Results tagged ‘ St Louis Cardinals ’

8-25-10 PNC Park

Today got off to a terrible start. 

When I entered the park, Lastings Milledge was in the cage, taking his final cuts.  Milledge is in the last group of Pirates players to bat.  Minutes later, at 5:03, the field was empty, as the Pirates ran off the field, leaving the PNC Park regulars stunned.

I hadn’t snagged anything yet, and I was prepared to face the fact that I might get shut out.

Half way through the Cardinals BP, I got Trever Miller to toss me a ball in center field to put me on the board. 
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Luckily, I had brought my Cardinals gear, whereas yesterday I just left it at home figuring that the Cards were too stingy to toss any balls up to their own ‘fans.’   However, Miller is a veteran, and older players typically seem to be more generous in throwing balls into the stands.

Later on in batting practice, I attempted to glove trick a ball in the corner spot in center field.
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STATISTICS:
Game:  3 balls ( 3 thrown )
Season:  487 balls (239 hit, 110 thrown, 72 device, 66 found)
Games: 76 games
Average:  6.41 balls per game
2010 Game Balls: 5
Career:  1,065 balls
Streak:  172 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
Attendance: 12,686
Balls in the month of August:  136 (3 needed to break 1 month record)
Balls needed to break single season record: 57

8-24-10 PNC Park

Things got off to a great start before the gates even opened.  Someone on the Pirates hit a home run that hit off of the song whale tent on the riverwalk, took a bounce, and then landed in the tall grass here:
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Once the gates opened, the Pirates were already into their final round of batting practice, and they were all hitting opposite field, so I didn’t get a single ball from them.

That’s when Adam Wainwright came in and helped me out.
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STATISTICS:
Game:  6 balls ( 1 hit, 1 thrown, 4 device )
Season:  484 balls (239 hit, 107 thrown, 72 device, 66 found)
Games: 75 games
Average:  6.45 balls per game
2010 Game Balls: 5
Career:  1,062 balls
Streak:  171 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
Attendance: 13,302
Balls in the month of August:  133 (6 needed to break 1 month record)
Balls needed to break single season record: 59

8-23-10 PNC Park

We were lucky to get batting practice in today.  There was a steady drizzle from 4 PM until the first few minutes of batting practice, but to the Pirates’ credit, they allowed BP to continue.

My first ball was tossed to me by a worker.  I spotted the ball laying on a bleacher and ran over to claim it.  A worker from one of the concession stands was walking by and picked it up and flipped it to me.

My second ball was a home run caught on the fly in this area off the bat of Delwyn Young.
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Ball #3 was tossed up by Pirates’ closer and all around good-guy Joel Hanrahan.  Here’s Joel having some fun with a fan’s rain gear:
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STATISTICS:
Game:  7 balls ( 2 hit, 3 thrown, 2 device )
Season:
  478 balls (238 hit, 106 thrown, 68 device, 66 found)
Games: 74 games
Average:  6.46 balls per game
2010 Game Balls: 5
Career:  1,056 balls
Streak:  170 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
Attendance: 12,393
Balls in the month of August:  127 (12 needed to break 1 month record)
Balls needed to break single season record: 65

5-15-10 Great American Ballpark

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This would be the second most crowded game that I have ever attended.  The attendance of this game was 41,326.  The most packed game I ever attended was last year at Citizen’s Bank Park when a Reds vs Phillies match up drew 41,538.  At that game, I only managed to snag two balls.  Would today be different?  I was hoping so, since Cincinnati opens its gates 30 minutes early to season ticket holders.
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I stayed there for several minutes, but got tired of watching a few balls sail into the lower level seats.  I ended up moving all over the place for the rest of batting practice, but it would never lead to any more baseballs.

Batting practice also ended early, as there would be lengthy on field ceremonies to honor Negro League Baseball players and African American ballplayers’ contributions to the Civil Rights movement.

By the way, about that ball in center…  It seemed to be a bit too far out to throw my glove out and nudge it closer, plus there was a security guard right there.  After batting practice, when he went to get the baseballs that landed in the bat
ters eye, I was going to ask him for one, but I heard him tell another fan, “If I have to give one to you, I have to give one to everyone.”

Apparently, the Civil Rights game is a huge event.  I didn’t know this.  Had I been aware of the competition I would face, I would’ve headed to Baltimore to see the Indians there.

Some more pictures:
Left field wall:
5-15-2010 (11).JPGField with podiums and chairs for the on-field ceremonies:
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Podium:
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Tonight’s game would be broadcast on the MLB Network:
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A seemingly never ending stream of inner city baseball little league teams circled around the stadium on the warning track:
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And continued to the concourse ( and out of the stadium ).
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Steam boat wheel:
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The game wouldn’t start until about 7:45 PM due to the lengthy on field ceremonies.  Had I stayed at the game, I wouldn’t have gotten home until after 3AM.

I left the stadium before the game began. 

Here are today’s baseballs:
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Sweet spots:
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STATISTICS:
Game:  2 balls (1 hit, 1 thrown)
Season:  115 balls (70 hit, 24 thrown, 10 device, 12 found)
Games: 16 games
Average:  7.19 balls per game
2010 Game Balls: 3
Career:  693 balls
Streak:  112 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
Attendance:  41,326

5-8-2010 PNC Park

When I got out of my car around 3:45, the skies were looking rather overcast.  It wasn’t raining, so I was hoping batting practice would still be on.
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It wasn’t.  When it became obvious that batting practice wasn’t going to happen, I was faced with a decision.  Go home, or put my 109 consecutive game streak on the line.  I decided to stay, because I was hoping it would rain, and people would stay home.  Also, there was a Penguins playoff game, so I hoped folks would stay and watch that.  However, Pittsburgh crowds love fireworks, and 25,000 people still showed up.

Upon entering the stadium, I got ball #1 rather quickly from coach Ray Searage.

I then noticed several Cardinals playing catch in right field, so I went over. 

Kyle McClellan, Mitchell Boggs, and someone else were playing catch, but when they finished, they were having an intense conversation as they walked off the field about different grips, so they ignored my polite request for a baseball.
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STATISTICS:
Game:  5 balls (5 thrown)
Season:  102 balls (61 hit, 21 thrown, 10 device, 11 found)
Games: 14 games
Average:  7.29 balls per game
2010 Game Balls: 3
Career:  680 balls
Streak:  110 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
Attendance:  25,047

5-7-2010 PNC Park

Since today is a Friday, I thought that it might by a little more difficult than the other two days this week, where I had snagged 8 and 10 balls. 

The Cardinals can be a tricky team to deal with due to their hitting approach.  Twice last year I only snagged one ball in games that the Pirates played the Cardinals.  My best game against the Cardinals was a 9 ball performance on May 12, 2009.  I would break that today.

My first ball was a Steve Pearce ground rule double that bounced over the fence and I caught in the second row.  It was career ball #6-6-6.  Hopefully the dubious distinction of being tied to that ball number doesn’t jinx Pearce in the big leagues.

Ball #2 was another ground rule double off the bat of Lastings Milledge, and ball #3 was a home run that I had to battle the sun for, and made the catch in the aisle way between section 136 and 137.

Near the end of the group, I got two balls within 10 seconds of each other.  Both were from Lastings Milledge.  He hit a home run that I caught on the fly, and as soon as I made the catch and started drifting back to my right to go to my spot, another home run was hit to my right.  I sprinted over and picked the ball up as it was trickling down the bleachers.

The Pirates finished up at 5:26.  The Cardinals began hitting.

I glove tricked ball #6 in left field, as none of the Cardinals’ shaggers had made it over to left field yet.

I then ran over to center field and found ball #7 in the center field seats. 

I returned to left field and got a home run from an unknown Cardinals player .  The ball hit two sections from the foul pole and ricocheted like a rocked directly at me.  I actually caught the ball between my side and my forearm, as I didn’t have enough time to react.  That was ball #8, and it was only 5:38, exactly half way through batting practice.
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Would I be able to continue this pace and challenge the PNC Park Jabs/Pelescak record of 14. 

No. 

Things slowed way down, as people started blocking off the rows, and limiting my range.

I did catch a Nick Stavinoha home run on the fly in section 137. 
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STATISTICS:
Game:  10 balls (8 hit, 1 device, 1 found)
Season:  97 balls (61 hit, 16 thrown, 10 device, 11 found)
Games: 13 games
Average:  7.46 balls per game
2010 Game Balls: 3
Career:  675 balls
Streak:  109 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
Attendance:  16,473

9-6-09 PNC Park

Question:
What’s worse than attending a Sunday afternoon game? 

Answer:
Attending a Sunday afternoon game with the Cardinals taking batting practice.

When I got to PNC Park, I stood outside for awhile and looked in.  There were no cages set up, and the garage doors to where the screens and cage were kept, were closed.
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After talking to fellow ballhawk Nick Pelescak before the gates opened, I decided to not enter the park, and just go home.  I didn’t feel like running all over the place to try and get a ball.  I would basically have to beg players to throw me a warm up ball, which is something I’m not fond of doing.

On my way walking back to my car, I got a call from Nick.  The groundscrew had just rolled out all of the screens.  I stopped in my tracks and turned around to head back towards PNC Park.

Unfortunately, the team taking batting practice on this Sunday was the St Louis Cardinals.  The Cardinals are notorious for their line drive, opposite field approach, making home runs rare.

Luckily, when they began hitting, one Cardinals batter hit a ball to the left center field wall.  I threw my glove out on the field twice to roll the ball to the base of the wall, and used the glove trick to reel up ball #1.
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STATISTICS:
Game:  1 ball (1 device)
Season:  344 balls (181 hit, 101 thrown, 62 device)
Games: 71 games (7 of which didn’t have BP)
Average:  4.85 balls per game
Career:  510 balls
Streak:  86 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
Attendance:  19,274

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.   
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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

8-8-09 PNC Park

O.A.R. is in town playing a post game concert to coincide with fireworks set off from a barge on the river, the Clemente bridge, atop the scoreboard, and buildings across the river.  Tonight was night two of the annual Skyblast Series, a popular Pirates promotion.

This game was the 700th game in the history of PNC Park, the seventh largest crowd in the history of PNC Park, and the largest ever Skyblast crowd.  Additionally, it was the largest crowd of the 2009 season.

Luckily, the skies were threatening earlier in the day, keeping some fans away from batting practice.  As a result, there were slightly less fans than attended yesterday.

Since it was a Saturday game, the gates opened a half hour earlier than during the week.  I was in line by 3:30, and was the first one into the stadium.  My plan was to get off to a big start by picking up a bunch of Easter Eggs.  Another Saturday special perk is that the entire seating bowl is also open to season ticket holders, rather than just the left field bleachers.  (Season Ticket holders are confined to left field only during weekdays).

I ran in and checked to lower bleachers.  Nothing.
I hopped up the steps and checked the upper general admission bleachers.  Nothing.
I ran over into foul territory and checked all of the upper and lower sections along the left field line.  Nothing. 
The only thing I did find was an old usher with a devilish wry smile on his face as I walked back up the stairs empty handed to return to left field.  I had a feeling he had pocketed several balls, as I’ve personally seen him do so at previous games.

I was shut out for the first twenty minutes of batting practice.  My plan to get on the board was to ask new Pirate Jose Ascanio for a ball in Spanish.

I moved down to the front row, waiting for Ascanio to snag a ball. 

laroche.jpgSoon, Andy LaRoche hit a line drive that carried fairly deep into the outfield.  It hit on the grass and took a medium sized hop towards the wall, right where I was standing.  I reacted and reached down over the wall and snagged ball #1.  Unfortunately, Ascanio was about ten feet away watching.  Now, I couldn’t ask him for a ball today, as he had just seen me snag one.  I’ll have to save that request for another day.

I didn’t get another ball until near the very end of the Pirates batting practice.  Many of the Pirates righties must’ve been watching the Cardinals take batting practice yesterday, because they took the exact same approach – trying to inside out every pitch to right field.

Luckily, Steve Pearce hit a towering home run towards me.  I had to hobble over one section and just managed to snag the ball at the last second.  After catching ball #2, I stumbled a bit and regained my balance by grabbing onto the bleacher back support.  (My range is improving a bit.  My back, which has ailed me for the last nine days, has felt markedly better since I started using a hydrocolater pad yesterday.  I even went without my back brace today.)

Upon inspecting the Pearce home run ball, I noticed an awesome green smudge.  Likely from the batting cage?
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and the sweet spots:
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STATISTICS:
Game:  5 balls (3 hit, 2 device)
Season:  260 balls (134 hit, 84 thrown, 42 device)
Games: 55 games (5 of which didn’t have BP)
Average:  4.73 balls per game
Career:  426 balls
Streak:  70 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
Attendance:  38,593

8-7-09 PNC Park

Today wasn’t a banner day for me.  The Cardinals were in town, and they are historically a tough team for batting practice.  Although they have a decent amount of right handed batters, they work exclusively on hitting the ball the other way for a majority of their cuts.  This results in less home runs being hit to the left field bleachers, which is where I normally patrol.

I did manage to get on the board early, as I spotted bench coach Gary Varsho teaching Lastings Milledge how to correctly catch a fly ball.
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I’m sure many parents with young children were real thrilled with FSN’s decision to show this man with blood pouring down his face.

At first I was thinking, “What a freaking idiot.”  Then, my disdain for the man turned to remorse when I saw he had a disabled son who was with him.

Albert Pujols was the first one to the man, and stayed with him, holding his neck on the ground, the entire ten minutes.  It tells you a lot about Albert Pujols as a person. 

After ten minutes, they stabilized the man on a stretcher, and carted him off the field.

Predictably, the Pirates would go on to blow the lead and lose their sixth game in a row.  The Washington Nationals are only seven games ahead of the Pirates now in the worst record in baseball category.&nb
sp; Uh oh.

Today’s baseballs:
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Sweet spots:
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STATISTICS:
Game:  2 balls (2 thrown)
Season:  255 balls (131 hit, 84 thrown, 40 device)
Games: 54 games (5 of which didn’t have BP)
Average:  4.72 balls per game
Career:  421 balls
Streak:  69 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
Attendance:  24,854

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