Heading into this Pirates v Cubs series the weather was looking dismal. I felt as if at least one of the three would have a rained out batting practice, today would be the one for that. As for the Monday and Tuesday v Cubs I felt like we dodged rain narrowly, but the wind was wicked both days. Chicago is retooled with youth and the arrival of Kris Bryant coincided nicely for this series. Jorge Soler put on a nice show, Bryant as well, and the Cubs lefties were fair with Rizzo providing the usual high action levels he can display. One thing about the Cubs is it seemed the lefties and righties both were continuously going opposite field. Possible a Joe Maddon thing…
Here is how the flags looked high above CF, whipping around the field..
4/20 began with a shot from Andrew Mccutchen that went down the line, over the bleachers and onto the Rotunda, I turned on the jets for it and got there quickly for Ball #1.
Mccutchen launched a few more homers during this bp, another one of which I was able to scrum, Ball #2.
Heberto Andrade tossed up Ball #3.
Corey Hart then hit a high homer to the second row of left field, despite the wild winds I was able to settle under it for the catch with no troubles. Ball #4.
Kris Bryant was taking that center to right field approach often but one of his crushed homers went into the upper bleachers and took a room service bounce into my glove for Ball #5.
Ball #6 was a ball that took another kind bounce off the top of the wall right at me for Ball #6.
Today I set my mind to go over to CF after seeing the Cubs approach in bp, plus the wind was whipping again more toward CF. Upon entering LF Andrew Mccutchen provided a homer which was caught midway up in the bleachers, Ball #1. Andrew Lambo threw a ball to a lady named Lauren in the front row, it sailed over her and I scooped it for Ball #2, I gave it to the kind lady who was thankful for the assist.
Ball #3 was thrown by Heberto Andrade.
Ball #4 was thrown to me by Tony Watson up onto the riverwalk behind the CF seating area.
Once CF was opened I surprisingly found a ball in there, somehow overlooked by the ushers, Ball #5.
Finally, to end things I caught a Kris Bryant homer in CF near the batters eye, this was a cool ball to get, and I think I may have been the first MGB member to get a ball from Kris Bryant with the one yesterday.
A fun two days of bp indeed..
With much wind..
Two game total-12
For the second home series of the year the Brewers were in town.
To begin things I was able to get a toss up from Francisco Liriano, who has often been friendly when you can get his attention from CF.
Ball #2 was a scrum from Jordy Mercer.
Ball #3 Heberto Andrade toss up.
In CF with Adam Lind and the other Brewers lefties I caught a homer on the fly for Ball #4.
Things concluded with this, and the Brewers are just getting worse by the year at bp lately…
After hitting a 451 ft homer the previous evening Starling Marte may have been feeling good as he was running around shagging and threw several baseballs to fans, one to me for Ball #1.
Ball #2 Heberto Andrade.
Ball #3 Srum
Ball #4 and #5 caught on fly, one from Adam Lind.
And the Sunday game, with that wonderful crowd it always brings to PNC..
There was bp, one long group of Brewers, and I got on the board for Ball #1 via scrum on crosswalk.
I stayed for the game and during the 5th inning got the toss up thrown by Andrew Mccutchen, Ball #2, and an Opening Day Commemorative.
Pedro Alvarez hit a nice towering 4th homer of the year, and Gerrit Cole pretty much handled the Brewers without a hitch, continuing to look strong. Chris Stewart knocked in two runs, and the pen went Hughes, Watson, Melancon for the win. The Brewers are a poor bp team and look like a poor team as a whole to start the year.
The first evening game of the year at PNC turned out to go well, and the Tigers provided numerous home runs toward the CF seating.
To start I caught a homer in LF, Ball #1, and then scrummed a Josh Harrison homer that took a kind ricochet toward me, Ball #2.
Ball # 3 was courtesy of Heberto Andrade.
Ball #4 scrum in LF.
Ball #5 caught home run.
Ball #6 caught homer from JD Martinez.
Ball #7 a toss up from Ian Krol.
Ball #8 a caught homer off the bat of Miguel Cabrera in CF.
Ball #9 a toss up from Joaquin Soria.
Wednesday began with a caught homer from Josh Harrison, Ball #1.
Arquimedes Caminero handed me a ball at the left field wall when I made a request in Spanish, Ball #2, Arquimedes seems reluctant to interact much with fans. That could likely be the last one I get from him.
Ball #3 Heberto Andrade.
Ball #4 was a ball slammed up onto the cross walk by Starling Marte, I had to turn on the ball, and get up the steps. Upon turning back around the ball was right there for an easy grab.
Ball #5 was found between an end seat and the wall in the CF seats.
Ball #6 After hanging around CF for some more time I got Anthony Gose’s attention for a toss up on a fly he caught on the track.
A good opening series to start 2015.
Opening Day is usually a fiasco. This one was a little more manageable. The Tigers helped the cause on opening day and throughout the opening series however..
Prior to the gates opening a half hour later then usual I was able to scrum a ball that bounced out of PNC Park. Ball #1.
Prior to this though was the first throwing session I had of the year on the Roberto Clemente bridge with Baseball Joe.
I had a feeling Gerrit Cole would be up for the task in controlling the Tigers bats and felt compelled to take this pic at the gate.
Gerrit got the job done on opening day with some help from the bullpen.
After a bit of time in the LF bleachers Heberto Andrade continued his kind ways, tossing me Ball #2.
Nothing else happened for the Pirates portion of bp, I changed up my team presentation and headed toward the right field foul to check out the Tigers pitching staff warm up. Not long into the warm up Angel Nesbitt’s throwing partner went a little wild and sent one into the handicapped section where I was able to field the overthrow easily, Ball #3.
I tossed it promptly back to Angel Nesbitt, and didn’t care to hang around there any longer. I headed to the CF seats for Miguel Cabrera, Yoenis Cespeded and JD Martinez. This group proved to put on a show, and provide ample opportunity for nice plays and increased stats.
JD Martinez hit a high drive pretty much at me, which was a caught homer for Ball #4.
Ball # 5 was another caught bp homer in LF.
The weather was shaky again for this second road trip of the year. With rain predicted to hit hard the Pirates and Reds, Washington was the only city left with a favorable enough forecast to make the trip.
Although the nearby surroundings of Nationals Park consists of dilapidated housing, beggars and dump trucks/cement trucks coming and going its always an exquisite site of Nationals Park early in the month of April when the Cherry Blossoms begin to blossom.
Bryce Harper in the backdrop, face of a franchise expected to do big things in 2015.
It had been a while since I had ballhawked at Nationals Park, and at the gate Erik, and I ran into Rick Gold. Always good to catch up and chat Rick, and nice play on the Bryce Harper bp homer.
Ive always had trouble in LF at Nats Park, so after a bit of more trouble there I went over to RF. Its nice that you can enter in RF again, it is a vast section good for homers from left handed hitters. Despite this, nothing was close enough for me, the air was pretty cold and many balls seemed to be dying in the cool air. With my new glove on I made an error on a Curtis Granderson hr, the glove is still too stiff to trust.
Denard Span, who has always been generous to me hooked me up with Ball #1.
After a long time of nothingness from Bryce Harper, and other Nats who couldn’t find the RF seats, I got Bartolo Colon’s attention when the Mets took the field for a toss up from where he is in this pic below… Trying to be all incognito.
Bartolo tossed me a ball and I was up against the rail, it was a soft lob that I had to lean a bit for and sure enough with the new glove I errored again. After some more shenanigans from Colon he eventually retrieved the ball from the concrete area behind the CF fence and tossed the ball again to me for Ball #2, the final for the day.
After a long, freezing and dismal February and a nasty March as well it was time to get in the first baseball games of the year, Erik Jabs and myself linked up for our first road trip of the year to see the Pirates exhibition games vs Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. To start the weather was shaky looking in terms of influencing batting practice, and upon entrance there would clearly be no bp; the first player I saw working in 2015 was Francisco Liriano. Glad that he is back in black and gold.
We were stranded in the section of foul territory by the left field foul pole and one usher was working hard to keep everyone confined, until Gerritt Cole came out for a signing for someone that had made it down. With this everyone just ignored mean usher and went on down. With most people going for the Gerritt Cole toss up I ended up with a good shot at Vance Worley’s warm up ball which he tossed to me for the first ball of 2015 upon request.
Following this Radhames Liz flipped up a ball that a guy missed completely, and I was able to scrum off a weak bounce for Ball #2.
After everything, I was still able to get Gerrit Cole to autograph one of my baseballs.
Heberto Andrade was joyful in seeing Erik and myself at the bullpen, after greeting him he tossed the both of us a ball, Ball #3 on the day so far.
I took a moment to take a shot of the Liberty Bell that lights up over deep center field.
After watching Euclides Rojas work out Francisco Cervelli in the bullpen Euclides also tossed baseballs to Erik and myself without request. Ball #4 on the day.
Near the end of the game, sitting above the Bucs dugout I got a toss up of a foul ball from Cody Asche for Ball #5 on the day.
I liked this pic of some of the star Pirates warming up, (Marte, Walker, Cutch, Harrison, Mercer, Alvarez).
The Saturday day game was easily the most windy affair of baseball that Ive ever been a part of, I think the wind was up to 25 mph. Erik and I threw outside prior to the gate time, and it was interesting to say the least, birds were flying in place. The Phillies flags were whipping around like crazy.
After a bit of a slow start I was able to get Pirate young prospect Keon Broxton to toss up Ball #1 on the day.
Jordy Mercer found a way to lift one high over the left field fence about 5 rows back where I made an easy caught homer play for Ball #2.
Over in right field I got Gerrit Cole’s attention for a toss up which would be Ball #3 and the final of this trip to Philly for me.
8 baseballs-1 given away
Two day total-8
2014 Goal 1-418 Balls, I wanted to beat my season high but fell short by 58 balls. Within the next two years I would like to get to 3,000 total baseballs. Two solid seasons should get me there so I am shooting for 400 balls at least this year.
2015 Total Ball Goal-400
2014 Goal 2-Get to two new ballparks. Well, this one exceeded my expectations for traveling to new parks as I got to NYY, COL and STL in the year.
2015 New Ballpark Goal-3 new parks (CHC, CHW, BOS)
2014 Goal 3-Attend 80 games. I fell 5 short of this goal, and got to one more game this year then last.
2015 Games Attended Goal-80
2014 BPG goal-5.75, this I fell well short of at 4.80.
2015 BPG goal-5.25
2014 Game HR goal-3, this was the first year I did not get a single game home run.
2015 Game HR goal-3
And of course, stay injury free, have a lot of fun being a part of the great American past time, and document my experiences well,
Its been a long time.
Its getting close to the start of baseball but prior to that I need to recap the year of 2014 in pictures.
For starters I reached 2000 balls this year. Jayson Werth provided the work in getting this one deep over the left field bleachers at PNC. After some weaving through a small crowd, and a chase into the concourse it was in my hands. All smiles.
On the Road, like Jack Kerouac is how I like to envision things.
A lot of traveling occurred this season. Traveling to new ball yards, seeing different cities, cultures, and people is always exciting to me.
A look at St. Louis from the Arch.
This year its time for the Bucs to dethrone the Red Birds and take over the NL Central. The Pirates enter this season with a strong roster from top to bottom.
Looking in from home plate at a Bucs v Cards game, Andrew Mccutchen taking a cut.
New York, New York
Running alongside a giant of a city, she is beautiful, always moving, always growing. Loved this site where I got some good runs in.
Derek Jeter said goodbye to the game, I was happy to see him in NY during my first trip to Yankee Stadium. That classic pose.
Walking upon Yankee Stadium from the Bronx. Walking in from a distance was good as the distance closed with each step.
Taking it in from home plate.
Out West in the friendly state of Colorado.
Buddhist art and wisdom. GRACE
Pirate flag blowing in the wind a mile above.
World Series Gem
Back in the Twin Cities for the Futures Game and Home Run Derby.
We Are Family, I came up with a HRD commemorative early on.
The view from here, with a double rainbow in play was fantastic, baseballs just missed my range on several plays. I got some nice views on TV with the shirt though. Was fully ready for a moment of glory, but it wasn’t to be.
Pittsburgh skyline the best of all still..
Always wanted to get a Mothers day commemorative.
St. Louis All Star Game Commemorative
King Felix toss up was a moment, in Cleveland..
Ducks hanging with Jon Jay
Hangin with my baby
Hangin with my children..
Hangin with my mom..
Baseball brings us together, so I hope to see yall soon at the ballyard….
Baseball is just about back….
The Pirates had their opportunities to grab a hold of the Division late in the season but lost out to the Cardinals in St. Louis in sweep fashion. I wont complain about making the playoffs like this after the streak of losing seasons this organization has put up in the recent past; but there comes a time where you got to take over. These Pirates have yet to do that versus the St. Louis Cardinals, the Cardinals pedigree as a championship ball club-no matter how much I hate them, will be something it takes a while for the Pirates to overtake, if ever, truthfully.
So we drew the Giants, and their ace Madison Bumgarner. We all know how it turned out, I guess it takes away some of the sting when Madison Bumgarner just mowed through all the rest of the contenders like Mike Tyson in his early days.
As I watched the Brandon Crawford homer just clear the top of the Clemente Wall for a grand slam it was hard to fathom the Pirates finding a way to win this with the dealing that occurred.
What the Pirates need to shoot for is the number one spot next year, period. One and done WC games are tough.
I began the festive, and beautiful day up top.
I got the attention of Jon Axford who is a stiff when your down below for a long and high toss up. He put it right on the money, I let it pass through the sun and caught it clean. I would later also get Heberto Andrade to throw one up high.
In the bleachers upon entrance I got a toss up from Jared Hughes, which would be the final baseball of the year.
Stay tuned for my hi-lites of the year blog in pictures and goal review……..
See you next year PNC, hopefully in October as well.
On the final game of the year we engaged in a nice throwing session on the Roberto Clemente Bridge. I took a final pic of Jim who has spoken again on the topic of retirement. I hope he will be back personally, all in all he makes things fun, competitive, and he buys me a beer every now and then.
Anyway, I think I got like 6-7 balls on the final regular season bp.
Hanging out in Left Field, gracious for another awesome season filled with many more memories, and action.
Peace, Love, Happiness, Baseball….