I knew going into the series the Dodgers were stingy with toss ups. I knew though that I would be okay. My back was improved.
I am not going to waste time. I got my usual Euclides Rojas toss up and five minutes later got a Herbie Andrade toss up. He randomly tossed the ball up but low enough that no one could catch it. He saw me and lobbed it up for me to get. Balls 1 and 2 of the day.
I got a Shane Victorino signed baseball on this day that is up for bids for charity. All proceeds will go to The Children’s Institute.
I was at the August 14th game, but as a media member therefore the four baseballs that came my way did not count and were given to Dodgers players/coaches as there was no BP due to rain earlier in the day.
I was a fan once again the next day and it worked in a big way.
Luis Silverio was hitting balls to Starling Marte and a ball was well out of the reach and just over the left field wall for Marte and I made the catch for ball #1 on the day. Marte did not want the ball. I wish Marte well, it is a shame he is on the 15 day DL and hopefully we see him back soon, Jose Tabata is reminding me why I hate the way he has played this season.
Ball #2 came on a batted ball that I ran and got to first.
All of a sudden, I heard a pounding and saw Erik Bedard pitching in the bullpen and getting a side session. No one was over there and Pirates BP is a risk in itself so I went right up there.
Fortunately for me, he was just ending his session so three pitches later, I was underhanded my third snag of the day.
Ball #4 came during Dodgers BP from closer Kenley Jansen. I wished I had asked in Dutch but I was in right field and just went for it/got it.
Ball #5 came on a hit ball to right field. I got there in a scrum. Maybe I will try right field more now, I did well there.
That was it for my series and I am looking forward to the Brewers coming to PNC for the first time this season on Friday.
My back was improved on this day which was a great sign.
Because of the nature of the injury, I had to cut my already infrequent visits to the gym to train until the back improved. I had off work on this day, so I tried to get a 30 minute workout before I headed out to the game.
I was able to get my running in which was a great sign. I also got all of my lifting in with less break time in and had no issues. I have an extensive core workout that I cut out due to the back, but I was ready for this game.
I headed to the bridge, put on the headphones and got to throwing on the bridge and was met with mixed results.
I was more than physically and mentally ready following those two workouts.
Pirates BP was slow and of course there were season ticket holdlers by the North Side Notch, which meant all balls were pocketed and a few opportunities would be gone.
I actually played closer to the middle portion of left field on this day.
I would run back over to my spot on a ball that landed on the warning track.
Rod Barajas was slowly walking to the ball and I was the only one with a glove and thus he under-handed it to me for ball #1.
This was a big snag, as I was the first mygameballs.com member to snag a Barajas toss up all season. He did toss up a ball during Spring Training earlier this season, but we see Barajas for maybe 10 minutes during BP stay in left field. That was the first ball I think I ever saw him walk to get and that was only because another player got another ball close by.
Toward the end of Pirates BP, a ball was hit and Erik Bedard was unable to get it. It took a bounce back towards the field and another fortunate bounce right into my glove for ball #2.
Meanwhile, ballhawk Ian and I were making fun of some of the PNC Park music, including:
That was it for Pirates BP.
When 5:30 came I went into centerfield and was able to get a toss up from reliever Mike Zagurski.
Oh if you want an assignment, google image Mike Zagurski and then google image PGA Tour golfer Jason Dufner. Zagurski looks like a chubbier version. They actually look somewhat alike, and it cracks me up. Either way Zagurski heard me say please and thus the toss up for ball #3.
I then played the first base side where I ran into ballhawk Rick.
I got set and two minutes later, a screaming line drive is coming my way. It takes a bounce that I have measured perfectly and it goes right into my glove for ball #4. Rick who had the play backed up seemed impressed. I inspected the ball, pocketed it and moved on.
I tried the dugout after BP was over and it didn’t work out.
I then went to the bullpen where Michael McKenry was the starting catcher. He did this catching drill with Euclides Rojas, who waved at me and then tossed me a ball after the drill for ball #5.
That was it on this day but I have two more things to add on the Monday game entry.
The first refers to the clean catch I had during BP. Herbie Andrade came into the bullpen looked at me and said, “you caught one”. Yeah…
The second is this video of Erik Bedard warming up for his Monday start against the Diamondbacks. There were children on the ledge so it was tough to shoot:
I will have pictures up for both entries once the computer acts right again.
As I said in the previous entry, this game was the only one in the series I attended for a variety of reasons. Still here are three more things that disgust me about PNC Park:
1. Erik Bedard’s super slow pace- I just hate how deliberate he is. Just throw the dang ball already. Considering how you have pitched ever since you left a start early, you could put it anywhere and it really won’t matter.
2. Zoltan being done incorrectly- Seriously, most Pirates fans are absolute morons. It is not right hand on top. Here is a tutorial that will satisfy even the newest Pirates fans.
3. Kids Day- I know the day is about the kids but it would help if they had some manners. “Here, here, here” is not going to get you a baseball, and crying is going to upset everyone around you. Oh and when you line up all the way around the stadium for running the bases, no one else can get anywhere. It is already tough enough to get around PNC Park sometimes. On a sunny day like a Kids Day, fans just want to get out of the ballpark after being in the sun for hours.
Now on to happier things.
Despite a heat index of 105, both teams took batting practice, which was awesome.
Ball #1 came from Gorkys Hernandez who fielded a ball at the wall. I asked him for the ball in Spanish and then got beisbol numero uno.
Ball #2 came during Giants BP from reliever Shane Loux. I should have had a ball earlier that was a cakewalk if I hadn’t been boxed out, but at least it was great to get on the board again. The Giants were pretty stingy with toss ups and when I initially asked Loux he said, “no they’re hitting too many out”. Undeterred I came by the third base side come 5:30 and when he fielded a ball close to me I shouted his name and fired a target. The throw was right on the money.
I then decided to test my luck at first base and ball #3 came from George Kontos. Good thing I had printed out a roster right before I left work (although the lack of ink made it hard to read). I was the only one who knew who he was and that’s a bonus.
The last ball was the routine toss up from Euclides Rojas, however it actually proved to be a bit difficult. Some moron fan kept interrupting my enjoyment of watching both starters warm up and then when Rojas tossed the ball, the guy tried to get in my way. I quickly adjusted and so did Rojas. Ball #4. It was the ball Erik Bedard used to warm up. Rojas picked it up after Bedard’s toss to the bag with the baseballs was long.
“Hey you got one,” an onlooker said.
“Yeah,” I said with a slight glare at the offender who tried to interfere with the snag.
Both Colston who went to the game with me, and I got to pose with the Olympic torch, I guess this is the first time most of you get to see Colston.
Now we went for a change of pace and decided to eat at the Hall of Fame Club for dinner.
Our waiter’s name was Kevin, and just in case we wouldn’t remember, he gave us this.
When it comes to ordering, I don’t turn down a Philly Cheesesteak much. I have consumed quite a few and am quite particular when it comes to how I like them. Of course I ordered the cheesesteak plain.
After a short while, our orders came out and they messed it up. I ended up needing the napkin Kevin wrote his name off for the first cheesesteak. The Pirates were winning this game and then once my order was messed up, they started to give back their lead. Coincidence? I think not.
When it came back out this was the result.
Now comes time for the grading:
– The steak was cooked well but I am not a fan of the steak being carmelized so I had to work through that.
– The cheese itself was very runny and not memorable.
– Bread was great and held the sandwhich together no problems.
If I had to rate it, I would give it a 6.75 out of 10. It lost a point for being cooked wrong, a point for the runny cheese, lost a little for camerlization and honestly it was average for me. That’s not a bad thing, I have particular tastes so what I may enjoy, someone else may hate. Hey it was fun analyzing the dish.
Meanwhile the Pirates lost, but still they are in first place as the second half begins.
I for one am excited to see the Pirates doing well and this club has much more potential than last year’s team did. Let’s Go Bucs, make us proud!
Despite being delayed for a couple of days, I was really looking forward to heading the Baltimore. Erik and Nick’s schedule did not match mine, so I called fellow ballhawk Rick Sporcic who was more than willing to make the trip with me.
I was pleased to have a lot of leg room in Rick’s Camaro which made the 4.5 hour trip a whole lot easier.
We left at 9 AM on Thursday and arrived right on schedule.
We parked inside the Marriott Hotel parking lot and right when we left there, knew that we were in Orioles country.
We walked to the Eutaw Street Gate which is unique because it essentially is a street inside a ballpark. Tons of Orioles souvenir shops, eats, views and memorabilia all on a street and then the both ends serving as entrances.
Also there are a lot of great things to see outside of the Eutaw Street entrance.
With tons of time left, the two of us went sightseeing, and this was the first picture I took and ultimately what would be my first impression of Baltimore. A really weird impression to say the least.
Also saw the most interesting name of a restaurant in Baltimore as well.
I had my sights set on the Barnes and Noble in the Inner Harbor which I heard was rather large and it was.
The traffic was more than I had expected although there was a Sailabration being held in Baltimore. Apparently the event was celebrating the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812 when Francis Scott Key wrote the National Anthem.
I was able to buy a couple of books.
With Eutaw Street opened early, I bought my ticket and was able to go in way early.
Upon entering I went over to the bullpen area. Unlike the last time Rick was there, the area was locked off and someone was watching it.
This was my first image when I set up by the pen.
I then looked down into the bullpen where Pitching Coach Ray Searage was smoking something that was dark brown. Herbie Andrade and Euclides Rojas both were there as well and said hello to me.
They were there for Brad Lincoln’s bullpen session.
We also saw Jeff Karstens throw 15 pitches from the bullpen.
I knew I needed to try and snag that Boston Red Sox commemorative baseball. I thought my best bet would be to ask Rojas, a former Red Sox coach, so I did. I got the biggest look of confusion on his face afterwards, and obviously he had no idea what I was talking about.
Around 4 PM, we got kicked out and let the waiting game for 5 PM begin.
Rick and I would throw for 30 minutes and I have to say that I was throwing the fastest I had in a long time and the pop’s in Rick’s glove were evidence of that.
Afterwards I saw a man in an orange Orioles shirt and I knew right away who it was when he came up to me.
“Hit me,” I said.
What is this you ask? Well if you see the man in the following photo, he sprays a small squirt of water on your face and you get to choose a baseball card.
Don’t believe me?
Here was the card I picked.
Not too many pictures of BP but here is one of the Pirates pitchers throwing.
Then the camera was turned off. Lincoln tried protecting the pitchers but could not protect two hit balls that were hit into the stands about a minute apart very close to where I was standing for balls 1 and 2 of the day. Even better were that both were Orioles commemoratives meaning all I would need was the Red Sox commemorative to get all six.
I slowly filed over to the Pirates dugout and noticed Manager Clint Hurdle.
“Good luck today Clint,” I said.
“Thank you,” he said looking up and then realized me.
Then upon realizing it was me and recognized me continued.
“Hey, how have you been,” he asked.
“I’ve been great, how about you,” I replied.
“Great thank you. What brings you up here,” he asked.
“Honestly, I went up with a buddy to see a new ballpark, see the team play and to catch more baseballs for The Children’s Institute,” I replied.
“Hey, that’s my charity too,” he answered.
“I know, and I really would like to collaborate if that’s possible,” I said.
“Dang, now I’m going to have to get you the whole cart,” He replied referencing the big cart full of baseballs that would be thrown for bp.
He then went over to the top of the bag and pulled out a brand new baseball (with the practice logo) and tossed it to me for ball #3. I thanked him, wished him luck again and we parted ways.
Orioles BP ended and Rick joined me. He asked Orioles Bullpen Catcher Ronnie Deck for two Red Sox commemoratives and Deck did meet us.
“You’re the two that I owe baseballs to,” he asked.
We confirmed and he proceeded to check the baseballs. Weirdly he then blew us off and left with all of the baseballs. Needless to say we weren’t pleased but now not surprised when I heard that he stiffed Erik and Nick as well.
I would get two more baseballs, both from my buddy Coach Mark Strittmatter. There was a roped off area and he saw me, so I went down. He had a baseball which he gave me for ball #4. It had the normal logo on it. I asked if he knew anything about the Red Sox commemorative and he said they had some Orioles commemoratives but no Red Sox. He threw me ball #5 once BP was over and it was an Orioles ball. We talked as well and shook hands before parting ways.
Rick wanted to watch the whole game and I can’t blame him and he figured we’d leave Camden around 9:30 until I told him that Erik Bedard would get the start.
While Bedard went for the Pirates it would be Tommy Hunter for the Orioles.
After the first inning, I decided to walk around and check out the ballpark. Here are some pictures of what I found.
Here are some game pictures:
The Pirates would ultimately fall short.
Now my review of Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
The place is nice and spread out. Left field gives you room and a fair chance to stretch your legs and even get a baseball or two if you are a ballhawk.
The ballhawks can be aggressive but are friendly and welcome you to the ballpark.
You can get in early through Eutaw Street and this is a huge plus as it is open from 9-4 before reopening at 5 PM. It lets you get some food, buy that keepsake item and even go by the bullpen and get some interaction.
I am definitely did not like the fact that they have a designated smoking area. I apologize to smokers but I am against smoking inside a public place and that includes ballparks. It cluttered up the surrounding area and many smokers just ignored the designated area and just lit up wherever the pleased.
The fans are passionate about their Orioles but despite wearing a Pirates shirt all day, I was not heckled one time.
I will definitely be going back to Baltimore this year and it should be a great time. I thank Rick so much for taking me, although next time, I don’t think we should come and go in one day as we did leave right after the game and I got home around 3:30 or 4 AM and I was TIRED.
A quick time in to discuss the end of the game. The home plate umpire did not hook either myself or Rick up with baseballs. Frankly I wanted the lineup cards, but was ignored which sucked.
Jim Joyce was the last umpire in and signed two items, one of which was Rick’s baseball.
Before he left I knew I had something I wanted to say to him ever since the whole Armando Galaraga perfect game debacle.
“Jim. I really appreciate the way you handled the aftermath of that perfect game. You handled it with class and I really respect that,” I told him.
“Thank you so much, that really means a lot,” he said and he shook my hand before he left.
Before I finally wrap up this entry, I might as well show you a couple of the things I got.
So not the greatest of days and no Red Sox commemorative baseball, but still all in all, a fun time and three Orioles commemorative.
Now the wait is until Tuesday for a six game homestand which ends on Sunday. The Minnesota Twins and Detroit Tigers are coming to town and things could go well for me although Saturday’s game is a 4:15 start and not 7:05 which will hurt all ballhawks totals as there will be no season ticket holder time. With attendance being higher due to the Pirates winning and interleague, things could get a bit harder in this coming week.
Despite still feeling under the weather, I decided to attend this game.
Due to the no camera thing I will keep this one on the shorter side.
This was a Monday game which usually means, low crowds and more baseballs.
The low crowds part was right but Pirates and Mets BP absolutely stunk.
I don’t know if it was my wearing a hat I normally do not wear or what, but I just got no luck.
Ball #1 came from a Jeff Locke toss up. Locke was only up as Jason Grilli was on the bereavement list and was filling in (and was never used in a game).
Seriously that was it for Pirates BP. One ball. Yep, not too pleased.
Then the Mets came up. I waited for someone to come into the bullpen and that was bullpen catcher Eric Langill. I was extremely fortunate that I had my photo roster with me. The Mets coaches on their website were all listed but hiding in the second set of coaches was Langill and I found a picture of him to go off of.
When I saw him, I had some Mets stuff off and asked him if he had any commemoratives. He initially said no he did not but then he looked in the bullpen bag.
“This is the best I can do,” Langill said.
That’s the best you can do?
That’s perfect, and it’s ball #2. I heard that other ballhawks did not have the same luck and that is unfortunate, but I am pleased to snag this one.
Ball #3 came when the gates opened at 5:30. I thought I saw an Easter Egg along foul territory on the first base side, but unfortunately, an usher pocketed it. It led to some confusion as Lucas Duda snagged a ball close to me and I asked him for it. He pointed to the left of me in the wheelchair area. I was confused thinking he was asking me to run a route like a wide receiver. Then after he told me there should be a ball there, I explained that it was pocketed. He shrugged his shoulders and threw me the ball.
That would be the last one of the day.
As for the game Erik Bedard got the start and I actually left after the second inning. Bedard was at 50 pitches, things were moving way too slowly for me and I was sick after all.
When I left the Pirates were down 4-0, but they came all the way back to win a 5-4 game. Good for them.
I will start this entry off by saying that I missed this event so much last year after participating in 2009 and 2010. Despite the high cost, Bowling With the Bucs benefits various charities and is worth every penny. Why don’t I let this pictures do the talking, and then I will come back with comments.
All in all Bowling With the Bucs 2012 was great. It was worth every penny which is hard to do since I paid $137.50. I would recommend this event but not if you just want to bowl. I only bowled two games, so if you are going to meet/interact with players and fans and are willing to help out charity, then this event is for you. This event offers more access to the players than a PirateFest does. This also offers you access to almost all of the team, something you may get with only a couple or so players as a season ticket holder.
The Pirates off the top of my head that were not present were hitting coach Gregg Ritchie, pitchers A.J. Burnett and Erik Bedard, catchers Rod Barajas and Michael McKenry and outfielders Yamaico Navarro and Jose Tabata.
Root Sports here in Pittsburgh will have a special for Bowling With the Bucs this coming Thursday at 6 PM Eastern Time. I know I said a couple of small things on there and filmed a less than stellar shot of mine so there is a chance I will make it on.
Finally, a couple of buddies and fellow season ticket holders sit in section 134 of PNC Park and write a blog. They interviewed me in a blog post entitled ‘Bowling with the Bucs’ a Success for Weiss, Fans.
Here is the link to a post, which includes more info on Kevin Correia’s home run guarantee, my charity iniative and how to follow me on various social media networks:
For me at least, Opening Day is a national holiday. Pirate fans come together once a year to celebrate this team and the start of the baseball season, and every baseball hangover is instantly cured.
I was at the gates around 10:00 for what was going to be an exciting day. The first thing I did was take a nice run from the Clemente Gate to home plate, which was a decent run. There, I ran into Randi Hoffman, who along with Joe Klimchak does interviews for the Pirates to place on their website and apparently Xfinity On Demand.
The interview itself was about Opening Day, and what it meant to me. I recalled my experience from two or three years ago when I was in the Lexus Club and saw Zach Duke put his fist in the air after beating the Astros. That was the year of the whole Stanton Heights police shootings, so it was a very emotional day.
With that I jogged back to the Clemente Gate.
Throughout the time before the gates opened, I saw Bob Nutting, Frank Coonelly and Neal Huntington greeting the fans as they were coming to the ballpark.
I was told that the gates were going to open at 11:30, so myself, Nick Pelescak and Erik Jabs all threw on the Clemente Bridge. This was my first test on the season, and by all reports I passed. My glove work was great and I did not have any of my wild throws. Erik cut the session short when he saw the ticket takers getting ready.
I was surprised because it was 10:49. Would we get in early? Well according to one of the ticket takers, we were getting in at 11. This made me very excited because the chance to see some of Pirates BP was exciting, and the chance of me getting a baseball is that much better.
There was one problem, and that was that the bag checkers and security were not at the gate.
Well 11:00 came and went and so did 11:10 and no sign of the security guards. All of a sudden, someone appeared around 11:15 and all of the Pirates employees huddled up (seriously, this isn’t football).
The ticket taker immediately changed his story then, and at 11:30 the gate was to be opened.
Even worse news was that it wasn’t just the Clemente Gate that would open at 11:30, it was all gates. Things just got a lot harder.
Of course, this was the case and for non-7:05 games, there will not be any season ticket holder time. Things are already tough enough with the grounds crew ruining time of BP to prepare a field that is already ready, and tarping the field even for a small rain shower.
Here is the official word from the Pirates website:
The 2012 PNC Park gate times are as follows:
“For Monday through Friday night games, Season Ticket Holders may enter the ballpark and proceed to the Left Field Bleachers 2 hours and 30 minutes prior to game time.
On Saturday night games, Season Ticket Holders are permitted to enter into the Left Field Bleachers and main concourse 2 hours and 30 minutes prior to game time.
Early access is granted by entering through the Clemente (CF) Riverwalk Gate, and proceeding to the bullpen gates where season ticket holders can then show their Season Ticket Holder card or have their season ticket scanned.
Season Ticket Holder early entry is not available on day games (12:35pm, 1:35pm and 4:05pm).”
Oh well, sometimes you win and sometimes you lose.
The Clemente Gate line was split into a Y with the line going two ways (??). I did search for Easter Eggs, but found nothing, and I knew that things were going to go bad from there.
Upon coming into the ballpark, I saw red, which meant that the Pirates were done with BP already. There of course were no Easter Eggs in left field, because Manny Sanguillen’s grandson snuck into left field and pocketed the five baseballs that were in there. Yes that is a fact as myself and several others saw him leave “Manny’s BBQ” and go into the seats, which is not allowed.
It felt wrong to wear Phillies gear, but really what choice did I have? Things were tough, and I could not get near a batted ball.
Joe Savery was in left field and he was not tossing anything up, which stunk.
I decided to relocate to center field and first base during BP and center yielded nothing for me, so I went back over to first base. Luckily Kyle Kendrick was there, and he tossed me a baseball. I guess I can say, Kyle you got Punk’d again.
Ball number one on the day and six on the season, crisis and shutout averted.
Despite me going to the dugout after BP, I was unable to snag anything else until I went over to the bullpen.
In the top of the first, my buddy bullpen catcher Herbie Andrade threw a baseball that a kid misplayed and I saved for ball #2 on the day. I immediately gave it to the kid, whose mother made him come over and thank me.
I then left to sit in my season ticket section (312). My dad was in his seat so, Colston and I stayed until the bottom of the seventh inning was over so that we could beat the traffic.
The game itself was a great pitching battle between Roy Halladay and Erik Bedard.
Both pitchers looked great warming up and seemed in their element, something that would carry into the game.
It was surreal to see the first pitch, because that is when it hits you that the 2012 season is underway.
The difference in the game was a Carlos Ruiz sacrifice fly. Right fielder Jose Tabata’s throw to catcher Rod Barajas was too high and Ty Wigginton scored the winning run in a 1-0 game.
Yes the Pirates ran into a great pitcher who has won 39 games over the past two seasons, however the Pirates offense still looked unprepared and mediocre at best. This will have to change if this team wants to become winners this season.
The Pirates had Friday off, so my next game was Saturday? Would I continue my strong start on the day where I averaged five baseballs a game last season, or would I choke? I guess you’ll have to find out soon. Thanks as always for reading.
As an added bonus, here are some extra pictures from the game: