Ladies and gents my baseball season has come to a close. Actually, its safe to say its been shut down for the past four months. Its customary for Pittsburghers to close up shop early in the baseball department, the lone fact that I have this blog makes me a rare exception.
It’s tough no doubt. Not many of you that read this blog are Pirates fans and you take for granted the competitive baseball teams your franchise fields year in and year out.
I don’t know that feeling.
The Pirates’ record in August was 8-21 leading them to a mark of 46-91 as of September 7th.
This time of the year gets very depressing at PNC Park. That being said it is still prime time for me to take in a game. I was in attendance for an 8-5 Pirate win on Friday night. Had a blast at the ballpark. Had a great dinner, got on the jumbo tron and met former Pirate and post game show analyst Kent Tekulve.
“Teke” was the celebrity bar tender at the Hall of Fame club beneath the scoreboard in left field. I usually pony up the cash to get a beer at every ball game I go to but at this point I’ve finally realized my 7.25 is better spent else where.
As you can see I’m rocking my West Virginia shirt. Every year I can I like to go to a Friday Pirate game in September and it usually falls on the night before WVU’s first football game.
WVU opened its season against Coastal Carolina and routed the Chanticleers 31-0. With almost 58,000 people on hand I had one of the best seats in the house sitting in the Milan Puskar Stadium press box.
For the past three years I’ve covered minor sports for The Daily Athenaeum at WVU this year my beat is the grand daddy of them all, Mountaineer football.
From my perch atop press row I was able to watch a football game in a view I have never seen before. I felt some what removed from the atmosphere which make college football great but was still able to witness plays develop. Cheering was strictly prohibited and rightfully so as it is a working press area. But in my heart I was screaming loudly for the Mountaineers, I still got chills when the team ran out of the tunnell and when the band played. it was one of the most memorable games I have been to and look forward to more as the season progresses.
Although I am in football mode completely I will still watch every Pirate game and strive to make it to more by the time the hourglass offcially runs dry at the end of the month. I will be sitting in PNC Park tonight for free compliments of Braves President John Schuerholz.
I’ve noted before that my good friend Andrew is the nephew of Schuerholz so whenever the Braves are in town he tends to treat us to a free game in great seats behind home plate.
The Pirates were taking on the Orioles in an interleague play game in which my Bucs were up 6-0 at one point. Final score: 9-6 Baltimore. I was harrased, made fun of and spat at. Well not spat at but I thought I would be.
Monday night was much more charming. After all I was in the Charm City.
The Orioles did fall to the Kansas City Royals 4-3 and the weather was a bitter cold 45 degrees with a heavy drizzle falling throughout the nine innings, but I did enjoy myself as a neutral fan.
Appearing in my National League hat I kept my loyalty to “real, stern” baseball in an American League town. I hate when someone wears an item of a team not playing to a game so I with held from any Pirates gear. My buddies Andrew, Bryan and Ryan were clad in their Orange hoping for some Orioles magic that never seemed to come. Andrew is my friend from WVU and with a name like Schuerholz you have to be a baseball fan, i’ll touch more on that later. Bryan and Ryan are friends of Drew’s who I have become close with over the years.
Bryan had a dang cool homemade poster. Based on the Sesame Street logo and the street running parallel to Camden Yards, Eutaw Street. Brian Bergeson took the hill for the O’s Monday night. Bryan gave Bergeson a cool nickname that completed the sign perfectly, “Big Berg.” No not Big Bird, Big Berg! Pretty cool if I do say so myself.
While I did cheer for the hometeam to appease my friends I had a much bigger reason to root on the Orioles. One of my favorite baseball players of all time dons the black and orange, Corey Patterson.
Corey and I have had a long relationship. Mostly just me with Corey but here is how that got started. He was on the cover of Beckett Baseball Card Monthly when he was drafted by the Cubs in 1998. I was impressed with this up and comer and made it gospel that I collect as many cards of his as I could. While Patterson never even came close to living up to his billing I made out like a bandit coming across nearly 30 cards of him. I think it is safe to say I am his biggest fan. It was great to see him play in person for the first time. He scored the only three runs for Baltimore and on Tuesday belted a solo homerun to spark a come from behind win for the O’s. Watch out boys and girls, Corey is back!
Here are some more sights and sounds (well just sights, because you cannot hear any of this blog) from a very fun night at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
Unique monument area behind the gate in center field. It honors the retired numbers of the Orioles. I like that it is outside the physical boundaries of the stadium so fans can enjoy it on non gamedays.
The bird mascot was just chilling on the ledge out of the pressbox. It is a kind of high drop. I was worried he would fall. But he must have much better depth perception than me as he was perched there comfortably for 2 innings. He is a bird after all.
If only players today could be as respectable as Cal Ripken Jr. He was one of my favorites growing up. I love how he will always be adored by the Baltimore faithful. But PNC, come on! I know you sponsor many East Coast baseball teams but you do the most good for the Pirates. WIth PNC Park you should be restricted to just Pittsburgh. However rumors are floating around that due to the Pirates poor play PNC wants out of their contract early.
Out on Eutaw Street there are about 25 baseball shaped plaques, like this one, marking where balls have landed over the years. There have been some pretty deep shots including one that hit the famed wearhouse behind right field. This one was hit by one of my favorite players of the 90’s, Mo Vaughn.
Exiting the stadium on the walk back to the car this church sign delievered a blessing message to its beloved baseball fans, escpecially those in the AL East.
The real reason I was in Baltimore was for the West Virginia-Towson game on Tuesday, no really that is the reason. I had an off day giving tours so I made the trip representing my other job at WVU as beat writer for the baseball team. It was cool to be at my first away game although the crowd was miniscule it was a great time for a handful of reasons.
Two, the game was free for everybody.
The Mountaineers need
momentum heading into their final series of the year in hopes of clinching a spot in the Big East tournament. I talked to the coach after the game and wrote my articles to be published in the paper tomorrow.
Three, it was great to see a college campus. I love checking out different universities to see how it compares and contrasts with WVU in Morgantown. Like I do on any campus with a statue of their mascot (ie Pitt and Colorado) I have to take it out for a spin. Although he was a little wet from the rain that was drizzling all day the Towson Tiger was a quality landmark on a very nice campus.
The Fourth and final reason why it was an awesome day goes back to the baseball inspired name of Schuerholz. I’ve mentioned before that Andrew’s uncle is John Schuerholz. Former general manager of the Royals and Braves and current President of the Braves. The baseball field at Towson University is named in his honor as he went to school here and played baseball.
Although small, the field is very nice and something the family and Andrew are very proud of. I enjoyed it too along with my grand two days in Maryland. I capped it off with a delicious crabcake. I only eat them when I am in Maryland, only because I know that any where else they will simply be mediocre. I only dabble with the best!
A blockbuster day was held in Pittsburgh today. The Pirates downed the Cubs 3-0 which was refreshing, but what came before that was very unsettling.
Eric Hinske was delt to the Yankees for two low A propspects. One is a pitcher, teh other an outfielder. Not much info is out there about the pair but when you are in A ball chances are you are lightyears from the MLB. Hinske was a solid backup player and a good role model for the younger guys on teh team. He will be missed but the fact that chances are he wasn’t returning to the team next year.
What really upsets me was the trade of Nyjer Morgan. There have been talks about dealing the speedster for teh past few weeks but I just disregarded it. I knew what we had in Morgan and believed he was going to be a part of the future. That is going against a lot of theories other Pirate fans have about Morgan. He was a great guy, great in the community, a great teammate and a fan favorite. He could have been beloved in Pittsburgh for many years to come. But then again so could Jason Bay, Xavier Nady and Nate McLouth.
What upsets me teh most about the trade was the return. We recieved Lastings Milledge.
Headcase extrodinaire. He has been the complete opposite of a Nyjer Morgan. In his 3 stints as a major league player he has been tossed numerous times, fined numerous times and found himself in trouble with the law numerous times.
Right now Lastings is in teh GCL league rehabbing an injury. His skills have been degressing over the past few seasons. He has been demoted by the Nats early this season. Take that in for a moment folks…demoted by the Nationals, the Washington Nationals. The worst team in the MLB. He is just 24, with a lot of room for development. Now some may say this is a great move for the Bucs. they traded a mediocre outfielder for one with much more upside…but I don’t see it. Milledge is a bust, he is overrated and overlooked for good reason. He’s had opportunites but has failed to live up to the hype.
The Pirates need power, and need it fast. Although Milledge will probably not make it up to PNC Park for a few months he may provide some pop. He has the coveted “potential” genes, but if he doens’t use it, makes no sense to me. If he can turn it around with this change of scenery it will be a great move….I just don’t see him getting that hot.
Speaking of hot, if you’ve ever been to the Pittsburgh area you are familiar with Quaker Steak and Lube wings.
It is known as best wings USA.
They are famous for their very hot ATOMIC hot wings. Very few have tried to down 5 of these boned wings. You must be brave, hungry, and able to handle heat to complete the coveted challenge and earn a spot on their wall of fame.
My friend Andrew Schuerholz, nephew of Braves VP John Schuerholz, who I have mentioned before completed the feat today. He was in town visiting from Baltimore and couldn’t leave Youngstown without attempting the feat. He passed with flying colors and earned respect from the restraunt. Congrats Drew!
PHOTO CREDITS: mlb.com, roethisteinnews.com, sidesalad.com