By a show of hands, how many people check the weather reports first thing in the morning?
Well, the fun kept coming last week as Pirates baseball remained fresh on everyone’s mind.
The Pirates took their show throughout the tri-state are of Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia this past week. The region that I like to call “my home.” The Youngstown-Pittsburgh-Morgantown area is where I’ve grown up and have many memories throughout.
Neil Walker. Perhaps, the most famed Bucco currently on the roster, Walker is a hot commodity. A majority of the people at the Uniontown Mall were prepared with cards and photos of Walker while wearing his jersey. A notorious stand up guy Walker was everything and more. Complimentary to everyone who came out and honored by my congratulations to him.
While December remains the “most wonderful time of the year,” this week in January isn’t far behind.
Upon returning from Florida I spent a good two days unpacking and reflecting on a great trip. However just a few days later there was only one place I wanted to be. Can you guess where it was?
My brother and me ventured to Pittsburgh on Saturday anticpating the game between the Padres and Pirates. I needed a nice trip to PNC Park, especially after sitting through a game at the ginormous colisuem known as Sun Life Stadium. One of my favorite things to see when driving to Pittsburgh is on the PA Turnpike.
We would soon find out that we were not the only ones who wanted to enjoy a night at the ballpark.
36,000 others packed the park not to see a good baseball game, but to see a Steve Miller Band concert on the field after the final out was recorded. Not going to lie my brother and I had this hidden agenda as well. We love rocking out to hits “The Joker,” “Jet Airliner”, “Take the Money and Run” and our personal favorite “Swingtown.”
The game was running smoothly but the crowd grew restless. It got annoying. They were not there for baseball they were there for the extra circular activities. The crowd was almost as worse as my experiences with uneducated fans in Miami. There were beach balls flying in the stands, nobody paying one bit of attention to the game and more people were whining about the boring game, the hot weather, just nitpicking everything wrong with the Pirates and the sport of baseball.
I was content as always as my brother and I seemed to be the only ones living and breathing on every pitch. Pirates starter Jeff Karstens was really gunning through five innings looking the best he as all year. It was a classic pitcher’s duel as the Padres Matt Latos looked superb as well.
I’m trying to start a new tradition of keeping score at every game I go to.
I’ve done so sporadically over the years and have to at each West Virginia baseball game. However, I’d love to do it at every major league game I go to. Buy a scorebook to keep all my games, notes and memories together. If I get this rolling I’m sure I will not quit. But the people around me looked at me like I was insane by doing this sacred ritual. I took a lap around the stadium during the game just to get a scope on how PNC was sitting since I last left it. I discovered I was one of only three people keeping score and one of maybe 12 that actually cared about the game.
Well I guess baseball gods heard the nonsense and ramblings as rain came pouring down in buckets.
For a good 45 minutes it was some of the worst rain I have ever seen from the stands at a ballgame.
Surpringly alot of people stuck around. It was the 8th inning when the rain started falling and the game was out of reach at 9-2 Padres. But people still remained. Nobody wanted to miss Steve Miller.
Zach and I did not want to either. However, the game eventually ended at 11 and Steve would not come on the field until 11:30. It was getting late and we had to be up early the next day. But we made a pact to stick around for one song, the first one they would play. Lucky for us it was our favorite, Swingtown!
Not lucky for us we still had a good night, very fun. I’m sure the rest of the 30,00 that stuck around enjoyed their night as well. But I’m sure it was just excruciating for them to sit through that baseball game. And it is just a dang shame.
Now it is hard for even the most die hard fans to sit through a seven run beatdown but that may be the only taste of Pirates baseball those fairweather fans will sample this year and it surely came back sour.
This is not what I hope to see this week. The road trip to Chicago has not been as friendly as hoped for the Bucs. Sunday was an exciting come from behind thriller as the Pirates won 4-3 thanks to a tying homerun by Jack Wilson, his 1st of the season. And the ultimate winning run scored by Nyjer Morgan and hit by Delwyn Young. All the damage was done with the game on the brink in the top of the ninth.
The Pirates only managed 2 hits against Sox pitcher Gavin Floyd in Fridays 2-0 loss. A different story in the pivital game three. Sunday’s win gave the Pirates 16 hits en route to their 20th win of the season.
Pittsburgh now sits at 20-24 on the year and face the Cubs. I have to applaud whoever does the scheduling of teh season games. To hav ethe Pirates stay in Chicago for a six game stretch was very convienent. I’m sure the players appreciate not having to travel across the country but rather across town. I wonder if they just stayed in the hotel this past week? Doubtful because Chicago is a huge city, but nontheless it is a good move.
The Pirates now face the Cubs in an interesting crossroads. The Cubbies have lost 7 in a row. This could be both an advantage and disadvantage facing Pittsburgh. Can the Pirates kick Chicago while their down? Or will Chicago be hungry and feeding on the Pirates?
With all these questions upon us lets take a look at some of the images from Sunday’s dramatic victory at U.S. Cellular Field.
Eric Hinkse filled in at first base for Adam LaRoche. Hinske did things in a big way hitting a ground rule double in the first and a solo homerun in the 8th. The HR was his first of the year. Hinske’s performance should dictate more playing time at first base or anywhere on the diamond.
Starting pitcher Jeff Kaaaaaaarstens had one of his best outings of the year. (I add the aaaaaaar for the dynamic Pirate-sounding effect. Works dont it?) 5.1 innings pitched, 5 hits and 3 earned runs was his stat line. A no-decision but he definately allowed the Bucs to stay in the game.
Jack Wilson connects for his homerun in the top of the ninth. It was his first of the year and it could not have come at a more opportune time. The dinger tied the game at 3 and ultimately boosted the Pirates to score the winning run a few batters latter.
Nyjer Morgan crossed the plate for that winning run thanks to the RBI at the hands of Delwyn Young. The look in Morgan’s eyes and expression on his face sum up the feeling of winning that every player feels after a crucial moment. Morgan, a sprakplug in his own right will help instill the positive and most importantly winning mentality in the minds of the players to continue to win vicoriously.
Outfielder Nate McClouth, Morgan and Brandon Moss gather to celebrate the 4-3 vicotry after Matt Capps shut down the WHite Sox 1-2-3 in the bottom of the ninth. Capps struck out the side en route to his 9th save of the year.
After singing the Blues while witnessing 2 straight losses, I was signing the praises of the Bucs while watching this game on my couch, all part of my ideal lazy Sunday type of afternoon. As this week continues in Chicago I hope to see more jubilation in part to Buc victories, theres nothing like a good win to make your day alot better.
PHOTO CREDITS: allposters.com, espn.com
Personally, I can not take it anymore. The Pirates have dropped 16 in a row to the boys from Milwaukee. It’s getting old; it’s getting ridiculous. With the 7-4 come from behind victory the brewers showed once again that they own the Pirates.
Ryan Braun did not get the start in this game and I was pretty excited that their slugger was Missing In Action from the starting lineup. Little did I know he would come back to bite me in the butt. In the 8th inning who else but Braun steps up to the plate and delievers a bloop single that scores two runs and tied the game at 3. Whats more dissapointing is that the ball should have very easily been caught. It floated up in the air for what seemed like forever. When it left his bat I was pumped up for a routine fly ball and an inning ending putout. However, Brandon Moss had other plans as he slowed up and played the ball on a hop. Now I’m no major league rightfielder any mean. Heck, I couldn’t even play for my high school team but I’ll tell you what in little league, I hustled. I wanted to catch everything when I patrolled the outfield. Seeing Moss play the ball way to conservatively makes me question his motivation, drive and also his talent.
He was a bit too jolly for my liking. He did’nt hit a home run or even get good wood on the ball to solidfy a good hit. Just by sure luck was he able to tie the game.
Now the girls of Wisconsin and sports writers across America will gush over his “clutch” performance and steady hands that helped win the game for the Brewers.
What makes matters worse is what he said after the game.
“Unbelievable game,” said Braun, “I was not anticipating playing, that’s for sure. It’s kind of a crazy day, something I’ve never experienced before.”
Blah, blah, blah come on man get over yourself. To make matters worse apparently Braun has never been hit by a pitch either. In last weeks series against the Buccos, Braun didn’t have enough kleenex to dry his tears after he was beaned by a pitch from Jeff Karstens.
“It’s rare for major league pitchers to miss by that much with the fastball,” Braun said. “We play them about 17 more times. Tell Mr. Selig, we’ll see what happens. It’ll be interesting.” I think Bud has better things to worrsy about man. While if I was Karstens I’d love to send a message to hot head Mc. Gee up there but he is a major league pitcher and he does know better. Braun didn’t stop there with the whining, also saying “that kid should know better.” Referring to Karstens.
Now according to pirates.com, Karstens was born on 9/24/1982 making him 26 years old. Braun on the other hand was born on 11/17/1983. Just a tad younger than Jeff. By calling Karstens a “kid” was a belt-lining blow to a fellow major league collegue. He made himself look like like spoiled, frat boy “kid.”
If you haven’t been able to tell I have lost a lot of respect for the Brewers organization. I’ve kind of admired the franchise over the past few years. I’ve been to Miller Park, it is fantastic. The structure is beautiful and the atmosphere is grand. The current and vintage logo is cool with its bold striking royal blue color. And the players themselves are fun. The orgainzation produced and developed their own young talent and groomed them into premier ballplayers. When a piece or two was needed they go out and add a fixture that is solid and contributes to the team. I’ve supported them in their playoff run and idolized their model of a small market team. Even one of my favorite baseball movies “Mr. 3000” starring the late Bernie Mac is a Milwaukee item.
However, the cocky attitude, untucking of the shirts and overall bad mouthing of the Pirates shows the lack of class and respect this team has for a fellow MLB club.
But in the end it is up to the Bucs to right their own ship. It is a pivital game tonight. Ian Snell takes the mound looking to avoid a 17th straight loss to the Brew Crew. Its historically fitting because the Pirates are also on the brink of their 17 straight losing season. A win tonight would be a nice turnaround as the Bucs would end the Crew streak and reach the .500 plateau once again. Who knows maybe it will even avoid the losing season streak come September, but once again. WHO KNOWS.
Taking a page out of Pedro Martinez’s book-We just have to tip our hats and call the Brewers our daddy.
PHOTO CREDIT: Braun-AP Photos