There may not be a more refreshing sight that will grace the PNC Park jumbo tron, this year.
es against the Brewers coming up this week, I plan on returning to my summer home to catch some more baseball. We all have a special place where we need to go to take time off, relax and be entertained. For ten years, PNC Park has been my spot. With 78 more home games to go I plan on enjoying every single one I get to go to, win or lose.
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.
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.
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.
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.
However, the festivities of the day did not end there.
Throughout 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.
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?
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.
We got there right as the gates opened in hopes of autographs and balls thrown from batting practice.
Ryan 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.
Raul 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.
Except 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.
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.
There 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.
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.
The 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.
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.
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.
I 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.
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.
After 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.
From embarrassment to back on track the Pirates defeated the State College of Florida 6-1 on Tuesday afternoon. The embarrassment came last year as the community college defeated the Pirates. Yes, that really happened. Although obviously not the entire major league roster an MLB or even minor league club should handily beat any college team.
It did happen today.
There were a handful positives for Bucco fans steaming from the win today.
1). It is the start of baseball season. What is better than seeing our boys take the field for an official organized game against competition.
2). Pedro Alvarez very well could be the read deal. The “prodigy” went 3-for-4 with three straight hits including a solid double. If it is any sign of things to come, which I’m sure it is, Alavarez will be on a fast track to the hot corner in Pittsburgh.
3). Donnie Veal-remember the name. Veal was a rule 5 pickup last offseason and is said to have killer potential. He was injured for a majority of the year in 2009 but showed promise in a depleted bullpen. He was a part of th Arizona Fall League and tore up the mound last Autumn. Today he went just one inning, but did not allow a hit and struck out a batter. He will begin the year in the Pirate bullpen, but has the talent to make a run at a rotation spot later on in the season.
The players in the lineup for the Bucs today were all minor league prospects who will not sniff the big leagues for a while. Alvarez and Jose Tabata are two of the exceptions. However, Brandon Moss too was in the lineup. Moss had a sensational game hitting a home run, but to be playing with these youngsters would have to be pretty demeaning if I were in his shoes.
Moss has failed to live up to lofty expectations the past two seasons. It is questionable whether or not he will make the big league roster. He surely needs the work in AAA, but there is a fighting chance he will be the last bench spot. He will be in tight competition with Delwyn Young and another rule 5 acquistion, John Rayner. I personally hope Young is part of the opening day 25-man roster
There are two more reasons why today has been a good day.
Over the weekend I set out with some friends to the Morgantown Mall, anticipating a big purchase. I had my sights set on buying a new hat. I had bought a gray Pirates earlier this year but Saturday I really wanted to be unique with a new team. After much consideration and second guessing I left with this:
Yes my friends a San Francisco Giants hat. Odd? Maybe. Unique? Indeed. It is something different and I like being a trend setter here. I have seen these on campus before, but it is very rare. I recieved about three compliments on my new cap and I am proud of my purchase.
Reson number three, last but not least is some big news.
After interviewing for an internship with the West Virginia Power minor league baseball team,
class A of the Pirates, a few weeks ago I recieved a call back today. I was selected to be an intern. I am overjoyed at this opportunity as it will help further my career and give me a leg up in a field I hope to work in. There are still specifics that need to be worked out, I need some extra cash and a place to stay as the Power makes their home in Charleston, about a three hour drive from Morgantown.
I still have time to think it over, but good news is always welcome.
Everybody who has MLB Network should tune into it tomorrow at 1pm as the Pirates take on the Yankees. I do not pickup the station but my buddy’s girlfriend does. Manager John Russel has said both Paul Maholm and Ross Ohlendorf will pitch in the opening game against NY. Get pumped! Because I am!
phot credits: sarasota.com, zimbio.com, bucsdugout.com, sportsillustrated.com, lids.com, wowktv.com
Tell me that isn’t the sweetest walk off arrival at home plate ever. I got goosebumps when I saw it. I smiled, laughed, and just through my hands in the air. Doing his best Nike Jumpman impression Andrew was airborne leaping into the dogpile that was awaiting him.
Air Jordan should be Air McCutchen. This dude’s got ups. He was also a football player in high school but if the devlopment league b-ball team in Pittsburgh needs a shooting guard look no further than Andrew McCutchen.
Cutch went 2 for 4 with a stolen base in the game. Solid numbers for the rookie. He did however promptly blow the game in the top of the ninth inning. He misplayed a ball hit to him and forced two Philly runs to score that inning. I hate when this happens because I never have faith when the Bucs aree behind in the bottom of the ninth. I was proved wrong tonight when McCutchen came through to put a smile on all black nd gold fans in Western Pennsylvania (and northern West Virginia for that matter) as the Pirates top the Phillies 6-4.
Maybe it was J. Quist’s report on Ryan Doumit, but the catcher went off tonight. He was just 1 for 2 but it took just one swing of the bat to tie the game 1-1 early in the game. He belted a homerun that landed in the right field stands.
Another tip of the cap goes out to Ross Ohlendorf. Very quitely the young hurler racked up 10 wins on the year. He gained the no decision in tonight’s game but was very solid and in line for the W. In 6.1 innings pitched Ohlendorf gave up just 5 hits and 2 earned runs.
I feel so great about this win. It hurts to see so many Philly fans taking over PNC Park. People from the east side of the state come in with their nose up in the air and walk with their chests out since the World Series win last year. I can’t blame em cause I know it happens everywhere with every team but its hard to swallow win baseball supremacy of teh state of Pennsylvania is not in Pittsburgh. However, tomorrow I hope to get the bandwagon rolling once again. I will be walking around the WVU campus with my McCutchen shirt and Bucco hat. Hopefully some other Pittsburgh fans will come out of the woodwork and join my cause.
One last time, thank you Buccos! Lets Go Pittsburgh!
Before I express my feelings of relief, just got to ask one thing. Whats up with this celebration? I love seeing it. I love the look on the players faces when they are in mid air rejoicing after a win. I just don’t like that every team does it. I feel so proud as a Pirates fan knowing the Jolly Roger has just been raised and my boys are up like this, but every team in the MLB does it. It really rubs me the wrong way. I hope some team, I would love it be the Pirates, to come up with their own victory celebration. I would honestly like some touchdown celebrations of sorts. Nothing too drastic just an after the game dance or diddy out in the outfield. It would be a great marketing tool and players and fans alike can partake in their own jigs.
Now enough about that let me just say that a win is a win. They don’t come often but I surely enjoyed this 7-3 win over the respectable Rockies.
The Pirates owned this game from start to finish. Nearly every player contributed to the win in their own special way.
Starting pitcher Ross Ohlendorf was outstanding on the mound. He picked up his tenth win and now stands at 10-8. He went 6 innings giving up 6 runs and surrendering 3 earned runs. He was a little shaky as he gave up 2 home runs but still managed to work his way out of jams. He showed that he has the poise to avoid disastorous situations and get the key outs.
Ryan Doumit maneuvered his way out of a deeper funk. He notched a double as he went 2-4 with a walk and run scored. Doumit has been iffy all season. He started out hot, but went down with an injury that kept him out for a few months. On his rehab stints he stunk up the joint in the minor leagues. He failed to get hits and looked like a scrub. He has been equally scrubby since his return to the 25 man roster. He’s had his moments with 2 hit games, such as this one, but he has gone hitless in too many games. A good showing at the plate and a win may boost his confidence.
Lastings Milledge is not off the hook either. I love his potential and upside but he still has not proven he is the answer in left field. I still do miss Nyjer Morgan but I honestly believe Milledge will live up to the hype and be a star. You can see he puts in time in the weight room and stretches out those meaty legs. He flashed his hops during the game robbing a homerun and elevating above the outfield wall. It was a sensational grab and earned the number one spot on Baseball Tonight “Web Gems” The hosts ,emtyioned that the Pirates hold the lead for team appearances on the web gem segment. A cool honor and rightfully so as it seems night in and night out there is also a Buc on the spotlight.
Andrew McCutchen had another hat trick tonight. Remember 2 weeks ago when he hit 3 homeruns. Well as an encore a few days later he went hog wild again. Cutch stole 3 bases. An amazing feat and something only those special players can perform. He has some outstanding speed in those legs. To get him off and running is a great sign, and a warning sign for opposing teams. Getting him on base and on the move will definately score some run. (3 for him tonite)
One of my favorite faces of the Pirates organization is 3rd base coach Tony Beasley. Not only does his last name rhyme with mine he is a charasmatic fellow, like myself. I sometimes question his decsions about sending and holding runners, but 9 times out of ten he knows how to handle it. Last week his father and aunt dies, just a few days apart from each other. He was on leave to be with his family in these tough times. I love his courage and wish the best to his family. Its great to have him back guiding the Bucs. Here Beasley is with Delwyn Young. DY just laced a triple scoring two runs. He finsihed the game 2-5.
Maybe this game will right the ship and direct the Bucs to more wins. I know its late in the season but I hope they can finish respectably. Like I’ve preached before I want to see hope for the future. Tonight I surely did. My goal for the Bucs is to always finish above the Indians when the season is all said and done. We are a few games back now but if the push continues, watch out Tribe.