So after being back at West Virginia for a a weekend I haven’t had time to write an entry as you can tell.
Maybe I should have stopped writing for a few days more during the season.
The Battling Buccos have been on quite the roll. Pittsburgh swept the Brewers in a 3 game set and over the weekend took 2 of 3 from the Reds. I’ve been folowing itently on this run, much to the dismay of my friends and roomates. I hear a bunch of “Come on, it’s the Pirates”, “who cares” and “Theyre out of it anyway”. But my Friday and Saturday night was fixated watching these players develop in a crucial series in terms of NL Central Standings. The Reds and Pirates flip flopped throughout the weekend in the race for 5th place. The Pirates are now in the cellar with a record of 51-71. 20 games out of a .500 record. When I put it like that it sounds ugly. Attrocious actually. Especially after a prediction of 85 wins after the Home Opener victory against the Astros. My friends called me crazy and comprimised on my prediction. My WVU buddy, Andrew, gave me the benefit of the doubt giving me a 75 win plateau. For every win over 75 he will owe me a dollar, and for every loss under-I owe him a dollar. Fairly innocent and resonable. There is still enough time in the season for a run much like the 5-win run that occured over the weekend. I still watch the games intently for that sole reason and the reason for future development.
This is one of my favorite pictures captured throughout the entire season. Maybe its because of teh vintage unis. Which I love by the way, Some say they are disgusting, others say they are pajamas, I say they are classic and they should incorporate them into their combinations, much like the Brewers do with their vintage jerseys. But back to the picture. McCutchen and Jones are the centerpiece of this team now. In his last ten games Cutch has been on base in every game driving in 4 runs in theat span. He holds a .284 batting average and 7 homeruns and 6 triples. He is undoubtebly they best Pirate on the roster and at only 22 years of age you know he is the real deal. There is nobody else touching him in the National League in terms of poise, talent and skill. He should be the runaway favorite for Rookie of the year.
Garret Jones could also be considered a candidate for ROY. He was called up in early June and has been the driving force behind the Pirates power attack. In just over 3 months he has 14 homeruns and flirts with a .300 BA. H ehas trouble getting hits with runners in scoring position-a key stat for individual and team success but no one can complain with his power numbers thus far.
The wildcard in the Pirates offense is Lastings Milledge.
Milledge has the tools for success and very well could become an impact player. Fans have been down on him in recent weeks in liey of his diminishing performance. Milledge came to the Pirates in exchange for Nyjer Morgan. Everyone loved Nyjer, he was a great person and no one could argue his heart and the effort he put forth on the field. When Lastings took over left field people had a right to get down on him. This weekend, he put on a show which included a homerun and a four hit weekend. He opened some eyes and gained some faith that he is the man for the job.
Tonight it is the battle for Pennsylvania. The Philies come to the Burgh for a series. It could get ugly as the Philies need a strong push as they head for the postseason. It is the big news around the campus of WVU. There is a great population of students from Pittsburgh and Philadelphia so the rivalry extends south to West Virginia as well. To surprise the number of Philly fans and earn bragging rights a series win would be fantastic for the Bucs.
On Sunday the Pirates couldn’t nail down the sweep as they fell to the Giants 4-3. Brandon Moss homered for the Bucs and Garrett Jones seems to have fallen back down to earth. He went 0-4 in the game.
The game was lost due to masterful pitching from this guy.
If you can’t tell by the oversized head and miniature body— that is pitcher Matt Cain and that is his bobblehead. Cain was outstanding against Pittsburgh only allowing one run on five hits. He also struck out eight batters.
The Cain bobblehead rests on my night stand next to my bed. Now I’m not the biggest Matt Cain fan, in fact I’m not the biggest Giants fan, but I am a huge fan of the Bay Area of Northern Califonria.
You see each summer my family goes on a vacation. Just like a lot American families we save money, pack our luggage and venture out to a hot tourist spot. We’ve been to the beach and Disney World when we were younger but over the years we’ve tried something new. We now pack our bags and head to a big city, a major league city at that. Our goal is to hit all 30 ballparks as a family sometime in the near future. Prior to this week we have gone to 23 of the 30. After this week we will be at 25. On Tuesday I’m off to Colorado and Arizona. Home of the Rockies and Diamondbacks respectively.
Last summer Northern California was hit with the stops being in San Francisco and Oakland. It was a great trip and one I will remember forever. It was my first time to that part of the state of Cali and I absolutely fell in love with it. The attractions, natural beauty, scenery, climate, ocean life, everything thrown together to make a perfect city.
Below is Zach and I at my second favorite ballpark, ATandT Park in San Fran. It is absolutely breath taking. From the views of the cove, the the splash landing zone, the boats and kayaks from the marina all converge onto the site. It is a dramatic scene for baseball and one of my favorites. That is whats nice about the area. The stadium is in exact coheasion with the city. The society of San Francisco is famous for its arts and laid back style. The ballpark provides that same essence. It was a great place to watch a game. This is where I got the Matt Cain bobblehead. We went to the Giants-Diamondbacks game here on a Sunday in July and lucky enough it was a free giveaway day. I’m a sucker for the free promotional giveaways. I have a room full of Pirates swag that has accumulated over the years. I have bobbleheads from players such as Brian Giles, Jason Kendall, Pokey Reese, Willie Stargell, Roberto Clemente, Rennie Stennett, Jason Bay and Matt Capps. Along with statues of Honus Wagner, plates of Bill Mazeroski, a Pirate Parrot piggy bank and a Roberto Clemente locker, and plenty more. The Matt Cain bobblehead earned a spot on the coveted night stand of myself.
From San Fran we traveled across the Bay to Oakland. Quite the dropff if I do say so myself.
Network Associates Coliseum is a dump. You’ve seen the wide open spaces and large seating bowl is just an eye sore. It lacks the intimate setting that baseball was meant to be played in. Plus it doubling as a football stadium doesn’t help the matter. Oakland too is a big dropoff from the lovely city of San Francisco. It was quite scarry and ominous right outside the stadium. We took the subway back to our lovely, plush hotel in SF, keeping to ourselves on a train full of hooligans, hooligans to say the least.
Whats great about our vacations is that their not just about baseball. As much as we love the sport and enjoy going to the games it is nice to take in what that city has to offer. We make a week out of the trips and have fun at stops along the way.
Another tactic is trying to get more than one stadium out each trip. We did a Texas trip one year, from there we hit the two Missouri stadiums and up to Minnesota and Milwaukee. We are flying into Denver tomorrow, spending a few day in the Colorado area. On Tuesday we will be at the Rockies-Diamondbacks game. A trend is occuring with them D-Backs doesn’t it seem. Then we will be renting a car and driving to the state of Arizona. We are stopping at the 4 Corners out there and taking in the Grand Canyon. Over the weekend we will be at the Diamondbacks games against the……PITTSBURGH PIRATES. I am very pumped for this. As I’ve said before I love being an opposing fan in a ballpark, especially with the Pirates. I am looking forward to being one of the only Bucco Boys in attendance. I’m hoping to head down to the dugouts to talk with some players and get balls and autographs. It will be great to have an alterior motive at this game. Everything changes when the Buccos are playing.
It will be my first time in the state of Colorado but I have been to Arizona before.
That is me in second grade. I was eight years old then in 1997. My mom and dad took me out there for a convention my father attended. It was great because I got to miss a week of school. Nothing better than that, every little kid knows that. We spent a week in Tuscon and at the grand Canyon. I am exciting to be back at the marvelous attraction once again. Because I do not remember a thing about it except for the helicopter ride we took over the canyon, in which I got sick, right there on teh ride. Can’t ya see why I really didn’t wish to remember it. If you notice atop my head is the original Diamondbacks logo. I got this hat on that trip and loved it so much. You see, there were only 28 teams back then and the Diamondbacks were just gearing up for their innagural season. It would have been cool to see them in their first season in existence, but 12 years later, I know I will appreciate the ballgame so much more.
I’m all packed and ready to go and this may be my last entry for this week. If there is a business center at any of our hotels I will try to get on with some updates from my trip. I would take my laptop but it is a hassle and all, especially going through secuirty. Plus what I love about a vacation is that seperation from the real world. I want nothing to worry about. I don’t want distractions from work, friends, facebook and those problems. I left them in the terminal at the Pittsburgh International Airport. On vacation I’m free, in a new place, making memories and sharing experiences.
Fresh off a four day break from baseball the Pittsburgh Pirates returned from their reunions with family and friends and set up shop back in PNC Park. The Giants were in town and so were the Peaslee men.
My brother, Zach, my father, Rick, and myself went to Pittsburgh for a nice Friday evening of baseball and fun. You’re probably wondering why I would let my brother wear a Giants shirt. After all he too is a die-hard Pirates fan and bleeds black and gold. Once you see the back you may understand the method behind his madness.
You see Zach is a big fan of the Giant’s pithcer and National League All-Star starting pitcher Tim Lincecum, but then again who isn’t? I, too am a big fan. The lanky hurler is a fresh face for the MLB and is turning into the elite name in all of baseball. At just 24 year sold he has been captivating the baseball nation ove rthe past few years. He has been on the cover of countless magazines and is the cover of the video game, MLB 2k9. Lincecum is featured on a commercial for Major League baseball being shown as just a down home guy, my type of baseball player. He is here for strict love of the game and the fact that he plays so well and i so dominating makes his aura even better.
On the ride the park we tuned in to the local sports talk radio station. Ellis Cannon, sports talk personality in Pittsburgh spoke wonders about Lincecum and the entire Giants franchise. He was raving and had every right to. The Giants are so much improved this year. A big part of the success is their home grown talent. Some the Pirates are looking to do—–build from within. Players like pitchers Lincecum and Matt Cain and third baseman Pablo Sandoval have all risen up through the system and are striving over time in the San Francisco clubhouse.
Players like that will continue to shinebecause they are young and have a whole career ahead of them. Who knows what is to come?. The sky is the limit. Maybe sometime Tim Lincecum himself will turn into a bigger international legend than he already is, maybe even have a parking garage floor named after him like this guy…..
Roberto Clemente! The Great One will forever be remembered for his heroics on and off the
field. In Pittsburgh he is highyl regarded in the community with many parks, monuments and even a bridge named for him. In the parking garage right outside PNC Park you too can take part in celebrating his life, by parking on the 7th floor. The ten floor parking garage features ten diffrent Pittsburgh sports legends. For just 12 dollars to park you can honor you rfavorite legend. Players such as Tony Dorsett, Franco Harris, Dan Marino and Andy Van Slyke all are honored. It is my favorite place to park in the city. It is always fun parking on a different floor to see which player you will end up with.
As we walked to the park it was drizzling. Not a heavy rain but enough to suspend play. The game was slated to start at 7:05 but wound up beginning at 7:50. From the gates we passed through we were handed beach towels, it was beach towel night. The perfect give away item on a rainy day. They were perfect to wipe off the damp seats. From the main home plate gate we ran out to center field, our destination was the bullpen. We wanted to catch a glimpse of the freak known as Tim Lincecum as he was warming up. We were greeted with a throng of people out there and Zach even met his match.
The man in the authentic Lincecum jersey had to be in his mid-50s. He was watching Tim warm up, analyzing his throws and capturing it all on his state of the art camcorder. We figured it was either his father (who is shown on that MLB commercial) or a big creep out to follow his every move. Either or he was a die hard fan. There were close to 30 people at the bullpen awaiting Lincy’s arrival. It was pretty cool, everyone was anticpating a big celebrity like the Pope. But it was just Tim Lincecum, but either way he was quite the spectacle.
Once he entered the bullpen many people started flashing their pictures. He had his trademarked crazy windup going all out. He through some nice strikes to the bullpen catcher. He was ready for action looking to improve from his mediocre showing at the All-Star game.
When his name was announced and he enetered the game a large cheer went up from the Pittsburgh crowd. Everybody knows who he is and like I said before you can’t not like this kid. I was surprised with the amount of Giants fans in the crowd. If you’ve ever looked at a map you can see how far San Francisco is from Pittsburgh, a good 3,000 miles. Whether it was actual Northern Californians or just bandwagon fans I won’t know. But I saw double digit numbers of Lincecum shirts and jeresys as well as many Bonds jerseys. I will admit that I have a soft spot for the Giants and the whole Bay Area vicinity, I will explain that later, back to the game last night.
It wa steh definition of a pitcher’s duel. Paul Maholm took the hill for the Pirates and had his most successful outing of the season. Maholm only allowed 4 hits and struck out 7 batters over 7 innings of work. Lincecum duplicated Maholm’s success only allowing 5 hits and striking out 7 of his own. Lincy did get shaken up a bit in the first inning when Garret Jones went deep to straight away center for his 6th dinger of the season. The one nothing score would remain like that until the 7th inning when the Giants tied it thanks to an error on a stolen base attempt. The one-one tie would last beyond the regular nine innings as this one headed to extras.
The extra frames were excruciating No team could do anything. Popouts, groundouts and strikeouts were all wer were able to see, from both teams. Nobody really threatened and the game looked like it would never end. During an inning break we went to the bathroom, and used it as an excuse to stretch our legs. It takes a toll on the body sitting for that long. The entertainment crew took note of that as well and played “Take me out to the Ballgame” AGAIN in the middle of teh 14th. I’ve never heard it twice in a game before.
On our bathroom trip Zach stopped at a souvineer stand and picked up this beauty.
A $27 dollar Andre McCutchen T-shirt. A fabulous item of clothing in my mind. I would die to have one honestly. But at $27 dollars that is a little pricy. Zach made the case that he only has one other Pirate shirt and he wanted to be one of the first people to own a McCutchen shirt. Now as much as I love Cutch, I’m sorry but I just got to save my money. He will most definately enjoy the shirt and wear it proudly. It is just too bad Andrew did not notice as he went 0-5 in the game.
The bottomof teh 14th game and Garret Jones stepped up to the plate and finished what he started. Jones blasted a Bob Howry pitch into the Allegheny River for the walk off win. I couldn’t believe it. As soon as he made contact I knew it was gone. It was a surreal momment. I gradually stood up and just raised my hands in the air. It was the perfect ending to a great night at the ballpark. There’s nothing I love more than a walk off win and the mobbing that comes at home plate.
There have been just 2 Pirate walk off wins this year and I’m proud to say I have been in attendance at both. Jones’ accomplishments at the plate this year have been next to unbelievable. He was 15 hits, 7 of which are home runs. He is an absolute beast. It is great for him, the team and the fans but sooner or later he is bound to cool down. When that happens it will be interesting to see if he can sustain himself at the major league level. The Pirates now stand at 39-50 on the year.
7:05– Bucco game starts. Excitement runs through my veins as another Philies-Pirates game begins. I enjoy this cross state rivalry and look forward to the games each year.
7:15- Pirate right fielder Garret Jones launches a home run to right field. I was skeptical of Jones at first. He never did intrigue me. He has since proven me wrong. Since his time in the big leagues he has connected with the ball well and been an asset in the outfield. He showed tonight that he has the power that the Pirates need.
7:18- Delwyn Young homers to left field. I love Young. He seems like a good guy with a nice personality and a good fit in the clubhouse. He brings a fire and passion to the team and always seems to get on base. A home run from him is always welcome.
7:48- Andrew McCutchen continues the trend and blasts an HR to left field. I had actually called this homerun. With Adam LaRoche on first I was ready for him to score. I figured no time like the present. I said Cutch is due for a dinger and he delievered right on cue. With a 5-0 lead I figured the Pirates had this game in the bag.
9:07- The Pirates got 2 more runs here in the 7th in thanks to a handful of miscues by the Philadelphia defense. Garret Jones drew a walk scoring Jack Wilson. Later in the inning Ryan Doumit knocked in McCutchen to earn his first RBI since returning to the big league club.
9:40- With the Pirates in the field and the Philies searching for any form of life at the plate Jack WIlson showcased his glove making a diving, over the shoulder catch in mid left field robbing Shane Victorino of a hit. Being the always aware, always attentive shortstop he is, Wilson flung the ball over to LaRoche at first doubling up Jimmy Rollins. It was an amazing play and sure to be a web gem and top 10 play on tomorrows ESPN broadcasts.
10:00- Matt Capps comes in with a 7-3 lead. I am always weary of these situations. I’m talking baout when a closer is brought in during a non-save situation. Capps had a little breathing room so I was sure he could seal the deal and give the bucs a win.
10:02- Just a few minutes after coming into the game Capps gave up a solo shot to Matt Stairs. I wasn’t worried yet. I like Matt Stairs, he too is a good guy and a fan favorite no matter where he plays. With the Pirates in 2003 he hit 20 homeruns. He leads all current MLBers with 18 pinch hit homeruns.
10:11- Ryan Howard steps to the plate with 2 men on and one out. This was the first meeting between Howard and Capps. Howard took advantage of the Big Bull Rider and absolutely blasted a shot over the centerfield fence. With one swing of the bat the game was tied and another chapter was written in Howard’s legacy book.
10:22- Ten minutes later the ball game was over. The bases were loaded and Paul Bako singled to left field scoring Raul Ibanez, who would be the dreadful winning run.
With the loss the Pirates slip to 11 games under .500. There is little hope for the rest of the season. There is also little hope for the future of Matt Capps. It is inexcuseable for a closer of his nature to blow a game like this. The Bucs recently brought in Joel Hanrahan from the Nationals. I do believe they have plans for him in the pen as a closer here in the near future.
Ryan Doumit performed well in just his second game back from the DL. He was 0-4 in his first game but turned it around tonight with 2 doubles.
Andy LaRoche turned on the jets when he laced a triple in the 8th inning. I did not realize it but it was his 4th triple of the year.
Andrew McCutchen had a heck of a game. He had 2 hits, one being the HR, a stolen base and scored. This is the kind of production we need from him in the leadoff spot.
Virgil Vazquez will square off against J.A. Happ tomorrow for game 3 of the series when Pittsburgh hopes to avoid the sweep.
Who woulda thunk our Bucco’s would be in first place? Currently the Pirates are 6-1 in Grapefruit league play and sit right at the top of the standings. Pittsburgh has played good ball all spring long. Clutch hitting and timely pitching performance from the starters has been key early on this spring.
In yesterday’s game aginst the Twins, Andy LaRoche stepped up in the 5th inning with a 2 run shot that would be the dagger for Minnesota. In most games 2 runs would surely not be enough to get the dubs, but thanks to a superb start from Tom Gorzo and a nice outing from new face Chris Bootcheck the Buccos were able to cap off a solid win.
Today (3/5) the Pirates face an NL central rival in the Reds. The starting lineup features many familiar faces that will be penciled in on the opening day roster. However, four minor leaguers will get their shot at big league competition. 1B Garret Jones, C Robinson Diaz, 2B Shelby Ford and SS Brian Bixler. Although Bixler has gotten his shot many times last season he will give it another go this spring to redeem himself.
Jones and Diaz intrigue me. Not alot of fanfare has been pronounced for these two youngins. The Pirates are in need of a quality backup for Doumit, Diaz may just be the ticket. Jones has had a solid spring in his few chances. With Adam solidly at first and Steve Pearce gritting his teeth at the chance, Jones could look to give some competition at first. Ford has been deemed the 2nd baseman of the future and according to Baseball America he will be at the helm by ’11. Today all 4 players will bat at the end of teh lineup. It’ll be interesting to see how they’ll fare against Red’s starter Nick Masset…also gunning for his spot in the big show.