The 1970’s were a time of puffy hair, bell bottoms, disco and apparently some funky golf carts. Not to mention some pretty good baseball as the legends of the day took the field throughout this legendary decade. Hank Aaron, Reggie Jackson and Carl Yastrzemsk
were just a few of the go-to names of this era. Perhaps the greatest
players came from Pittsburgh and Baltimore, though.
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.
I’m back from one of the best weeks I have ever spent in recent memory. If you read my blog entry from last week you would know that I was on vacation in Florida with my family. It was a great break from reality filled with baseball, great Cuban food, white sandy beaches and a boatload of Disney magic. So jump in and hold on tight ya’ll are going to help me relive my seven days in the Sunshine State.
Our main priority of the trip was to visit Sun Life Stadium. Now who in their right mind would make it a priority to go to Sun Life Stadium for a baseball game? The Peaslees! For the past 10 or so years we plan our family vacations around baseball games. We plan to hit each ballpark around the Major Leagues. Sun Life was number 25 in terms of team’s home ballparks we have seen games in. We just need both New Yorks, Toronto and Seatle and we have hit all 30!
We arrived at the stadium at 5:30 right as the gates opened for the 7pm start of the Marlins and Nationals. Stephen Strasburg was on the mound for the Nats and my little brother Zach proudly wore his number 37 Strasburg t-shirt. Parking was not an issue outside the stadium as it was completely empty. It was nice that we somewhat had priority parking as the lot surrounding the stadium was the only place to park for the game and all that is really ever needed.
There is completely no atmosphere building up to the game outside the stadium. The only fun spot was this huge inflatable of Billy the Marlin. In my opinion the second best mascot in the MLB, behind Pittsburgh’s Pirate Parrot of course. We walked up to the ticket booth and purchased a great deal. Upper level behind the plate tickets, four hot dogs and four pops for 68 bucks. Not too shabby. It was a decent promotion on a gloomy Friday night.
Once entering we were greeted by the sound of salsa music.
Quite different than the tradional soft rock you typically hear at PNC Park. From here on out we realized we were in for the most unique baseball experience we have ever experience. Is that a good thing? Maybe, but it this case not really.
Sun Life Stadium is a huge structure. After all it has been home to numerous college bowl games, the Super Bowl and of course the Miami Dolphins. Our seats were right behind home plate buuuuut in the nosebleeds in the 400 level. This escalator escorted us to the tip top of Miami. If you have a serious case of vertigo I recommend splurging on lower level seats.
Once at the top the seats really were not that bad.
As you can see we had a great view perched from our seats. A great view of brightly colored orange seats. A group of business men behind us remarked on how great these seats were. Must have been their first baseball game and they surely have never been to PNC Park. As I told my dad it is a crime baseball is played here.
Since we did make it to the game early, while batting practice was still going on Zach and I
ventured to the outfield in an area called the “Fish Tank” in hopes of retrieving a ball. Because he was wearing his Nationals gear, reliever Joel Peralta tossed a ball up to Zach.
The crowd in th eoutfield had to be the most uneducated group of baseball fans ever. It really was a reflection on the whole crowd at Sun Life that night. These “fans” could care less about the game and are only there for the extra circular activities. And there are a bunch. I will compliment the fans on being the quickest to start a wave, however it happened in the 2nd inning. I hate the wave but these fans ate it up as it went around the park at least a dozen times.
It was a Fiesta Friday! Complete with mariachi bands roaming the outfield stands, four DJ’s spinning tracks on the concourse and a grape soda chugging contest. It was the most random assortment of events I have ever seen at a baseball game. But the crowd ate it up. Everyone on their feet was dancing, screaming and enjoying the culture. It was the most diverse crowd I have ever been involved with at a game. To accomodate the very large Hispanic crowd the PA anouncer announced the batters and lineups and most announcements in English as well as Spanish, first time I have ever heard that at a baseball game. Florida also adorned their “Los Marlins” jerseys.
He looked friendly as we walked towards each other and I simply asked if he was a Pirates fan with my hand extended ready to shake his hand. He looked at perplexed and gave me a stern “No!” Taken aback I said “why the jersey?” In a loud booming voice he goes, “I’m a CLEMENTE fan. I do not like the Pirates anymore.” I told him I still am a Pirates fan, which gave him a good laugh and he reluctantly snapped this photo with me.
Stephen Strasburg earned the win for the Nats. He was shaky to start but still managed seven strikeouts in six innings. The crowd was over 20,000 for the first time since Opening Day one fan told us. In 2012 the Marlins will be awarded one of the most beautiful ballparks in baseball. They waste no time in marketing it. Pictures are plastered all over publications, outfield walls and even in the background of the scoreboard when players are up to bat.
It was a unique experience at the game. I enjoyed myself and really would like to go back when the new stadium is opened. It is needed, baseball should never be played in an outdoor barn like that. But quite frankly the fans and citizens of Miami do not deserve it.
Outside the park there is some even more crazy stuff going on.Artwork like this decorates the
walls of the gates all around the stadium. Like what the heck is it? What does it mean? Nobody could answer my pressing questions.
We milled around all four parks and had a great time as children at heart. My favorite ride at the Magic Kingdom is of course Pirates of the Caribbean. I do like the movies and the musical score as it is often played at PNC Park. After riding the ride multiple times my brother and I had a heyday in the giftshop.
Raise the Jolly Roger!
Since I haven’t been home with my family all summer this week was definitely welcomed and the perfect opportunity to bond and catch up. It was unforgettable with memories I will carry on forever.
I am now ready to make my way back to PNC Park to see my Bucs take on the Padres. In my hiatus the Pirates have been hot, red hot. Everyone is hitting the ball putting up almost 50 runs since the All-Star break. This here is the future of the Pirates and it seems to be shaping up beautifully.
Anybody see this movie? I did two summers ago and I was very impressed. However, Kevin Spacey and company will not be mentioned any more throughout this article. But the aptly titled movie number will be, 21.
You see February 15th is my birthday. This is a monumental year as I am now 21. It is a cool feeling. Grown up for sure as I can now legally drink. Looks like it’s time for a new big man on campus here at WVU. Won’t be getting too crazy, or crazy at all because this is a busy week for me with two tests, a speech due and numerous newspaper assignments. However, I will be enjoying one of these sooner or later.
My real dream will come true on April 5th. Then I can enjoy my first baseball brew. I simply can’t wait until Opening Day when I can pay 8 bucks for a miniscule cup of beer. Ahh, enjoying a ball game with a cold beer in my hand, is there really anything better?
For this entry I have been researching some MLB players who have donned the number 21.
The list includes: Ryan Klesko, Heath Bell, Mark Sweeney, Clint Barmes, Kip Wells,
Ty Wigginton, Scott Hatteberg, Jason Marquis, Dimitri Young, Jon Lieber, Carlos Delgado, Sammy Sosa, Mark Kotsay, Matt Garza, Billy Butler, Sean Casey and Nick Markakis.
Now that list is of fairly current players. Warren Spahn is also up there as the leader of the 21’s. The famous Braves pitcher has his number retired. However, one man reigns supreme with the number 21.
The Great One, Roberto Clemente. The tried and true pride of the Pirates is not just one of the gems of the MLB, but for all humanity. It is well documented that my admiration for Clemente is vast. Man, if I could have seen this guy play. His glove, his arm, his bat, his speed. Holy cow, he was the complete package. While I do not believe his number should be retired across the MLB simply because he did not have the impace of Jackie Robinson, he can be the face of professional baseball. By giving him a day of honor and rewarding a player with an award on Roberto’s behalf is simply fantastic enough.
Thank you for helping me honore my 21st birthday!
And thank you to all my readers and facebook friends for their kind comments and birthday wishes.
And to everybody else, you’re welcome. With my birthday comes the week that pitchers and catchers report! I’m just getting the ball rolling.
photo credits: moviefone.com, teachline.ie, masslive.com, popcultureshock.com
What a better way to honor a humanitarian, civil servant and not to mention baseball player. Roberto Clemente is a legend. Not just in Pittsburgh but across the baseball world. Not just our country of the United State but the world. From the desolate islands of Latin America to the hills of Western Pennsylvania. Clemente paved teh way for so many athletes to make their way to America and make a living playing the sport they love. While he was not the first minority or Latin American ballplayer for that matter the impact he made on the game is second to none.
Clemente showcased his unparralled athletic ability and proved that spanish speaking ballplayers could flourish in America. Clemente played his entire 18 year career in the black and gold uniform of the Pirates. He was originally signed by the Dodgers but thanks to teh Rule 5 draft Pittsburgh was bale to lure him away. In perhaps the biggest move of the 1950s or even in all of the storied years of Major League Baseball.
In a Pirates uniform Roberto gave 100% effort no matter the situation, scenario or possiblity.
In the outfield he had amazing speed and range. He had the arm of a cannon and could gun down runners at any base. At the plate he made contact and could rip the ball a mile. He had a knack for seeing good pitches and could hit nearly anything. He recorded 3,000 hits over the span of nearly two decades.
In 1973 the Roberto Clemente award was established.
Originally called the Commisioners award it was renamed after the tragic plane crash death of Roberto himself. He dies much to young but died in the most respectable way possible. Delievering hurricane relief supplies to Nicaragua. His passion was helping others. He was quoted saying many beautiful comments about his life in Puerto Rico and how giving back is the most important thing in life. The award has been given to the MLB player that has emphasized the ideals of Roberto. last year, Albert Pujols took home the award. A player on each team is nominated for the prestigious Clemente trophy. Here is a list of all the players that are nominated for 2009.
Even today people recognize the accomplishments and life of Roberto. Every player hailing from the Latin America part of the world feels his prescence and carries the torch Clemente has passed to each of them.
Just last night I had the privelege of watching the movie Sugar.
It is the story of ficticious pitcher Miguel Santos. While it is a work of fiction it portrays what every single ballplayer from the Dominican Republic must go through to crack a major league roster. The sport is king on the island and with millions of young players out there only a select lucky few are noticed by major league scouts. The movie take you to the town of San Pedro from the neighborhood slums to the Baseball Academy established by Kansas City.
Miguel is part of teh academy trying to pitch his way to the United States. He is eventually brought up and proves himself in spring training. He makes a single A roster in a farm town in Iowa. The boundaries he experiences and the struggles he goes through are always overlooked. The problems that are experienced by all Domincan ballplayers trying to make it through a major league system are defined in this movie. Miguel comes across Roberto Clemente, while he was never introduced to the story of his life he reads a book about his life to pass the time while traveling to and from small town cities. He turns into his favorite player and he relaizes him and Roberto went through the same things and have a similair story.
This movie is a must see for every baseball fan. It makes you laugh and cry and gives a greater appreciation for foreign born players. I do not want to give too much away but I will leave you with this. For every Jose Reyes, Robinson Cano and Johnny Cueto there is a Miguel Santos.
Fresh off a four day break from baseball the Pittsburgh Pirates returned from their reunions with family and friends and set up shop back in PNC Park. The Giants were in town and so were the Peaslee men.
My brother, Zach, my father, Rick, and myself went to Pittsburgh for a nice Friday evening of baseball and fun. You’re probably wondering why I would let my brother wear a Giants shirt. After all he too is a die-hard Pirates fan and bleeds black and gold. Once you see the back you may understand the method behind his madness.
You see Zach is a big fan of the Giant’s pithcer and National League All-Star starting pitcher Tim Lincecum, but then again who isn’t? I, too am a big fan. The lanky hurler is a fresh face for the MLB and is turning into the elite name in all of baseball. At just 24 year sold he has been captivating the baseball nation ove rthe past few years. He has been on the cover of countless magazines and is the cover of the video game, MLB 2k9. Lincecum is featured on a commercial for Major League baseball being shown as just a down home guy, my type of baseball player. He is here for strict love of the game and the fact that he plays so well and i so dominating makes his aura even better.
On the ride the park we tuned in to the local sports talk radio station. Ellis Cannon, sports talk personality in Pittsburgh spoke wonders about Lincecum and the entire Giants franchise. He was raving and had every right to. The Giants are so much improved this year. A big part of the success is their home grown talent. Some the Pirates are looking to do—–build from within. Players like pitchers Lincecum and Matt Cain and third baseman Pablo Sandoval have all risen up through the system and are striving over time in the San Francisco clubhouse.
Players like that will continue to shinebecause they are young and have a whole career ahead of them. Who knows what is to come?. The sky is the limit. Maybe sometime Tim Lincecum himself will turn into a bigger international legend than he already is, maybe even have a parking garage floor named after him like this guy…..
Roberto Clemente! The Great One will forever be remembered for his heroics on and off the
field. In Pittsburgh he is highyl regarded in the community with many parks, monuments and even a bridge named for him. In the parking garage right outside PNC Park you too can take part in celebrating his life, by parking on the 7th floor. The ten floor parking garage features ten diffrent Pittsburgh sports legends. For just 12 dollars to park you can honor you rfavorite legend. Players such as Tony Dorsett, Franco Harris, Dan Marino and Andy Van Slyke all are honored. It is my favorite place to park in the city. It is always fun parking on a different floor to see which player you will end up with.
As we walked to the park it was drizzling. Not a heavy rain but enough to suspend play. The game was slated to start at 7:05 but wound up beginning at 7:50. From the gates we passed through we were handed beach towels, it was beach towel night. The perfect give away item on a rainy day. They were perfect to wipe off the damp seats. From the main home plate gate we ran out to center field, our destination was the bullpen. We wanted to catch a glimpse of the freak known as Tim Lincecum as he was warming up. We were greeted with a throng of people out there and Zach even met his match.
The man in the authentic Lincecum jersey had to be in his mid-50s. He was watching Tim warm up, analyzing his throws and capturing it all on his state of the art camcorder. We figured it was either his father (who is shown on that MLB commercial) or a big creep out to follow his every move. Either or he was a die hard fan. There were close to 30 people at the bullpen awaiting Lincy’s arrival. It was pretty cool, everyone was anticpating a big celebrity like the Pope. But it was just Tim Lincecum, but either way he was quite the spectacle.
Once he entered the bullpen many people started flashing their pictures. He had his trademarked crazy windup going all out. He through some nice strikes to the bullpen catcher. He was ready for action looking to improve from his mediocre showing at the All-Star game.
When his name was announced and he enetered the game a large cheer went up from the Pittsburgh crowd. Everybody knows who he is and like I said before you can’t not like this kid. I was surprised with the amount of Giants fans in the crowd. If you’ve ever looked at a map you can see how far San Francisco is from Pittsburgh, a good 3,000 miles. Whether it was actual Northern Californians or just bandwagon fans I won’t know. But I saw double digit numbers of Lincecum shirts and jeresys as well as many Bonds jerseys. I will admit that I have a soft spot for the Giants and the whole Bay Area vicinity, I will explain that later, back to the game last night.
It wa steh definition of a pitcher’s duel. Paul Maholm took the hill for the Pirates and had his most successful outing of the season. Maholm only allowed 4 hits and struck out 7 batters over 7 innings of work. Lincecum duplicated Maholm’s success only allowing 5 hits and striking out 7 of his own. Lincy did get shaken up a bit in the first inning when Garret Jones went deep to straight away center for his 6th dinger of the season. The one nothing score would remain like that until the 7th inning when the Giants tied it thanks to an error on a stolen base attempt. The one-one tie would last beyond the regular nine innings as this one headed to extras.
The extra frames were excruciating No team could do anything. Popouts, groundouts and strikeouts were all wer were able to see, from both teams. Nobody really threatened and the game looked like it would never end. During an inning break we went to the bathroom, and used it as an excuse to stretch our legs. It takes a toll on the body sitting for that long. The entertainment crew took note of that as well and played “Take me out to the Ballgame” AGAIN in the middle of teh 14th. I’ve never heard it twice in a game before.
On our bathroom trip Zach stopped at a souvineer stand and picked up this beauty.
A $27 dollar Andre McCutchen T-shirt. A fabulous item of clothing in my mind. I would die to have one honestly. But at $27 dollars that is a little pricy. Zach made the case that he only has one other Pirate shirt and he wanted to be one of the first people to own a McCutchen shirt. Now as much as I love Cutch, I’m sorry but I just got to save my money. He will most definately enjoy the shirt and wear it proudly. It is just too bad Andrew did not notice as he went 0-5 in the game.
The bottomof teh 14th game and Garret Jones stepped up to the plate and finished what he started. Jones blasted a Bob Howry pitch into the Allegheny River for the walk off win. I couldn’t believe it. As soon as he made contact I knew it was gone. It was a surreal momment. I gradually stood up and just raised my hands in the air. It was the perfect ending to a great night at the ballpark. There’s nothing I love more than a walk off win and the mobbing that comes at home plate.
There have been just 2 Pirate walk off wins this year and I’m proud to say I have been in attendance at both. Jones’ accomplishments at the plate this year have been next to unbelievable. He was 15 hits, 7 of which are home runs. He is an absolute beast. It is great for him, the team and the fans but sooner or later he is bound to cool down. When that happens it will be interesting to see if he can sustain himself at the major league level. The Pirates now stand at 39-50 on the year.