We are now just under two weeks before opening day at PNC Park for the Pirates v Twins. It’s March 21 and there has been an accumulation of about 6 inches of snow over night and into today. I’m eager to see the weather break, but prepared for the weather to remain cold, and maybe snowy.
I cant start a new season without posting on the best moments of 2017.
To begin, on opening day I was able to get a Turner Field commemorative, one which escaped me in 2016.
Other then the Florida and Arizona spring training baseball commemoratives, which are easy to come by the only other commemorative baseball I got was during the last series of the year. The Camden Yards 25th year anniversary commemorative.
Walk up in Cleveland on a sunny day, I made it to Progressive Field twice in 2017.
Seeing the Yankees this year was awesome.
Catching an Aaron Judge bp homer of at least 450 ft in the upper bleachers near the bullpens was my favorite catch of the year.
Another long bomb that I caught was off the bat of Bryce Harper on the river walk behind CF.
High above at Dodger Stadium
My best toss up from a pitcher was from Clayton Kershaw at the Dodger bullpen.
“A life is not important except for the impact it has on other lives.”
The last time I would watch Andrew Mccutchen play in a Pirates uniform. He will be missed.
The hi lite of this final series of the year was the ability to get two of the Baltimore Orioles 25th Year at Camden Yards baseballs.
Things started with a Heberto Andrade toss up for Ball #1. During the rest of the Pirates I came through with two caught homers and a scrum for Ball#2-3-4.
It didn’t take long to get the Baltimore Orioles commemorative as I got one on a scrum up into the upper bleachers, Ball #5. The other was a caught homer, Ball #6.
Last bp, last game of the year.
A final pic with Erik, Jim and Ted. Had a good year with these guys.
I am positive Jim will be back next year.
Erik and myself connected with Heberto Andrade for one last time on the year, Ball #1.
Erik and I purchased a gift box set of Cuban cigars for Herbie, and gave it to him at the bullpen. Herbie is a good dude, I don’t know how it came to getting a baseball from him everyday. I like to think that he just notices that we have a strong love of baseball, are fair in the stands with others, and have many times protected oblivious people from being knocked by incoming baseballs.
I finished my season with two caught homers for Ball #2-3.
I spent a lot of time by the Pirates dugout to check out Pittsburgh’s own Wiz Khalifa throw out the first pitch.
Got a baseball signed by Wiz.
During my time waiting on Mr. Paper Plane himself I watched Andrew Mccutchen treat the fans to autographs. I wondered how much longer we would have him in Pittsburgh.
Signing. Between Wiz and Cutch, finding some real estate was at a low point.
Career Total to End Season-3181
2017 totals versus 2016 totals
Total Baseballs-306 Total Baseballs-285
My use of the LF crosswalk much more often this year, as well as the RF river walk area has boosted my hit baseballs a lot. It will be a big part of my game plan again next year.
We will see what the Pirates have to offer as far as a team, and players that can hit during bp next year.
I will probably start planning road trips for next season and will have a blog about goals for the coming year and a short hit lite blog for this year so stay tuned.
End of the year Chris Bostick tossed me up Ball #1, always good to see new faces in the outfield.
Heberto Andrade tossed up Ball #2.
This was followed by some good running around as I scrummed three baseballs, Ball #3-4-5.
I found a ball on the Clemente Wall for Ball #6 then went on another hit ball run with two more scrums, Ball #7-8, and a caught homer for Ball #9.
This day was fast and furious, upon entering I chased down a homer hit by Starling Marte for Ball #1. I then connected early on in the bp with Heberto Andrade for Ball #2, leaving me to pay attention to the action coming from the batting cage.
Ball #3-4 were scrums, Ball #5 a caught homer, Ball #6 Found on Clemente Wall.
Back over in LF for the Cardinals it was more hit ball action with a caught homer for Ball #7, another scrum for Ball #8, and to top things off a caught homer off the bat of the most easily angered and mean man in baseball, Tommy Pham for Ball #9.
On the way in, I was lucky to find Ball #1, followed by a toss up by Starling Marte at the LF wall for Ball #2.
Chad Kuhl sucks. He runs around like a fool trying to catch any ball that comes near the bleachers. He also has taken over as the Pirates lead anti-ballhawk along with Pirates bullpen scrub catcher Jordan Comadena.
Anyway he threw a ball to PNC Lauren and I very intentionally intercepted it, which gave me much joy. Ball #3.
The rest of my day would play out with a toss up by Heberto Andrade, Ball #4, a scrum for Ball #5, and a caught home run for Ball #6.
Ball #1 was tossed up by Heberto Andrade. I then caught a homer for Ball #2 I believe by Andrew Mccutchen, then again came across a stray baseball in the CF seats for Ball #3.
Things kicked in to gear with the Brewers, I was able to work out a toss up from Javy Guerra for Ball #4. Marcus Thames then provided the opportunities smashing a handful of balls onto the river walk, I got a scrum for Ball #5 and a caught homer off the bat of Thames on the river walk for Ball #6.
During the rest of the Brewers I came away with a caught homer for Ball #7 followed by two more scrums for Ball #8 and Ball #9.
No bp by either team, Erik and myself were lucky to come away with a toss up by Heberto Andrade, Ball #1, as he passed from the bullpen, and through the outfield.
I was in Philadelphia to run the Rock n Roll Half Marathon, do some more sightseeing with my wife and kids, and to see a game at CBP. The race was flat and the weather was cool, although not in full training mode I put up a 1:31 timing.
CBP is not on my list of favorites, you get in at 5:05 and it usually is fairly crowded with a difficult to manage LF. The ushers also go to work to get every possible would be easter egg.
There’s not much to see on the walk around CBP, except for this view of their flags which is cool.
We sat way up top to watch the game, the Liberty Bell and the Philadelphia skyline are miles apart but made for a good pic from our seats.
During bp I was able to get in first into LF for a scrum of maybe the last homer of the Phillies bp, Ball #1, after I got it the Phillies hit for a minute or two more.
Although the Phillies are deep in the cellar and the A’s are also in the cellar somehow it was pretty crowded, the line stretched across the street outside the LF gate.
I came away with one more for the day, a toss up from an unidentified A’s player in RF, Ball #2.
I was excited to take in a game and relax with my wife Lauren, son Dominik and daughter Shianne but rain hit hard after the second inning causing a long delay which eventually prompted us to leave.
We had a good time altogether. Dominik worked a toss up from one of the A’s in LF.
Shianne got in some dancing during the rain delay.
Lauren and I were able to spend two innings enjoying a game together for once.
Labor Day, Monday 9/4
It was a beautiful Labor Day, I took my early run along the banks of the Allegheny and then headed to the gates hoping for some action on this holiday day game.
Chicago would take bp today, which was a pleasant surprise, with the extra half hour wait I decided to go straight to the only opening into the field and hope that it wasn’t manned yet with staff.
It worked as planned, I did have to lay low for a bit with Erik Jabs until the Cubs finished throwing. Pedro Strop, Justin Grimm and others had a good throwing session.
I got Ball #1 on an overthrow that I was able to pick up off the track, and Ball #2 tossed by Justin Grimm.
Cubs hanging out and Erik J.
During the Cubs first bp group I came away with a scrum for Ball #3 in RF, and a toss up by Lester Strode who comes through every now and then for Ball #4.
I caught a homer from an unidentified Cub in LF for Ball #5, and got another toss up from an unidentified Cub in RF, Ball #6 and final of the day.
Things got going on another warm, cloudless day with a Heberto Andrade toss up for Ball #1.
Andrew Mccutchen launched one onto the LF crosswalk for an easy catch of Ball #2. This was followed by a scrum also on the LF crosswalk, Ball #3, and another caught homer for Ball #4.
Javier Baez was back after an injury for a bp session, he launched quite a few homers as well, two of which I was able to scrum for Ball #5, #6.
Another nice day with both teams taking bp, this one again started with a Heberto Andrade toss up for Ball #1.
I scrummed a ball hit by Andrew Mccutchen for Ball #2, then went on a thee caught homer run off the bat of Starling Marte-Ball #3, Anthony Rizzo-Ball #4, and an unidentified Cubs batter for Ball #5.
It was too good to be true to see four batting practices in a row from the Cubs and three in a row from the Pirates. The Pirates had an optional bp which led to a found ball for Ball #1 which would be the only baseball of the day for me. Some rain then came and it was a wrap for this one and the series.
With the September call ups out on the field there were a few more opportunities for a toss up, I got the attention early on as I entered of Angel Sanchez for Ball #1. Angel threw a few others and generously signed for fans after bp.
Heberto Andrade tossed up Ball #2.
With kids now in school, the Pirates basically out of contention for the playoffs, and miserable moves and lack thereof of the Pirates regime the left field cross walk was open for business.
I was able to come away with two caught homers off the bat of Andrew Mccutchen, and another caught homer unidentified. Balls #3-4-5-6, including a scrum that made its way under the concession stands.
Cincinnati is just a miserable team to watch for bp, they were worse then earlier in the season.
I scrummed one ball during the last swings of the last round of Reds bp, Ball #7, on the steps up to the upper bleachers.
There would be no bp today, I decided to go directly over to the RF gate area where I was able to walk right in and through the tunnel to get into foul territory where some Reds players were warming up early. No one was manning the post so I had a half hour to myself.
Reds bullpen catcher Dustin Hughes tossed me up Ball #1. After this I had to sit around for a bit until some more Reds players came out to warm up.
Dustin Hughes hanging out in the stands.
Kevin Shackelford came out next, and it would become the first time I was able to have a short throwing session with an MLB player despite many attempts in the past. Shackelford threw with me for a few minutes then went into his calisthenics workout, Ball #2.
At the bullpen, while chatting with a few PNC regulars, a ball was tossed up way over the fence, I made an easy reach back and made the grab for Ball #3. I gave it away to a young kid it was likely intended for.