Wow these two days were two of the most frustrating as a ballhawk. I was just downright steamed. My workouts have paid off but I keep seeing mixed results and it has been downright frustrating.
Here is how Monday started:
I had just finished my second class and after an exhausting core session earlier in the day, I was ready for the day.
Of course, my day was going to start well. Hisanori Takahashi was manning the left field corner and a ball rolled to the warning track.
I asked for the ball in perfect Japanese and he specifically made eye contact. It was going to be a great start, except it wasn’t.
Some idiot did not seem to understand that when you do what I just did that you do not interfere, you move on to the next one.
All of the ballhawks knew that I had asked in Japanese and that the ball was mine.
Takahashi either had a sloppy throw or didn’t see that I am a fellow lefty, and the newb got the ball.
He tried offering me the ball back but there’s nothing I can do about.
I was rightfully ticked off and I didn’t want to hear about it from anybody. Him putting the ball in my face numerous times was just salt in the wound. Shut up, take your ******* ball and move on before I get really pissed off. This isn’t your kingdom, so be careful because next time you do that it won’t end well.
Okay moving on.
Even an usher felt bad for me and directed me to a ball I missed or either a ball he pocketed earlier and put in an easy spot.
“That was a douche move,” the usher said. “You didn’t deserve that.”
I thanked him and was glad to be on the board, even if it wasn’t the way that it should have.
I was able to track a Michael McKenry BP homer and beat everyone to it in the scrum.
Ball #3 should have been a caught McKenry homer, but I was just still off and I just gave in on it.’
Well at that point I had to talk on a radio show I do each week, so I tried to ballhawk while talking on the phone.
The Cardinals were stingy with toss ups, but a ball came to the wall and pitcher Joe Kelly retrieved it and I held my glove up.
I was talking about David DeCastro and how his injury affects the Steelers and then the ball went into my glove for ball #3. It was my 400th career snag. That was a memorable way to get it, but I wasn’t done.
The rain started coming down but the Cardinals continued BP. Players left the field and the coaches stayed. I came up empty the rest of the way.
By the bullpen I got balls 4 and 5 from Euclides Rojas and Herbie Andrade.
Ballhawk Erik Jabs gave me a ticket for section 142 that came in handy later as I got Travis Snider’s fourth inning toss up and then pointed to a father, underhanded it to him to give to his son. Applause from the section ensued.
Before leaving I would run into Point Park Women’s Basketball Head Coach Tony Grenek and I will be going to their first day of practice Wednesday instead of the Astros game as their BP is terrible. We were talking about pre-camp and how we saw the team and were in agreement. He owes me a trip to the national tournament after what happened to me last year. Was the highlight of the game by far.
Before we parted ways and I left for the day, I gave him a baseball for his son and he lit up.
Tuesday was another tough day. I had a big full body workout and I was up against the clock.
I needed to get a baseball by 5:40 as I had a class at 6 p.m.
I had an opportunity during Pirates BP and blew it. I cursed at myself for the rest of BP.
When the Pirates left the field I slammed my glove on the ground and continued swearing. I was pissed again.
I kill myself with all of these workouts and get jackcrap to show for it. Maybe a change of strategy is in order.
The clocked ticked and I went straight over to the first base side, where I got Kyle Lohse to toss me a ball right at the deadline.
I got to class right at 6 p.m.
I would be in the press box the next day and snagged eight baseballs but none of them count. I was told I could toss two up which I did and tossed the other eight back in.
Mark Strittmatter wanted to see my fastball but my body was worn out and with full blown dress clothes, my motion was restricted.
I cannot go any further but it was a nice experience.
Now here we are in September and the Pirates are over .500. I am sure fans are not pleased with the 3-9 record since the 19 inning win, but if you told me that the Pirates would be 70-63 going into the month I wouldn’t have believed you.
Physically I am in great shape.
I expect this to be my last full month of ballhawking. I sit on 198 baseballs and as long as I don’t do anything stupid, I will easily surpass my goal.
It has been a tale of Septembers for me. In 2010, I felt fine and had my best month in my rookie year. In 2011, I was tired, ill, stressed out and after dehydration felt it was a chore to come to the ballpark. It just wasn’t fun anymore and I tapered off.
Again, I have been training and expect myself to stay in good shape and make it through the season. I want it to end the way that I know it should.
Now as I like to say in workout terms for both myself and the Pirates, it’s go hard or go home. Enough said.
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.
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:
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: