I held that sign with great pride and honor last week in Arizona and even today, amidst all the so called damage that has been done-my bucco banner waves proudly. The madness still seems to continue as the Pirates delt away two solid pitchers in John Grabow and Tom Gorzelanny. We got 3 decent looking young arms in return but as of now they are no where near the caliber of Grabow and Gorzo. But the most important thing here is not the return, its the giving away. With the trades of the two pitchers yesterday the Pirates have now traded a good majority of their major league roster. Some say its ludicous. “What are the Pirates doing?”-they bellow. “Huntington you’re an idiot”-they scream. “You’re breaking up the team and the clubhouse.”-they whine. And quite honestly, I don’t get. Its a mixed bag indeed, I really don’t know how to feel about it all in fact I couldn’t sleep last night trying to organize and dissect everything that went down. Jack and Freddy are gone. The dynamic duo of the double play. Fan favorites for many years and now they are traded away. What fans need to realize is that its time they moved on. Its how the major league system works. We did’nt win with them and we have a better shot of winning without them. Thats the main point here. People question whats going on and act like their breaking up such a great team. This is the team thats hasn’t had a winning season in 17 years! They’re not the ’27 Yankees. (a quote from Huntington the GM himself). He is trying to build a winner here, a winning organization through and through. He is making these moves for the team can be better. There isn’t a way he could do that keeping players such as Adam LaRoche, Jack Wilson, John Grabow, etc. They have all been replaced that guys that will be capable of actually righting the ship with a breath of fresh air. It may take time, we’ve had patience for more than enough years another year of losing won’t be all that bad, but in two years with experience under their belt the talent they recived will blossom and turn this team into a true winner-and keep them in the compettive ranks for more years to come.
Whew! now that thats over I have been looking forward to sharing details from my trip to Arizona. From Colorado we rented a car and drove to AZ. It was a nice ride that lasted nearly 14 hours. Its tough work meandering through the middle of nowwhere. We would drive for miles and miles of straight barren wasteland. Although it was field with many cool natural sights that I’m not used to here on the East Coast.
The states of Arizona, Utah, New Mexico and Colorado make up the Four Corners. It was a nifty little sidetrip we took so we could tell our of our friends that we were in four states at once. We meandered down long dirt roads that looked like there would be no end in sight to make it to the landmark, but upon our arrival the reward was perfect. It was a coll little area run by native Americans as a tourist spot.
We then visited the natural crown jewel of Arizona and perhaps the entire continental U.S., the Grand Canyon. I was awestruck by the scene and dazzled by the history of this place. It was so real that it was almost fake. (if that makes any sense). It was like a large canvas painting hanging there right in front of me. It was absolutely spectacular. It woul have been cool to be like the Brady Bunch and ride a burrow down the canyon. Not only was it too hot, I wouldn;t trust a little donkey carrying me down hundreds of yards.
From the Grand Canyon we ventured to the capital of AZ, Pheonix and the main reason for our vacation.
Chase Field was also the center point as it was the 25th ballpark I have seen a game in. (just 5 more to go to complete all 30). I was very impressed with what they have there in downtown Pheonix. I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about the retractable roof, I am a purist and believe baseball should be played outdoors. The roof actually made this park much more exciting. The lighting and all made for an unforgettable atmosphere. It felt like I was at a basketball game with the lighting and sound. It was the most exciting setting I have been a part of to tell you the truth. Their intro video was so thrilling it honestly gave me chills.
They claim to be the most unique venue in all of Major League Baseball, and I am one to attest to that. There is so much to see and do around the park. From the concession stands that feature a wide variety of different ballpark concessions, to aswesome deals in their souveneer shops (7 bucks for a hat, 5 for a t-shirt) to an array of different seating venues this ballpark had it all, including….
A POOL! A freaking POOL. How cool is that? I know I’ve seen it on TV and it looked awesome being right there in front of it was incredible. A homerun landed right in it over the weekend too. Talk about a real splash ball. Only problem was I wasn’t allowed in it. Security was watching it like a hawk and made sure it was reserved only for those “special” guests that were part of a party.
Before the game one day we went down right as the gates opened to get as close to our Bucco heroes as possible. To our surprise we were surrounded by many other Pirate die hards. Some made the trip from the east coast. Some were locals of the southwest who just love the black and gold. It was great to see such a strong and loyal following watching the Buccos. It just goes to show you how great a Pirates comeback would be. Thats the awesome part about-nobody hates the Pirates-in fact there are many closet Pirates fans in the world. A couple grown men were talking to us saying how much their families loved the Pirates back in the 70’s, they were truly America’s team with their fun style and personable, colorful players. Pittsburgh truly lost a whole generation and more of potential fans with this nearly two decade long losing streak. Any hint of competitiveness will boost the Pirates back where they belong-national glory.
The current players, well current as of last week, were so forthright and honest with the fans. My brother and I nabbed a bunch of autographs from the players and took pictures with a lot of them too.
Starting pitcher Charlie Morton. I really like this guy. He said he loves it in Pittsburgh and should be a mainstay in our rotation for a few years. He has a lot of potential and has been making strides to earn his success.
The Mad Capper! Our closer who has been quite up and down this year seems to be the most genuine guy on the team. He made sure every fan recieved a picture and autogrpah before he went into the clubhouse. He stayed out for a good hour just chatting away. While I haven’t been too fond of his performance on the field this year he truly earned my respect as a person.
Paul Maholm has recently earned the title of longest tenured Pirate. At such a young age he is the vetran prescence in the clubhouse. He made light of the situation the Pirates were going through by saying “it seems like we’re all on the block.” It has to be tough to see your teammates and friends shipped out, it has to be weird in the clubhouse. However I think that the adversity will bring the new faces closer together and unite in soon to come victories.
The weekend of games did not go so well for the Bucs. The Jolly Roger was only raised once-that was on Friday. They were blown on Thursday 11-4 and were blanked on Saturday and Sunday, 7-0 and 9-0 respectively. Nonetheless, it was an aswesome time. We met some cool players, amazing fans and saw a great ballpark.
Before leaving Chase Field I had to voice my displeasure with D-Backs starting pitcher Brandon Webb. He has been injured all season and is surely missed on the field. He was the number one pick by myself in my fantasy league and had he been healthy my team would be near the top of the standings. I found a replacement for him in Kevin Slowey of the Twins, but he too is injured, for the rest of the season in fact. Maybe I’m just bad luck.
All in all I cam eaway extremely impressed with Chase Field, The Diamondbacks organization, and the city and fans of Arizona. It is a nicely run ballpark and organization. They haven’t had a great season this year but it is all part of the ups and downs of MLB baseball. I have a greater found respect for retractable roof stadiums. WIthout it there in Arizona they surely would not be a baseball team. Its too darn hot!
Tonight is a big game for the Pirates. They host the Washington Nationals. Even though national pundits are banging the Pirates for everything top to bottom. But the show must go on, the game will be played and fans will be treated to a glimpse of the future, a good future. I’m most excited for the homecoming of Nyjer Morgan. I wish I could be there to give him a warm welcome. I can only hope the fans show him the appreciation he showed while he was in Pittsburgh. It is also the black and gold debut for Lastings Milledge. It is a night between the two “laughingstocks” of baseball. Maybe tonight can be a cornerstone and both franchises will put on a good show and team up to turn it all around.
KEEP THE FAITH….GO BUCS