April 2009

A Deeper Look Inside…Matt Capps

 

 

 

capps.jpg“The Mad Capper”

“Big Bull Rider”

Matt Capps could be called which-ever you prefer. The only thing he prefers is a save opportunity. WIth 5 already on the season, Capps is automatic when he’s on the mound. The 6’2 245 guy is as big as advertised. Following in the footsteps of heavy set closers, Bob Wickman and Eric Gagne, Capps has a unique style of power when pitching. 

Since being on the big league club since 2005 Capps’ presecence has always been felt. Totaling 45 saves over the past four years he is among the elite closers in the major league.

The Pirate’s organization is no stranger to a strong closer. Number 43 Mike Williams was a fan favorite for many of the beginning years at PNC Park. In ’03 Williams set the Pirates record for saves with 43. That mark can easily be surpassed by Capps.

more pirates 011.JPGCapps is no stranger to big league talent. The Douglassville, GA native played on Team Georgia in 2001. The team featured young 20-something ball players that represented their home states in Oklahoma City during the SUn Belt classic. Brian McCann and Jeff Francour joined Capps on the team.

Capps, a bachelor and only 25 years old has been on his fair share of wedding parties. He was best man to fellow pitcher Zach Duke. The comraderie on any team is great and will provide for great chemistry and success in any situation. It’s great having a duo like this on our team.

Capps is not tenth on the all time saves list for a Pirate. WIth many outstanding years ahead of him, he should have no problem making a name for himself in the Pittsburgh organization

capper.jpgPHOTO CREDIT: postgazette.com/mlb.com   

WELCOME TO “MORGAN”-TOWN

Another great night a PNC Park….

 

RAISE THE JOLLY ROGER…8-6
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It was another tiny crowd, in fact my brother’s soccer game drew more people. The announced paid attendance of over 9,000 was so inaccurate. I’d say abou 3,000 people actually came through the gates last night. WIth the Pens game going on at the exact same time, and the weather conditions less than ideal there are some valid excuses for not turning out. But come on, ITS A MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL GAME!. The Pirates are playing great baseball. Freddy Sanchez is on a tear, briging his average up to .367, it looks like we’re getting back the Freddy of old. His 3 hits last night, including a solo homerun paced the Bucs and ultimately concluded the game with the 3-2 win over the best team in baseball, the Florida Marlins.


Our starting pitching was on the ball once again. Jeff Karstens had a quality start going 6 innings only allowing 3 hits and one run. OUr bullpen was shaky however. Tyler Yates came in and gave up a home run to Cameron Maybin. It was a deep shot into the second deck of the bleachers in left field, right over my head. In fact it was the first home run hit into “MORGANTOWN”. In honor of left fielder Nyjer Morgan me and my buddies made a sign that simply said Morgantown. We hung it over the railing in left field, chanted “Nyjer Morgan” (like the bleacher creatures in Yankee Stadium), and “Welcome to Morgantown”. He got a big kick out of it, and threw us ball he was warming up with. The people around us enjoyed it too chanting right along with us. Its also kind of punnny becuase as students of WVU we’re resients of Morgantown, WV. Just another catchy reason to do it in the first place. The sign is good in Pittsburgh as well as on campus in Morgantown. Look for “Morgantown” at many games throught this season, the city is always growing and can use more residents too!


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WELLS WATCH


Kip saw his first action in the major leagues this year on Monday. The now reliever for the Nationals threw one full inning only walking one batter. He shut down the next three in order. While he was only out there for an inning the Nats picked up the win 3-2 over the Braves  

Splash Zone

RAISE
THE JOLLY ROGER…7-6

 

jolly-roger.gif I’m baffled. Being a Pirate fan is one of the most confusing loyalties I can think of. One night, we’re shut out. We look like we couldn’t even get a hit off a 12 year old, the next night we torch the opposition with 11 hits and 8 runs, exactly what we did on Monday.

With every position player in the starting lineup getting a hit, the rally was on going all game. With Craig Monroe seeing starting action in right field and Jason Jaramillo playing behind the plate, two reserves got great experience and were a major part of the blowout win.

Monroe was 1-4 while scoring a run and Jaramillo was 2-4 scoring a run of his own.

nate2.jpgAs always, fireworks were let off after the Bucco win, however the offensive fireworks came in the 6th inning. Nate McLouth jacked a homerun over the right field wall, out of the park. The ball bounced off the riverwalk and SPLASH into the Alegheny. It was only the 24th ball to land in the water in the history of PNC Park.

While the offense provided the headlines, Ross Ohlendorf led the sidebar. 
 Going 7 innings only allowing 2 hits, the quality start for Ohlendorf was a real confidence booster and showed how commanding he can actually be. Its not everyday you completely shut down the MLB’s best team. The Pirates handed the Marlins just their second loss of teh season, by doing so the Bucs flat out embarrased the Fish. 2 hits through the course of the game, allowed the Pirates to exploit the over rated Florid team.

However, the real embarrasment came in the stands. An announced attendance of just over 8,000 made PNC Park look like an empty abyss. The crowd looked even smaller than the announced attendance. With all the deal offered by the organization and the team actually playing good, its amazing that more people don’t come out to support the Bucs. As a college student I try to do my share. I’ve been to three home games already on the young season. Obviously, I can’t make every game, and neither can the entire population of the Burgh metropolitan area. But at lease show an effort people. You make the city look bad when you don’t show up! I guess the game could technically be seen as a sellout, if blue plastic seats took over the world! The game was even seen live on ESPN for a brief moment for a live look in. Across the country baseball fans and sports fans in general saw first hand our lackluster fan support. Looks like we may need to borrow the jolly roger’s eye patch to cover up the black eye our team, stadium, organization, franchise and city just recieved. 

Kip Wells Watch

kip wells.jpgKip Wells…man where do I start. Back in the 2001 off season I remember being so pumped that the Pirates recieved him in a trade that sent Todd Ritchie to the White Sox. As an avid baseball card collecter I remember reading Beckett Baseball Card monthly and studying hot prospects whose cards would soon be worth big bucks. Wells was listed in the hot top 25 and nonetheless I had one of his minor league cards. Becoming a Pirate would be a great way for me to watch this up and comer and support him playing for my team.

 

I got my card autographed at the Pirates Caravan that came to my former hometown of Youngstown, OH. I was very excited, the complete opposite of Wells’s reaction. He kept to himself and never really had a smile on his face. I would soon relaize me and this guy would never have a good relationship.

His sour attitude upon his shortcoming as a bucco made me despise him everytime he took the mound. What sent me over the edge was when I attended a game in Cincinatti there was a sparce gathering of Pirate fans along the infield fence during batting practice. I had a ball out ready for autographs for whoever walked by. Kip comes over, everybody yelling his name and cheering in support, but what does he do? Snubs the crowd without acknowldgement or any sense of care. My mother, who is not the biggest Pirate fan, or baseball fan for that matter, was very taken aback by his gesture and developed the same harsh feelings for Kip.

Since his departure from the Pirates in 2006 he has been a drifter, playing for the Rangers,
kip.jpg Cardinals, Rockies, Royals and most recently the Nationals.

The reason for this rant is that I saw his anme mentioned on Sportscenter tonight, he has been promoted to the Nationals big league club where he will pitch out of the bullpen. I found it amusing that a kid with such great promise has turned into what Kip Wells has turned into. Pretty much just a forgotten big leaguer with no future, sorry for the negative sentiments. His stats has been dismal these past three years and this very well could be his last hurrah in the major leagues. I look forward to keeping track of his Nats tenure. If he succeeds—all the best. If he fails—-I hate to say, I told ya so.

 

 

 

PHOTO CREDIT: cache.dailylife.com/chrisoleary.com  

 

It was a great time BEFORE and AFTER the game…

I’ve rarely been to a game before the gates open. Today proved that I should do it more often. Not only did I only pay 4 dollars for my bleacher seat, I also caught a ball, won a plate and ate at Jerome Bettis’s Bar and Grill. It was Giant Eagle Advantage card day at the park, good for 5 dollars off any seat in the stadium.

It was really a great day. Except, the Pirates fell to the Braves 11-1. By fell I mean the Pirates were destroyed by the Braves 11-1. Zach Duke was letting batters drill him all day long. It was a complete 180 from his 4 hit complete game shut out.

I dont get whats up with the offense on days like this. Some games we get more production than we can ask for and then today comes along and we can barely get on base. We make decent pitchers (Chris Carpenter, Mike Hampton and today Javier Vazquez) look like gems on the mound. Sometimes it gets embarrasing.

Thats me with the ball I got in batiing practce. Brought my glove this time and was able to snag one thrown into the crowd. Pirates relief pitcher Donnie Veal threw it up.

Sunday vs Braves 012.JPG Today was also the debut of my new Pirate windbreaker jacket., I feel classy in it, plus its very nice on a windy, rainy 50 degree day liek today. Im pumped to wear it to another game and aroudn town. It also has the feel as a nice golf jacket.

After the game my and my group mosied on over to Jerom Bettis Grill 36. A new restraunt in between PNC Park and Heinz Field. Let me tell you it is a beautiful restraunt. It has a great atmosphere and is a great shrine to Pittsburgh’s beloved bus. The food is great and the prices are resonable. I was able to catch some of the Pens game and it was nuts when they scored teir first two goals. It is a great sports bar that I will frequent often and recomend to everybody that plans on visiting Pittsburgh.

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The facade of the fairly new Jerome Bettis resteraunt on the North Shore

Monroe gets curtain call in Buc Blowout

Opening Day 2009 045.JPGRAISE THE JOLLY ROGER…6-5 

It was another beautiful day at PNC Park. My second game of the year and every second of it was fantastic. Adorning my Ian Snell jersey with a purpose, as he took the mound for his third start of the season. Surprising enough Snell was very effective. Seven scoreless innings, three strikeouts and only four hits was his stat line in the afternoon contest. While Snell was anything but commanding he got the job done. Giving hitters favorable counts and throwing many pitches in the dirt you could tell there is still work to be done. However, Snell did everything anybody could ask for. He got pitchers to pop out or groundout and shut down the heart of the Braves lineup.

One lineup that was not shut down was that of the Pirates.

Pirates-Braves 017.JPGLook the poise in that man’s eyes. Monroe jacked two bombs right to the heart of center field, 3-run shots to be exact. Without a doubt Monroe is the biggest power asset on the team. With 16 RBI and 6 homers in spring training, Monroe led the club. I said this man was going to be a threat and needed to get in the lineup. If you don’t believe me go back some pages and check for yourself. Monroe has a sweet swing and connects on good pitches. All he needs is an opportunity.

What concerns me the most is our outfield situation. Make no mistake about it our outfield is great. We have good players who are blossoming (Moss), vets who are solid (McLouth-spelled it right didnt I Jon? and Hinske), guys with something to prove (Morgan and Monroe) and a wildcard who is supposed to be the real deal (Young.) It’s crowded out there. I’m concerned that every player won’t get their fair share and playing time will be limitied for all. While I do believe competition brings out the best in people, it may not be the best idea for the Pirates. We need to have an everyday lineup set in stone. Im not a big fan of the platoon system. It could work for righty-left matchups but other than that I think it sets up for turmoil in the clubhouse.

A 10-0 Pirate win capped off a great day. My good friend Andrew Schuerholz is a Braves fan and it was great to rub it in his face. If the name Schuerholz sounds familiar chances are it is. Andrew is the nephew of Braves VP and former general manager John Schuerholz. Uncle John hooked us up with great seats. Row D right behind home plate. It was cool sitting amongst the hot shots of the MLB. We were right behind a group of scouts from various major league teams. The Marlins, Brewers, Rockies, Dodgers and Blue Jays were all represented in two rows of seats. By witnessing the way the follow and critique the game I came to the conclusion that I want to be a baseball scout.
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Each of the scouts had notebooks such as this one. It was a collection of the most extensive baseball data I have ever seen. Each player was evaluated down to the finest detail. Location of pitches, how batters looked at pitches and time between action was all taken down into account. It was amazing how these guys followed the game and knew how the players would do in certain situations. It’s a cool job and something I would love to have more information on.

Once again it was another great day at the best ballpark in America. The sun drenched cty of Pittsburgh looked fabulous as always and added memorable moments I wont soon forget.

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The view from our great seats…

A Deeper Look Inside…Chris Kiernan

chris.jpgMeet Chris Kiernan, a sophomore sport management mager at West Virginia University. He is from a desolate town in terms of baseball fans; Forked River, New Jersey. A football fan first, Kiernan is growing his legs in terms of baseball fandom. He has been a Tampa Bay Rays fan for the past 5 years, the long run for the Rays in last years playoffs really heightened his interest in the game.

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Going to his first game at PNC Park and only a handful of games in his lifetime, Kiernan eagerly anticipated Monday’s Opening Day.

“I was excited for my first trip to PNC Park and even more excited that the tickets were only 12 dollars,” Kiernan said, ” It’s the best value in the amjor leagues.”

A loyal follower of the minor league teams in his Garden State home, Kiernan felt special that the price of tickets are so affordable.

“I can go to a major league game cheaper than I can go to a minor league game.”

While that is surely no low blow at the gameplay of the Pittsburgh ball club as Kiernan enjoyed his time at the most beautiful park in baseball from start to finish.

“Batting practice was cool because I got to talk to a player on my fantasy team (Carlos Lee).
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How close you got to the players, everyone around you trying to catch home run balls. My friend, Matt (Me) trying to catch one and missing. It was very funny.”

The pregame festivities also was a treat for Kiernan. “Honestly, my favorite part of the day was when Nate McClouth recieved his Gold Glove.”

The next moment, while memorable for Kiernan was a moment McClouth will soon hope to forget. “Then he missed his first fly ball which I thought was ironic.” 

Monday, being his first trip to the Steel City, Kiernan wanted to take in the whole city. As Pittsburghers we know theres no better way to present our fair city than to start with the food. 

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“I always enjoy myself from the food standpoint of things,” he said after chowing down on his Primanti cheesesteak, ballpark hot dogs and a burger from Red Robin. “The primanti brothers sandwich was a good experience. Once you take half the slaw off, it’s an excellent sandwhich.

While this was his first game in Pittsburgh, Kiernan has attened a handful of major league games. After all is said and done he said the Pirates game ranked in his top three. Opening Day 2006 in Tampa was a favorite, as well as a game last season in Baltimore.

“When I was in the upper deck at Camden Yards was sweet,” he said. “My freind Matt Peaslee (Me again) made a nice play on the beach ball that was floating around. He kept it away from teh security guard. It was amusing.”

While Kiernan walked into the game as a neutral fan, he came out with a greater respect and knowledge of the Pirates.

“I enjoyed the hometown fans cheering on their beloved Buccos.”

He also found his fair share of critiques for the club. “The Pirate need a better bullpen. Matt Capps is a great closer but from the starters and relievers the dropoff is big. The relievers are abysmal.”

With many games ahead as the season is still young Kiernan anticpates his next visit to PNC Park. “I definately plan on wearing my free hat.”

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BREAKING NEWS: Pirates acquire OF Delwyn Young

In quite the head scraching move the Pirates have traded for Dodger’s outfielder Delwyn Young. The Pirates will either ship two players to be named later or cash to LA.

Now I have no problem with this. I’ve heard of the guy and hear he has a load of upside. He is 26 years old and will just be reaching the prime of his career.

 
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“DY” as he was affectionately called in Las Angeles tore up the minor league circuit. In 2004 he hit 22 homers and batted .281. He made his major league debut in 2006 and has since struggled. His career BA is just .261 and his power numbers have slipped with just three home runs.

The Pittsburgh outfield is already crowded as it is. With Morgan going bonkers at the plate, McClouth solidifed in solid and the front office banking on Moss to contribute there really isn’t room for Young. 

On the bench we have Hinske and Monroe who are good players and not getting the playing time they deserve as it is. In the minors we have Cutch and Tabata. The only logical explanation for this is that we will use one of them as more tade bait. He need pitching, all wee can get. More than likely Monroe or Hinske will be outta here first, maybe even Morgan. Morgan is the most attractive of the three because of his hot start. I can even see Adam LaRoche being traded. Moss or Hinkse can fill in at first and even Steve Pearce once he gets the call up.

It’ll be interesting to see how it unfolds and impacts the club….

PHOTO CREDIT: mlb.com 

 

DUUUUUUUUUUKE

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4-3…

A chilly day and nosebleed seats did not stop me from enjoying a fantastic day at PNC Park, the first time in ’09. The Pirates were not fazed by the elements either as they shalacked the Astros 7-0. Zach Duke’s complete game, 4 hit shutout in fron of 38,000 plus fans was truly a sight to behold.

 

These bulleted points will outline my day in Pittsburgh and at the most beautiful park in the MLB.

 

  • Woke up at 8 and was on the road by 9, hour trip up 1-79 and right into the heart of downtown Pittsburgh
  • The first stop was in the strip district for a good taste of the ‘Burgh Primanti Brothers. As always nothing tastes better than slaw, tomatoes, cheese, fries and the meat of your choice in between two slices of delectable italian bread. My friends in my group were virgins to the delicacy and enjoyed every morsal of their breakfast.
  • It’s not every day I get to take in the ambiance of the markets and shops of the Strip so we took in some time along Smallman Street. We stopped in many nooks of the authentic Pittsburgh stores. I enjoyed the custom t-shirts that were for sale but I’m not the biggest Penguins fan and there was enough Pens shirts to clothe the country of Thailand.
  • After getting back to the car we drove a few feet to the David L. Lawrence convention center where we parked.
  • We found a spot and made the trek across the river to the field of green. It was the first time I had ever walked across the Clemente Bridge. It really wasn’t a long walk and the weather was very nice.
  • Upon entrance to the stadium I was prepared to recieve a magnetic schedule and and a brief hello from the ticket takers. I was pleasantly surprised when I recieved not only a magnetic schedule, not only a friendly hello, but also a commemorative opening day cap. While I will never wear that hat, or any free give away hat, it is definately a nice momento on an occasion I will not soon forget.
  • As we were already in left field we headed to the left field bleachers for batting practice. We met up with my father and little brother along the left field fence and tried our best to snag some BP balls. As a high fly ball headed right over my head, I boxed out those around me and reached to the sky with my bare hands. BAD IDEA not only did my concrete hands deflect the ball, my hands stung for at least two hours. (Note to self: BRING A STINKING GLOVE)
  • After the Astro’s had the equipment packed up we checked out the team store for new merchandise. Going against my plan of buying a Doumit t-shirt ($27 dollars…come on) I purchased a Nate McClouth All Star T-shirt ($12 dollars…much more reasonable dontcha think)
  • We headed to our seats up in section 302…very last row. Right along the river, it gets cold. The westerdly winds were blowing all game long and never ceased. We were icicles by the ninth inning. My brother and dad who were on the other side of the field said they were actually hot. Unfathomable for me and my friends to believe.
  • While the weather was less than ideal the game surely did not dissapoint. 3 triples by Freddy Sanchez, a homerun by Adam LaRoche in April, another dinger compliments of Ryan Doumit and unhittable pitches by Zach Duke. Everything seemed to come together for the Bucs on the fireld.
  • Every Pirate in the starting lineup notched a hit and the Pirates even batted around in the 4th inning.
  • After raising the Jolly Roger and exiting the park I high fived the saxophone guy and requested country roads. Which he played, but also dissed my Ian Snell jersey.
  • I surely underestimated the downtown Pittsburgh traffic after the game and after work for downtown business. While sitting in the stand still traffic i called into 104.7 and proposed to Rocco Demiro an 85 win season for the Pirates. He was very taken aback by the overly optomistic proposition, but after my explanation of our outstanding pitching staff and potent hitting we can definately pull it off. 

 

DSCN0906.JPGMe and my bro, Zach before the game 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Opening Day; just hours away

You ever see those Disney World commercials where the kids are restless in their beds?

The little boy and his sister run into their parents room because their too exited to sleep becuase they leave for Disney World the next day.

I’m feeling the same exact way!

I’m waking up in a mere 7 hours to prep for the hour trip from my apartment in Morgantown, WV up 1-79 into the Steel City.

I should be resting up so I will be bright eyed a bushy tailed ealry in the morning but I just can’t make myself fall aslepp. With Sportscenter echoing on my 13in tv and Youtube clips of Pirate highlights from years past I’m only encouraging myself not to go to bed.

With seats in section 302, row Y I pretty much have the worst seats in the house, then again, it’s PNC Park; Greatest park in the nation.

Look at this picture and tell me otherwise…..

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Ahhhhh, just take it all in. Breath taking isn’t it?

No other stadium in America (or even Canada) can offer that view. The picturesque backdrop of the city and small confines add up to an unforgettable baseball experience.

My friends who are going to the game with me aren’t necessarily the biggest Pirate fans. In fact they are Rays, Orioles and Indians fans respectively. They will enjoy the game. Due to the fact its a real baseball game played in the National League, they will be able to feast their eyes on a great ballpark experience in a beautiful spring day.

Hopefully the atmosphere and fanfare of opening day will add up to a thrilling Bucco win. If not, there are plenty of other games to be held. However, there is nothing like the optomism of an opening day win to brighten your spirits for the rest of the season.

Instead of seeing Mickey, Goofy and Donald I will be seeing Nate, Zach and Nyjer. It will be a great day and all festivities will be recorded and posted to the PittPeas later in the day. Stay tuned for pictures, videos and comments from opening day in Pittsburgh.

PHOTO CREDIT: pittsburgh.about.com

 

 

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