park : Home Opener

100_0696.jpgToday was PNC Park’s Opening Day.  I went today with my wife Holly.  We got to the gates around 10:30 AM, and waited in line for a half hour.  When the gates opened, I rushed in and was the 6th one into the left field bleachers.

Things were a little dry at first.  Eventually, two balls were hit and Ian Snell came to the fence to get them.  I asked him for a ball and he flipped one over his head without looking to me.  It was ball #1 of the day.  Luckily, for the first 30 minutes, only season ticket holders are permitted into batting practice, so I had plenty of room to roam.
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STATISTICS:
Game:  5 balls (2 hit, 1 thrown, 2 device)
Season: 13 balls (7 hit, 4 thrown, 2 device)
Games: 3   (3 with BP, 0 without)
Average:   4.33
Career:  179 balls
Hit List:  179 ties me with Willy Aybar for #3809 all time.
Attendance: 38,411.
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9-20-08 PNC Park, Astros @ Pirates

There was a Lynyrd Skynyrd concert tonight, and sellout was expected, so I wasn’t sure if batting practice would be crowded or not.  Luckily, it wasn’t as most of the “fans” of the band showed up around the 7th inning. 

My strategy for today was to spend the first part of batting practice in the left field corner in foul territory.  I wasn’t the first one to get to the spot, as a ballhawk named Dan beat me there.  I did however, have some early success in this spot.  Upon entering the lower level, being the second person in, I found ball #1 laying on a step.  I quickly snatched it up, wrote #160 on it, and got to the small 2 foot fence seperating the seats from the warning track in foul territory.  After watching the Pirates bat time after time, I’ve come to the realization that my best chance of getting a ball was to come to foul territory.  The Pirates best right handed home run hitter is Andy KaRoche, with Jason Michaels a close second.  However, they do not hit many.  I came to the left field foul line for players such as Nyjer Morgan, Nate McLouth, Ryan Doumit, Doug Mientkiewicz, and Brandon Moss.  They are left handed batters that I assumed would try to hit the ball the other way at some point during their turn in the cage.  I was anticipating their opposite field fly balls to slice directly to where I was.  However, they didn’t oblige.

Luckily Jack Wilson came up to bat.  He usually over pulls the ball into foul territory.  During his round he hit a long fly ball foul that rattled around in the seats around 20 rows up from where I was standing.  Immediately after he hit it, I went racing after it.  Just then, the very next pitch, Jack hit a line drive foul ball to the direct spot where I was just standing.   I was closer to the ball that was just hit, so I turned around and picked up ball #2, and then jogged up the stairs and found the ball that was hit 20 rows back, ball #3.    Luckily, there weren’t any other fans in the section, as it was still early (about 4:40).

Near the end of the Pirates round of BP I decided to move back to the left field bleachers as I noticed the Pirates were throwing a ton of balls into the stands.  Especially Ian Snell.  Predictably, they didn’t thow any to me.

During the Astros round of BP, I had an incident with a fellow fan.  There’s some guy who always wears a Pirates Batting Practice “Lebeck 22″ Jersey on Saturday games.  He’s about 47 years old and sports a crappy Wal Mart plastic imitation glove.  I’m not a fan of this guy because he always stands in “my spot.”  Whenever he comes I usually go a row in front of him.  Anyway, a Houston Astros sent a deep home run ball directly at us.  The ball was over my head.  Lebeck reached up and almost caught the ball, but it hit in his unoiled, unbroken in glove pocket and bounced out.  Myself and another ballhawk went after the missed ball, and I ended up grabbing it barehanded underneath the bleacher.  It was ball #4.   This Lebeck guy was furious.  He started screaming at me that it was his ball because it hit his pocket.  When I totally ignored him and walked back to my spot he started calling me hurtful names, such as Jerk.  He went on to state that “I’ve never seen a ball hit in someone’s pocket and them not be given the ball.”  Apparently he has never been to batting practice before.  Just earlier in the day, Romulo Sanchez tossed a ball to a 16 year old kid named Amac.  Amac missed the ball due to the sun, and Jim raced over and snatched it away.  I misplayed maybe 4 balls this year that hit off of my glove.  I was never given the ball back.  Did I cry about it, no.  Lebeck continued making comments directed at me.  I largely ignored him.  The only thing I said to him was, “You missed the ball – If you want it, catch it.”  I decided not to use profanities or anything because I didn’t feel like escalating with this idiot.

Later on in batting practice I caught ball #5 on the fly by ranging to my right.  Near the end of batting practice I caught my final ball of the season on the bounce off of the warning track.  It was ball #6.  I had to leap and catch this one high above my head because I had to move down to row C due to it being the only open row.  Rows E-F are the best for playing the high bounces off of the warning track at PNC.

920balls.jpgStatistics:jimlindeman.jpg
Game:  6 balls
Season: 127 balls
Career:  165 balls
Hit List:  165 Hits  ties me for #3939th place on the all time list with Jim Lindeman and Ron Gardenhire.  Lindeman is probably best know, at least by me, for his role as a bench player in RBI BASEBALL, probably one of the greatest baseball games ever created.  Whenever I was the Cardinals (usually picked them so I could run all over the competition with Coleman, Smith, and McGee), Lindeman was an important pinch hitter for my starting pitcher.

Attendance: 36,621 (95.5% full)

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9-19-08 PNC Park, Astros @ Pirates

Today kicked off the final home stand of the year.  The Astros were in town and I was hoping for some BP homers.

I didn’t get anything in the 15 minutes that the Pirates batted, but what else is new?  When the Astros came up to bat, an unidentified Astro launched a HR onto the concourse below the Rotunda.  Usually, I just let those HR’s go, but since it was still not 5:30 yet and there weren’t a lot of fans, and I still hadn’t caught anything, I raced after it.  There was another ballhawk going for it, but I managed to glove the ball as it was bouncing off a trash can a split second before he did.  Ball #1 had a huge H tattooed on it, as is customary with Houston Astros balls.

About 10 minutes later, Hunter Pence hit a HR ball directly at me that I caught with ease.  It was ball #2, and was my final one of the day. 

I’ve been disappointed with September batting practices so far.  My best showing has been 2 balls, seemingly every BP.  I thought that with kids back in school, and with sparse BP crowds, that I’d be cleaning up.  I guess I was wrong.
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Statistics:
Game: 2 balls
Season: 121 balls
Career: 159 balls
Hit List:  159 hits ties me with Skeeter Barnes for #3,991 place on the all time hits list.

Attendance: 26,301 (68.6% full)
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