Tagged: PNC Park

Piecing it all together

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The select few of you readers who have stuck it out during my extended leave of absence know I have five passions in life. Three of them were on display last week at the Winter Meetings. 

Baseball
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Christmas
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Disney World
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By now you know that the Annual Baseball Winter Meetings were held at the Swan and Dolphin Resort at Walt Disney World complete with Christmas decor and good tidings. MLB Network was on my television nearly 24/7, that is when I wasn’t studying for finals or writing papers. Chris Rose and Kevin Millar were great on emceeing the entire week with great interviews and top notch reporting on the latest news. While the Pirates didn’t draw much of the attention, they surely made a splash for those that care in Pittsburgh. 
The Pirates were able to sign a pair of talented pitchers who will take a stab at making the rotation.
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Kevin Correia and Scott Olsen are now members of the Pirates. 
Yawn.
But in reality, a moves like these needed to be done. Starting pitchers were in short supply this offseason and the Cliff Lees of the world will not be patronizing PNC Park as their home anytime soon. Correia and Olsen complement each other and the team the best they can. 
Remember that superb pitching staff the San Diego Padres had last year? Yeah, Correia wasn’t a part of it. With an ERA upwards of 10 he was demoted to the bullpen throughout the Padres run to the playoffs that eventually fell short. He seemed to have improved towards the end of the year and will work, most likely, as a 4th or 5th starter in the Bucs rotation.  
Two DUI and assault cases later Olsen is gone from the Marlins and Nationals and is looking to revamp a brief successful career. When he’s been on the mound he has been effective but elbow injuries to his throwing arm have hindered him during the duration of his major league stint. He too will fight for a back of the rotation spot.
General manager Neil Huntington also did his part to bolster the offensive lineup. 
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Matt Diaz, former Brave, now looks to be patrolling right field for the Pirates in 2011. He will fight for playing time along with Garrett Jones. A strong spring could land him in a full time position, but the bench with spot starts may be his most useful position. 
The Pirates also had the first pick in the Rule 5 draft where they selected former Cleveland Indians prospect Josh Rodriguez. Rodriguez is a shortstop who can swing the bat, exactly what Pittsburgh needs. He’s in his mid 20’s and will probably remain at the AAA level. Some disappointments have arisen as other infielders such as Jason Bartlett and J.J. Hardy, both on the Pirates radar, slipped away to other teams. J-Rod may just be the perfect fit, though. A diamond in the rough, so to speak. 
WIth just over two months remaining until Spring Training other moves will surely be made. The Pirates have goals of adding some relievers and another bat is a necessity. 
photo credits: tbb.com, rhapsody.com, momknowseverything.com, piratesprospects.com
 

50th Anniversary of the real shot heard ’round the world

No dissrespect to Bobby Thompson, but the Giants won the pennant.

In 1960 Bill Mazeroski led the Pirates to win the World Series.

 

 

maz paper.jpgAt exactly 3:35 pm on October 13, 1960 the Pirates were all knotted up 9-9 with the New York Yankees in Game 7 of the World Series.

One minute later the Pittsburgh sports scene would be changed forever.


mazshot.jpgSWUNG ON AND IT IS A HIGH FLY BALL DEEP TO LEFT FIELD, THIS MAY DO IT!!!!!!

Mazeroski’s swing of the bat lifted the ball over Yogi Berra’s head sent the crowd into a frenzy.

Seeing Maz fly around the bases, swinging his helmet around in elation is truly a sight to be hold.

A Wheeling, West Virginia native (another reason why I love him so much) Mazeroski came from humble beginnings along the Ohio River. He said he played the game with the same attitude as he did growing up.

How can you not love that attitude?

As he was flying around the bases Mazeroski is quoted as saying he never felt his feet touch the ground. He was mobbed at homeplate by teammates and fans alike in one of the greatest moments in all of sports.

Whats more remarkable is the Pirates and Yankees were in a David vs. Goalith type battle back then. Much like today, New York was favored to take the series with its star studded lineup that included the likes of Berra, Mickey Mantle, Roger Marris and eventual MVP of the series Bobby Richardson.

Mazeroski was never known as a power hitter. He rarely hit double digit home runs in a season. He was known for his glove with eight Gold Glove awards and still owns the highest fielding percentage among second basemen.

Although Pittsburgh is in the midst of 18 straight losing seasons, the Steel City has not forgotten its icons. Across the town Mazeroski’s memory lives on, particularly in the Oakland section of town.

Oakland is home to the University of Pittsburgh, which I despise. The campus does offer one of the most beuatiful sections in all of Western, Pennsylvania, though.

Portions of the outfield wall still stand where Forbes Field was located.

This summer, I toured the old stomping grounds of the Bucs with my good friend Erin, who happens to be a Pitt student. I don’t hate her too much.

She loves the Pirates just as much as I do and we share memories that I have never before been able to extend to others. They just wouldn’t appreciate it.

She showed me the wall and other historic artifacts.

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Forbes Field wall

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Plaque commemorating that spot at which Mazeroski’s homerun cleared the wall.

 

 

 

 

 

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Forbes Field home plate in its exact location, well almost. It is in the hallway of a Pitt campus building, moved there from just three feet away. If it was in its rightful spot it would be in the women’s restroom. A tourist spot to some maybe? But, the plate deserves to be seen by all

 

 

 

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One of the most famous Pittsburgh photos this captures the celebratory moment when Maz was rounding the bases. Shot from the roof of Pitt’s Cathedral of Learning it provided a stunning view of the field and still today, downtown Pittsburgh.

 

 

 

 

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Unvieled by PNC Park just last month the Mazeroski statue is forever implemented along side the most beautful ballpark in America. Afterall, it was one of the most beautiful moments ever.



The national media picked up on Mazeroski today.

Walking through the WVU student unio I sat down to eat lunch in front of the TV that shows ESPN. Bob Ley of Outside the Lines interviewed a Yankees historian, Steve Blass and Tim Kurkjian regarding the legacy Mazeroski possessed. Highlights of the game were shown and Mazeroski himself spoke.

The guy sitting next to me eventually moved as I was tearing up.

I wasn’t the only one.

Thousands of fan convene on that spot this day every year to relieve the precious memories Mazeroski left behind for us. They play the radio broadcast of Game 7 and embrace each other with thoughts of yesteryear.

Game 7 drew national a couple weeks ago as the tape was found in who else, but Bing Crosby’s wince cellar. Who woulda thunk it?

This was a game that will forever be etched in the minds of baseball fans everywhere.

It is all thanks to the best man in all of sports, Bill Mazeroski.

 

 

 

 

Bittersweet end to a wretched season at PNC Park

It’s been a while huh.

Sorry folks a full senior year of college schedule on top of two jobs really weighs ya down. I’m sure I’m dissapointed than most of your readers by my lack of entries but theres just not any time.Plus the obvious fact that the Pirates haven’t given me much besides a 55-100 season, there just isn’t much to talk about.

That is, until Sunday.

It was my first Fan Appreciation Day in quite sometime. The PNC Park schedule ran dry on Sunday as the Astros and Bucs did battle for the final time in PNC Park for 2010. It was my first season finale ballgame since 2000 when Three Rivers Stadium closed its doors.

Sunday morning began with a bang.

 



sunday1.jpgBANG!

They don’t call it the Jewel on the North Shore for nothing. Nestled beyond the trees across the Allegheny River it really is a spectacle to behold. For the next 3-4 hours I would be sitting in my summer home for the final time this year. It chokes me up now and I did lose it when I entered the gates for the final time.

I met my good friend Erin for the game. She’s an awesome girl who shares my intense love for the team that has sustained 18 straight losing seasons. We have shared many memories together this season, many stemming from past experiences we have been through throughout the years. Thats what makes the Pirates and baseball in general so beautiful, the memories you gain with every pitch. But so much in the experience deals with the people you are with and the atmosphere in the ballpark. She gets that feeling too, rare for college kids in our area.

Entering the stadium was really one of the most memorable and defining moments of the day. Remember what song I heard as I entered the gates on opening day in April?

Probably not, it was John Fogerty’s Centerfield. The baseball gods must have been looking down (they have a lot this season for me) because I heard it again Sunday. Crazy how these things work.

We took are seats four rows behind the Pirates dugout. How much did we pay? 15 each, on stubhub.com. Some seats were going as low as 45 cents on the website.

Just let that soak in. People who saw games at Forbes Field payed more than that for the worst seats.

sunday2.jpgMany players were signing before the game, very close
sunday3.jpg to first pitch too. Quite uncharacteristic but I guess you gotta pull out all the stops on Fan Appreciation Day.

 

I got tears in my eyes as the team ran out. And let the waterworks flow after the top of the first when there was a highlight video put to many highlights from the year. Believe it or not, there were a lot. Including the best sports moment I’ve ever experienced on August 8th when Pedro Alvarez went deep in walk off fashion.

Being so close was beautiful. Perfect way to end the season.

 

sunday4.jpgOnly a win could make it more satisfying.

sunday5.jpgHey, hey whatayasay! Raise the Jolly Roger for the final time in 2010 at home.

Bittersweet.

Great win but with 179 more days to go before I will be back in this place leaves a lump in my stomach. Its hard to fathom that there will be no more road trips to Pittsburgh for a baseball game for quite sometime.

It’s sad.

However, the festivities of the day did not end there.

sunday6.jpgThroughout the game lucky fans were picked to come on the field and recieve the game worn jersey of each player. Quite the honor especially if you were drawn for Pedro Alvarez’s, Neil Walker’s, Garret Jones’ or Andrew McCutchen. Chris Resop, Pedro Ciricao or Joe Martinez? Not so much, still quite the honor. They also drew names for Tv’s, Blu Ray players, gift cards to many places and air fare for too. Unfortunately neither me nor Erin were so lucky. She did however grab a piece of Pirate memorobilla right from the sky, literally.

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She nabbed a hat thrown by pitcher Ross Ohlendorf. It was a nice snag!

After watching many little kids and their families run the bases after the game we finally decided it was time to leave. We were one of the last to leave the park, it felt good to close up shop. We just needed to get our moneys worth until next April. We then had a great dinner in Oakland, home of the University of Pittsburgh. Much to my dismay, it really isn’t that bad of an area. I always listen to John Denver’s Country Roads though to salvage my West Virginia roots. It was a great Autumn day in the ‘burgh.

But, speaking of April, it really isn’t that far off, is it?

 

 

sunday8.jpgNope, its actually on the Horizon! 

August losses bring September football

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.jpg“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.

I treat it as a symbolic ending to summer and signify the transition from one of my passions to another. With another baseball season in the books its time to shift focus to the Mountaineers.
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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.

press.jpgFrom 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.

You just can’t script something like this

You always hear of the miracles and magic associated with sports.

But how often do we truly believe it?

I admit I have been skeptical, after all my two favorite sports teams always seem to drop the ball; West Virginia football and of course the 17 straight losing season club known as the Pittsburgh Pirates.

However, Saturaday night changed all of that. It took an extra inning baseball game to sell me with the iniative that sports dreams do come true, thanks to a miracle and a sprinkle of magic.

You see it all started Friday.

My brother and I had been looking forward to attending the Friday night Pirate game all season long. It was Andrew McCutchen bobblehead night, the only bobblehead night at PNC Park all year. We had plans to meet up with my best friend Andrew in Pittsburgh to share a nice night at the ballpark.

Instead we shared in what would be the last night with my ailing grandfather. Papaw Peaslee had been diagnosed with cancer earlier this summer and his timetable of life was greatly shortened. He passed away Saturday morning.

As sad and troublesome as it is to lose a loved one you must first celebrate the life and be happy that the suffering is over.

Papaw Peaslee was a hard working man all his life. He was a farmer who raised cattle for a living and he was darn good at it. As a city boy I rarely took interest in this lifestyle but still entrusted in the skills he taught me and the work ethic my father taught me through the hands of his father.

We did share the love of sports and especially Pirates baseball. He would take my dad to many games throughout the years at Forbes Field in the 60’s. I always hear the stories of how he would reach through wire fences to catch foul balls. My father and papaw witnessed the first night World Series game ever at Three Rivers Stadium in 1971. They also shared in the first Opening Day ever at PNC Park in 2001. I unfortubately was unable to attend due to the chicken pox.

When I would visit him this summer we would talk about the Pirate’s struggles and how frustrating it is to see them lose nearly night in and night out. However, through the thick and thin we always remained the most die hard of fans. Although he never got to see a winning season at PNC Park I think he had a little something to do with that Saturday’s dramatic win in Pittsburgh.

Down by two in the bottom of the tenth inning the Pirate began a little rally with Andrew McCutchen lacing a double off the center field wall. Jose Tabata drew a walk. A pair of batters later Pedro Alvarez stepped to the plate. 

He drilled a pitch into the right field bleachers. A walk off home run.

 Something inside me knew something special was about to happen. My family shared the same sentiments as the Pirate announcers as tears flew down our faces.

“That was for Papaw!” we all said. It was true, Alvarez did that for Papaw. Although we were not at the game I still think that game and that moment will go down as one of if not the most memorable sports moment in my life. After the game manager John Russell even said,

“The heavens must have looked down and said enough is enough.”

We all think Papaw had something to do with it.

Thank you Pedro for making the roughest moment in anyones life a little more tolerable. 

pedrowalkoff.jpgphoto credit: post-gazette.com

Is it fun to be a fan?

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?

 

pnc_park_view.jpgIf you said PNC Park, you would be right on the money.

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.

 

mr rogers1.jpgYou gotta feel safe when Mr. Fred Rogers is around.

We would soon find out that we were not the only ones who wanted to enjoy a night at the ballpark.

full stadium.jpg36,000 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.”

steve miler.jpgThe 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.

 

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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.

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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.

Bucs own Phils on a Halladay Weekend

 

halladay.jpgI owe that pun to my good friend Eric. Not only was it a Holiday weekend with the 4th of July celebrations heating up all weekend but the Philies were in town.

Now it was a four game series, a series in which I attended two games, but Roy Halladay did not even pitch. Still funny nonetheless, thanks Eric for the blog title.

I helped PNC Park open the series on Thursday with some of my favorite guys; Eric, my brother Zach and my dad.

zachericmatt.jpgWe had just amazing seats located just two rows back from the field.

We got there right as the gates opened in hopes of autographs and balls thrown from batting practice.

ryansigns.jpgRyan Howard was one of the players signing before the game. Actually just one of two players who we saw signing. The other was pitcher Jose Contreras. Howard was only out for about 30 seconds so neither of us had the chance to get something signed.

This would come back to haunt Howard as he struck out twice, much thanks to Eric, Zach and my chants of “Quiznos, Quiznos, Quiznos” in reference to his sponsorship deal with Subway. To tell you the truth I enjoy Subway more than Quiznos anyway.

The rest of warmups were fun as the players were animated with their stretches.

raulibanez.jpgRaul Ibanez tied his shoes with the Pirate Parrot. The Parrot would also steal the batting gloves and balls from the Philies as they were warming up. I don’t think theres a question that he is the best mascot in all of baseball.

Philies fans easily outnumbered Pirate fans in the crowd of 27,000. A very nice crowd in Pittsburgh especially on a Thursday so I do have to extend a thanks you to the Philies fans who helped pack the yard.

kruk.jpgExcept this chick in the John Kruk jersey. Now I’m all fro Krukky, I am a big fan, love his personality and he is from West Virginia believe it or not, but she was one annoying brat. Everything out of her mouth was delusional and downright stupid. I don’t want to say typical Philly fan but ehhhh. Compliments on the jersey girl!

The Pirates held on to a 3-2 victory.

The Bucs won on Friday, 2-0, thanks to masterful pitching from Ross Ohlendorf.

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I made my PNC Park debut of my Pedro Alvarez t-shirt on Saturday. It brought about much fanfare as Alvarez belted his first major league home run. It was an opposite field blast over the right field wall. Ryan Church would also add a homer but it wasn’t nearly enough as the Philies rolled the Pirates 12-4. The worst part was being serenaded with “Let’s Go Philies” leaving the ballpark. Citizens Bank Park West was what it was like.

However the greatest feeling in the world is being at a baseball game, enjoying a beer and hotdog (in my case a big helping of Quaker Steak and Lube wings) and fireworks.

 

 

 

 

Thumbnail image for fireworks.jpgThere is no place in this great country better for fireworks than Pittsburgh, Pa. Put to a grand score of American tunes the post-game firework show was awe-inspiring leaving the sellout crowd breathless.

This weekend brought over 120,000 people to the North Shore. It was much like a playoff atmosphere and the best feeling I have had at a game all season, aside from opening day. It seemed that the whole crowd hinged on every pitch as players and fans alike treated the games as a budding rivalry for state bragging rights.

I only hope I can feel this some October in the near future.