Sunday, January 30, 2011

Travel day

Well, I suppose the 2011 Pittsburgh Pirates Fantasy Camp is really over now, as I am back in dreary Ohio, leaving behind the warmth of sunny Bradenton.

I just wanted to take a moment and mention my teammates and offer a few props. My Team Waner teammates were Dominic Bertucci, Tom Bouchard, Steve Cameron, Dan Dawkins, Eddie Fingers, Lisa Gaul, Steve Kruman, Dave Marzalek, John Scheib, and Duane Schifano. Thanks to Joe Billetdeaux and Kent Tekulve for putting on a great fantasy camp. Also, thanks to our coaches Gene Clines and Dave Giusti, to our staff assistant Edgar Varela, and last but not least, to our Bradenton Booster volunteer, Col. Jack Steele (USAF Retired).

Here is the team picture of our motley band of Pirates...

Day 6

The final day of play in the 2011 Pirates Fantasy Camp pitted the pro staff versus the campers in 3 inning mini-games. The order of play was the order of finish, which meant that Team Waner played last.

The first seven teams did not manage any runs off the pro staff, so expectations were low. We jumped out to a 1-0 lead on some nice hitting of members of our batting lineup that hit before me, as per usual. My one at bat was a weak groundout to end the inning, and of course I just happened to drop the one fly ball that was hit in my direction. However, we still managed to tie the pro staff team 1 to 1. It would have been nice to win, but at least we scored and played decently well in the field.

As I write this, I am getting ready to break camp to head back north. Where has the week gone?

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Day 5

It was another fine weather day on Friday, not a cloud in the sky and just a slight hint of a breeze. Our morning game (field 4, 10:15am) was a relegation round game versus the 4th place team in the other division, Team Carey.

Our team just could not get a rhythm going, and we ended up losing the game by a score of 9 to 5 to finish in 8th place out of the 8 camp teams with a record of 2 wins and 5 losses. Personally, I ended up going 0 for 3 with one HBP. Two of the outs were ground outs and one was a fly out, and all went to the shortstop, who just happened to be the best player on the other team. In the field, I had no fielding chances.

My final batting statistics for the league and relegation round games are as follows:

7 games played
.368 batting average
7 hits in 19 at-bats
5 runs scored
2 doubles
5 runs batted in
3 walks
2 strikeouts
3 hit by pitch

And some additional statistics:
25 plate appearances
.473 slugging percentage
.520 on base percentage (13 times on base in 25 plate appearances)
.993 OPS

Friday, January 28, 2011

Day 4

There was nothing but a clear sunsplashed sky on the weather agenda on Thursday, a perfect day for baseball.  Let's play two, as Ernie Banks was famous for saying.

We needed two wins to get into the playoffs, and started off with a nice win in the morning game (field 3, 10:45am) over Team Stargell (a.k.a. Team Blass), and let me just say that we pounded them mercilessly by a final score of 11 to 2. Personally, I went 2 for 3 with a single (forced out at second), another single with a run scored, and a pop fly to shortstop. In the field, I only had one real chance for a catch on a sinking line drive that was just out of my reach. With the win, our record went to 2-3 and we had confidence that we could make it into the playoffs.

The afternoon game (field 1, 2:15pm) saw Team Waner playing against the Team Cuyler, which is the team that my roommate, Tom, plays for. In this game, Tom started on the mound, and I faced him just once, drawing a walk. After that, I was hit by a pitch and scored a run, and in my third and final plate appearance of the day, I hit a single that drove in a run to put us up 4-3 in the top of the 6th inning. Unfortunately, Tom's team came back with two runs in the bottom of the 7th inning to win the game. In the field, I did finally make a catch, it was a somewhat routine catch. They were filming the game, if I get the video I will try to post it.

For the evening, we had our Team Waner dinner at Woody's BBQ here in Bradenton. There was much joking going on, and a good time was had by all.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Day 3

Due to the torrential rains that fell on Tuesday evening (believe me, it was scary driving over the Sunshine Skyway bridge on my way up to the St. Pete Times Forum in the downpours), the only field that could support play at the start of the day on Wednesday was field 3, the Field Turf field. As a result, they set a staggered schedule to have all games played in 2 hour intervals at that field, starting at 10am. Team Waner drew the noon start.

In the game versus Team Clemente (field 3, 12:00 noon), I finished 2 for 3 with two doubles, two RBIs and a run scored on the first double, and a strikeout swinging. Unfortunately, I also misplayed 3 balls in left field. However, I must say that the winds were very ferocious, which did not do anything for my relative inexperience at playing baseball.

We tried to stage a late comeback, but we were too far behind and lost by a final score of 14 to 12 to fall to a record of 1-3.

That evening, they had the autograph session with all of the former Pirates players. I had a bunch of vintage cards that I got signed by all of the players, I had all of the 1971 Pirates (basically everybody there except for Teke, Candy, and Grant Jackson) sign a baseball, and they gave us a souvenir baseball bat that I had all of the former Pirates sign.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Day 2

We were scheduled for doubleheader league play on Tuesday, with the possibility of storms interrupting the festivities. Luckily, the storms held off long enough for everyone to get the two games in.

In the morning game versus Team Traynor (field 4, 10:00am), I went 0 for 2 with a fly out, and a ground out. Also, I was hit by a pitch in the shin during the game, and came around to score a run. Unfortunately, we lost the game by a final score of 8 to 4 to drop to a record of 0-2, and I landed on the trainer's table with a golf ball sized welt on my shin.

They iced me down and the swelling went down a bit, so I went out for the afternoon game. In that game versus Team Vaughn (field 2, 1:15pm), I struck out looking (bad call), a fly out, a ground ball fielder's choice, and a walk with a run scored. On the fielder's choice, we did score a run on the play, so I picked up an RBI. But most importantly, Team Waner got into the win column by a final score of 15 to 5. At a record of 1-2, we are in 3rd place in our division, with a 3-0 team, a 2-1 team, and an 0-3 team. So we have some work to do to get up to second place and make the playoffs.

After the game, I went to the St. Pete Times Forum to see the Tampa Bay Lightning defeat the Toronto Maple Leafs by a score of 2-0. It was kind of a lackluster game, but Dwayne Roloson came up with some big saves and posted the shutout.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Day 1

Due to the possibility of inclement weather on Tuesday (Day 2), they changed the schedule around to play the evaluation game (shortened to 5 innings) in the morning, and then we played our first league game in the afternoon. All league games are 7 inning games.

Here is a picture of my locker in the Pirate City clubhouse:

For the evaluation, I was put on team 7 and was penciled in to play right field. At the plate I went 0 for 2, grounding into a fielder's choice and flying out to left field. On defense, I made one running catch and almost had an assist on a play at the plate on a base hit. Unfortunately, our catcher did not tag the runner crossing the plate.

I was then drafted onto Team Waner, coached by Dave Giusti and Gene Clines. In the afternoon league game versus the Team Wagner (field 4, 3:15pm), I went 2 for 4, grounding into a fielder's choice, hitting a bloop single to score a run, hitting another single, and then grounding out with the bases loaded and two outs in the top of the 7th inning with our team trailing by a score of 9 to 6.

So needless to say I am totally bummed out.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Made it to Pirate City

Well, I had a nice lunch and get together with Jim and Brenda, and even saw their daughter Kristin.  It was great to see them all.

I finally got down to Pirate City right around 5pm, so I am relaxing here for a little while before going over to the welcome reception. Each of the dorm rooms here in the complex have a different Pirates All-Star player, my room is dedicated to Mike LaValliere.

This is not good.  I am having bad flashbacks to the whole Francisco Cabrera/Sid Bream debacle.

I still do not have any idea how I am going to flag down a fly ball.

Saturday, January 22, 2011


Well, I made it to Florida this afternoon, leaving behind the single digit temperatures in Columbus. It is a bit breezy and cool down here in Clearwater. (OK, believe it or not, as I am sitting here typing this post at my hotel in the Carillon area, the National Weather Service has posted a wind chill advisory for the Tampa Bay area. I am not kidding.)

Tomorrow, I am meeting up with a good friend that I worked with for many years in St. Petersburg, before heading down to Bradenton by about 5pm or so to check into Pirate City.

1 more day to go...

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Final preparations

I went over to the Big League Baseball School for the final time before my trip to Florida just to tune up the old hand/eye coordination in the batting cages.  Again, it was fine, we will have to see just how fast they are throwing down at the camp.

Also, I went over to Triple Play Sportscards here in Westerville and picked up the last of the baseball cards that I am taking to camp for the pros to sign.

7 days to go...

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Almost there

Well, it is a new year (Happy New Year everyone!!!), but we still have the same crappy weather here in the C-Bus. Last weekend's nice weather mirage was apparently just that, a mirage.  I don't see any way I am going to be able to do some throwing before my trip.

But at least I can still hit the cages.  I went over to the Big League Baseball School this morning and spent some time in the medium and fast cages.  I think I am actually starting to hit the fast cages better than the medium, I hope that this is due to the fact that the fast cage is more consistent with the ball flight and the fact that it is nearly impossible to pick up the dirty yellow balls coming out of the machine.

14 days to go...