Tagged: PNC Park

Week in Review

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….

 

 

 

hateindians.jpgThe 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.

dan potash.jpgThumbnail image for mil peeps.jpg

 

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.

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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.

pedro.jpgHe’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.

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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

Pitt Peas back in Pittsburgh!

It has been a total of 15 excruciating days since I was last at my summer home, PNC Park. On Friday night I met my best friend Andrew in Pittsburgh to help open the weekend series with the Braves. I’ve said it before that Pittsburgh is a de facto halfway point for Morgantown and Youngstown.

The traffic into the city was horrendous. Parking was hard to come by once I escaped the bumper to bumper mess. It honestly was the worst I have ever seen the North Shore set up prior to a Pirates game. I expected a packed house with a shot at a sellout.

It was far from that. The announced attendance was just 22,000, still a decent crowd but with most tickets $7 dollars and a sweet Andrew McCutchen canvas photo wrap giveaway there should have been more people.

Many of the people were college kids, around my age. It is weird to be a Pirates fan in and around Pittsburgh for someone younger than the age of 25. There really has been a generation of Pirates fans lost thanks to the 17 straight losing seasons. I really do wish it was cool to be a Pirates fan but until that happens I’ll be stuck surrounded by hooligans who only go to the game to drink, meet with friends and start the wave while not paying attention to the game at all. Baseball ignorant people rub me the wrong way when I go to the park to enjoy a couple hours of a ballgame and to escape the outside world. PNC Park is my santuary for peace.

Anywho, the Pirates lost 7-0 and only managed four hits. Nothing went well for the Bucs. I expected a strong performance out of starting pitcher Ross Ohlendorf, but this guy made sure that didn’t happen.

 

DSCN2098.JPGThe Jay-Hey kid (I really do not like that nickname, it is cool no doubt but Willie Mays is the only one who should have that rhyming distinction). The 20-year old (I still can’t get over the fact that I’m older than this guy, I should be a Major League player!) belted a two run homer and teed off for a double. He will be fun to watch as I have already dubbed him the next Ken Griffey Jr. He has the marketabilty and is easy to connect with.

 

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If only I had a better camera. This was the at bat in which Jason launchedhis homerun over the Clemente Wall in left field.

This was the at bat that Heyward went deep in. You always see those flashbulbs going off when a big player steps to the plate. While it seemed that I was the only one snapping a picture of the future star I’m sure that in a few years ballparks will be flickering when he is at bat.

The night didn’t end after the blowout.

I met up with my friend Erin who is a regular reader of the blog. She recently graduated from Pitt and yes I do old that against her. However, she is an awesome girl who rivals me in terms of Pirates knowledge and passion. She also is in love with Nate McLouth. A man that I can just not respect anymore. 

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 The reaction to McLouth’s return to Pittsburgh was underwhelming. It was almost unheralded completely but there were more cheers than boos. I missed his first at bat as Andrew and I fought for parking while we made the game in the bottom of the second inning.

I couldn’t think of a better way to end the night than drinking away my sorrows of a shutout. We went to the Hall of Fame Club located below the scoreboard in right field. It is a cool place to hang out before of after the game and even watch the game from the deck area outside. Every so often there are former players and local celebrities that come by the HOF Club to pour drinks for patrons. Customers were treated to an appearance by one of the most famous Pirates of the last 20 years, Andy Van Slyke.

DSCN2106.JPGI do not remember much about Van Slyke as I was just around the age of three when he played. He autographed my program and fielded questions from thirsty guests. He said “There’s no doubt Barry Bonds used steroids” and “He was a jerk and a terrible teammate.” I told him I was a fan of the Tigers because at one time he was a coach for Detroit along with my favorite manager Jim Leyland. Former Pirate managers Gene Lamont and Lloyd McClendon were also on that staff. Literally the Detroit Pirates. Andrew brought up the Tigers-Twins playof play in game of last year dubbing it “the bets baseball game of all time.” Van Slyke agreed saying “it rocked.”

Speaking of Van Slyke it was fitting we met him on that given night. A parking garage between Heinz Field and PNC Park notes their levels based on fmaous Pittsburgh athletes. We just so happened to park on the Andy Van Slyke level.
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Now that was not our only coincidence of the night. There was a second that also has to do witha Pittsburgh celebrity.

Remember Erin? Pitt fan. Back in the Hall of Fame club we ran into the only person I respect at that school, basketball coach Jamie Dixon.

DSCN2105.JPGAfter shaking his hand I asked for the picture and then told him that I may get in trouble for this because I am a die hard West Virginia fan. He showed nothing but class and laughed at me. He boasted about Bob Huggins saying he is a first class gentleman and a great friend. I wish I would have taken my jacket off to show off my WVU shirt underneath. It was a once in a lifetime chance but I guess I took the high road and displayed an ounce of respect.

Once again it was a fun night, as all nights are in Pittsburgh, as all nights involving baseball are. Saturday’s game was not televised and I’m actually glad it wasn;t as Pittsburgh fell to ATL again. However Saturday’s game was on and boy was it grand. Ryan Doumit hit a walk off home run in the tenth inning to avoid the sweep.

 

You had to be there to believe it

 


Thumbnail image for 20-0 015.jpgTake that in for a moment folks.

20…..to zero. That was not a Packers-Steelers score where the extra point was blocked. That was a Pirates-Brewers score. It was the worst loss in the history of the Pirates franchise.

And I was there to witness it.

20-0 016.jpgPre game I was joking around with the Pirate Parrot, obviously not knowing the horrors of the game to come, which was a joke as well.

Some friends and I came to the park on a whim on Thursday. Some of my classes were canceled due to a journalism conference my professors attended in Baltimore. I couldn’t think of a better way to sepend my semi-day off than at PNC Park. Outside the stadium it looked like many others had the same idea.

 

20-0 001.jpgThere was a packed line for tickets. Whether it was the gorgeous spring day, playing hookey or killing time before the Penguins playoff game later in the day fans flocked to PNC Park. At least thats what it seemed like on the outside. 

13,634 fans actually turned up, which is abysmal. Maybe we as fans deserved the pain that would be bestowed upon us for the next three and a half hours.

The Brewers looked like a team filled with baseball legends. They treated the Pirates like Little Leaguers teeing off for hit after hit which turned into run after run.

Four homeruns were hit in the ballgame. All off the bats of the Brew Crew. Jim Edmonds, George Kottarras, Prince Fielder and public enemy number one in Pittsburgh, Ryan Braun all blasted bombs into the bleachers.

 

20-0 011.jpg“Cryan” Braun as he is referred to in Pittsburgh had 5 RBI. Ten players had at least one RBI including pitchers Claudio Vargas and Manny Parra. All but two Brewers who stepped to the plate had a hit.

The Pirates were swept by the Brewers and Pittsburgh natives let other Pittsburgh natives know it.

20-0 012.jpgI mean, really, what the heck? Dude in a Marc Andre Fleury t-shirt shows up with a broom to signify the Brewers accomplishment.

I just had to laugh at the guy who was rubbing the broom in every Pirate fan’s face around him, but really, what the heck? This is why I can’t be a diehard Penguin fan. I bet this guy did not cheer for the Pirates in the late 90’s early 2000’s. Yet they start winning and hes a full-fledged fan. Give it a few years, the Pirates are competitive, he will be back with avengence in a Pedro Alvarez t-shirt.

After that game however, how can I be so sure that my Bucs will ever be competitive? In that Brewers series the Pirates were outscore 36-1. The Pirates have a Majors worst 7.35 team ERA. More than one run higher than any other team. The offense is below NL average in most categories across the diamond according to Post Game host Rocco DeMaro.

There is no light at the end of the tunnel it seems. Watching that game hurt me, the few hundreds who joined me to see the final out, and 25 men who donned that Pirate jersey.

Reliever Brendan Donnelly said they should be ashamed to wear the black and gold. I can’t help but agree. Starting pitcher Daniel McCutchen cried while being interviewed. Outfielder Ryan Church simply said “I got nothin’, I’m embarrased.” 

We all are Ryan, we all are.

I’m not letting go of that ticket stub. The worst loss record stood for 100 years. I will be sure to tell my grandkids about that day, the day I witnessed the worst loss in Pirates history. My grandkids won’t believe there were actually bad years as a Pirates fan, whilethey are celebrating a World Series dynasty. 

A little Buccos magic to beat the Reds

 

reds game 016.jpgThe 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.

reds game 003.jpgFrom 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
balloons.jpg 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.

 

reds game 007.jpgThe tarp covered the field as it was lightly drizzling. The clouds parted and it was actually sunny for a good half hour.

 

reds game 017.jpgThe rain eventually picked up to torrential downpour form, we would have to wait out a 70 minute rain delay.

In the meantime the “Milledge People” were setting up shop before the hard rains came.

reds game 004.jpgLast 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.

reds game 011.jpgEven 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.

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Coming back to Earth

Well reality sunk in and hell has not frozen over.

The Pirates will not be undefeated this season.

 

paul maholm.jpgThe Dodgers laid it on the Bucs 11-2. The lack of offense on our end was thanks to excellent starting pitching from my fantasy team ace, Chad Billingsley. He hit 100 pitches within the first five innings and later handed the ball over to Jared “Dream” Weaver. He worked his way out of jams and worked masterfully.

Even though the Bucs lost their first game of the season, by nine runs at that, taking two of three from the Dodgers is no easy feat. I am very proud of the team and their scrappy play thus far in the young infant season.

Wednesdays game was glorious. A lot of my West Virginia friends made the trip up but I had to stay home. As weird as it was for six guys who are not Pirates fans to drive an hour for a Pirates game, they had a great time and were not only treated to a walk off win, but dollar tickets as well! Soak that in for a sec, dollar tickets! They had great seats too, section 113 down the left field line.

 

Thumbnail image for pumped pirates.jpgRonny Cedeno was the hero of the game drilling a pitch to left field for the walkoff. A glorious moment that probably sent the 30,000 at PNC Park into a fury.

With three games down I still remain optimistic that Pittsburgh will surprise people this year. .500 is reachable!

The squad now heads to Pheonix with a weekend series at Chase Field against the Diamondbacks.

photo credits: Keith Srakocic/AP, Peter Diana/Post Gazette

 

A roller coaster of emotions: Final Four and Opening Day

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.

 

Final Four and Opening Day 085.jpgIt 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.

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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” 

 

 

Final Four and Opening Day 133.jpgmShe 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!

 

The jolly roger was raised indeed as the Bucs exploded for an 11-5 victory over the Dodgers.

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.

Final Four and Opening Day 158.jpgIt was cool to see Manny. He was greeted with a throng of Boos from the crowd. Although I gave him a standing O as he approached the plate for his first at bat.

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.



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‘She’s Out of My League’ knocks it out of the park

 

shes_out_of_my_league.jpgIf you’ve been watching TV at all this weekend you may have seen a preview for this movie. To the naked eye it may just look like a typical romantic comedy. However, that generalization is way off. It is a typical romantic comedy that takes place in Pittsburgh!

The main character Kirk (Jay Bruchtel) is an average Joe working as a security guard at the Pittsburgh International Airport.

pittsburgh-airport-address.jpgThis got my blood flowing immediately. I love to travel and always travel out of the Pittsburgh airport at least once a year. It was filmed directly in the airport which was very genuine and realistic to the context of the movie. I’ve been to airports across the country and Pittsburgh ranks near the top with its atmosphere and charm.

Kirk, working by the metal detectors comes across a beautiful woman, Molly (Alice Eve) going through security. While the other security guards are hitting on her, Kirk resists and acts polite which in return gives him a beaming smile courtesy of Molly.

Once boarding her plane, Molly relaizes she left her iphone back in a security bin. Using her friend’s cell phone she calls it, Kirk has it in his hand.

The end up meeting in each other at the Andy Warhol musuem in downtown Pittsburgh.

 

 



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Now I’m not the biggest art buff, but I do think enough of myself to know something is good when I see it. Warhol is well respected in the art world and his creative mind is on display here in his hometown in his own musuem. The musuem is located just steps away from PNC Park on the North Shore. I have never been there but it is a goal of mine to check it out this year.

 

Anywho, back to the movie. Molly is a high ranking event planner in the city and has connections across the ‘burgh. She offers Kirk Penguins tickets, on the ice!

 

ice.jpgSurprisingly this beautiful girl is really into this self proclaimed dork. The two end up seriously dating and go on other dates around the city.

They eat at this beautiful river side cafe and walk through a park that is very similiar to Central Park. But the icing on the cake and the one you all have been waiting for-the couple goes on a date to a Pirate game.

 

pnc park.jpgLet me just say my shrieks of joy could be heard throughout the 300 seat theatre. It was awesome to see a beautiful roundabout shot of the stadium. The cameras started out by the river and slowly gravitated upward for a perfect area view of the beautiful stadium. The couple walked across the Clemente Bridge in the Centerfield entrance. 

The movie was very good, very funny. With its R rating I do not suggest it to some of you as raunchy humor may not be your thing. However, for a There are breathtaking views of the downtown area and really just presents a great perspective on the Steel City.

photo credits: imdb.com,visitingdc.com, flickr.com, movies.yahoo.com, iguogo.com