It has been a June to forget so far, with a shutout and many low scoring days. My mindset coming into this series with the Giants was to begin to increase my focus with less conversation with others and to start hustling a bit more. There is still a lot of time left in the year to reach my goal of 418 p.r. with multiple planned trips for CLE and CIN. This series got off to a slow start which has been the case often in first games of home series as the Pirates run a shortened bp to have meetings, today was no bp period as the Bucs played the ESPN night game, then traveled home late from Chicago.
Waiting over action has become the norm with Clint Hurdle’s passive approach at on field practices and analytical philosophies which favor rest and relaxation.
Lately I have just been trying to hang on through this big slump I have been in and persevere over time, things come around in time.
During this one I caught a homer in LF and on the right center portion of the river walk that sailed deep over the handicapped seats.
I went for a more brisk run today to get a spot in the front of the line, the Pirates should have been taking a full, later onset bp which would provide the Andrew Mccutchen group. When this group is out there to see at 430 its good to hustle in, today it helped with a scrum of a ball on the LF crosswalk for Ball #1 on the way in.
I then made a connection with Francisco Liriano out in CF for a toss up to me at the North Side Notch, Ball #2. It has been near impossible to hook up with any Pirates pitchers lately as pretty much all of them patrol only CF and RF away from the fans.
Starling Marte launched a ball a few rows deep in the upper bleachers which I made a dash for to grab Ball #3.
Heberto Andrade was present in LF today which has made me more grateful for lately given his sporadic appearances, he tossed Erik a ball and myself for Ball #4.
Ball #5 was a caught homer near the North Side Notch at the last second as I was busy watching Erik J and Jim go at it with their ball retrievers. I picked up the ball real late so it was good it was right at me.
Also during this time I went out of my way to give a new, clean ball to a child living with a handicapped disability, and was happy to take a moment to talk to him about baseball, and ended our conversation with a high five.
Over in CF for the Giants lefties I came away with a scrum that was a pretty wild one. An unidentified Giant slammed one near the top of the middle of the CF sections.
This baseball took a wild route seeming to bounce off the top fence, and ricocheting around the pop corn stand and Rita’s ice stand. I went after it and noticed that nobody was yet able to track it, I went down on one knee to see if it was under the Rita’s stand and there it sat, Ball #6. A little luck coming back around my way..
I stayed until the fifth inning of what would be a lopsided defeat to the Giants, 15-4, no home run opportunities during my time there.
Thanks Cutch for the direct first inning toss up, hope you find your abilities sooner then later, as it is already pretty late.. It was a low crowd without many people so I picked out a young kid to me left to give the game rubbed ball to.
7 baseballs, 2 given away
Three in a row without rain and with the early Pirates group, I was hoping to have a 7-10 kinda day but the Pirates didn’t offer much opportunity as far as homers and the Giants lefties were kinda lame as compared to the previous two days.
Ball #1 for me came via a Josh Harrison line drive ground rule double ball that was a tough grab.
Ball #2 was a toss up from Heberto Andrade right on the money for the second day in a row.
It was a beautiful, picturesque day in Pittsburgh, so I took the time to appreciate the moment with this picture.
The Giants, similar to the Cardinals have been throwing bp to their pitchers in the last round of bp. In my life I have caught two bp homers from Johnny Cueto and Adam Wainwright. When STL was in town I was almost able to grap another Wainwright bomb. This pitcher hr derby thing is kinda interesting, Wainwright, Madison Bumgarner, and Jefff Samardzija have shown me some real power in the past during bp and games as well. Pitchers are not cut out for that type of sustained physical activity and I’m doing to doubt it will go down.
Anyway I took up the upper bleachers to go for my first caught homer in the upper bleachers ever. Madison Bumgarner was pulling the ball but it was real crowded so I put my money on Mad Bum blasting at least one into the upper bleachers that I shared with only two ushers.
Mad Bum did come through with a blast right at me with little to no movement necessary, I relished the ball smacking into my glove from what was likely the longest distance I have every caught a homer. I was five rows deep in the upper bleachers of a large PNC park…..
One of the ushers was joking that he helped me judge the wind perfectly..The several Giants fans and Pirates fans below offered a nice applause which felt great given the recent slumping.
Series with Giants-12
Oh, and this too………
41 pts games 5-6
Triple Double game 7
Complete Domination after being down 3-1…….Real MVP
Pittsburgh would not take bp today as they arrived from the ridiculous day of travel to Colorado, par for the course.
Anyway, my head is still in the game and I am hungry despite a tough June, all I can do is keep showing up and keep giving good efforts.
Today I got a toss up for Ball #1 from Cardinal Greg Garcia in CF.
And a caught homer above the handicapped seats in right center for Ball #2.
Saturday would turn out to be too hot for either team to take bp, to top it off the previous nights game went extra innings.
That led to nothing to do for a while in the heat, so I hung out with Erik, Ted, Lauren, and Euclides Rojas; among also Mark Melancon for a bit and Jared Hughes appearance to chat.
We were making the most of a boring time.
Mark Melancon wore an Erik Kratz jersey and Lauren was easily convinced that he truly changed his name, Euclides Rojas played into the fun. Jared Hughes chatted a little as well.
After the Pirates completed their warm up session good my favorite baseball friend Heberto Andrade came past and whizzed a ball to both Erik J. and myself. Ball #1.
Things worked out well with the Pirates ending a bit before the Cardinals warm up session, and I had enough time to change into Cardinal gear and came through with a toss up from one of their coaches as they left the field, Ball #2.
Sunday game gate times applied to this 5pm start meaning it would be an extra half hour wait on the river walk until the gates opened leaving only what would be a short group of Cardinals bp.
I first attempted to get a toss up from one of the Pirates pitchers being the first to get to the CF gate just above on the river walk. I had little time though, when I did arrive I was able to greet Jared Hughes who said he would throw me one if he got another, but he wouldn’t. Not minutes later the Pirates bp ended.
I took up the corner spot near Erik Jabs and played the lefties on the river walk, all I could come up with though in the short Cardinal bp was a toss up from an unidentified Cardinal player shagging balls in CF.
Oh, and Jeremy Hazelbaker was a mean guy, after a few nice requests for a ball standing near Erik he tossed one saying for us to go ahead and fight for it, not nicely either.
It has continued to be a struggle to get anything going. Monday I got a scrum early on and that was it. I came close to a Cespedes bp homer but Erik Jabs made a nice full extension grab a bit in front of me. Another homer was deflected by a guy in the front row hitting my glove enough to spoil the catch. To add more to this at the end of bp Logan Verrett tossed a ball up in the front row of the CF seating, the ball was snatched out of the air by a young kid standing above in the wheelchair section.
Its been a nice slump for me since the start of June, but things can only get better from this point.
Hoping for a full bp tomorrow to get back into rhythm.
Friday 6/3 was my first donut in about 125 some games thereabouts, on national donut day, a not so nice coincidence.
Saturday was not much better as the Angels crowd was relatively good, and a 405 start shortened the bp time.
How about it…
Not a very inviting place..
I was able to avoid a second straight shut out which irks me even to say. This was by catching a homer in the handicapped section by tracking a ball well, turning my back on it and getting up the steps into position to make the catch.
Lou from Anaheim liked the grab and gave me a nice cheer. Today was cool as I met Lou and Christine both from Anaheim making the trip to Pittsburgh.
Two game Interleague Set-1 baseball
This would be my second consecutive Cleveland game, with today Erik J. and Cole Adkins of Cincinnati both present and occupying the wide open but small CF bullpen section of seats.
I met with Cole at the gate and bought one of his extra Ken Griffey Jr bobbleheads which features Griffey Jr as a Mariner and Redleg.
Definitely a sweet bobble head featuring “The Kid” and “Junior” both of Griffey Jr’s nicknames as well as the date of his induction to the Hall of Fame.
Cole Adkins is a cool guy and its always good to catch up, despite running into each other in the small CF section it was a good time as always.
For the day I came away with four baseballs, a scrum from a deep Adrian Beltre homer that cleared the CF section, missed landing in the bullpen by a hair and bounced softly to me off the steps leading to Heritage Park.
Ball #2 was from a Ranger player who hooked up Erik and myself and Ball #3 from a policeman walking down behind the CF wall on his way to work, a pleasant surprise.
To end things on another cool note I was able to make the Rangers gear work to elicit a toss up from Rangers ace Yu Darvish, Ball #4.
I have been to Cincinnati for four games so far and came up big in those four games with a total of 56 balls at GABP. To meet my goal this year of beating my season high of 417 baseballs in 2010 I will need to get some good games in at Progressive Field as well. GABP and Progressive, the Ohio Connection, a good one it is.
To make things more exciting I brought my son Dominik to his first game at Progressive Field.
With the bullpen section things can be real easy or congested in a heartbeat given its size. The renovation of Progressive also came with a 2hr prior gate time as opposed to the previous 430 gate time. You can also forget about easter eggs anymore, as both games of this set came without a ball found by anyone.
Id still easily rank Progressive one of the top ballparks to ballhawk at.
Dominik posing next to the Lebron building sized poster.
Dominik went to his first Cleveland Cavaliers game with me earlier this year in February.
Cavaliers are All In
4 more wins, beat the Warriors, Strive for Greatness, LBJallday
Bob Feller and Jim Thome greet you at the gates.
Things got underway with a toss up from Trevor Bauer which tipped off the top of Dominik’s glove and landed at my side for Ball #1.
Ball #2 was a caught homer off the bat of a third round lefty of the Indians who I couldn’t identify.
Ball #3 was another caught homer in the bullpen section, again the player unidentified.
Dominik with the Bauer toss up which was an AZ Spring Training baseball I was trying to add to my commemorative collection.
Ball #4, 5, and 6 were all hit balls with two being scrums and one caught homer.
Matt Bush threw me Ball #7.
Ball # 8 was another scrum, followed by a toss up from a Ranger with a pullover on for Ball #9.
Carlos Perez provided a thrown baseball for Ball #10, and now double digits on all 5 road games so far this year.
Dominik caught five toss ups of his own on the day.
After Corey Kluber’s warmup one of the Indians coaches tossed up a baseball for Ball #11.
Its a sweet bullpen set up overall.
Hanging like this with Dominik talking baseball is hard to top.
The Arizona Diamondbacks are not much of a batting practice or toss up kinda of a team so chances for me were few and far between in this two game set.
I used speed and good navigation for three early scrums covering a large amount of real estate.
These were after a thrown ball from Heberto Andrade who has been back out in LF recently.
Rubby De La Rosa hit me up in CF and I used my legs for another scrum to make it 6 baseballs on the day.
Very narrowly avoided a shutout with a toss up from Shelby Miller for Ball #1. Shout out to the Diamondbacks hat..
Two game set-7 baseballs
The hi-lite of this game was Zack Hample being in town, it was a free shirt Friday however with many people ballhawking. With Zack came crowds following around, and extra people on top of an already high crowd.
I did take some time to catch up with Zack and gave him some feedback about PNC ball hawking, Pittsburgh, etc.
It didn’t seem as though Zack likes competition though to me, as he seemed frustrated with the crowd and head to head nature of PNC. We had a good talk though and its always good to catch up.
Anyway, I ended up having one of the lowest ball counts of the year with only a toss up from Herbie Andrade and a caught homer out on the crowded river walk. All the running around, repositioning, and gaming was fun for sure though.
To begin this series I was able to reach way up over the glove of Baseball Joe to catch what would be the first toss up from Pirates prospect Alen Hanson, Ball #1.
Ball #2 came from Jordan the new bullpen catcher who apparently likes to go out of his way to prevent ball hawks from catching baseballs. As of yesterday Zack Hample had some words with Jordan on twitter after Jordan noted that Zack needed to earn his baseballs. Anyway, the baseball from Jordan was a Cubs commemorative from up in the open handicapped seating section, my third Cubs 100th year at Wrigley field baseball.
Thanks Jordan, not sure how all this is going to end up with you patrolling left field but its great that Herbie Andrade is back to his giving ways..
Also back was Jung Ho Kang, who is bringing some additional power to the left field seating sections. I tracked one of his high homers for Ball #3 of the day.
Herbie, and Jung Ho are positives moving forward.
Things then got interesting with the rest of the Pirates and the beginning of the Braves. Speed and agility helped me get to three baseballs in a row. Ball #4 a scrum covering a couple sections to my right including a few bleacher hurdles and then Ball #5 a scrum covering a couple sections to my left near the North Side Notch. A low crowd provided the opportunity and I capitalized.
Ball #6 was a scrum of a baseball in the center field seating that several guys couldn’t get to as they lost track of the balls location, I figured to give it a shot and went in to check the lower seats where everyone wasn’t and was rewarded for the effort.
Also over in the CF seats I lined up with Mallex Smith as he made a running catch at the CF wall for Ball #7. Mallex would go on to hit two HR’s in the game.
Not much to talk about in this one, Ball # 1-2 were via scrum during the Pirates portion of bp, and Ball 3-4 were found in CF. That actually is something to talk about with how good the Pirates ushers are at finding each and every baseball every day.
Ball #5 was worth commentary as well, it was likely the longest batting practice homer I have caught on the fly. It was caught behind the center field seating section and sailed in over the popcorn stand pictured below. Hell of a ball to track from my position near the gate to behind the CF seats. Id venture to say the distance would be close to 450 ft from home plate from the spot of the catch.
Ball #6 was scrummed from another Braves lefty, proving the Braves to be a decent bp team in the first two games of the series.
I had a really nice stretch going until this one which ended in 4 baseballs. Alen Hanson threw me Ball #1 then went in to hit and slammed one out into the left field seats which was caught on the fly for Ball #2. That’s three from Alen Hanson in the series so far so I’m hoping he will stay around for a while.
Tyler Flowers lined a home run with authority to left field in the third row. I was able to grab it on the fly and gave it to a kid in the front row who never saw it coming. Ball #3.
Alexi Ogando provided a thrown baseball for Ball #4 to wrap things up.
This one began with a scrum and a caught hr on the fly but the story of the day was that Herberto Andrade was back in left field with a glove, a smile and two baseballs; one for myself and one for Erik Jabs.
Good to see ya
Ian Krol was generous to throw me Ball #4 which concluded the action for this Pirates v Braves series. The Braves turned out to be a much better bp hitting team then anticipated and were fair with toss ups as well.
Total-21 baseballs, 7 given away
This was a much anticipated second trip to the Queen City, a three game trip with the Pirates in town. Cincinnati has been a worthwhile trip since I have been going there, and continues to be a gem of a park to catch baseballs at.
For a week prior to the series rain and thunderstorms were predicted for each of the days I planned the trip.
This was the weather scene heading across the Roebling suspension bridge across the Ohio river from Covington, KY into Cincinnati.
Despite much precipitation the Reds still took bp as things lightened up just enough come 4pm.
Arriving at GABP
Things began well early on with a toss up from Layne Somsen followed by two scrums and a toss up from a Reds player I couldn’t identify.
Over here with Ken Griffey Jr I was able to find three baseballs…
Something unheard of nowadays at PNC Park..
Over in this same section I tracked a foul ball during bp, and acquired a toss up from a Reds player I couldn’t identify which brought the total of this game to 9 baseballs, this being without a Pirates bp as Clint Hurdle and the Pirates opted for no bp.
It was however easy to connect on two toss ups from two of the more friendly Pirates..
Francisco Liriano for Ball #10
Jared Hughes for Ball #11
And during the game a toss up from Adam Duvall in between innings with a warm up baseball, final of the day to reach 12 baseballs.
Reds batters took advantage of Jon Niese for three homers to the LF seats, none of which were close enough for me to get to (Barnhardt, Votto and Cozart). The Pirates failed to put together much of an offense and came up short 3-2.
This one was a certified rained out bp and turned out to be a postponed game, I was able to get around to find 4 baseballs between the lower first and lower third sides of the field, indicating that either the Pirates or Reds hit or threw at some point of dry weather. Not sure if I can make it to the makeup so I counted the 4 found as a part of yesterdays ball game.
It was a pretty significant storm with lightning and all, here was the scene coming across the Roebling bridge with a perspective of Paul Brown Stadium.
The weather was uglier then the Steelers v Bengals wild card game back in January, and that’s a hard one to top.
Earlier I was able to take in some sights around Cincinnati on a healthy run through the city.
A place of meditative calm amidst a clamorous world, I completed the walk through the labyrinth letting go of worries or stress, reflected on the process at the middle and came out with a new perspective.
Full view of this labyrinth which is situated along the Ohio just across the Roebling bridge.
I was unable to document this one with pictures as my cell phone was low on battery. There was actually a lot to photograph as the Pirates were out in full and I wore my WE ARE FAMILY yellow shirt which attracted some good attention.
Toss ups from Pirates players included:
Marte (no look behind the back high toss up), Arquimedes Caminero of whom will not even give you a look at PNC, Tony Watson who I rarely get to see at PNC, Euclides Rojas, and Gerrit Cole
The total for the day in Cincinnati ended at 16 baseballs:
2 caught homer, 1 g.r. double, 2 scrums, 5 found
Caleb Cotham toss up..
Two game total-32, 6 given away.