As many of you know, I usually sit in the first row of the Fish Tank. For those of you unfamiliar with the seating arrangements at JRS, the Fish Tank is what would normally be referred to as the bleachers at most ballparks - it's the seats in center and right-center field.
One of the perks of these seats is that players regularly throw balls into them. At my first game this season, the first ball I saw thrown into the crowd was caught by a young boy in the seat next to me (I so totally could have reached out and grabbed it before he could have, but that would have been so wrong).
It's mostly gone that way all this year: balls have come close to me, but I'd just feel wrong taking one from a kid.
Last night was different. After Pierre and Cabrera warmed up before the first inning, JP threw a ball into my section - but a few rows above me. Some chump with a glove (!) dropped the lob and it bounced off a young lady in the row beneath him. From there it rolled across a row and then bounced down to mine - ultimately landing in a puddle between my feet. There were hardly any people around, so I kept the ball. After drying it off, and inspecting it a little, I was disappointed to see that it was marked "practice" right on the sweet spot (without that it would have made for a nice autograph ball).
The game hadn't yet started, but I already had a good feeling.
This is going to get really long, so click read more.
(But before I can get into that - here's an aside about my last ball experience in the Fish Tank: last year, Beer God and I arrived early for a game against the Reds so that we could watch Griffey take BP. When Griffey finally took his turn, Beer God was on his cellphone while I was transfixed on Junior. Soon after he stepped into the cage Junior ripped a screaming liner that was coming straight at us. This wasn't your typical home run ball. There was no majestic arc; it was simply a 400-something foot line drive. You know how when a ball is hit really hard it makes a sound as it comes at you? Well this was one of those balls. I think it was screaming "ijustgottaggedbyafuturehalloffameranditsurehurtlikehellgetoutofthewaygetoutoftheway". But there was no time to get out of the way.
The only thing that could be done was to try to catch it. So I tried. But I failed -- I know, I know - there is no try, only do. The ball bounced off of my hand and rattled around the seats between Beer God and I. Beer God picked up the ball, looked at me, and laughed. He then proceeded to give the ball to a young man who had walked up and begged for it.
Mind you, he gave the ball away before he inquired as to my well being (which at that time wasn't so great - my hand was fairly swollen). I wouldn't have minded this very much if the kid who was begging for the ball wasn't so ginormous.
Now, don't get me wrong - he was definitely a kid. The kind of a kid that Miguel Cabrera is. He looks like a kid - facially at least, but he's a hulk of a person at the same time. Actually, that's a disservice to the size of this "kid". He was huge. If he's not going to be playing tackle for the Canes this year, it's only because he's in an NFL camp somewhere already.
So, needless to say, I was a little miffed at Beer God for giving my ball away to someone who was bigger than me (I know - I should have just caught it). But last night - after JP's ball made it to me - I felt better about the whole thing.
Sorry for the long aside.)
I was so happy to see Dontrelle pitch well last night. I was worried that he'd really hit the wall and was done for the year. Last night gave me hope. Maybe too much hope. It's too much to hope that he can really pitch like that for the rest of the season.
What was the deal with McKeon pulling him in the top of the 8th? He came out, warmed up, and then Jack made the pitching change. Why did he bother to have Dontrelle come out? It didn't force the Pirates to use a pinch hitter. Dontrelle was going to get credit for the win (assuming the Fish held the lead) regardless. I must have missed something, because I just didn't get it.