The bustling winds, fluffy white snow and bone chilling temperatures do not scream baseball. However, for my brother, Zach and I, a trip to PNC Park was just what we needed to cure our national pastime blues.
Just like the smelly floors of a junior high locker room and the janitor that cleans it up the Pirates know a thing or two about being swept clean.
Pittsburgh will leave the Bay Area having fropped its past six games in which it was swept by the Rangers and most recently the A’s.
The Bucs have dropped 19 straight road games and have been swept 10 times this season, five alone in the month of June.
Sunday was the best opportunity for the Buccos to earn a win. Just like finding a winning season these past 17 years, it just was not meant to be.
Suzuki is flying under the radar this year just as he has throughout his career. He connected for his tenth homerun of the year to accompany a .264 batting average. Along with a team leading .442 slugging percenatge compiled with 31 home runs Suzuki reaps great production as a catcher. He is among the best in the league and should recieve a call to travel down the Pacific Coast Highway to Anaheim for this year’s All-Star Game.
The whole weekend was completely dismal for the Pirates. On Friday they were destroyed 14-4 while losing second baseman Neil Walker to a concussion he suffered during a collision. He has had some time off but will not be placed on the disabled list.
I for one have never suffered a concussion. Rarely do I even get headaches, it is a wonder because it does run in my family. But I would defintely need as much rest as possible and would not feel like doing anything for days. I do think watching the Pirates play this weekend made Walker’s recovery time have to last a bit longer, probably made his head hurt a lot worse.
Saturday night was an absolute disgrace.
It was a turn back the clock night as the Pirates paid tribute to their “We Are Family” days of the 1970’s. They did so by only tabbing five hits in a 5-0 shutout. The Pirates of 2010 disrespected the uniform worn by so many legends of the ’71 and ’79 World Champions. Willie Stargell had to be looking down on Oakland shaking his head.
The living legends who played in the black and gold during the glory days have to be embarrased to watch the team play today. Living legends like Phil Garner, Dave Parker and Omar Moreno have to be proud of their play for the Pirates and probably take pride in beautiful PNC Park, but to have a team that stands at 25-50 lose games so handily has to be detrimental to their spirits. If I was one of them I would demand change and demand it now.
He’s been quite the head scratcher since he was called upon to replace Jim Tracy some three years ago. The expression you see on his face to the right really is permanently tatooed on his face. His indifferent attitude and questionable moves should be reason enough to get him out of the dugout.
The long standing cry has been to fire Russell because he fails to light a fire unde rhis team. Yes, that is surely true. Amongst reports that he can go weeks without talking to some players, it is the baseball mind of Russell that truly is his Achille’s Heel. With the oppotunity to have a Designated Hitter this past week Russell threw Milledge into right field, he would committ a handful of errors. Now Milledge should be an everyday player but when there is that opportunity to have a DH it is best to give him a break from the field and put a stronger fielder, Ryan Church or Delwyn Young into the nine-position. His use of the bullpen, particularly his choice of relief pitchers in certain situations brings out his lack of knowledge. Being a former big league catcher the game management skills of Russell should not be this poor.
Whatever the front office sees in their whipping boy that is Russell is beyond me. The Pirates will not even come close to the promised land of a .500 season this year but why not make a splash. Show the league and the 25 men on the team that you do care and get Russell out of here. Something needs to be done and it looks like the only thing would be to fire Russell.
photo credits: itsonthelist.com, espn.com, postgazette.com/AP, nbc.com
I was absent from the blog last week, for good reason. It seemed that the Pirate’s were absent from their talent as well.
My beloved Bucs suffered a 12-game losing streak from June 6th through this past Saturday. I think it was all my fault.
I went to that game on the 6th and witnesses a heartbreaking extra inning loss. Delwyn Young belted a pinch hit homerun to send the game to a tenth inning, but Octavio Dotel just could not hang on to the lead.
From that moment Pittsburgh fell to the Cubs in a one game makeup series. Were swept on the road in Washington as well as at home against the White Sox. Then my most most hated professional sports….
The Cleveland Indians. The Indians came into PNC Park on Friday and beat the Pirates 4-3. It was a pitcher’s duel til the seventh inning when the Tribe jumped out to a 4-0 lead. Pittsburgh manufactured runs the very next inning getting their three, but it just couldn’t answer when needed. I attended that game and the most thrilling moment may have come before hand when I met local FSN Pittsburgh reporter Dan Potash.
I honestly think Mr. Potash was more thrilled that I recognized him. He was overjoyed, very friendly and carefree with me. I bet he called his mom and said “Wow, somebody wanted a picture with me!” Ok that may sound a bit harsh, he was top notch and first class.
Take a look at my shirt there. Better yet, i’ll zoom in for you.
It is a hot item in the ‘burgh these days as the Milledge People are taking over. The shirt features the bodies of the famous Village People of the 1970’s with super-imposed faces of Lastings Milledge with a Pirate hat on each of them. It is hysterical I think, plus at some games six college kids sit in teh outfield dressed in Village People fashion. Unfortunately for me, Milledge did not play on Friday.
However, Saturday was a much different story. For one I was not watching. I was in Washington D.C. with some friends representing WVU. It was a fun day and an even funner night, that blog will be coming in the next entry.
But anyway, the Pirates did manage to break the dreaded streak thanks to a 3-for-4, 4 RBI performance from Lasting Milledge.
Milledge has been recieving spotty playing time ever since the arrival of youngster Jose Tabata. Tabata has been holding down the fort in left field, the original position of Milledge, because of that number 85 and Ryan Church have been splitting tim in right field. The lack of playing time must have lit a fire under his butt and hopefully that gave him a spark and a reason to finally deliever how he was expected to do. He has still yet to hit a homerun, a necessity on this team that lacks any power threat
That is until now.
The arrival of highly touted prospect Pedro Alvarez occured this week.
He’s going to be something special, at least that is what Bucco fans have been told. It is no secret that Alvarez has been called the best Pirates prospect since Barry Bonds. Lofty shoes to fill and I know it will take time but it is something, really the only thing that has given Pittsburgh fans hope in quite some time.
He is a lefty, power hitting thrid basemen. The Pirates have lacked all three for many years. To get it all in one package really fills that void.
He has yet to get the ball rolling collecting just one hit in 16 major league at bats. He had a stellar minr league career as he flirted with a .300 avergae while belting 40 homeruns in just two seasons.
I for one do believe the hype.
At Friday’s game I went off the deep end before he even earned his innagural major league hit and dropped $27 bucks on an Alvarez shirt. Way too much for the time being but I do think I am the only one who has bought one yet, I loved being distinctive. However, that was probably trumped on Saturday when he did get his first hit. He has a long career ahead of him, I just hope it is fruitful.
Speaking of fruitful my favorite fruit is pineapple. Sorry for that irrelevant tidbit. I do think I will sign off on that note. Stay tuned for my next entry recapping the Pitt Peas’ visit to Washington D.C. and Nationals Park!
photo credits: horridindian.com, fanball.com, kentucky.com
In a word, the Pirates were dominant, scoring five runs in the opening frame.
The Pirates played a persistent, strong game throughout the contest. Very uncharacteristic of the lovable losers.
The three game series sweep was the Pirates first over the Cubs since August 30, 2006.
While no homeruns wer ehit in the blowout, doubles came supreme. In fact Lastings Milledge rocked a near grandslam just two feet away from me in left field. Look closely at the below picture. On the left is my arm pointing out at Alfonso Soriano.
The ball hit the top of the wall and bounced back into play. However it looked as if it would clear. Fireworks are going off, “They Hey Song” is playing, everyone thinks its a dinger. Even Milledge. He trotted around the bases and was tagged out rounding second. I cannot me too mad at him. He shouldn’t be looking at the ball, the extracurricular activities led him to believe it was a home run. In the end it was just his second double of the game.
Beyond the stats and onfield play this game meant a lot more. Pride was on the line.
My WVU buddy Marc is a die-hard Cubs fan. Growing up in West Virginia the Cubs were his t-ball team. Continuing to follow his team some 15 or so years later Marc is almost like a transplanted fan from the streets of Wrigleyville. The last time I was at a game with him the Cubs scored eight runs in the first inning en route to a 14-3 beatdown. Lets just say the taste of revenge was almost as sweet.
With a handful of Cub fans around us he was in somber company and had more than enough shoulders to cry on. A lot of ribbing was going on by a pair of drunks behind us. These guys were around our age and pounding over priced beers like it was their job. They were making fun of everyone in their general area including Marc in his “Theeeeeeeriot” jersey, the charismatic ederly man with his young granddaughter and the cute West Virginia girls who we struck up a converstations with. They were dissing the Pirates left and right, had no baseball knowledge and took the joy out of me greatly. Marc was the most ticked I had ever seen him. The happy go lucky Southern boy had his fuse lit but kept his emotions in check.
After the game Marc owed me a little something. A beer. We had a bet riding on the game and we had a nice sit down at Mullens, a sports bar on Pittsburgh’s North Shore. There we engaged with chats from a University of Colorado grad, numerous Cubs fans, a guy who knew Lou Pinella and this charming guy.
Communicating in sign language and written notes the guy was very nice and was bubbly to everyone in the bar. He was mute but did not let his handicap keep him from having a good time and supporting his Buccos.
From the bar we ran into Frank Coonelly, Pirates President. Nice fellow, said my name again after I introduced myself which is always a sign of respect. Now there were two pertinent messages I could have told Mr. Coonelly,
1. To read my blog! Doubt he would have but shoot I may never see him again could have at least told him about it.
2. My buddy Andrew Schuerholz was also with us, his uncle is John Schuerholz, President of the Braves. Either would have sufficed and created a great convo. But knowing Coonelly’s background as an attorney I told him that Marc was interested in law school.
Speaking of Marc, he needed a pitstop on the way to the car and enjoyed the beautiful skyline of the city of Pittsburgh (recently ranked the USA’s most livable city by Yahoo).
However I will leave you with a snippet of information when visiting Pittsburgh or any big city for that matter. Do not stop walking. Homeless people and creeps are always abound and danger could strike at any second. We learned that tonight. Mom and Dad if you are reading this no need to freak out. We’ve all seen it before and know how to handle ourselves.
Bring on Pujols and the Cardinals! The Bucs are in 3rd place!
Saturday and Sunday were two games that could make any baseball fan happy. The Pirates came from behind for a walkoff win on Saturday. On Sunday the Bucs got out on top early and sustained the lead until the end.
Raise your hand if your team is .500!
That little girl must be a Pirate fan because we are 7-5. Yes, its April and yes there are 150 games to be played but I will jump at any chance to get excited and the Pirates are giving me that chance right now.
The Buccos were destined for a loss on Saturday. Being down 43 in the bottom of the ninth with Francisco Cordero called upon for the save.
I thought we were done for.
Cordero is 4-for-4 in saves opportunities this year and is listed 27th on the all-time closers list.
Can’t you see why I thought we were done for?
But Cordero was erratic. Ryan Church laced a single to left, Ronny Cedeno walked and Lastings Milledge Walked. Garrett Jones stepped to the plate, battling a slump. Jones has been dissapointing fantasy owners everywhere with his lack of power which was expected after his monstrous opening day. He did come through with a hit off the wall to win the ballgame.
I was not able to watch the Pirate game on Sunday as I was covering the West Virginia baseball game. The 12th ranked Louisville Cardinals brought their own brooms to Morgantown and beat the Mountaineers up and down.
Louisville has one of the best pitching staffs in the country. On Sunday I had the pleasure of watching Gabriel Shaw mow down the Mountaineers. In seven innings he struck out six batters allowing just five hits.
Jedd Gyorko, pictured left, drove in the only run for West Virginia. Gyorko is a Morgantown native and high on many experts draft lists. He is a shortstop who will be picked up in the June draft, more than likely in the first few rounds.
Even though I was not watching the Pirates game, 13,860 at PNC Park did. The Buccos jumped out early and produced hits throughout the ballgame. Paul Maholm had a no hitter through four innings and looked the best he has all season. Octavio Dotel picked up the save even after surrendering a homerun to Jay Bruce, who hit two.
Backup catcher Jason Jaramillo brought in three runs with a double in the fifth inning. Jones struggled again, not reaching base in the game.
The Pirates remain at home to face the Brewers this week. Standing just a half game out of first place in the NL Central. This is a big series if the Pirates hope to keep their heads over water in the division and to sustain .500.
photo credit: freeclipartnow.com, nordinho.net, postgazette.com, msnsportsnet.com
The Pirates may be at .500, but I have yet to lose. In my second trip to PNC Park this Spring the Bucs have not dissapointed winning the pair of games. Not only did the Pirates treat my friends and I to a gem of a ballgame, the city of Pittsburgh did as well.
From Morgantown we arrived in Pittsburgh around 4 o’clock. The drive up to the city was probably the worst conditions I have ever had the displeasure of driving through. The winds combined with rain, combined with debris flying from cars was absolutely horrendous. I was legit scared but kept my cool and we made it.
It has been a plan of ours to check out the Andy Warhol Museum sometime before a Pirate game. We got the opportunity on Friday for only 4 bucks. The museum is just a two minute walk from PNC Park right on the North Shore. After paying and walking to the first exhibit I
realized this was not my scene.
Now I did appreciate the artwork, I guess just not enough. It was trippy, weird and sometimes disturbing. I wouldn’t pay more than four dollars for the experience again. The coolest part was the room with floating metallic ballons. I could have stayed in there for hours.
When we walked through the gates of PNC Park the song “Centerfield” by John Fogerty was playing. The same song that was played in the same exact moment Opening Day. I love this song and really puts me in the mood for baseball!
From the concourse we were greeted with this albatross.
In the meantime the “Milledge People” were setting up shop before the hard rains came.
Last year some buddies and I made a sign for leftfielder Nyjer Morgan. “Morgantown” it read. When Lastings Milledge was acquired we had speculated about doing the same in the form of a “Milledge People” sign. Well, these guys beat us to the punch and sure did pull it off well.
Speaking of Lastings, here is rocking the number 42 jersey.
Even though Jackie Robinson Day was technically yesterday, the Pirates had the day off. I was glad to see the whole team, even the Reds, wearing the number 42. This was my first Jackie Robinson Day I have ever attended. It was also a Lastings Milledge Day.
First off, Zach Duke pitched fantastic. Seven innings of not allowing a run and surrendering just six hits, it was a gem. After a leadoff walk in the 7th, he was pulled and the Pirates releievers collectively gave up three runs. It was sad for Zach because he was shooting for his third wn of the season. The win was given to Octavio Dotel after Milledge’s walk off hit to score Andrew McCutchen in the bottom of the 9th.
I as too excited to snap a picture but here is one from the Associated Press and Pittsburgh Post Gazeette showing the team’s jubilation.
This has been a Spring Break I will never forget. Three amazing events all wrapped in a week was so very special.
You all read about my Cooperstown trip and here is a quick, depressing synopsis of my Saturday in Indianapolis.
It was surreal. Surreal that not only was West Virginia playing in the Final Four but also that I was there to witness it. However, the Mountaineers were shalacked. Up and down, it was ugly. We were killed on the boards and Duke was simply shooting lights out.
It was a great road trip for my WVU buddies and I. Although West Virginia was destroyed 78-57 it was an amazing time with unforgettable memories. It is definitely the best sporting event I have ever been to. Surpassing Game 3 of the Stanley Cup from last summer and the 2006 MLB All Star Game in PNC Park.
As tears flowed down my face Saturday night, I felt a shock of jubilation come Sunday night.
Opening Day was abreast!
I rose at 7 am Monday morning and was on the road to Pittsburgh by 8.
My group of six gathered at Primanti Brothers for a tasty breakfast of meat, coleslaw, fries and tomatoes.
The gates to PNC Park opened at 11:30 and we found ourselves in the left field bleachers. In a “right place at the right time” moment I caught a ground rule double off the bat of an unidentified Dodgers batter. My first Opening Day ball!
From there I ventured over to the Pirates dugout. There I met a fellow blogger, Ms. Kristy of “Hands off My Pirates Booty”
mShe was enjoying batting practice from her beautiful seats right along the dugout, just seven rows back. It not only offers a great view of the game, but the city as well. I am sporting my freshly bought Lastings Milledge T-shirt. I was surprised at the variety of T-shirts offered this year.
The game itself was everything I could have asked for. A win!
I was nervous at first as Zach Duke let up two runs in the first inning, however our ace settled down and pitched a solid five innings.
The man of the hour was Garrett Jones, let me re-phrase that, Garrett FREAKING Jones.
Jones went off with a two home run performance and showed he will be our go to guy for power. Both HRs were impressive. The first was a 450 foot blast into the Alegheny River. The other an opposite field homerun to left over the head of Manny Ramirez.
Speaking of the crowd, it was great. A sellout crowd of over 39,000 saw the first game of the 2010 season. And boy did they see a beauty. I’m glad the city of Pittsburgh was welcomed with a heralded perforance. I know it will not be packed with 39,000 every game but hopefully today showed what this team can be capable of and bring some new faces to the ballpark.
That being said, this team is solid. Talented in fact, they will surprise some people this year and may, just maybe break that .500 mark and compete after the All Star break. Until then I plan on enjoying each and every game and cannot wait till I am back in the park. Like every year, it was a great Man Day Monday.