The Brewers came to PNC Park for the first time time this season, and they are always an interesting draw.
This right here may be why the Pirates lost this game:
That is former Pirate Sid Bream. He slid in safe as an Atlanta Brave in 1992 to eliminate the Pirates, and the team has not had a winning season since. Bream was the celebrity bartender for the night, but many of the fans in the city booed him. Bream is a very nice guy, so I felt very bad for him that the fans treated him so terribly.
Now I will rewind to the game.
I was looking forward to this game all week. I have been working out non-stop all week and I was beyond ready to go. I started throwing outside, and I had a rhythm I had not felt all season. My throws were faster and more accurate than in recent memory and it was a great feeling.
I took that momentum inside where immediately I saw hitting drills. Luis Silverio was hitting balls to Travis Snyder. One was overhit and I gauged it. Against my body, I reached my glove up high and came up with a clean catch for ball #1. I gave Snider the ball back and he tossed it back in.
Ball number two came from Euclides Rojas. I saw ballhawks start to creep towards the front row, so I moved back to stand out and boom.
The Milwaukee Brewers were stingy during BP, but I managed to convince reliever Jim Henderson to throw me a ball, which I will take.
There was some uncertainty, as the other ballhawks thought John Axford was in left field, but that was not the case. I was not sure, so I did not say anything. It didn’t matter much, because the guy got sent down the next day.
That was sadly it for Brewers BP.
Ball #4 would come before the game. Herbie Andrade did his toss the ball up so no one can reach it, but make it high enough to make it appear they can catch it gag. He saw me and threw it a bit higher so I could catch the ball. People appeared confused. The end.
Again the Pirates lost the game which stunk, but they let all of these clubs score first and playing catch up all of the time is not going to win you games.
I knew the next day there wouldn’t be BP as there was team photofest. I had already eclipsed 100 straight games with a baseball, so I just embraced photofest wanting to talk to the players, so I went on the field and snapped some pictures. What I had forgotten from the night before, was that I needed to snag one baseball on this day to get 100 straight games with a baseball at your home ballpark. No pressure.
Here is a tease for the next entry:
Today marked the unofficial start of the Pittsburgh Pirates baseball season as the Pirates decided to make their workout, the day before the home opener, open to the public. This was a great idea to raise the excitement levels for the fans and even make some money off of the concessions.
The only thing that ruined this good time was the Phillies who decided that they did not want the fans to see them hit. Erik Jabs decided to count his snags and although I was initially apprehensive, I opted to count mine as well.
I went to this event with my friends Andrew and Colston. We lined up by the Highmark Legacy Square entrance around 1:45 as that was the only gate that would be open for fans to get in come 2:30.
The three of us ran into some familiar faces which was great. We then all played a game of catch and I threw nice and easy. I was encouraged for the most part with the session and then got back to my position as first in line.
A short while later, my backpack was checked and we got to go in at 2:20, 10 minutes early. A couple of beer bellied fans raced ahead of me. I knew to save my energy as they raced off for the first base line. I ws carefree and knew I would be first into left field. I knew that Erik and Nick Pelescak would not be at the ballpark yet and I was on the clock. I would have to take advantage.
I was surprised to see some of the Pirates taking early cuts. From where I was standing Manager Clint Hurdle and 1st Base Coach Luis Silverio were in the outfield. A Pirate hit a hopper that traveled close to the wall and Hurdle had a glove and was getting it.
“Clint, may I please have that ball,” I said.
“It’s early BP, we don’t throw any of the balls up,” Clint said in his usual booming voice.
“O.K. I understand. Thanks for responding,” I replied.
“You know what? What the heck,” Hurdle said before tossing me ball #1 on the season. This was the first baseball a fan received at PNC Park this season. That was an awesome feeling. Thanks so much Clint!
With that done, I knew the relievers would be coming out very soon. I had already searched, and there were no easter eggs and when nothing was being hit out to me during early BP, I retreated to the third base side so that I would get a good chance for a toss up from a reliever. On my way up I ran into in-game host for the Pirates Joe Klimchak and we did a great handshake and man hug before I continued running.
Slowly the relievers all trickled out as well as Erik Bedard and Jeff Karstens. At this point, I had said another hello and then my buddy reliever Evan Meek came over and made a point to say hello and ask how I was doing. He is looking much thinner and may be in the best shape of his playing career. I am amazed at how healthy he looks.
The relievers then got ready to throw. Jason Grilli stopped once through his delivery to talk to me. As you may remember, he called me this off-season to discuss his business venture. He remembered my name and we talked for a little while he threw. We even were joking around with each other, and when I called him “J Grills”, we both laughed. Meek and Grilli threw together and when they were done, I asked Jason for the ball, which he tossed for ball #2. My goal for the day was three so I was one step closer to accomplishing that.
After the relievers were done throwing, they took part in a few drills and got their running in.
While they did this, I went up to Pops Plaza where I got a free Pirates shirt. It was a decent shirt, better than a lot of their t-shirt Friday shirts and frankly was just nice and simple. It was smart too because the shirt allowed them to promote the Pirates twitter account.
Finally, after what felt like an eternity, the screen came out, and BP started for the Pirates.
There was no competition at first base, so I went over there as it worked wonders for me last year. At this point, Erik and Nick were in left field, I decided to stay on the first baseline as there were maybe a handful of people.
I was rewarded fairly quickly, as Rod Barajas was in the first group of Pirates taking cuts. Barajas hit a cutting liner that I was able to field and catch for ball #3. Considering I have made it a goal to catch more batted balls this season, this was a huge confidence booster and a step in the right direction for sure.
Ball #4 came shortly after as Jose Tabata hit a bouncer which ended up in the seats and I scooped it up. Short, sweet and to the point.
Neil Walker and Pedro Alvarez were over there when I made those plays and sure enough I figured I would have a chance to get another ball from over there so I stayed. Relievers Tony Watson and new Pirate Juan Cruz came over and I focused immediately on Juan.
It took a while since Watson was getting the balls, but when Cruz got a ball and was in earshot, I asked in Spanish. He looked at me and paused before throwing the baseball back in. Perhaps it was because Pitching Coach Ray Searage was close by, but I had succeeded and I knew he had heard me. I knew that if I continued to get in his head, he would have no choice but to throw it to me.
Sure enough a ball comes close to me and Cruz had not gotten back into position so I knew this was my chance. I asked again in Spanish and a random lady asked right after in English.
“He asked first,” Cruz said before throwing ball #5 my way. This was awesome and I knew that I had well exceeded my goal of three baseballs at that point. Muchas gracias Juan.
I then waited for the next set of hitters, and knowing that I would not get anymore toss ups, I was hoping for a baseball to get hit my way, but that would not happen. I moved to left field and essentially nothing happened so no luck for me.
I ended up with 5 baseballs on the BP which was good enough for tops on the day. It is a great feeling to know that I did a good job today. I have worked really hard towards the last few weeks of this off-season to get into shape and my stamina is up and my strength is up a little more. My confidence is also up by a lot as well. I only wish that I could have seen Phillies BP, I likely could have received a few more baseballs.
Still, five baseballs is a great way to start the season, and with clear skies tomorrow and the Pirates taking BP tomorrow I can only hope for some easter eggs and maybe a ball or two. Should be a fun day.
1. I arrived around 3:30 and was the first in line for clubhouse access at 3:30. I saw a few players and Pirates Manager Clint Hurdle said a quick and pleasant hello to me. Evan Meek then saw and remembered me and gave me a pound. Was he feeling better? I would think so, and he was available to pitch tonight and he pitched a 1-2-3 inning
2. I had no idea what to expect when I got into Clint Hurdle’s office. The only time I had ever seen an office was in Bob Knight’s autobiography, and his office was a MESS. I completely had no idea what was going to happen coming in and I had no idea who I would interview, and what I would ask. I walked in and saw Clint Hurdle waiting for us. We all put our recorders on the desk and asked questions of Clint. As a fan, it is easy to ask him a question, however I was a little overwhelmed by the situation. People were asking questions left and right, and I had no set gameplan and thus I just took it all in (no Clint Hurdle pun intended). The first question is always the hardest but when the postgame came, I got the last question and used it to talk about Evan Meek in the bullpen and breathed a huge sigh of relief.
3. I then left the clubhouse and stayed on the field for all of Pirates BP.
4. My first image of the field was all kinds of yellow jerseys, a large group likely the pitchers were in center with the players stretching directly in front of me by the third base side. I first was welcomed by Euclides Rojas and we shook hands. Pedro Alvarez, Rojas and Luis Silverio all were communicating to each other in Spanish. From what I saw the whole time of BP, Pedro was the LOUDEST of all of the players. Pedro then asked me a little later in English how I was and I tried to respond in Spanish to keep it going but he continued in English. Oh well, at least I tried to fit in.
5. Andrew McCutchen then came on the field and he said hey to the Alvarez and Silverio and I totally expected him to walk past me. Everyone knows how I feel about Cutch, however at the ballpark, he is in his element, Mr. Personality. He was dancing in the outfield, singing along with Pedro in a girly voice during a song and usual antics. He actually said a “Hey boss” to me before quickly asking how I was, and responding to my reply. That likely was the best exchange we have ever had and I now respect him 1/22 more.
6. Charlie Morton hit a BP homer and so did Paul Maholm who had to contend with the much tougher right field. The pitchers had a good laugh at Maholm’s expense when he hit five or six balls that hit the top of the cage and didn’t go much further. They had home run distance but kept connecting with the cage.
7. When Pirates BP ended it started to get cooler than it already was and I just had a long sleeve dress shirt on. I went inside back into the press area. At this point, the players were changing and a saw a lot of bare body parts (nothing too graphic) and a lot of tattoos. Players were getting showers and they all were wearing sandals and hanging out. I decided to first interview Charlie Morton. Again, I had absolutely NO clue what I was going to ask anyone, and so I got the nerves out of the way pretty quickly. My first question to Morton was about the whole Electric Stuff buzz that was on Facebook and Twitter, and you will just have to wait for his response, but he was laughing and smiling the whole way which was the goal, to loosen him up. We talked about his new arm angle, comparisons to Roy Halladay, working on control of the arm angle, momentum and much more.
Photo taken by Colston Cooper on a separate occasion
8. An interview I really wanted to do was with Mike Crotta. I don’t hear much from the press about him and I wanted to really talk about his sinker and I was given that chance. It was an interesting interview and the sinker is the focal point of that interview. After this interview I went back to observe Brewers BP.
Unrelated photo taken by my friend Kayla Thompson
9. I tried to find out if they were going to increase security or do anything in response to the tasing, however I was told that nothing will be done. This confuses me, although next to no one would be/was at the game. It will be interesting to see if they consider changing in the future.
10. After Brewers BP, I grabbed some dinner and then headed up to the press box, where I grabbed the pre-game sheets and then sat and enjoyed the game. I know what some people are thinking, and to answer your questions, yes I was able to watch the Penguins game as well, as it was on a TV right in front of me.
11. The game had a very fast pace to it through the first few innings as both Kevin Correia and Brewers pitcher Shaun Marcum were pitching no-hitters, but Correia blinked first and then allowed a homer to Prince Fielder and the Pirates lost 6-0.
12. Towards the end of the game I received a free media guide. The media guide much like the one I received in 11th grade was spiral bound. I also received a thumb drive which contained every MLB team’s 2011 media guide. I love reading the media guides and this is hours of great reading, and also potentially a lot of helpful ballhawking resources.
13. I then went down with the rest of the press, and after the meeting with Hurdle and my question, we went into the clubhouse. We then were called back into Hurdle’s office where we were told that Chris Snyder would come up and Jason Jaramillo would be sent down. I am posting this again, just because I was one of a few people to first find out.
14. We then interviewed Kevin Correia and I asked another question. Considering I heard that he was swearing upon entering the clubhouse, he was no problem in terms of speaking to.
15. Jason Jaramillo agreed to his final interview before leaving Pittsburgh. He is sad not to be with the team but realizes that he likely will have more of a chance to play in Indy and hopes to be back up in Pittsburgh really soon.
16. From there we all interviewed Lyle Overbay as he was a former teammate of Marcum’s.
17. Things died down, and the other media members left for the night. I decided to spend one last interview being with Joel Hanrahan. We talked mainly about the closer position and also how he has grown as a closer and player since his Washington days.
Photo taken Opening Day.
18. It was an eventful and successful day for me, and not bad considering I had no gameplan coming in. I now know that I will need to plan for who I want to interview and at least have an idea of what to ask. Also there is a chance that I could get media credentials once a homestand, and that could be exciting.
The next entry will be the transcript. What you just read before was a summary of what happened. There was quite a bit more, but you get the idea. Expect this next entry Friday or Saturday. I did take a decent amount of pictures, and I am unsure if I can get them to work or not.
1. I was not at the ballpark on Tuesday, as the game was postponed.
2. http://www.pointparkglobe.com/opinions/unruly-fans-disturb-baseball-game-involve-police-1.2160640 That is the link to the article I told you about that I wrote for my Point Park Student Newspaper. For some reason the ending cuts off and it should finish with “the better”… only two more words.
3. I was quoted in Wednesday’s Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, about the whole tasing situation adding to all of the press that I am getting. Here is a link to that: http://pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/columns/heyl/s_731935.html
4. Although I was a media member tonight I still was able to get eight baseballs but returned them to the teams as I was on the field and a media member. I gave one away to a friend. For the first ball I got it for Pedro Alvarez and Luis Silverio. They said I could keep it but motioned to Herbie and asked him if he wanted it. He motioned yes and I threw a decent strike right to his waiting glove. I then got a few more during the Pirates bp that came my way and then more during the Brewers bp portion. Normally I would write a full entry about this, however I promise that I will more than make up for it, as I have a ton of quotes from the Pirates game that I will share with you. I will have this up on Saturday at the latest. My camera is not behaving, and pics on this blog sometimes work and sometimes don’t, so we will see on pics.
5. One thing I will reveal, is that Clint Hurdle called us back into his office after the postgame meeting as he had forgotten to tell us that Jason Jaramillo was optioned back to Triple-A Indy and Chris Snyder will come back up. This is effective immediately, as Snyder will join the team tomorrow. Despite packing his things to leave, Jaramillo stopped to speak with us. This was the first ever time I had to be a part of an interview with a player who was sent down, and it had to be tough, but I have a whole lot of respect for him for doing the interview.
I am going to make one more post now to discuss who I interviewed and some other notes from Wednesday’s media fun.
Each year some Pirates change their uniform numbers and the new Pirates also got new numbers as well. Here are the changes:
. The major change is that Pedro Alvarez has changed his #17 for #24. Speculation is that it was his number in the minors and since Delwyn Young wore the number this past season for the Pirates, Alvarez had to choose another.
. Neil Walker will keep his #18. Walker wore #19 throughout the Minor Leagues but Ryan Church wore the #19 last season and thus Walker had to choose a different number. Walker chose #18 without thinking too much about it, but Walker who is a huge Andy Van Slyke fan never knew that Van Slyke also wore the #18 and that is a reason why he is keeping it.
. Manager Clint Hurdle will wear the #13 and thus Ronny Cedeno has chosen to wear the #5.
. Lyle Overbay will wear #37, meaning Charlie Morton has switched his number to #39.
. Alex Presley will now don the #44 jersey, which previously belonged to Brandon Moss.
. New Pirate Matt Diaz will wear #23.
. No Pirate will fill the “ocho-cinco” number as no one will wear the #85 vacated by Lastings Milledge.
We already said that Clint Hurdle will wear #13, but here are the other numbers:
Hitting Coach Gregg Ritchie #58, Pitching Coach Ray Searage #54, 1B Coach Luis Silverio #39, 3B Coach Nick Leyva #16, Bench Coach Jeff Banister #55, Bullpen Coach Euclides Rojas #50, Bullpen Catcher Heberto “Herbie” Andrade will keep his #86 and Coach Mark Strittmatter #59.
Interesting that Morton’s number is 39 and so is Silverio’s. Something has got to give.