Results tagged ‘ Nationals ’

4-3-11 Nationals Park

We were back at Nationals Park for another game today.
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Hopefully today would be a bit better day for me. 
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The weather was expected to be a bit warmer with no chance of rain.
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Amy was back in charge of the camera, and did a fantastic job taking lots of pictures.
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She once said that one of the jobs she’d considered was being a photographer.  She always finds good stuff to take photos of, even if its not baseball related, such as this cocoon on a cherry tree outside of Nationals Park:

1dayabutterfly.jpgWe were again first in line, so to pass the time, Nick and I played catch.
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This time, we played catch on the street, so as not to get yelled at by security. 
100_8446.JPGWhen the gates opened, we ran in to look for baseballs,
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but there were none.  I made my way over to center field and spotted a ball below, but there were security guards everywhere down there. 
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I thought about asking them to toss it up, but they were engaged in a conversation.  I went and checked the gaps behind the walls, which were empty.  When I came back that ball was gone.

Much like yesterday, my day got off to another really slow start.  There was a lot of inactivity and waiting.
100_8471.JPGAll I could do is look at Amy with a “this is going to well” look.
100_8478.JPGI noticed a few balls were landing in the seats in right field, so I hustled over to try and get in on some of the action.

Amy was right behind me to capture the action.

 

100_8482.JPGOnce there I set up in the third row.
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I didn’t have to wait too long as Laynce Nix launched a home run in my direction.  I could tell that the ball was going to be a bit short, so I had to scale the row of seats in front of me to catch the ball just above the man in red’s black glove. 
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Here I am with my first ball of the day.
100_8499.JPGI headed over to left field with Nick, but it was too crowded, and I got shut out there despite several home runs landing here and there.
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I headed back to right field to stay for a majority of the Braves batting practice. 
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After changing quickly on the concourse, I made my way to right field.

I began cutting through the second row when I ball appeared out of nowhere.  Mike Minor randomly flipped a ball up from the warning track.  I reacted and caught the ball for my second of the day.  There wasn’t anyone else within a few feet of me, so I figured it really wasn’t intended for anyone in particular.  Here I am with Mike Minor below:
100_8581.JPGDespite several Braves batting, I noticed a ball land in the gap in left center field.  I decided to go over and glove trick it immediately.

Here I am setting up the glove trick:
100_8600.JPGI leaned on the glass railing for a moment and pretended to watch BP so as not to bring attention to myself from the security guards.  I then lowered my glove over the ball:
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All eyes on you.jpgAnd reeled it in.
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That was my third ball of the day.

Upon returning to right field, I noticed another ball in the gap between the stands and scoreboard.

I glove tricked that ball too.
100_8612.JPGI’m was working with a new rubber band and it was working really well.  I snagged both glove trick balls in one try.
100_8618.JPGThe rest of batting practice was just a lot of standing around.  You can tell by Nick’s body language how slow things were.
100_8635.JPGNear the end of batting practice, I went over to left field above the bullpen to scope out the balls in the bullpen.

While there, an unidentified Braves player tossed my ball #5.
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Batting practice ended, and there were three balls that were gettable in the bullpen.  I knew how security was, so I spoke with the usher in the section, “There’s a ball in the bullpen that I can get with my glove,” I said.  “Is it ok if I get it?” 
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“Alright,”  She replied, “Imma let you get it.” 

I went to work and got the ball to stick in the glove on the first try.  Weirdly, the same lady that just gave me permission, came and started yelling at me.  “You can’t do that!”

“You just told me that I could get a ball from the bullpen.”

“No!  You have to stop.”

“OK, the ball’s stuck in my glove, should I throw it back onto the field or can I keep it?”
She ignored me.  So I stuck it in my pocket and let.  It was the sixth one of the day.

That would be it for batting practice.

We left the stadium after BP to head back to Pittsburgh. 
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We headed back to pictures and Amy was still snapping away.
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We left sunny 65 degree weather for dreariness.
100_8807.JPGHere are the baseballs I snagged today:
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And the sweet spots:
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STATISTICS:

Game:  6 balls (1 hit, 2 thrown, 3 device)
Season:  9 balls (4 hit, 2 thrown, 3 device, 0 found)
Games: 2 games
Average:  4.50 balls per game
Career:  1,131 balls
Attendance: 22,210

4-2-11 Nationals Park

The 2011 baseball season kicked off for me this weekend in Washington DC.  Fellow ballhawk Nick Pelescak, my girlfriend Amy, and I headed down for the weekend.

On the way there, winter gave us hopefully, a goodbye, as we traveled through heavy snow in the mountains of Pennsylvania.  The roads were untreated, and we had to keep it at 40 mph.  It was rather treacherous.

We grabbed some breakfast at McDonalds in Breezewood:
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And continued on I-70 east.  Once the dawn arrived, the pictures of the snow turned out better, but trust me – the roads were much worse than this:
DSC00946.JPGWe got to Washington a little after 9AM, and shelled out $15 to park near the stadium.
DSC00947.JPGThe walk was through a construction zone. 
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I had my phone handy as I was keeping an eye on the weather.  It had rained and snowed for most of the trip to Washington DC, and there was a large percent chance of rain today, but according to the weather sites, it looked like it wouldn’t start until around noon or 1PM.

When we reached the intersection across from the stadium, there was thick cloud cover, but it looked like batting practice would be a go.
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We paused in front of Nationals Park for a few obligatory photos:
DSC00965.JPGAmy was the photographer for this trip.  We were in Washington for two games and she took over 900 photos.  She captured mostly everything.

Check out this awesome photo of the Washington Nationals logo she took with cherry blossoms:
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She’s the best.

The walk to the center field gate from home plate was extremely cold and windy.  When we got to the left field gate, we peered in to see if the cages were up.  It was inconclusive.
DSC00979.JPGWalking along the exterior of Nationals Park, I was looking for any new decorations or improvements. 
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It is probably the blandest most boring stadium I’ve ever seen from the outside.

When I rounded the corner to head towards the center field gate and the ticket offices, I noticed one change.  Do you see it?
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There were large mirrored baseballs installed on the outside of the stadium/parking garage.
DSC01012.JPGAt the main box office, we purchased the cheapest ticket available: $10 each.
DSC01015.JPGI purchased tickets for today’s game and tomorrow’s game as well.
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Then we headed over to the center field gate to stake our claim to the front spot in the line.
DSC01026.JPGAfter getting in line, I organized the string of my glove and tested out a new rubber band.
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We caught for maybe ten minutes before someone from the Nationals staff came out and enforced the no having fun unwritten rule that many staff members at MLB parks abide by.

10:30AM finally came and the gates opened.  Here was my first view of a major league baseball field in 2011:
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Nick and I were the first ones into the stadium, but I didn’t find any Easter Eggs.  Nick found 2.
100_8024.JPGBatting practice probably didn’t begin for at least 10 minutes until after the gates opened.  As the players were still warming up down the right field line.
100_8030.JPGAmy followed us back and forth between left field and right field for two full days taking lots of great shots.  Here’s one of the field from center field:
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And here Nick and I are in right field at the very beginning of batting practice.  I had checked the gaps behind the outfield walls for baseballs that I could glove trick, but there were none there.
100_8049.JPGAmy got lots of great action shots of the players too, because batting practice started out pretty bad for me.
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I got shut out for at least the first two groups if not three.   

The bounces weren’t going my way, and the home runs that were hit were always over my head.
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It was one of those days for me.

What would’ve been my first ball of the day was knocked away from me by the kid in blue who cut a row in front of me and knocked the ball to the right where some other fan grabbed it.
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Finally, after a long drought, Rick Ankiel hit a towering blast toward right field. 
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The ball was hit directly between Nick and I who were both in the same row.
100_8089.JPGSince Nick had already snagged several, he laid back and allowed me to make the clean catch uncontested.  Thanks Nick!  It was my first ball of the year and first of the 2011 season.  It broke a weird streak.  In 2009 both Nick and I got our first ball of the year thrown by Ian Snell.  In 2010, we both got our first ball of the year off the bat of Bobby Crosby.  The streak ended in 2011 when Nick found his first ball and mine was from Rick Ankiel.

Anyway, back in left field, there was a lot of waiting around during the Nationals batting practice.  100_8122.JPGI was expecting Jayson Werth to put on a show during batting practice.  He disappointed, exclusively hitting ball after ball to right field, but did hit two home runs.  One of which I caught on the fly, high above my head, fully extended.

Here I am bringing the ball over to Amy to put in my backpack.
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That would be all that I would get during the Nationals BP.

The Braves came out to hit, so I changed into my Braves garb. 
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I decided to stay mostly in right field for the Braves batting practice, as they were very heavily left handed oriented.

I set up shop in the aisle about three rows back in right field.
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I had to stay in the third row because those handrails that you see in the picture severely limit my range.  Being boxed in by people is bad, but being boxed in by people and handrails is agitating.

Anyhow, soon Nate McLouth hit a dying line drive right at me.  I ran down to the front row and made the catch just above the outfield wall for my third ball of the day.
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Here I am inspecting the ball.
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The Braves batters put a good number of balls into the seats, but I couldn’t get to any of them.  Someone was either in front of me: (they are obstructed in the picture)
100_8180.JPGOr over my head:
100_8183.JPGOr literally three feet over my head
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Or I would get completely robbed.
100_8215.JPGAmy took so many pictures!  But there were so many near misses. 

Every time I came close, I had to navigate around railings or people standing in aisles.
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And as a result, I’d be too late.
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Near the end of batting practice I spotted three balls in the bullpen.  They were perfect for the glove trick. 
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I rigged up my glove and headed over to double my days total in a matter of one or two minutes.

When I got to the bullpen area, the Braves finished their BP and were walking off the field. 
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The crowd started to thin out.  I needed to work fast.
100_8266.JPGJust as I began to lower my glove, two ushers swooped in and told me I had to stop. 

I ended the day with three baseballs.

Amy and I decided that we didn’t want to stay for the game and we’d rather go back to the hotel room for a little bit and then go explore Washington DC.  Nick would stay at the game.

Before heading out, we posed for a picture at Nationals Park:
Us 4-2-2011.jpgOur hotel was the Renaissance.  It is a $409 a night hotel, but we got it for $116 thanks to Priceline.com
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Here I am outside of the hotel:
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There was an interesting Chinese themed courtyard too:
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After all, we were two blocks from Chinatown.

Here’s a snapshot of the room we received:
100_8305.JPGAfter some quality time in the hotel room, we decided to explore the lobby and the surrounding area.  Amy was super pumped for free lemon water:
Lemonwater.jpgWe headed out into the city.
100_8320.JPGWe walked around Chinatown.
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You really couldn’t miss it with the giant arched entry way.
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The picture with the Chinese man wasn’t planned by the way…

Amy made the Chinatown entrance look better.
China town wmeew.jpgThere was some cool stuff, such as museums on just about every corner,
100_8333.JPGAmy was pretty pumped about Auntie Anne’s, but we didn’t stop to share our customary Cinnamon Pretzel.
100_8334.JPGWe came across some really creepy areas,
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but overall the area was decent.  The cherry blossoms added a nice touch to the city streets.
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After walking around for awhile, we decided to head over to the Georgetown area to go find DC Cupcakes, a store that Amy had seen on TLC, which has its own series on that network. 

On the way there, we passed a Ben & Jerry’s store, which was spewing bubbles all over the road.
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Eventually we came to the store that Amy wanted to visit.  It was called Georgetown Cupcake.  I guess DC cupcakes sounds better as a show title.
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We figured that we would park up the street somewhere and then run in and grab a cupcake just to say that we’d been there.

However, upon rounding the corner, we noticed a line.
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That extended as far as the eye could see.
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So, that was pretty much out of the question.  We headed back through Washington DC to go pick Nick up at Nationals Park.  It was almost 5PM.

At least the trees in Washington DC were blossoming. 
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Its still cold and dreary in Pittsburgh.  And everything is still dead.

Here’s some shots that Amy took on the drive back.  The Cherry Blossoms were out in full bloom!
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100_8393.JPG100_8402.JPGBeautiful:
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Washington Monument:
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We arrived back at the hotel after picking Nick up and unpacked all of our things.  We would then go out for dinner at Ruby Tuesday’s and get the worst waiter ever. 

Chinatown at night:
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We would then get up tomorrow and do it all over again.

Here are today’s baseballs:
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Sweet spots:

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STATISTICS:
Game:  3 balls (3 hit)
Season:  3 balls (3 hit, 0 thrown, 0 device, 0 found)
Games: 1 games
Average:  3.00 balls per game
Career:  1,125 balls
Attendance: 21,941

9-3-10 PNC Park

Strong storms swept through the Pittsburgh area around 3:30 PM, putting batting practice in jeopardy.  However, they moved off to the east and the skies cleared by 4:30, so BP was a go for today. 

I came into today needing six balls to reach the exclusive 500 balls snagged in one season club.  It had only been done twice, by Zack Hample in 2008 and 2009.

Upon running in, I found ball #1 in the front row.  I almost passed it by, but noticed fellow ballhawk Nick Pelescak running quickly towards the spot, so I double checked, and it was right in front of me.  I leaned over and grabbed it for ball #1.
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My second ball was thrown to me by Chris Resop.  That’s the first ball that I ever got from Resop, so I was glad to add another player to my thrown list.  Thanks Chris.
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STATISTICS:

Game:  9 balls ( 3 hit, 3 thrown, 3 found )
Season:  503 balls (243 hit, 116 thrown, 72 device, 72 found)
Games: 78 games
Average:  6.45 balls per game
2010 Game Balls: 5
Career:  1,081 balls
Streak:  174 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
Attendance: 19,734
Balls needed to break single season record: 41

7-28-10 Nationals Park

I didn’t feel like going through another toilsome batting practice in Cleveland, and storms were in the forecast there, so I drove down to Washington DC.

Two other ballhawks were in attendance at this game – Ian Weir from Pittsburgh, and Alex from New York City.

When the gates opened, the Nationals were just beginning to hit, so there weren’t any easter eggs.

I caught ball #1 on the fly off the bat of Wil Nieves.  It was a home run that was caught in this area:
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During the second group, I won a scrum for a Ryan Zimmerman home run ball that landed two rows in front of me in this area:

That would be all I would get during the Nationals batting practice.  Argh.  Did I make the wrong choice by coming to DC?

The Braves first group included Jason Heyward
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You’re not allowed to go get those balls, as one kid began climbing over the rail, before a security guard angrily yelled at him.  I motioned with my glove and string as if to say, “Is it ok if I throw this out there.”  The security guard made the non-verbal signal, “Oh yeah, go ahead.”

I flipped the kid a decoy ball and then threw my glove out and nudged ball #8 close enough to the glass so that I could simply reach other and grab it.  It took one fling of the glove.

I was about ready to leave the red seats to go check the left field bullpen when yet another home run landed in the gap in front of the red seats.

I glove tricked that ball for ball #9.

Batting practice ended soon after, and I was stuck on 9 balls – just short of double digits.

I really wanted to hit the road, but there were three balls laying in
the bullpen.

After standing and talking with Alex for about 20 minutes, Eddie Perez finally came out to the bullpen.  He collected the three balls, and I asked him for a ball in Spanish.  He ignored me.  I continued in Spanish to say, “There’s also one in the flowers over there near the wall.”
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Eddie went over and got it and tossed it up to me.  Ball #10.

It still had dirt on it.  Although, for some reason my camera didn’t focus that well.
7-28-10 (20).JPGAfter yesterday’s tough day, I was pretty happy I chose to come to DC. 
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I then hit the road for home.

Here are today’s baseballs:
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Sweet spots:
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STATISTICS:
Game:  10 balls (4 hit, 1 thrown, 5 device)
Season:  347 balls (177 hit, 76 thrown, 41 device, 44 found)
Games: 54 games
Average:  6.43 balls per game
2010 Game Balls: 5
Career:  925 balls
Streak:  150 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
Attendance: 24,263

6-12-10 Progressive Field

The weather forecast for today kept calling for thunderstorms, but every time I checked the forecast changed, and the storms kept getting pushed back to later and later in the day.

Eventually, I decided around 1PM to go for it, and hoped the weather would cooperate. 

It would.

Despite arriving at 3:45, I was still first in line.
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The boxes you see in the above photo were Shin Soo Choo bobbleheads.  I was a little worried that today would be very crowded because it was a bobblehead night and a Saturday.  However, the attendance was below 20,000.  Kind of sad for a franchise that once sold out 455 games in a row.

When I ran in, batting practice hadn’t yet begun, and there were no Easter Eggs.

After a few minutes, BP got underway and an Indians lefty hit a few balls into the Indians bullpen.

One of the balls was in a spot at the back of the bullpen that could be retrieved with the glove trick.  However, right when I began to set up for the glove trick, Tony Sipp ran by on his way to the bathroom in the Indians bullpen.  I decided to hold off on glove tricking the ball and instead asked Sipp for one of the three balls in the bullpen after he finished in the bathroom.

He nodded and flipped me ball #1.
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STATISTICS:
Game:  7 balls (3 hit, 2 thrown, 2 device)
Season:  199 balls (104 hit, 53 thrown, 19 device, 23 found)
Games: 32 games
Average:  6.22 balls per game
2010 Game Balls: 3
Career:  777 balls
Streak:  128 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
Attendance: 19,484

6-11-10 Progressive Field

I decided to attend this game after checking Saturday’s iffy weather forecast.  I left right after work, so I didn’t get to the stadium until just before 5 PM.

I had missed the first 25 minutes of batting practice, which is never a good thing, but I would get on the board soon.

I was checking for any easter eggs that some folks may have missed when Shin Soo Choo hit a home run that landed in the trees in Heritage Park.  I tried to reach in and grab it so I could count it as a hit ball, but I couldn’t reach it. 
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I pulled out my Cleveland Stick and used it to nudge the ball closer to the wall so I could get it.  It was ball #1.

The next round, Travis Hafner also hit a home run into the trees in Heritage Park, so I ran back over again. 

This ball would be a bit trickier because it was lodged in the branches of one of the trees.
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STATISTICS
:
Game:  7 balls (3 hit, 4 device)
Season:  192 balls (101 hit, 51 thrown, 17 device, 23 found)
Games: 31 games
Average:  6.19 balls per game
2010 Game Balls: 3
Career:  770 balls
Streak:  127 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
Attendance: 22,041

Stephen Strasburg Major League Debut

I’ll be in attendance at Stephen Strasburg’s Major League Debut on Tuesday, June 8th.
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Its probably one of the most anticipated games of the season to date, as Strasburg was the number one pick in the country last season.  Scouts have called him the best talent to come out of the draft in quite some time, and his minor league numbers this season back that up.

He’s got a 1.30 ERA in 11 starts in the minors this year with 65 strike outs in 55 innings.

Anyone else headed to this game?

What’s your prediction for the number of Pirates he strikes out?  I’m guessing 9.

In other news, this blog made the top 10 list of most visited blogs for the month of May, so thank you to those readers who check in frequently.
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4-18-10 Nationals Park

It was a terrible weekend in terms of ballhawking for me.  I had to miss the Friday and Saturday games at PNC Park due to coaching.  I could’ve gone Saturday, but I wouldn’t have made the game until 8PM, thereby putting my streak in jeopardy, so I stayed home.

I decided to try and make up some ground by driving to Washington DC for this Sunday day game (after a day game.)
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I got to the stadium about a half hour before it was to open.  There was virtually no one there when I arrived.
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STATISTICS:
Game:  3 balls (3 hit)
Season:  27 balls (16 hit, 3 thrown, 5 device, 3 found)
Games: 6 games
Average:  4.50 balls per game
Career:  605 balls
Streak:  102 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
Attendance:  18,789

2009 through 6 games: 26

4-11-10 Citi Field

I made my first trip to Citi Field in New York on Sunday. 
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The goal was to snag one ball to extend my consecutive game streak with at least one ball snagged to 100.

I woke up at 6:45 AM in Philadelphia, left my hotel about 7:20, and was in New York City just shy of two hours later.  This was the first time I had driven to New York City, so I didn’t know the ins and outs of where to park, so I parked in a stadium lot for $19.  I was the first car in the entire lot.

I took a few pictures of the exterior of Citi Field from the parking lot:
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I told Capps that we missed him in Pittsburgh. When they finished up, Burnett had the ball and tossed me ball #5 on the day.
100<br />
_2459.jpg” src=”http://mlblogscountingbaseballs.files.wordpress.com/2010/04/100_2459-thumb-550×412-1941631.jpg” class=”mt-image-center” style=”text-align:center;display:block;margin:0 auto 20px;” width=”550″ height=”412″ /></a></span><br />The Nationals batting practice was just brutal.  Very few home runs were hit into the stands, and I ended batting practice with five balls.</p>
<p>At one point during the bore-fest, I took a video of the Nationals batting practice which you can view below: (at least the Mets have good taste in music)</p>
<span class='embed-youtube' style='text-align:center; display: block;'><iframe class='youtube-player' type='text/html' width='550' height='385' src='http://www.youtube.com/embed/6k5EgtVQ8-Q?version=3&rel=1&fs=1&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&wmode=transparent' frameborder='0' allowfullscreen='true'></iframe></span>
<p>The game began, and I went to my seat in the upper deck (after being kicked out of the section behind the Nationals dugout).</p>
<p>In the first inning, I saw one of the more exciting plays I’d seen in awhile.  Josh Willingham hit a ball off the wall with the bases loaded.  Immediately, I said, “That’s a grand slam.”  In the upper deck, I could see the ball was clearly to the right of the home run line.  The umpires missed the call, and we got an instant replay review.<br /><span class=100_2474.jpg
Since the umpires let the play go, I got to see Adam Dunn bowl over the catcher, and then watch Willingham get thrown out trying to stretch the play into an in the park Grand Slam. 

Of course, the umpires got the call right, and much to Mets’ fans dismay, Willingham was awarded his grand slam.

You can watch the play below if you’re into excited bases clearing hits:
Click here.

After a couple innings, I went exploring and took a few pictures of the concourse:

View from the upper deck:
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100_2471.jpgWalking towards the right field foul pole:
100_2480.jpgRight field corner concourse:
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Walking towards the Shea Bridge, under the Pepsi deck in right field:
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The Shea Bridge:
100_2483.jpgView from behind the center field seats:
100_2484.jpgFood court area behind the center field score board:
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Under the left field deck:
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Left field corner:
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Main concourse behind home plate, near the Jackie Robinson rotunda:
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And the pearl of Citi Field, the Jackie Robinson rotunda:
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100_2493.jpgI only stayed about half of the game, because I needed to try and get home before 10 PM, as I had to be up for work the next day.

Here’s the five balls I snagged:
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And the sweet spots:
100_2514.jpgGoodbye Citi Field, for now.
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STATISTICS:
Game:  5 balls (2 hit, 2 thrown, 1 device)
Season:  17 balls (10 hit, 2 thrown, 5 device)
Games: 4 games
Average:  4.25 balls per game
Career:  595 balls
Streak:  100 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
Attendance:  33,672

2009 through 4 games: 17 balls

8-20-09 Nationals Park

With the Pirates having an off day, and Cleveland facing a 60% chance of storms, I decided to take a trip to a stadium I had yet to visit.  Nationals Park.

I recruited several ballhawks from PNC Park to make the trip with me – Nick, Andrew, and Jamie.

After four hours and twenty three minutes, we were at the park.
photo(304).jpgAnd were the first ones in line at the Center Field gate, which opens at 4:35. 
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STATISTICS:
Game:  11 balls (4 hit, 1 thrown 6 device)
Season:  305 balls (155 hit, 91 thrown, 59 device)
Games: 63 games (7 of which didn’t have BP)
Average:  4.84 balls per game
Career:  471 balls
Streak:  78 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
Attendance:  18,036

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