I had a checklist with two short requests heading into the 2010 season. The first was to have the Pirates finish the year with thier first winning season since 1992. With an All-Star break record of 30-58 that doesn’t look like a possibility now.
My other note was to have the National League dethrone the American League during the mid-summer classic. My NL boys did just that in last night’s 3-1 victory. Thanks to Brian McCann the Senior Circuit (why has the NL always been called the Senior Circuit? It’s not like the PGA Champions League) won thier first All-Star game since 1996. So check and mate on getting one of my two wishes granted.
The Brave’s catcher’s 3-run double provided the only relative excitment in an otherwise boring game. The only run scored by the AL was un earned.
Not only was this game excruciating to watch, it dissapointed me on two seperate levels.
First off the lone Pirates representative did not even sniff the field. Evan Meek was not even called on to warm up in the bullpen. This has been the second straight year a Pirate’s representative has not seen game action. Last year Freddy Sanchez and Zach Duke went to St. Louis and were held out of the lineup.
Manager Charlie Manuel led the NL squad both years and refused to play a Pirate. Now obviously nobody outside of myself and a handful of others around Pittsburgh cared to see Evan Meek play, but he dang well deserved to be in Anaheim. I still think Andrew McCutchen was the better choice but Meek is having an All-Star caliber year. His ERA is the lowest among MLB relievers. People criticize him because he is a no-name but team’s will be salivating to trade for him around the July 31st trade deadline. He is a nice guy who I had the pleasure of meeting at the Pirate’s Caravan event in the winter. If only Manuel wasn’t bitter at the fact the Pirates recently took 3 of 4 from his Philies he would have given Meek a shot to enjoy his first ever All-Star game.
My other pet peeve about last night can be summed up in two words-Ryan.Braun.
If anybody follows me on twitter I was very critical of my least favorite baseball player calling him out from the very beginning last night. He looked lost and the plate and missed an easy fly ball in right field, I blamed him for not hustling. However, it was Braun who got the last laugh as he pulled off a beauty of a diving catch a few innings later.
I had the pleasure of watching the game with family and good friends at Jerome Bettis Grille in Pittsburgh. It is one of my favorite eateries and bars in the Steel City and reccommed the food and atmosphere to any one passing by.
There my dad, brother and friends Andrew and Ed watched the 81st mid summer classic. We basically stayed until the game was over and the bar shut down at midnight. We anticipated the start as we were anxious in our seats but the real spectacle came in our attire.
On our Spring Break trip to Cooperstown Andrew and I purchased these old umpire hats with the respective leagues on them. We had a friendly competition as I cheered for the National League and Andrew, being a Yankee fan wore his American League emblem proudly.
We were a loud and rambunctious bunch watching the game, seeming to be the only ones in the joint that cared. I was the only one to stand and cheer for Meek when he was introduced. My brother, Zach, answered the pre-game trivia question.The bartender asked who was is the Pirates representative? After crickets sounded Zach went up and won himself a free t-shirt.
With the All-Star break nearing an end the second half brings anticipation and hop for a more successful age of this Pirates Generation. While the Pirates are hosting the Astros this weekend my family and I will be on vacation in the Sunshine State of Florida.
It was the moment I have been waiting for since the date was announced back in December. The Pirates Caravan rolled into Morgantown West Virginia to appease the 125 fans waiting for them at Damons. On top of having a great selection of barbecued items, Damons was gracious enough to host the Morgantown stop for the caravan.
The event began at noon, perfect timing for my 19 credit hour semester. I had a class at 9:30-11 and my next was not until 2:30. There was nothing greater than having my normal lunch break along side some of my favorite players. Manager John Russell, relievers Evan Meek and Kevin Hart, center fielder Andrew McCutchen and broadcasters Greg Brown and Bob Walk and the Pirate Parrot came to the event.
My buddy Andrew and I arrived at the restaurant ten minutes before noon and took our seats. We scouted the crowd and realized we were the only two college students among the fans. Weird considering Morgantown is a full fledged college town, but also understandable because this generation of Pirate fans really ceases to exist. I am of a rare breed and even Andrew (who is a die-hard Orioles fan) considers himself a bigger Pirate fan than most baseball fans in this area. I agree with him whole heartedly.
As we dined on our pulled pork sandwiches we were joined by two familiar faces, fellow WVU students in the journalism school. Although I give them credit for being at the event they were self proclaimed “not Pirates fans.” However, they had a good time and admitted that they would follow along because they do support the Penguins and Steelers.
“Look at this sell out crowd!” he said in a joyous tone. I turned to Andrew and said, “He doesn’t get to say that very often” A reference to the infamous spotty crowds that PNC Park is accustomed to.
However, he got the ball rolling introducing Meek, Hart, McCutchen, Russell and Walk to us all. Each Bucco member gave a minute long introduction and expressed their gratitude along with aspirations for the coming season.
While everyone pretty much sugar coated how great the upcoming season is going to be it did give me up. Hearing John Russell speak is not the most exciting thing in the world. He speaks softly with a monotone voice and it really could put you to sleep. However, he did seem excited with an intimate group of fans in front of him, but still maintained the montotone clarity, or lack there of.
The crowd cheered the loudest for this guy.
No, not Andrew, o wait, yes Andrew. McCutchen that is, not Schuerholz. When his name was announced there were hoops and hollers. Many questions were directed his way including one of my own. I asked a question opened to all on the panel but only Cutch answered. I asked, “Who was the most missed player traded last season?” A genral question without getting too in depth. I was more interested in what Russell had to say, but he did not answer. Meek was hurt most of last season and Hart came to Pittsburgh mid season by way of the Tom Gorzelanny/John Grabow to the Cubs trade. I did not expect them to form too tight of a relationship with the current Bucs. It was obvious that McCutchen said Nyjer Morgan, I knew it was coming. It was well documented back in Spring Training of 2009 that the duo were best buds and forming great chemistry that rubbed off on the rest of the team. I was happy when a large smile grew on Cutch’s face when talking about Morgan.
I ended up collecting many autographs which are displayed below.
Evan Meek, Kevin Hart, Andrew McCutchen, Bob Walk, Greg Brown and John Russell all signed these beautiful picture cards. Each year I have been a Pirate fan these cards are passed out throughout the year. Usually they are just headshots of the players on a small sized card. This year has one of the best sets of these cards I have seen. The McCutchen pose is one of my favorites. He is thrusting his arm towards the air in celebration after one of his home runs.
The shrine dedicated to McCutchen is one of my favorite. I had him autograph a ball on the sweet spot a picture card that was provided and the November issue of Baseball America which features Andrew on the cover, I had the card signed during a game at PNC Park earlier this year.
It was an awesome hour and a half, we had a great time. This weekend I have another Pirates event coming my away. Pirates Fest is taking place in Pittsburgh, my WV buddies plan on going up Sunday. The event begins Friday night and concludes Sunday. Talk about an awesome Pirates week!
Here are some more photos from the day:
The autograph line
Andrew McCutchen and me. Too bad Andrew Schuerholz couldn’t have taken a better pitcture from a better angle.
Announcer Greg Brown and myself posing for the camera. I explained to him about my journalism aspirations and that I hope to take his job someday. He was very encouraging and a down to earth fellow.
The Pirate Parrot made an appearance and brought laughter to the party.
Thank you all for letting me share this experience with you all!
Last night’s loss was tough to swallow. It was a comeback wasted after Milwaukee destroyed the Buc’s bullpen torching the staff for 5 runs. Jeff Karstens began the game and lobbed 3 homerun balls to Ryan Braun, Rickie Weeks and Mike Cameron respectively. Jesse Chavez first relieved Karstens in the 6th and did a quality job. Chavez looked demanding and controlling getting batts to pop up. At the beginning of the year I questioned the move to make him a go-to-guy out of the pen, but he has since proved me wrong. Tyler Yates on the other hand has proved me right. I’ve never been a fan of the guy and he has given me no real reason to support him.
Yates has a record of 0- on the young season, the loss coming in last night’s game, and a dismal era of 9.95. In only 6.1 innings pitched he has walked 4 batters, given up 7 earned runs and has successfully made me cringe and sweat upon his appearances on the mound.
John Grabow was a surprise failure in yesterday’s game. Grabow was able to just retire one batter as he was just all over the place walking 2 batters and earning two runs.
The only key reliever was Evan Meek, throwing a full inning Meek struck out two batters. Meek deserves more of a tip of the cap from our organization. After beginning the year in Indy Meek has stepped in and done an unfathomable good job. Not allowing a run in two appearances and giving me confidence whenever he steps on the mound. It would pay great dividends to keep him up here, even when Craig Hansen returns from the DL. Yates should be the one sent down.
The bullpen of the Nationals has also been abysmal. Thats right it’s time for another installment of WELL’S WATCH.
It was a tight game between the Nats and Philies last night, a 13-11 slugfest that was ultimately won by the Phils. With the score close and the Nats within striking distance Kipper was called on to keep Philly in check. Which he did masterfully. Wells went one strong inning and struck out two batters.
So far on the year Kip has appeared in four games and has only suffered one earned run. Three strikeouts in only 4 innings pitched, two hits in only four innings pitched and no homeruns in only 4 innings pitched. Hey in my book, thats solid. He’s been solid without a doubt and looks like he’s really coming around. The bullpen is definately the spot for him. Looks like we should have utilized him out of the pen, instead of throwing him in the starting role like a chicken with his head cut off.