Tagged: Kevin Correia

Pirates vs Miami Marlins 7/21 PNC Park

Finally a Saturday 7:05 game, which meant BP. About time, I hate Fox ruining Saturdays for me.

It also meant I got to go to the first base side for once which was nice.

I came in when the ballhawks already were deep into their throwing session and had were doing situation pitching. I of course came in cold and proceeded to walk the batter on four pitches, but whatever.

Upon getting to the first base side, I checked the second area and then ran down just as Jared Hughes was picked up a ball. One sinker later and I had ball #1.

He ended up moving to centerfield and Tony Watson who has thrown me a few balls, was walking towards me.

“Could you do me a favor,” he asked.

“Yeah, what do you need,” I replied.

“If you throw this water bottle away, I will get you a baseball,” I said.

Honestly would have thrown it away even if there was no baseball involved.

He tossed me the bottle and I took care of it.

As I threw it away, I heard, “here comes your ball now”.

The toss was high, but I reached the glove up high for ball #2.

That was it for Pirates BP.

Although I did have a nice conversation with Euclides Rojas.

“How was school,” he asked.

“School was fine. Now I have about a couple of months before I start though. I am doing an internship now though,” I replied.

“Great,” he said. “What do you go to school for?”

“I go for journalism, and I really am learning a lot,” was my reply back.

It was awesome talking to Euclides about something other than baseball.

When they ran off the field. I saw Marlins coach Randy St. Clare and my buddy from back in Cleveland Jeff Urgelles who hooked me up with the Marlins Park commemorative ball.

While both them and I waited for the pitchers to come over, I decided to work on my pitching.

Urgelles saw my motion and much like when the Astros were in town, it led to conversation.

“Is that your curveball,” he asked.

“Yeah it is,” I replied.

He then gave me a couple of pointers on it, and it made sense. This is the second time I have had the opportunity to talk to a coach just based on throwing and I think that is cool. Just learning from people who catch professional pitchers and their various pitches on a daily basis is just an awesome opportunity.

When Marlins BP came, I waited for an overthrow from the pitchers and that never happened. Although I did get to the bottom of one mystery.

Remember how in yesterday’s entry I got a ball from a mystery Marlins lefty who threw a ball into the 300 level? I had asssumed it was Mike Dunn and when I saw him, I decided to ask him.

“Mike, was that you who threw that ball all the way up there (point) yesterday. It was a great toss up, and I ran up and found the ball,” I said.

“Honestly, that wasn’t me,” he said.

“Must have been Randy then, right” I replied.

“Yeah it was Randy,” was the answer.

Randy was Randy Choate. Choate is in his 11th season in the Majors, and thru Sunday’s game had a 2.19 ERA. Glad I got to the bottom of that mystery. Thanks Mike and Randy.

Ball #3 meanwhile came in a weird way. I was waiting for Anibal Sanchez to finish throwing and Jose Reyes was taking cuts. All of a sudden, I here a loud boom and a ball was rolling hard to me. I gloved it and was confused. I initially thought a kid threw a ball up and lost it. So when I got it, my first question was naturally, who dropped it. It was then that I was informed the ball was hit. Not a commemorative baseball however and the Marlins hitters did not appear to be using any.

Ball #4 came shortly after from Sanchez. Urgelles was giving Sanchez pointers on the release point of a pitch and then he looked for a glove. He found mine and threw it. It was a Marlins commemorative baseball.

That was it for Marlins BP. I tried for a dugout toss up but it didn’t workout.

While I waited by the bullpen here were some pictures I took:

The slow moving, stupidity and just oblivious nature. This one’s for you.

I would get a fifth ball from Euclides Rojas which was a low toss up. He must have been in a good mood, because the other three balls he had were tossed up as well.

Another highlight was my buddy Randy Page/Big Yellow being on Baseball Quiz. He embarassed us all by stating the 1979 team was his favorite team only to pick a choice that was eliminated first.

He did take the box and would win a signed Kevin Correia jersey.

The Pirates made Randy wait a while though scoring four runs without registering a hit. Randy was “Bedarded” and any Pirates fan knows that’s a reference to Bedard taking forever among other things.

The Pirates would win and continue to be a hot team.

Lastly the thing that disgusts me today are “fans” who come to the game wearing Penguins or Steelers clothing. You are at a BASEBALL game. Please dress for the occasion or don’t come to the game. Better yet for all of us true fans, leave now so you are first in line for Steelers Training Camp which starts Wednesday.

Pirates vs Detroit Tigers 6/23 and 6/24 PNC Park

The Pirates won the first game of the series, but there were still two games to be played.

First off a congratulations to Tigers starter Max Scherzer. His brother had committed suicide just two days prior to his start. He did not want to make the start against the Pirates, but his parents told him they wanted something to smile at so he pitched. What a courageous move and it makes me respect him so much more than I already did. I don’t think I would have been able to emotionally cast that aside and make the start given the same circumstances.

Saturday was a tough day. I had already been to the NHL Draft and was very pleased with my experience (more on that in another entry).

The gates were an issue. It ended up that the Clemente Gate was operating like it was a Sunday. The gate should have opened at 1:30 to let us in at 2 PM. Sunday gate times are ridiculous and now we had to essentially endure two Sundays in a row.

Well I decided to blow off some steam on the Clemente Bridge and throw once more.

I knew there would BP, but it was 2:00 and the Pirates were already done with their BP so any of those easter eggs were already pocketed.

Only thing I could do is play for Prince Fielder who absolutely rakes during BP. Have to say I was a Fielder fan when he was on the Brewers because of this and this only. Unfortunately nothing happened for me and to boot, there were kids in the outfield so no toss ups.

When the gates opened, I ran to the first baseline as I knew there were two groups of Tigers still throwing.

There were no easter eggs, but I got there just in time for a ball that rolled right to where I stood. I saw a Tiger coming over but knew I needed to avoid a very possible shutout at all costs. I placed the ball in the glove for ball #1. Phew. As I brought it up, I gave it a quick look, and then still in the glove passed it to the Tiger.

30 seconds later, the second Tigers reliever Luis Marte saw me as the only person over with a glove and an easy toss up later I had ball #2.

I would get a third ball in BP although I forget how to be honest, I just know I got it. You will have to take my word for it.

That would be it for Tigers BP.

I then made my way to the bullpen and forsome reason with the whole 4:05 deal Euclides Rojas and Herbie Andrade were already in there.

I had asked Euclides Rojas to sign my glove Thursday but neither of us had a Sharpie. We had already said ours hellos today and I looked down and saw he had a Sharpie. I then looked down and somehow he remembered and we made eye contact. He motioned down for me to toss the glove and tossed it back up an easy catch.

I was in for a surprise though.

You will see Rojas who is the signature on the bottom right asked Herbie to sign as well. Kevin Correia also signed since you saw the glove last.

That was not the biggest surprise though.

Took the picture of the glove and then opened it up.

Ball #4

On this night it was a now clean shaven Brad Lincoln vs Scherzer.

The Pirates were able to get this win and take the series. Still there was one game to be played.

There was day 2 of Rojas and Rojas by the way, although the Tigers Rojas was blocked from my view.

Lastly, every Saturday Pirates Charities does a raffle selling 1 ticket for $2 and 3 for $5. You can try to win various items with the money going entire to Pirates Charities.

I got permission from Pirates Charities, most of the people I know to take some pictures. Here is one item.

Finally, some golf balls with the World Series logo and signed by Rocco Mediate. I got permission to take a golf ball out and take the photo.

Lastly, thing #2 that disgusts me about PNC Park. Let’s give it to the music at PNC Park. Literally every single day it is the exact same music being played outside the stadium. Then inside the stadium it is the same thing. I want to hear some diversity and it just gets on all of our nerves. I know season ticket holders always are talking about wishing the music was different and it truly annoys us all.

6-24

I think I have learned my lesson with Sunday games. There was a Pitch for Hope event that ended a little after 10. Pirates would not have to take BP until 11:15 and Saturday’s game ended at 7:04 PM so the option to take BP was possible but of course not.

So we were stuck until 12:00 when all of the gates were open.

With the Tigers not taking BP, it quickly became a borefest. It would be harder than ever just to get one baseball.

I won’t even discuss how there were two balls in play and I stood back to separate myself only to see kids get the balls.

Yeah I was really only there to support my college Point Park University. Their baseball team made it to their division’s World Series and it was a big deal for them. They were invited by Pirates President Frank Coonelly to be recognized on the field.

Pioneers Manager Loren Torres throws out a first pitch to the Pirate Parrot.

It honestly was a miracle I even got these pictures because the bullpen was crowded. Why? This guy was starting.

It was very hard to get pictures but I tried to get Kevin Correia vs Verlander.

All good things must come to an end and with this being the series finale, that meant goodbye Rojas and Rojas.

Here was the Pirates starting lineup:

After the game started, Rojas saw me and tossed up ball #1. Streak still alive but barely. I hate Sunday games.

Speaking of hated things, time to hit on thing #3 that disgusts me about PNC Park.

This time it’s the grounds crew. Cocky attitudes and being ridiculous in unnecessary circumstances warrents this award. Rain that ruins BP only to have it stop and have them do nothing but say “no bp”. Refer to other’s blogs on what all they do, I really don’t need to go into it.

As for the Pirates, they were in it against Verlander but fell short 3-2 in the end to lose the game.

The Pirates come back from a week long road trip Monday against the Houston Astros and that is when I plan on being back as well.

Pirates vs Chicago Cubs 5/26 PNC Park

I had to miss the Friday game because it was the last time until the fall that I had to teach tennis. What I appeared to miss was any chance of snagging the Astros commemoratives though. The Cubs had just finished playing them and I really thought I missed the chance of another commemorative baseball.

It was going to be a hot day, so I opted to arrive 15 minutes before the gates opened to conserve energy. I did a quick round of stretches and then went into the ballpark.

Of course I did not find any easter eggs. I then took a look at my surroundings and was surprised to see that the Cubs were already out. Ugh, I would have to make a quick decision.

I opted to go over to the Cubs side and there were no easter eggs to be found.

Some of the Cubs had started throwing while some did not when I arrived over to the first base side.

Fortunately the area was pretty much empty and I was in a perfect spot for an overthrow.

My friend Colston again was with me at this game and had run over with me. Immediately I saw a ball by the bag with the Astros commemorative ball and knew that was my chance.

I could not ask yet though, as the Cubs were throwing. Cubs pitcher Rafael Dolis was throwing with their bullpen catcher Andrew Lane. There was a slight overthrow that rolled to the base of the wall. I grabbed it (not a commemorative) and immediately knew the drill and tossed it back to Lane.

“We’ll be sure to give it back to you when we are done,” Lane said.

After a couple more throws Dolis looked for me and fired for ball #1. I will not count the ball twice since it was the same ball.

Muchas gracias Rafael.

A couple of minutes later Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster started signing autographs. I wanted a picture since he has a foundation and since I snag for charity I thought it would be cool, but unfortunately Colston did not bring his camera. Oh well, in a weird twist, Dempster had a ball, saw my glove and tossed it to me (no commemorative). Ball #2 and I was glad to get one from him, since I respect him, and the way he pitches.

Thanks Ryan, you do great work for the community and it was awesome to hear that you were at the Miracle League event that morning. Thanks for helping me out!

I was still in my Pirate gear when another bullpen catcher Franklin Font came in from the bullpen and had a baseball in his glove. He saw me and flipped it my way for ball #3 (no commemorative). Random, but awesome.

All of a sudden I remembered, wait a second, I still see that Astros commemorative baseball there and I really want it. Fortunately, I saw Travis Wood walking my way and I knew this was my shot.

“Travis, any chance you could please get me that ball right over there (I point to the commemorative),” I asked.

“Sure no problem,” he said.

He went over to get it and I realized I had the ball Font gave me in my glove still. Wood handed the commmemorative to me and I offered to give back the other ball but he told me to keep it. Fine by me, ball #4.

Travis Wood with the lifeline!

At this point, the pitchers had stopped throwing and it brought back memories of last season when I got five Cubs baseballs in 10 minutes and it felt like deja vu all over again.

So in the spirit of it all, I saw the Cubs position players throwing and I went over there and lined myself up. All of a sudden I saw Joe Mather and his throwing partner finish. He then pointed to me with his glove. It was a long throw and it was for me. The ball came in perfectly and I made the catch for ball #5.

That was it until Cubs BP started. A ball got hung up close to the area I was standing. I knew that I could not reach it outright. I did not have a glove trick, but I did have a coat.

So I tried a glove trick with the coat, slightly putting in a small part of the glove and pulling. I was getting very close, but then saw someone, maybe a camera guy and asked him if he would give the ball a kick. He did, ball #6.

That would be it for the game although I stayed by the bullpen and watched the starters warm up. This was a special day though, as Kevin Correia and former Pirates starter Paul Maholm were the starters. It was great to see Maholm back and even though the Cubs uniform looked weird, he still looked like the Paul of old. The Pirates would go on to win the game and hand the Cubs their 11th straight loss.

I also was a big winner as I had snagged my fourth commemorative which was awesome.

From right to left in order of snagged: Dodgers 50th anniversary, Marlins Park, Mets 50th anniversary and Astros 50th anniversary. All that’s left is Orioles and Red Sox.

I decided to risk a Sunday BP to try and snag some more baseballs. Would it pay off?

Pirates vs Houston Astros 5/12 PNC Park

I was only to make one of the three Astros game which truly disappointed me. I really wanted to try and get one of their commemorative baseballs. I would only have one day to do this as I had to teach tennis Friday, and Sunday my parents completely manipulated me and thus I could not go.

Saturday was a disappointment in its own right as well as I had to tooth and nail just to get to my average.

I started out by throwing on the bridge and my arm was the best it was all season. I was throwing halfway across the bridge with pop and I was pleased with how the session went.

I hoped that this positive energy would help me in the ballpark, but of course things did not turn out the way that I had hoped.

I started in left field and of course the ushers were sitting there meaning all of the balls were pocketed… again. It didn’t hurt trying to look anyways, although when I prepared to go up into the second deck someone said, “they’re all gone man. They were pocketed.”

I stayed in left for a few more minutes as Chris Leroux was in left field so we shook hands and talked. Unfortunately he was in the usual relief crowd of people in left center and I decided it was not worth it.

I was headed for the first base side, until I saw Kevin Correia with a ball. A ballhawk called for it and just for the heck of it, I threw up my glove. He ended up throwing it to me for ball #1. That has happened to me so many times where I will call a player’s name and he will throw someone else the ball, so it was nice that I was the beneficiary for a change.

I kept the good vibes going when I got on the first base side. I saw Jared Hughes with two baseballs and I sprinted to get there in time and I ended up getting there just in time.

“Hey do you want one,” He asked.

“Sure,” I replied.

Ball #2. Thanks Jared! This ball was later given away when I thought I lost my Joel Hanrahan bobblehead and a family graciously gave it back to me. The ball went to their youngest child.

The Pirates unfortutely did not have anything else that went my way during BP.

The Astros came out (thank goodness) and started throwing. Reliever Rhiner Cruz and starter Wandy Rodriguez were throwing and Cruz’s toss rolled slightly past Rodriguez and into my glove. I quickly inspected it to see if it was a commemorative. It was not but regardless, I would have thrown them back the ball. While I never got the toss up back (weird), I count the ball.

Something similar happened for ball #4. An Astros reliever had a bouncer that fellow reliever Wilton Lopez couldn’t quite handle and it went straight into my glove. Unfortunately, it was not a commemorative (Astros did not have any in their bag) and again another toss back. The ball was never given back to me, but that’s okay.

That was it for all of BP. Astros BP generally stunk so I just stayed over at first base and tried to get a toss up at the end, which did not work out.

I then went to my spot in the bullpen where bullpen coach Euclides Rojas warmed up catcher Michael McKenry and afterwards looked at me and tossed me ball #5. I gave this to a young kid standing close to me. The child’s mother was very grateful.

The good vibes spread to the Pirates who would win this game after a disappointing 1-0 loss the previous day.

Here are some photos from the game:

Pirates Charities event that occured before the ballgame

It was Joel Hanrahan Bobblehead Night at the ballpark. This is the only bobblehead of the season.

Astros catcher Chris Snyder makes his return to PNC Park.

Astros pitcher J.A. Happ warms up.

Charlie Morton warming up for the Pirates.

Person playing Baseball Quiz won a signed game used Joel Hanrahan jersey.

Pirates vs Washington Nationals 5/8- 5/10/12 PNC Park

This really could have been the series that was, but it ended up being the series that was not, although for once it was not my fault. More on that later.

Starting off with May 8, I was very excited, I had started work at The Pittsburgh Fan that day and had my internship with Pittsburgh Sports Report start the day before. I am pleased with both as they are great resume makers and mix my love for sports with journalism, which in the long run will help me reach the goals that I have set for myself in the real world.

I took this excitement which coupled with my back being pretty close to normal to the Clemente Bridge when work ended at 4 PM for me. I was excited to be able to throw with full motion for the first time since almost 10 days before when I threw a side session with my friend Colston on Lind Field in Kennedy Township.

It was raining when we threw but we did not make much of it as radar said that it would pass. I did not even rush to get my coat and kept throwing.

I was excited to get into PNC Park for BP, except I saw the tarp go out on the field right as our throwing session. Are you kidding me? Whether it was the head of the grounds crew Manny Lopez or PNC Park Operations, I did not support this decision and they made a hasty decision.

So we went in to find that there were no Easter Eggs. To make things even worse, the rain was a drizzle by the time.

Unfortunately, this is not Cleveland and thus any chance of BP was over. Honestly if the grounds crew is reading this now, I will keep it nice and say that if you did not place the tarp on the field, you would not have had to water the field at all, it would have been all taken care of. Most of you were quite grumpy this week, be patient and let it ride especially since luck has not been on your side regarding tarping the field for BP.

Of course 5-10 minutes after us season ticket holders got in, the Nationals pitchers threw and the first base ushers pocketed all of the balls so we got nothing out of that. Oh and to the ushers, we are watching, so do not act like you did not pick the baseballs up. I was told by PNC Park Operations that if a baseball is pocketed that it must be given to a child or fan. Out of respect I will leave it that I was told that disciplinary actions would be taken for ushers who do not respect this rule.

Anyways, the Nationals outfielders were joined by Third Base Coach Bo Porter who showed the outfielders how to handle the bounces off of various parts of the PNC Park wall. Porter tried tossing me the ball, but overshot me and it was snagged by another ballhawk. Apparently there is a rule among ballhawks that if a ball is overthrown then the person that the ball was intended for should be able to go and get the ball. I guess not, so come 5:30 I was understandably ticked.

With a shutout definitely a strong possibility and the Nationals off of the field, I figured it was worth a try to talk to a familiar face in former Pirates Coach Trent Jewett who now coaches for the Nationals.

I needed to extend my streak so when Jewett was done talking to Pirates broadcaster Steve Blass, I politely waited for him to sign an autograph and asked if there was a chance to get a baseball.

“I don’t think any around,” he said. “Sorry… oh wait I see one here. Hold on a second.”

A very short while later he popped back up and tossed me ball #1. Relief.

I then decided to head to the bullpen and watch A.J. Burnett and Edwin Jackson warm up.

Before the pitchers warmed up, I received a nice little gift from Herbie Andrade. He came out of his usual tunnel with a baseball which was a surprise. It is a part of his routine to get in the bullpen around 6:30 but he usually does not bring out a baseball. I was caught off guard and was talking to someone and holding a very larged sized water in my non-glove hand.

After he caught up with another former Pirate coach and now Bullpen Coach Jim Lett, he came in with the baseball, said his usual hello and tossed up baseball number two catching me by total surprise.

As for the game, I was able to stay today as a buddy of mine Andy Conte who was a professor I had last semester, helped me get published in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, made me a better writer and so much more was willing to give me a ride back home. I sat with him and was relatively close to the action. I was pleased that the Pirates were able to shut down Bryce Harper and the Nationals offense.

Despite the small crowd, it was definitely a festive atmosphere and when Rod Barajas got his first home run, a walk off giving the Pirates the win I went crazy. Andy was with three buddies from the Tribune-Review and we all were high fiving and jumping up and down like crazy. It was awesome and I don’t ever remember being that excited about a walkoff either.

As a final picture for that game, here are Andy and myself.

I would like to say that the next day was better, alas it was nearly a carbon copy of the previous day. Erik and I threw a few minutes after four and of course it rained for 25 minutes. It was not a strong rain and of course it stopped right before us season ticket holders were to enter the ballpark.

Manny Lopez of course made the decision to tarp the field, so the exact same procedure as yesterday happened. Grounds crew has to remove the tarp right after they put it on, the Nationals threw and 4-5 more baseballs were pocketed by ushers and things were bleak.

Not to sound like Passover, but what made this game different from the previous game? There were signs of life from the Pirates as six players came out to throw.

Joel Hanrahan turned to the fans after his session and saw me and after our connection at Bowling With the Bucs, he gave me a throw. It was an overthrow but I snagged it for ball one without the need to jump. I was pleased as any chance of a shutout was gone early.

That was it, although I stayed for the entire game once again.

No pictures for this game as I was running late, forgot my camera and nearly arrived late to work.

I was able to get ball #2 from Herbie Andrade who helped me out again after Joel Hanrahan warmed up for the ninth inning. Thanks Herbie!

Joel had an emotional night having lost his grandmother. He would be placed on the bereavement list after the game and not return until Sunday. He did get the save and pointed to the heavens soluting his mothers.

I stayed after the game as the grounds crew cleaned up the bullpens. I did that as there was a ball by the bullpen. I saw a “ballhawk” trying to get it, but knowing that his catching ability was suspect, I stood there. This “ballhawk” keeps his baseballs, and there were a couple of guys that were to get the ball, and I wanted to make sure the ball would go to the right person and not used as Ebay bait to fund road trips.

The grounds crew member made a bad throw and it was going to be a scrum between myself and the “ballhawk”. I ended up with it and made sure to give it right over to the guy asking for it. He had two or three friends with them and they all shook my hand, patted me on the back, thanked me and wished me a good night before parting ways.

The last game marked the return of my camera. I did not want to forget it this time, Stephen Strasburg was starting and to boot Kevin Correia guaranteed that he would hit a home run against him (he ended up going 0-2 with two strikeouts).

Also great news was the fact that there was batting practice and there was no rain in sight. All I have to say is, it’s about time because if the grounds crew messed me up again, I would have been so upset.

I did another throwing session and have been working on a sidearmed throw which I think is going well.

Upon entering the ballpark, I saw the left field ushers sitting down and I know immediately what that meant. The balls were pocketed and it has turned into last year all over again.

Despite threats to “badly injure me” and the false idea that my charity initiative was “fake” (more on this in a future post), I came away with a nice haul.

Ball 1: It took a while to get on the board but my buddy Jason Grilli hooked me up and got my day started off in the right direction.

Ball 2: I was spotted by Bullpen Coach Euclides Rojas and he threw me a perfect ball.

Ball 3: Jose Tabata was fielding baseballs in the outfield for a drill and a ball was hit right by the left field foul pole. My Spanish was quick enough to get the baseball.

I will take a break in the action to say that from here my buddy Mark Strittmatter came into left field. I could not have been any more excited. I pumped my fist and went over by where he was.

Immediately Strittmatter and I made eye contact, waved and smiled at each other and I knew he would help me out once again.

Surprisingly, quite a few baseballs went his way and he gave me every other toss up or at least one of every three. This allowed me to get balls 4, 5 and 6. Yes some of you may view this as cheap, and I understand, but when you are raising money for charity, this goes a long way and of course they all count.

That was it for the Pirates portion of BP and the Nationals prepared to hit.

I saw that the Nationals were in Los Angeles last week, and my buddy Nick got a Dodgers 50th anniversary commemorative baseball from the Nationals on Tuesday, so my goal was to hopefully snag one of those.

I had rotten luck in left field as former Pirates Xavier Nady would not throw anything into the crowd.

I looked in centerfield for baseballs at 5:30 but they were pocketed by either the ushers, or a fan who happens to get in early at each game and gets to sit in her seat.

Of course, I had Henry Rodriguez all lined up to throw me a ball, but he had other ideas and I just missed a BP home run.

The chances for double digits were running thin, so I had to act fast.

After a narrow miss of a high bouncer and a playful groan from Nady, reliever Ryan Perry fielded the ball and did a no look and over the shoulder toss to me. I had to catch it barehanded which I did for ball 7. I took one look and sighed, still no commemorative. I just ended up giving it to an usher to give to a kid.

I then decided to move to left field where Roger Bernadina was. I was unable to get him to toss me one, but I wanted to try for a few minutes more before I moved to the dugout to try and get one.

A right handed batter gave me ball #8, as he hit a ball that went in the small area at left field. I thought I saw something bizarre about the ball and no one else seemed to be going after it. I charged at it right away despite it being locked. I stepped over it, picked it up, and found this:

Mission accomplished!

It was the commemorative I had wanted! I said in a whisper to no one in particular, “that was a commemorative.” I am so glad I didn’t pinch my nerve on this one like I did for the Angels baseball last year.

A couple of minutes later, Nationals reliever Ryan Mattheus gave me a nice toss for ball #9. No commemorative there, so I gave it to another usher to give to a kid.

I then went over to the Nationals dugout where I kept my glove up and got rewarded as some random coach threw me ball #10 placing me in double digits once more. Even better, it was another commemorative.

With BP over, I went over to the bullpen and watched the game.

The Pirates were looking good but Correia had a rough inning giving up three runs and ultimately that was enough for the Nationals to get the win.

Meanwhile I got robbed twice during the game. Both Nationals home runs went into the bullpen area. For the first, Daniel McCutchen did an over the shoulder toss that was intended for me, but out of nowhere, a fan snagged it and passed a point they were not supposed to. Then he stayed and wouldn’t shut up. So much for the ball being intended for me, fans never will stop being obnoxious.

Former Pirate Sean Burnett heard my call for the second ball, but his throw was terribly off and landed in an area that fans were not allowed to go into. Wow I was not pleased.

Meanwhile, Strasburg struck out 13 Pirates and looked dominant.

Again the Pirates lost and missed out on a chance to sweep. At least I snagged a free hot dog Tuesday that I got to redeem for a fresh one on Thursday.

Also, former Steeler Hines Ward threw out the first pitch to the game.

Thursday was not a bad day by any means, but the no BP really hurt me on Tuesday and Wednesday. I would face more disappointment during the weekend series against the Astros, but more on that another time.

Bowling With the Bucs 2012

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.

Myself with Pirates bullpen catcher Herbie Andrade. He has been so great to me and I specifically wanted my picture with him first. He was in the lane next to mine for the second straight time which made me extremely happy.

Pirates starter Kevin Correia was in the other lane next to me. He was cracking jokes all night. He guaranteed a home run in his next start which was this past Thursday vs Stephen Strasburg. He ended up going 0-2 with two strikeouts. Oh well.

I wanted this picture so badly in 2008, so I was really excited when four years later, I could get this pic with fellow lefty Nate McLouth.

Here I am with Chris Resop, one of the two Pirates that chaired this event. Glad to see that smile on his face.

The next image was the one you saw in my last entry with Mark Strittmatter. Here I am with Andrew McCutchen. Yes, I am close to blinking but I had to get my picture with him since I did not get one yet.

Well I choked those last frame and lost game one by seven pins.

Who does not love J Hay? This guy is the underdog and a fan favorite. I love how he seemed so excited to be at the event. When he hit the walkoff on Mother’s Day, I was so happy for him.

Garrett was in my lane, which really pleased me.

With this picture of former Pirate John Wehner, I now have a picture with all of the current Pirate broadcasters.

I am with reliever Juan Cruz who was a great non-roster invitee and has only been scored upon once this season.

Posing with infielder Casey McGehee.

Bullpen Coach Euclides Rojas has been nice to me since he kept seeing me early last season. Lately in addition to our hellos, he said that he was glad to see me. I told him as well as Herbie about my charity initiative and they have been even more helpful. I don’t know what I would do without them.

Posing with Pirates reliever Jared Hughes.

Here with reliever and buddy Jason Grilli. We had a nice convo during the offseason and he interacts a lot with the fans on Twitter. Definitely someone to get to know. Infectious personality.

Pirates closer Joel Hanrahan, the other of the two chairs of the department along with Chris and Joel’s wives Kara and Kim. Joel surprised me when he knew my name and then said that, “I was everywhere”. That was pretty awesome if you ask me.

Yes my strained back was still 75-80% but still not please with my second game. I still won the lane though and beat Garrett Jones which is still cool.

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:
http://section134blog.com/2012/05/09/bowling-with-the-bucs-a-success-for-weiss-fans/

Erik Bedard the right man to start the home opener?

Earlier this week, Pirates Manager Clint Hurdle announced that Erik Bedard will start the home opener April 5th vs the Phillies. He also named his four man rotation, which is as follows.

1. Erik Bedard

2. Jeff Karstens

3. James McDonald

4. Kevin Correia

There definitely are positives and negatives to Bedard starting:

Positives:

1. Bedard will be starting his third opener, which means he knows what to expect and can tune out the distractions that surround the opener. All of the players and coaches from both teams will be introduced and things tend to run long, as the Pirates have all kinds of honors and awards and thus Bedard may be the right man for the job.

2. Bedard has looked impressive during Spring Training and Hurdle is awarding him for this. You can’t go wrong with going with a hot hand.

3. Bedard is a ground ball pitcher which favors the Pirates well. Clint Barmes and Neil Walker are a solid defensive middle infield and should have no problem handling any of the grounders that are hit their way.

4. Bedard could be a silent leader, and has had successful seasons. A great start and a win over Roy Halladay could be what this team needs. It could fire up a young pitching staff and be what makes this team finally become consistent winners.

5. Phillies hit .247 against Bedard with 19 hits in 77 at-bats. Jimmy Rollins hits .182 against Bedard with two strikeouts in 11 at-bats. Jim Thome is a .263 hitter against Bedard in 19 at-bats. While he does have a homer and two RBI against him, Thome has struck out six times against Bedard. Shane Victorino has zero hits in two at-bats against Bedard. Ty Wigginton is a .259 hitter against Bedard and has struck out nine times in 27 at-bats vs Bedard.

Negatives:

1. Hurdle brings a lefty out to start the opener. The Pirates do not have another lefty in the rotation, and that means that teams will face four righties in a row often times. It is not a great balance and could come back to haunt the Pirates.

2. Roy Halladay is the starter and Halladay does not make many mistakes. Bedard had a rough 2011 season which included injury. With no Ryan Howard or Chase Utley in the lineup, and Raul Ibanez on the New York Yankees, the lefty power bats are all gone. Starting Bedard would have been ideal last year, but now those lefties are gone and that strategy is out of the window.

3. Jeff Karstens had the best 2011 of the Pirates pitchers and is one of the longer tenured Pirates. Despite a few too many walks, he has been solid this Spring Training and has been consistent much like last season. It makes no sense that the Pirates do not reward Karstens by having him take the mound on the home opener. Not to mention that Karstens survived a tense atmosphere and had a very good start against the Phillies at PNC Park last season.

4. His injury history still is a concern. Yes it is a concern no matter when injuries happen, but if Bedard gets injured on the opener it would be disaster. With A.J. Burnett out and Charlie Morton likely not 100% ready for the season right now, this could put the Pirates in a downward spiral. The Pirates pride themselves on quick starts, and they already may have the toughest opening month in the majors.