Saturday, March 20, 2010

more Pittsburgh vs Yankees game

I was fortunate enough to take a series of photos depicting CC Sabathia's pitch. Pardon the presence of the first-base coach; this was the most he ever got out of the way.

It is amazing to me how similar a pitcher's execution remains through a game. One can only imagine how much time is spent in front of a mirror getting it perfect. One can only shudder to think about how easy it is for one's mechanics to be thrown off.

Andy LaRoche gets a hit.
The stellar Charlie Morton gets one past Robinson Cano.
This is, I believe, Randy Winn. I love these photos; the adrenaline created by seeing a batter get a hit and the briefness of a moment like this causes it to rarely be remembered as more than a blur.

I will end today's post with a few photos of Pirates players before the game. Here is Garrett Jones.
And the seemingly-inseparable M&Ms: Milledge and McCutcheon.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Brad Lincoln, who pitched a good couple of innings. I realize this is a somewhat silly photo, but I find it fascinating to see the mechanics of a pitch at the exact moment of release. Lincoln's is a name that has been thrown around quite a bit when people talk about exciting prospects, and it was a pleasure to see him do so well.
More impressive, however, was Bryan Morris. Here is a guy who was suspended indefinitely in 2009 for having a bad attitude resulting in something of a temper tantrum when an umpire called a rain delay. Apparently, he was frustrated at having to focus on his fastball rather than his breaking ball during spring training.

My sympathies go out to guys like him. I remember once being able to hit a flag pole with a snowball from maybe fifteen feet. It was probably one of the more athletic things I have ever done, and it was also the closest I've ever come to having anything approaching control. Being able to develop a functional pitch that has major league potential is a miracle in and of itself; suddenly trying to develop a new pitch and maybe even have your mechanics reworked by a coach who could potentially not know what he is talking about makes me almost want to have a vicarious temper tantrum as I write this.
The Bryan Morris you see here, however, showed none of this behavior. In addition to good pitching, he fielded a grounder with an admirable fearlessness.
He manages to toss the ball to first while in flight.

Hot damn!
More pictures from the yankees game will be posted tomorrow, but for now, the exterior of McKechnie Field....
And the Pirates Parrot poking fun at all the golf-loving Floridians.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Pirates vs Yankees, McKechnie Field, March 14

There has been a lot of talk about this being a career year for Lastings Milledge, and I am solidly in agreement. On this past sunday when Milledge nailed a line drive deep to left field off of a CC Sabathia pitch, I felt like my beliefs were justified.

Just look at the smile on his face.

Milledge has had a reputation for being immature and perhaps overly arrogant; many people were justifiably nervous about the Nyger Morgan trade that brought him to Pittsburgh. However, from the moment he got here, it would seem that Milledge is a changed man. Many people, athletes or otherwise, don't realize when they're on their last chance until it's already passed, but there have been no locker room horror stories and Milledge's consistent production was one of the few high points of the end of the Pirates' last season.

Milledge had an easy single off of the Sabathia pitch, but then a Yankee made an error, guaranteeing Milledge a double. Unfortunately, Milledge thought he would try for third. He did not succeed. I do not have pictures of Milledge getting ran down between second and third because I am not a professional photographer and was too shocked to remember to work the camera. However, he managed to laugh it off. If it was me with my personality, I would have seriously considered retirement, so good on him.

I do not remember Milledge looking this sad and dejected after the discussion with Beasley about his grave miscalculation, but this picture has a definite "awww" quality to it. Fortunately, Milledge got two hits and a walk in this game, and it looks as though this year might be all kinds of amazing for him. Let's hope!

Andy LaRoche moments from hitting the pitch that will graze Sabathia's glove, partially causing him to be taken out of the game midway through the inning.

Short Stop Ronnie Cedeno made a great steal for second in this game, but unfortunately destabilized Robinson Cano in the process. Cano attempted to regain his balance by stepping on Cedeno's hand (cleats!) and still fell right on top of the poor guy. This is a picture of him leaving the game due to the resulting laceration. Luckily the injury was not serious, and he is playing again as of today.

Derek Jeter swinging and missing a Charlie Morton pitch, who went on to strike him out.

A very expressive Andrew McCutchen expressing his displeasure with the referee's called strike.

The great CC Sabathia looking almost humble for a moment...

...And then grinning like the devil.

Morton pitching.

Morton on the pitcher's mound.

And finally, Jonathan Albaladejo. This guy is supposed to be a decent relief pitcher, but this guy looked wan as hell in this game. He allowed five runs and ended the game with a 45.00 ERA. Just look at these pictures; I'm no doctor, but that pallor is not the kind of thing you expect to see on an athlete. Party less, my friend.

Pirates City Day 1, Sunday March 14

This is the entrance to Pirates City. I was very surprised to see the extent to which fans are granted access to the players and the coaches.

This is the entrance to the main area from which one can view the five different practice fields. Only a yellow chain separates the coaches and players from the fans, and they will frequently sit on the bleachers next to people like me. For a baseball fan, I can't think of anything better; anyone who is interested in the inner-workings of spring practice needs to go to one of these.

Most of the players at Pirates City were unknown to me. Some, like Tony Sanchez or Starling Marte, I had previously read about. Neil Walker, however, I was rather familiar with. He's from Pittsburgh and seems like a good guy from the few interviews I've heard him give, but he really hasn't worked out at the major league level, and with LaRoche at 3rd base, things look rather bleak. It does seem like he's doing quite a bit better this spring as opposed to his last two, however, so here's hoping that something clicks for him.

Immediate aftermath of an unexpected bunt fail featuring Pirates minor-league catcher Luke Carlin (unsure of which specific affiliation). The Pirates scheduled a "B Game" with Baltimore that was played at Pirates City.

Various Orioles.

I don't know the name of the Orioles player who pitched the first few innings, but he was lights-out. Here is a rare example of a Pirate batter making contact with one of his pitches.

Post-swinging strike reaction shot.