Results tagged ‘ Jeff karstens ’

4-4-12 PNC Park Open Workout

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.

The Pirates didn’t start hitting until after 4, so there was time to talk to Olivia for a bit.


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.

Here’s today’s first baseball:

There’s only one pictured, because I gave the Karstens ball away.

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.

2012 Statistics:
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)

6-17-11 Progressive Field

I booked Amy and I tickets on megabus.com for a bus headed to Cleveland for the Pirates-Indians series.  It cost me $3 to go there, and $5 for the return fare, since I booked it a couple weeks in advance.  You can’t beat that.

This was my second game of the year at Progressive Field, which is way down from last year when I attended 19.

Upon entering the stadium and looking for baseballs, I found one in Heritage Park in center field.  Unreachable with my arm, I used the ‘Cleveland stick’ to reach under the wall and snag this one.

My second ball of the day was a Travis Hafner home run that landed several rows behind me that I was able to grab before a couple of other fans.

Moments later, Hafner hit another home run that I snagged on the fly for ball #3.

A couple minutes after that, I noticed a ball land in the trees of Heritage Park.  I ran over and was able to reach in and grab it without the use of any device.

In the meantime, there were a few balls in the bullpen.  I ended up glove tricking one of them after at least 10 attempts at knocking the ball closer to the wall.  Once the ball was close enough to the wall, I reeled it in for ball #5, and was given a round of applause by those fans who watched the whole ordeal.

When the Pirates came out to hit, one of the Buccos hit a home run that landed on the bullpen roof in center field.

I used the Cleveland stick – which reaches 6 feet (plus at least three feet of my arm length) to just barely reach it.

I gave it away to a father and son who stood closeby and watched the whole thing:

The father thanked me profusely and insisted that I take six blow pops in return for the ball.

Less than a minute after snagging ball #6, Daniel McCutchen ran past while doing sprints and flipped a ball up into the stands, right to me.  I didn’t even ask for it.  Maybe it was my bright gold shirt.  Regardless, it was my seventh of the day.

I finished batting practice in left field and was tossed #8 by Jeff Karstens.  I had given up asking Jeff Karstens for balls in 2009, because he had completely ignored every request that I ever put in for a ball.  I didn’t even ask for this particular ball.  A batter hit it off the left field wall, Jeff ran over, picked it up, looked at me, and fired it right to me.

After batting practice, I was thrown ball #9 in the Pirates bullpen by bullpen catcher Herbie Andrade.

I left right after that, despite needing just one more for double digits.  Amy was waiting in the hotel, and I wanted to go out to eat with her.

We went to East 4th street, where there are a few restaurants and was seemingly the only stretch of any street in Cleveland that wasn’t abandoned and boarded up.

We ate at Zocalo – a Mexican restaurant, and it was fantastic.  The entrance was a little iffy, but everything else was first class.

From the chips, to the quesadillas, to the dessert that we shared.  A++

From the chips, to the quesadillas, to the dessert that we shared.

A++

After that, we walked back to the hotel room for a brief 15 minute pit stop, and then went back out to explore the city.  We walked around for an hour or two, and watched the fireworks after the game from the rooftop on a parking garage downtown.

Those couple hours were by far my favorite of the entire weekend trip.

Here’s today’s baseballs (8 pictures because I gave one away):

Sweet spots:

STATISTICS:
Game:  9 balls (3 hit, 3 thrown, 3 device)
Season:  227 balls (87 hit, 49 thrown, 56 device, 226 found)
Games: 37 games
Average:  6.14 balls per game
Career:  1,349 balls
Attendance: 38,549

9-19-10 PNC Park

It was a Sunday day game, and there was no batting practice.  I still went to the game though.  Surprisingly, it would be my best game of the week.

From 11-11:30 on Sundays, fans have to stay on the Riverwalk.  They are not allowed to enter the main seating bowl, even if they are season ticket holders.  While I was waiting near the bullpens, Chan Ho Park got my attention and threw me a ball.  He threw it from center field, so I moved back 20 feet before he threw it to give myself plenty of room to make the catch.
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Park then motioned for me to give it to a little kid, so I did.  He hooked me up with a second ball for me to keep a minute later.  However, it was a little short and bounced off the flag pole base and over my head.

Luckily, few people were in the park at the time, so I chased it down easily here:
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I took 2 rounds on the field with 310-340-360-340-310 dimensions and had one home run – over the 340 sign in left center.

6-27-09 PNC Park

Today was a Saturday, which meant an extra 30 minutes of batting practice, since the gates open at 4:30 rather than 5:00.

When I got in, I immediately went into foul territory to look for Easter Eggs.  I scoured every row, but found nothing.  I then wasted 14 minutes of batting practice by staying in the left field foul area.  I was hoping Nyjer Morgan or another lefty would slice one down the line, but it didn’t happen.  I watched about six balls land in the left field bleachers during this time.  I then made my way back to my normal spot in left field.

After a short lull, I got 3 balls in maybe a minute.  The first ball went off of a ballhawk’s glove.  He must’ve lost it in the sun.  Either way, I reached down and picked up the ball for ball #1 of the day.  Notice the hole in it.
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Seconds later, a home run was hit at another ballhawk.  He tried to snag it in his hat, but slightly missed it.  The ball rattled around under the bleacher.  He didn’t see it, but I did.  I ran over and picked up ball #2 of the day. 

Moments later, a home run was hit to my right.  Myself, along with three other ballhawks closed in on it, and I was able to grab ball #3 off of the concrete barehanded in the knick of time.

I hit a dry patch.  Near the end of batting practice, Stephen Jackson threw a ball to fellow ballhawk Nick.  For whatever reason, Jeff Karstens turned and looked right at me and said, “There’s one over there,” and pointed in foul territory. 
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STATISTICS:
Game:  6 balls (5 hit, 1 thrown)
Season:  216 balls (112 hit, 74 thrown, 30 device)
Games:  43 games (5 of which didn’t have BP)
Average:  5.02 balls per game
Career:  382 balls
Attendance:  36,032

5-14-09 PNC Park

Today wasn’t a good day.  I was first in line at the stadium.
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But there were no Easter Eggs.

Luckily, as soon as I walked in, Ian Snell was picking up a ball and tossed me ball #1.

Then, the cold spell began.  I didn’t get any more balls during the Pirates portion of batting practice.  The Cardinals came out.  Still nothing.  It was  5:50 and I headed to center field for the last part of batting practice.  Chris Duncan is the Cardinals best home run hitter in batting practice, so I was there waiting.

He hit a few home runs that came close to me.  One landed in an empty chair.  I was the only one running for it.  Some random guy sitting 2 rows behind the ball saw me running, and lazily got up and picked up the ball.

It was 6:00 PM, and I had only one ball.  I was thinking to myself, “You really suck.  You’re the worst ballhawk in the entire stadium.”  Moments later, Duncan hit a ball into the 5th row of section 139.  I was in Section 141 and took off running.  Myself and a legendary ballhawk named Jim were both after the ball.  We both arrived at the same time, however I entered the row that the ball was in, and he was one row up.  I was able to snag the ball just in time to get ball #2.  A few seconds later, Duncan hit a ball to the same spot, except another row up.  Jim and I were off to the races again.  Again, I got to the ball a split second faster and got ball #3.  Walking back to my seat, I found an easter egg ball wedged between the cement and a seat back.  There was a lady sitting close by, so I casually walked over and picked up ball #4.  As soon as I picked the ball up, the Cardinals ran off the field, ending their batting practice.  Not a bad finish after being stuck on 1 ball for almost an hour.

I tried to get a ball from Karstens,
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STATISTICS:
Game:  5 Balls (3 hit, 2 thrown)
Season: 113 Balls (50 hit, 50 thrown, 13 device)
Games:  21 games (18 with BP, 3 without)
Average:  5.38 balls per game
Career: 279 balls
Attendance: 12,347

5-3-09 PNC Park

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It rained for most of the morning in Pittsburgh, in fact, it was still raining when I arrived at the ballpark at 11 AM.  This could mean only one thing:  no batting practice.  I was faced with possibly being shut out for the first time since August 2008. 

When the stadium opened the gates to the seating areas at 11:30, I went over to the left field foul line.  The rain had subsided.  Several bullpen pitchers from the Pirates were warming up.  I placed myself behind John Grabow and Ross Ohlendorf and waited for an overthrow.
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Directly to me.  I didn’t even have to move. 
Its not like he randomly tossed the ball up and I got into a scrum and stole the ball away from ticketed patrons.  He usually picks out people.  I caught the ball, waved thanks, turned and left the section.  I could hear some snooty lady and her rotund husband getting on the usher.  “He doesn’t have a ticket.  He shouldn’t be allowed to do that.  Don’t let him back in here. Check his ticket.”  Blah blah blah.

I went over to left field for the fourth inning to try and get a warm up ball from Nyjer.  I avoided the right field seats thanks to the afore mentioned rudest-usher-in-PNC-Park.

Left Field has a lot more sections and people, so I had very little chance.  The ball went to a group of people near the foul pole.

Inning 5.  I went back to center field.  I stood at the far edge of Section 140, away from the snotty lady.  I looked over and they were both staring directly at me.  I stared right back at them. I should’ve walked over and offered their spoiled kid a ball.  “Excuse me, would you like a ball? ….. Then bring a glove!” and walk away.    That’s what I felt like doing, I was in such a bad mood.

I didn’t get the 5th inning ball because it was tossed to the second row.  Predictably, the ball fell back onto the field.  The same thing happened in the seventh inning.  That’s why Nate prefers to throw the ball deep. 

Anyway, the miserable family got on the usher again after the fifth inning because 3 of us ballhawks entered the section.  The usher came over and told me that I wasn’t allowed to try for warm up balls anymore.  He said come back and try tomorrow when there’s different people around.   He told Nick and Bryan the same thing.  If you’re wondering, here’s what those “folks” looked like:
100_1122.jpg(To be civil, I am editing this paragraph from what I originally wrote.  I’ve taken out most of the colorful adjectives I originally had written.)  Its the guy eating, his son, and the lady in the orange.
100_1126.jpgI could’ve tried in the seventh and ninth, but out of respect for the ushers, I went and sat behind the Reds dugout to see if I could get some foul balls.  There are nice ushers at PNC Park, the ones in center field were just doing their job because the supervisor somehow got involved.

I didn’t get any foul balls, and I got shut out at the Reds dugout, so my day ended on a sour note.

To make it worse, the Pirates looked awful again, getting shut out.  They haven’t hit a home run now in a week. 

Adam LaRoche’s body language tells the whole story:
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A few shots from the game:
Johnny Cueto deals to Nyjer Morgan:
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Evan Meek (a big Dave Matthews Band fan):
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Jesse Chavez (tossed me my first ball of the day:
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Today’s baseballs:
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And the sweet spots:
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STATISTICS:
Game:  3 balls (3 thrown)
Season:  67 balls (26 hit, 34 thrown, 7 device)
Games:  14 games (11 with BP, 3 without)
Average:  4.79 balls per game
Career:  233 balls
Attendance: 13,670

5-1-09 PNC Park

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After a six day lay off to get better after my 4/25 ankle injury, I got back into action today.  I arrived at the gates at 4:10 or so, and was 3rd in line.

When the gates opened, I ran into the bleachers and immediately found ball #1, laying in the front row of section 138.  I walked around in each section before turning my attention to the action on the field, and found another Easter egg in Section 136 about 5 rows back, it was ball #2

The Pirates were hitting for about 10 more minutes, and then the Reds were going to hit.  Near the end of the Pirates portion of Batting Practice, Karstens threw a ball to a kid about 6 rows back.  Either the throw was a little off, and the kid completely missed the ball.  It ricocheted right to me, ball #3.  I was then faced with the choice of keeping the ball, or giving it to the kid.  I decided to be charitable and glove flipped the ball to the kid, who thanked me.

The Reds then came out to hit.  At the end of the Pirates portion of batting practice, a Pirate had thrown a ball into the crowd that someone misplayed.  The ball was laying on the edge of the warning track.  I didn’t even think about doing the glove trick, because it was directly in the sight line of a security guard. 

I changed into my Reds gear, and stood in the front row directly in front of the ball, and waited.  Jerry Hairston came over to left center field.

He walked over, and without hesitation flipped me ball #4.
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STATISTICS:
Game:  8 Balls (4 hit, 4 thrown)
Season:  58 Balls (23 hit, 29 thrown, 6 device)
Games:  12 Games (10 with BP, 2 without)
Average:  4.83 Balls per Game
Career:  224 Balls
Attendance:  14,238

4-21-09 PNC Park

I had several things working in my favor today. 

1)  The Penguins had a playoff game at the same time the Pirates had their game today.  This would lead to drastically reduced attendance figures.
2)  The weather forecast was menacing.  With dark clouds and some rain showers moving through around 4 PM.  Rain tends to keep folks at home also.
3)  It was a weekday game.  The Pirates do not draw on well on weekday night games.
4)  There was only one other decent ballhawk in attendance.
5)  I had plenty of space in my backpack.

I got to the stadium around 4:15PM and was second in line.  When the gates opened, I was the second into the bleachers.  I went over to my spot in left center field and hoped for a home run to come.  A Pirates batter drove a ball to left center field.  There were maybe four people there for the first ten minutes, so I ranged far to my left towards the bullpen.  The ball skipped off the bullpen wall.  Oh well.  I walked back and looked down.  I saw a speck of white under a bleacher.  A ball was lying tucked up against the concrete step and a bleacher support.  It was well hidden, but not anymore.  I reached down and picked up ball #1.

Craig Monroe was the next batter.  He hit a drive to deep left center.  The ball hit off a bleacher and bounced back onto the field.  Matt Capps walked over and picked it up.  I called out for the ball and Capps flipped it to me.  I had ball #2, and #199 of my career.

The Pirates ended their BP at 5:10.  I had two balls after 10 minutes.  Not bad.  The Marlins came out to take Batting Practice.  I changed into the Marlins gear that I wore yesterday.    Coach Bo Porter came out with a bat and started hitting line drives off the wall so Brett Carroll could get a read on how to play the richochets.    Bo’s second hit was a hard line drive that cleared the wall.  It literally almost took out two ushers who were standing in the aisle cleaning the water off the seats.  I didn’t get that ball, but moved over to the spot that Bo was hitting the ball so I could snag one if he hit it over the wall again.  Porter started hitting hard grounders at the wall, wary of what he had just done minutes early.  After Porter and Carroll were done playing balls off the wall, I asked Brett Carroll for the ball.  He briefly glanced at me and saw my Marlins gear and tossed me ball #3, and #200 of my ballhawking career.

The first group of Marlins weren’t hitting many home runs, so I tried to get some more baseballs from the pitchers.  I received ball #4 from an unidentified Marlin.
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Can anyone help me out?  I got his attention and asked for the ball.  He looked at me and waved.  I asked him one more time for the ball in case he didn’t hear the first time.  He then flipped the ball up to me.

Another ball rolled to the wall and Renyel Pinto walked over to pick it up.
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I made my way over to the bullpen area.  There was a ball laying in the Pirates bullpen.  It was directly below me, about 5 feet out from the wall.  The ball was laying in a groove of dirt between the grass and a green carpet walkway.  It was in an indention of about maybe an inch or less.  I wanted to try the glove trick but I didn’t want to struggle with it.  It would’ve been hard to bat the ball closer to the wall with the glov
e to begin with because of the groove it was in.  Also, the main security office is directly behind the bullpen with large windows.  I felt I was being watched.  I didn’t want to risk it so I waited for someone to come out to the bullpen.  I waited for about 20 minutes until finally Jason Jaramillo and Joe Kerrigan came out to remove the bullpen tarp and get ready for Jeff Karsten’s warm up.  I asked Jaramillo first for the ball, but was ignored.  I then asked Joe Kerrigan and he picked the ball up, looked up to see who asked, and flipped me the ball.  It was ball #8 on the day, and a new personal one day record for me.

I decided to try for double digits, and stadium domination.  I asked John Baker for his warm up ball in center field before the game, but I don’t think he heard me.

The game then began.  I stood in center field for most of the game.  My plan was to try and get the outfielders’ warm up balls.

This was my view.  (picture was taken in about the 4th inning – notice the empty seats!)
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Before the first inning began, I found a fairly empty section in center field and stood with my glove ready, awaiting Nate McLouth’s warm up ball.
100_0916.jpgWhen he was done tossing with Brandon Moss, Nate turned and threw me his warm up ball.  It was ball #9.

I continued to roam the outfield in hopes of catching a home run ball or another warm up ball.  I snapped a few more pictures of random things, like Pittsburgh at night.
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In the 4th inning, I decided to try for a Marlins warm up ball.

I walked over to this unknown pitcher
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and asked for a warm up ball when he was done throwing.  He looked at me, saw my Marlins T-shirt and threw me ball #10.  Reynel Pinto whistled at me and called me over to the bullpen. I thought he was going to scold me because I heard him telling someone earlier in batting practice, “You already got one!”  I walked over and talked to him through the chain link fence.

“Aren’t you cold man?”  He said.  I told him I was, but I’d be alright.  I wanted to show my Marlins shirt off.  “You’re crazy man, this weather is terrible.”  I thought about asking him for a Marlins bullpen jacket, but that would’ve been a ridiculous request.

I was now 1 ball away from the PNC Park record for most balls in one game (as known to me).  A ballhawk with initials MG got 11 balls on 9/20/08 last year, the last batting practice of the regular season.  I would’ve liked to tie or beat him, as I was getting dissed earlier in the day by the same ballhawk.

I went over to the right field wall in the 6th inning.
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It was Brandon Moss’ turn to throw.  He threw the ball to the cluster of fans seated to the left of the foul pole, near the top of the section.  None of them had a glove.  I was standing half way up in the second section to the left of the foul ball.  The ball hit off someone’s hands, and bounced two rows down and rolled right to my feet.  I picked it up for ball #11.

I didn’t get any more warm up balls, so come the 9th inning, I was forced to decide to go to the Marlins dugout, or the Pirates dugout.  I decided to try my luck at the Marlins dugout, since I had been shutout every single game this homestand at the Pirates’ one.  No luck.  The Marlins weren’t in the mood to toss anything up after losing their second consecutive game to the Pirates.

No matter.  I had set a new personal record for balls in one day, and bounced back from my 2 ball performance yesterday in a big way.

Some pictures of the balls:
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STATISTICS:
Game:  11 balls  (2 hit, 9 thrown)
Season:  42 balls (15 hit, 21 thrown, 6 device)
Games:   9 games (7 with BP, 2 without)
Average:    4.67 balls per game
Career:  208 balls
Attendance:  9,917

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