Results tagged ‘ Paul Maholm ’

1-30-11 Piratefest Day 3

We were back at Piratefest on Sunday for the third and final day of the three day weekend baseball event.  The Pirates had sent me six tickets, so I sold two, used two on Friday, and saved the last two for today.

Before heading to Piratefest, I was treated to breakfast at a restaurant named DeLuca’s in the Strip District. 
13011 (2).jpg
I had never been to DeLuca’s let alone the strip district, so this was a nice little adventure for me.  DeLuca’s proclaims to have the ‘Best Breakfast in Town,’ and the large line that was waiting outside in the cold drizzle. 
13011 (1).jpg
We waited for about twenty minutes before getting into the small, packed restaurant.    One of the restaurant’s claim to fame is being featured on the Man vs Food series.

We had pancakes…
Chocolate strawberry pancakes for her:
13011 (3).jpg
And blueberry pancakes for me:
13011 (4).jpg
I also had a side of sweet sausage, which tasted much better than it looked.
13011 (5).jpg
The food was great, and it filled me up until 5 PM.  I wasn’t crazy about the interior Steeler decorating, especially after being hassled at every corner by street vendors selling Steeler pennants and buttons.  I’m looking forward to the Super Bowl being over so this town settles down.
13011 (6).jpg
Anyway,

When we got to the David L Lawrence Convention Center around 11:40, twenty minutes before the doors were to open, we were greeted by a monstrous line that snaked around and to the back of the convention center. 
100_7069.JPG
It took us about 10 minutes after the gates opened to finally get into Piratefest.

When we entered, we headed over to the MVP Zone to get autographs from Paul Maholm and Ross Ohlendorf.
100_7075.JPG
I had Ross sign my calendar since he signed a ball for me yesterday.  Paul Maholm also signed a ball.  Interestingly, he dropped the number 28 from his signature (the other 3 signatures on balls I have from Paul have a 28) – perhaps he expects to be traded in the coming months.  He is in the final year of a contract, although the Pirates hold an option for 2012, which most certainly will be turned down since its for $9.75 million.

Later in the MVP Zone (which is for Season Ticket Holders only) we had Jose Tabata sign a baseball,
100_7080.JPG
along with 1991 National League Cy Young Award winner Doug Drabek. 
100_7081.JPG
Drabek was probably my second favorite Pirate of the 1990-1992 teams, with Andy Van Slyke being the first. 

The MVP Zone is one of the nice perks of being a season ticket holder.  Season Ticket Holders can get autographs there without waiting an average of 90 minutes on the other side of the Convention Center.  The same players come over to the MVP Zone throughout the day either before or after they are done signing for the general public.

Good (Season Ticket Holder autograph lines):
100_7085.JPGBad (everyone else):
100_7076.JPG
The other autograph that I got today was Andrew McCutchen.  We were allowed two autographs per person, so I had him sign a baseball and a Canvas Photo Wrap that I had won earlier in the day.
100_7087.JPG
We didn’t play many games because the lines were ridiculously long.  I didn’t really see the point of standing in line for 30 minutes to spin a wheel and win some give away stuff that I already have at home.

We caught some of the entertainment at the Piratefest stage:

There was Deal or No Deal:

More Minute to Win It, this time with Paul Maholm:

and Family Feud with the “Maholm Family” pitted against the “Morton Family.” 
100_7084.JPG
It was Paul Maholm vs Charlie Morton, and each player had 3 other fans assigned to his ‘family.’  The questions were related to the Pirates or Pittsburgh, and season ticket holders were those surveyed to provide the results for the game. 

Here’s a video of a round of it:

That was basically it for the day.  Got a few autographs, walked around, played a couple games at the beginning of the day before the crowd swelled, and watched some games at the Piratefest stage.

The Pirates set an all time record for the Piratefest weekend, drawing 16,839 fans, which was an increase of 1,400 over last year.  The thing is, this is my fifth year as a season ticket holder, and every other year, I only received two free tickets to Piratefest.  This year, I was given six.  I saw some fans giving away their passes at the door.  Therefore, I believe that the numbers are ‘juiced’ by the flood of free tickets that were distributed to the fan base.  Yes, there’s some reason to be excited, but a 105 loss team doesn’t just draw an all time record to its Fanfest.  Does anyone expect the Pirates to even approach their 2001 attendance home figure of 33,000 per game?  No.

The real test of how excited this town really is about Pirates baseball will be the home attendance.  We’ll see how many folks show up.  By the way, the Pirates raised ticket prices for the first time in nine years this week.  Season Ticket and advance purchased tickets will stay the same, but tickets purchased on the day of the game will be about an average of $3 more.

I’m hoping that attendance stays low, at least for batting practice, so it makes collecting baseballs easier, but we’ll see.

Spring Training is just around the corner.  Get ready.

8-3-10 PNC Park

There was a threat of rain throughout batting practice today.

In fact, it rained lightly for at least 15 minutes, usually a death sentence for batting practice at PNC Park.  The groundscrew was certainly ready to pull the plug.
8-3-10 (1).JPG
But we made it through and got a full BP today.

Upon entering, I found ball #1 laying in the front row near the foul pole.
8-3-10 (3).JPG
Throughout the rest of the game, I split time between left and right field, but Lastings Milledge was being inconsistent with his mid inning
toss ups.  Sometimes he would throw the ball to the crowd, other times he was content to let the bullpen pitcher take it. 

I decided to try Tabata one more time in the 8th inning.  I took my hat off to alter my appearance, hoping he wouldn’t remember me from four innings early.

It worked.  Tabata fired another ball right to me for ball #10 in the 8th.  Thanks Jose.
8-3-10 (23).JPG
The Pirates would go on to win the game as Joel Hanrahan earned his first save as a Pirate.

Here are today’s baseballs:
8-3-10 (26).JPG
Sweet spots:
8-3-10 (25).JPG
STATISTICS:
Game:  10 balls (5 hit, 4 thrown, 1 found)
Season:  374 balls (192 hit, 84 thrown, 43 device, 46 found)
Games: 57 games
Average:  6.56 balls per game
2010 Game Balls: 5
Career:  952 balls
Streak:  153 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
Attendance: 13,623

9-27-09 PNC Park

Today would be my final game of the season at PNC Park. 

After missing yesterday’s (Saturday’s) game due to rain, I decided that I had to make it to the park one last time, even though it was raining when I left my house.

When I arrived at the park, there was basically no one there at all.  Many people stayed away early, which turned out to be a good thing. 

Around 11:15, pitchers began to meander out of the Pirates dugout and head toward the bullpen to sit and await to rain to ease up. 
photo(484).jpg
I stood by the fence above the bullpen and hoped someone would begin to throw.

Eventually, Charlie Morton (hidden by the bullpen roof) started to throw with Luis Dorante, the Pirates bullpen coach.  I watched them finish up at 11:29, one minute before the gate would open to allow me to get close enough to ask for a ball. 
photo(485).jpg
There were two pairs of Dodgers playing catch.

I noticed that Ramon Tronsoco didn’t have a partner.  I held up my glove and asked him if he wanted to throw a little bit.  He nodded and tossed me a ball.  Wow.  I was finally going to play catch with a major leaguer.  In uniform.

We began to throw, and after about ten tosses, I handed my p
hone off to a random guy behind me to take some photos.  He had been asking me questions like, “Do you play for the Pirates?  Are you friends with him?  How do you know him?” 

He got the following photos of me:
photo(490).jpg
photo(491).jpg
photo(492).jpg
photo(493).jpg
When I got home, I checked out Youtube for #1 Joe Beimel fan TroyfromWV, sure enough, he had uploaded a partial video of me and Ramon throwing together. Click here–> VIDEO PROOF!
URL: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tytId_U-9vQ

After we threw for awhile, Troncoso’s throwing partner finally emerged from the dugout, and Troncoso tossed me the ball and indicated that he was done.   I had ball #5.  What a way to get it!  I thanked Troncoso, and gave one of my decoy balls to the daughter of the guy that snapped some pictures of me.

When the game began, center field was too crowded to have a great chance at toss up balls. 
photo(496).jpg
Plus, the usher told me I had to stay out because I didn’t have a ticket.  He was nice about it, and told me there was a big issue on Saturday Night where someone was injured in a fight for a toss up ball.  He said the man was going to sue the Pirates, and that outfield between inning toss ups would be discontinued after this year.  I was hoping he wasn’t serious, but he seemed to be.

In the second inning, I went up on the right field wall, and got Garrett Jones to pick me out and throw me ball #6 – oh wait, he grossly underthrew me, and the ball hit some guy that was sitting down.  The ball caromed off of him, and rolled behind his wife’s backside and sat on her seat.  It took them about 10 seconds to find it – and I could’ve easily grabbed it, but it would’ve been too awkward.  I watched them oodle over the ball they had just snagged by accident, much to my frustration.
photo(508).jpg
I decided to quit ballhawking and went up to sit in my season ticket seats one last time.  I hadn’t sat there much at all this year, but I felt like I needed to say goodbye.
photo(497).jpg
Even though the seats are cheap, and offer no chance at getting a ball – I always liked to just sit and watch a game there.  In my seats you’ve got a great view, and they are in the front row of the section.
photo(498).jpg
In the 7th inning, I sat behind home plate,
photo(499).jpg
in hopes of snagging some promotional items from Pirates announcer Steve Blass in the “7th inning throw down.”  Blass threw out a bunch of left over giveaway hats, grocery bags, Pirate dolls, candy, etc. 
photo(500).jpg
I got my finger tip on a Pirates Alternate hat, but it was just out of my reach and floated down to a lady two rows below me.  I didn’t come away empty handed – I caught a piece of Double Bubble bubble gum.  Yay. 

For the 8th inning, I snuck down and sat behind the Pirates dugout.  The Pirates ended up scoring four runs in the bottom of the ninth inning to acheive a walk off win.
photo(501).jpg
photo(502).jpgI was expecting the players to toss their hats and a few baseballs into the crowd as a thank you to the fans – they’ve done it the past three years on Fan Appreciation Day.

It didn’t happen.  The players disappeared into the dugout, gave their jerseys to those fans whose seats had been chosen, and
disappeared for good.  Nothing was thrown into the crowd.  Very disappointing. 
photo(507).jpg
I stayed around until almost everyone was gone, and took one last look at PNC Park.
photo(503).jpg
Was this my last game of 2009?  Maybe…

Today’s baseballs:
photo(505).jpg
Sweet spots:
photo(504).jpg
STATISTICS:
Game:  5 balls (5 thrown)
Season:  405 balls (211 hit, 124 thrown, 70 device)
Games: 80 games (10 of which didn’t have BP)
Average:  5.06 balls per game
Career:  571 balls
Streak:  95 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
Attendance:  26,831

9-5-09 PNC Park

I hadn’t been to a game since last Thursday, a span of 9 days had passed since I snagged my last baseball.

After missing Friday’s game, I was back in action today. 

Batting practice was just beginning when I entered at 4:30, so there were no Easter Eggs to be found.  However, there was a ball laying on the warning track near the bullpen. 

As I started to set up my glove trick, a Pirates batter lofted a fly ball at my section.  My glove was off of my hand.  I dropped my glove to the ground.  I realized the ball would fall short, so I hopped over a bleacher to get into a better position.  The ball bounced on the warning track, hit the fence separating the bleachers from the bullpen, and caromed right to me.  I caught the ball with my bare hands on the bounce.  It was ball #1.

I then turned my attention back to the ball on the warning track.  I had lost my rubber band when I was running into the bleachers (it fell off of my glove) and was working with a replacement rubber band that I didn’t have a feel for.  Every rubber band is different and needs adjusted appropriately.  After two readjustments, I reeled up the ball.  However, as I was bringing it in, the glove hit to wall and the ball fell out.  Great.  Now the ball was partially under neath some padding and I would have to work more to get the ball.  As I was making my second attempt, I was surrounded by groundskeepers.

I ended up finally getting the ball in the right spot so I could reel it in.  It was ball #2.  The groundskeepers thought the trick was really cool and asked a few questions about how it was done.

I got ball #3 tossed to me by Matt Capps.   
photo(365).jpg
STATISTICS:
Game:  6 balls (3 hit, 2 thrown, 1 device)
Season:  343 balls (181 hit, 101 thrown, 61 device)
Games: 70 games (7 of which didn’t have BP)
Average:  4.90 balls per game
Career:  509 balls
Streak:  85 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
Attendance:  27,071

8-19-09 PNC Park

I could’ve taken my choice of going to Cleveland, or staying in Pittsburgh today.  The weather in Cleveland was forecast to be very nice, with a 5% chance of rain.  Pittsburgh was predicted to have a 50% chance.  I had to make a decision where I was going by 1 PM.  After that time passed, I wouldn’t be able to make it to Cleveland by 3:30, thereby leaving me with PNC Park as my only option.

At 12:45 PM, this was the hourly weather forecast.  It looked like there may have been a chance to at least get some BP in.  I figured I’d save the gas and take the chance.

pitt.jpg
Wow, were they ever wrong.

It started pouring around 2:30ish, and didn’t stop.
photo(295).jpg
McCutchen looked into the “crowd,”  locked onto my location, and tossed a ball in my direction.  The ball was coming in high.  I had to jump up to make the catch.  It was ball #1.  My
streak had been preserved and extended.  What a relief. 

I spent the rest of the night going back and forth from right field to left field to center field (on occasion), trying to get another warm up ball.

Brandon Moss picked me out in the 6th inning and threw a ball right at me.  The ball was intended for me.  However, some random guy without a glove came running across the row and intercepted the ball.  There was nothing I could do.  Here he is:
photo(300).jpg
Who sits like that at a baseball game anyway?

After the game was over (the Pirates won – finishing a sweep of the Brewers), I went down to the dugout.  There, I watched the umpire toss a ball to a kid, which he dropped (the ball fell to the tunnel below and disappeared).  Then, the umpire tossed a second ball to the same kid, which he also dropped down into the tunnel.  What a waste.  Luckily for Butterfingers, Bob Davidson came along and got one of the balls out of the tunnel and handed it to him.

I ended up with one ball, but did meet two readers of this blog after the game.  I had noticed them prior to the game with their gloves and roster complete with player numbers and thinking, “They’re more prepared than I am.”  I asked if they had snagged any balls on the day, and gave a ball away (one of the extras I bring from home) to one of the girls who had been shut out.  There’s nothing worse than trying for a ball all day and coming up empty. 

Here’s the McCutchen ball:
photo(301).jpg
Which I somehow managed to screw up and number off-center.  Argh.
photo(302).jpg
STATISTICS:
Game:  1 ball (1 thrown)
Season:  294 balls (151 hit, 90 thrown, 53 device)
Games: 62 games (7 of which didn’t have BP)
Average:  4.74 balls per game
Career:  460 balls
Streak:  77 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
Attendance:  12,630

5-4-09 PNC Park

100_1144.jpg
Throughout the day, I thought for sure that batting practice would be canceled.  It was raining this morning when I left for work.  Raining when I went to lunch.  Raining when I left work.  Drizzling when I left for the game.  So, imagine my surprise when I walked past the left field gates and saw the screens and cage being set up.  (The Pirates needed the extra BP after not hitting a home run in more than a week and getting shut out yesterday).

Upon entering the stadium, there was one Easter Egg ball, but another ballhawk got to it first.  The Pirates portion of batting practice was slow for me.  I got ball #1 when Jason Jaramillo tossed me a baseball before the Pirates finished up at 5:15.  Jaramillo was very gracious to all three regular ballhawks in attendance, hooking us each up with a ball.

The Brewers then came out and hit.
100_1137.jpg
Maybe I should’ve tried for foul balls during the game?

A few action shows:

Paul Maholm deals:
100_1145.jpg100_1150.jpg
Gallardo throws a pitch:
100_1151.jpg
After Matt Capps blew the save and gave up 4 runs in the 9th, I went to the Pirates dugout.  (the Pirates lost their SIXTEENTH game in a row to the Brewers).

I usually get shut out at the dugout, having only received one ball there this year before today.  The umpire, Bob Davidson came off the field and tossed me a really nice rubbed up game ball.  Ball #7

Not a bad night after all.

Here’s today’s balls:
100_1153.jpg
And the sweet spots: (the 4th ball from the pitcher in center had MVP written on it)
The umpire ball is at the front and center.
100_1152.jpg
STATISTICS:
Game: 7 balls (2 hit, 5 thrown)
Season:   74 balls (28 hit, 39 thrown, 7 device)
Games:  15 games (12 with BP, 3 without)
Average: 4.93 balls per game
Career:  240 balls
Attendance:  8,482

4-17-09 PNC Park

I was hoping to have a huge day today since the Penguins had a playoff game.  Sure enough, batting practice was pretty empty, but I didn’t have a stand out day.

My wife and I arrive at the park at 4:05 PM and were second in line.  I went into batting practice and looked for Easter Eggs, but there were none.  There were a couple ushers standing around and they must’ve picked up anything that came out.  I settled into my spot in left field and waited. 

An unidentified Pirate hit a deep fly ball.  He hit it right into the sun, but I was able to catch it on the fly… barely.  It almost went over my head.  Nonetheless, I had ball #1 of the day. 

Nyjer Morgan was shagging balls in the outfield and I called his name, he looked at me and tossed a ball, but it was headed for some random guy with a Pantera hat on.  The guy was holding a calendar and didn’t have a glove and looked out of place at batting practice.  He reached for the ball and missed it.  I picked the ball up on the deflection.  It was ball #2.  He kind of gave me a look like he expected me to give it to him, but I didn’t.  Since I called for Nyjer to throw the ball, I felt like I earned it, plus he didn’t have a glove and wasn’t prepared.

The Pirates portion of batting practice ended and the Braves came out to hit.  They weren’t hitting anything deep.  To make matters worse, batting practice looked like this:
100_0766.jpgI had so much room to roam and chase down home runs, but none were coming.  One finally did come out, but I misjudged the ball and it was over my head.  If I had been one row deeper I would have caught the ball.  I slammed my glove in disgust and muttered to myself.

I tried to chase down some other fly balls, but everything ended up falling short of the fence.  It was one of those days.
100_0763.jpg

STATISTICS:
Game:  3 Balls
Season:  20 Balls
Games:  5 Games (4 with batting practice, 1 without)
Average:  4.00 Balls per game
Career:  186 Balls
41709line.jpg

4-12-09 Great American Ball Park

Happy Easter everyone! 

My friend Joe and I went to Great American Ball Park today. 
100_0684.jpg
It was an afternoon game, so I was worried that batting practice would be canceled.  We waited in line for about 10 minutes to get in.  At 11:40, when the gates opened, I rushed to left field.  The Pirates were taking batting practice!

I was the first one there, but the stadium ushers must have picked up all of the Easter Eggs, because there were none to be found.  Yesterday’s starter Paul Maholm was alone in left field.  I shouted to him to congratulate him on his great start yesterday.  I then asked for a ball.  He looked up and threw me a ball.  His aim was off and it was wide and to my left.  It tipped off my glove and landed a row behind me.  Luckily, there was still no one around, so I turned around and picked it up.  It was ball #1.  I asked Matt Capps, John Grabow, and Tyler Yates for balls in left center field, but was ignored.  I didn’t feel like pestering them, so I found an open aisle about 6 rows back that wasn’t being blocked by those long railings I mentioned in Friday’s entry.

Freddy Sanchez soon launched a deep fly ball to left.  It was right at me, in the center of the section.  However, it was sailing over my head.  I hate it when this happens.  I don’t have latitudinal range, and get stuck.  It happens often at PNC Park.  The ball landed about 5 rows back, so I had to climb over the chairs to beat some Reds fan there by a split second.  It was ball #2.

Adam LaRoche and Brandon Moss’ group was coming up next, so we moved over to right field. 
100_0655.jpg

STATISTICS:
Game: 5 balls  (3 hit, 2 thrown)
Season:  8 balls  (5 hit, 3 thrown)
Average:  4.0 balls/game (8 balls/2 games)
Career: 174 balls

Hit List:  174 hits ties Ozzie Virgil for #3855 all time.
Attendance: 12,876 (30.6% full)
41209line.jpg

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:
41109 LF.jpg

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 129 other followers