June 2009

Pirates props across national media

On Saturday you could

RAISE THE JOLLY ROGER…26-29

for a 6-4 Pirates win over the Astros. But the real story takes place over the last 16 years.

For the past 16 years the Pirates have been on quite the skid. 16 straight losing seasons and bleak moments sure to come the past decade and a half has been depressing for baseball fans in the Burgh. The once proud franchise known as the Pittsburgh Pirates have turned into a laughing stock amongst all professional sports. With teams like the Red Sox and Yankees all over outlets such as ESPN, FOX Sports, Sports Illustrated, Sporting News etc, its hard for a small-market team like the Pirates to get the face time. Other small market teams have found their way into the niche ove rthe years. The A’s and their money ball manager Billy Beane use their small ball tactics as a model for MLB success, the success of the Rays allowed them to break out of their dip in national attention. Teams like the Twins, Indians and Marlins have always been competitive and therefore are shown considerably on the national level.

The Bucs, not so much. I can’t tell you the last time I’ve watched teh Pirates on ESPN. Actually, I can. It was this year and it was a complete fluke. There was a rain delay on a Tuesday night in Boston and the national TV audience was thrust into PNC Park for a brief live look in at the Pirates game. But I digress. The Pirates have never been on Sunday Night Baseball, TBS on Sunday or FOX on Saturday. While I am able to see every game on TV thanks to FSN Pittsburgh, it would just be cool to see neutral announcers broadcasting my team. It would also give baseball fans across the country to see that baseball in Pittsburgh does exist, and they actually have fans that cheer for the team. Once again I digress.

This week has been great in terms of national media exposure.

The Nate McLouth trade obviously allowed a throng of reporters and attention towards the Pirates. Its nice to see the Pirates mentioned with interviews with players, general managers and coaches all talking about the Pirates and analyzing the trade to a T. But prior to the trade Pittsburgh was put on the map.

The June 1st edition of ESPN magazine allowed a national audience to feel the pain we as Pirates fans have felt for way too long.

http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=4199102

The article is called “That was then, this (sigh) is now” It’s a great look at the struggles and future of the organization. The reporter did a great job of capturing all of the failed manuevers and stop-gap tactics that set the Pirates back further than needed to be. There are also interview blurbs with Pittsburgh residents, Neil Walker, the Director of Media and Reltions and Patty LaRoche, Andy and Adam’s mom.

I just came across this acrticle today on the front page of the ESPN.com baseball section.

 http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/columns/story?columnist=kurkjian_tim&id=4230662

It is written by my favorite baseball personality Tim Kurkjian. Mr. Kurkjian is a hero of mine. I’ve read his book and enjoy his insight of the game. He is a good guy with a great personality. He pretty much does what I hope to do one day. I can only wish to be half the writer he is today.

Tim wrote a nice essay on Pirates pitcher Ross Ohlendorf. Ohlendorf is smarter than the average baseball player. He went to Princeton and excelled in the classroom. He used his Ivy League education and superb baseball skills to write a senior thesis that general managers would drool over. He analyzed draft results and team success and translated how certain players will fare in the major leagues. He really puts his brain to work on and off the field. How Kurkjian presents Ohlendorf to the national readers.

While the Pirates haven’t gotten the pub for the overall success of the club its good to see these little things being covered.    

The Future is NOW

I’m loving the props on the mlblogs home page. Matt Weiters got some recognition for making his debut and now Andrew McCutchen graces the cover.

As we all know by now Nate McLouth was traded to the Braves in exchange for prospects. The dust has finally settled and the fact that hes gone has set in. Fans and players alike were equally shocked and held in disbelief by the trade. In this article off espn.com, Pirates players vent about their frustrations with the front office.

 http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=4233488

Its good to see the players have so much dedication for a teammate. It shows that the players here in Pittsburgh strive to do the best they can to give the fans something to cheer about. I think the team will be brought closer together with the events that occured and pull it all together.

But the sun will always rise and it surely did yesterday afternoon in Pittsburgh.

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Cutch is here and the future surely is NOW.

McCutchen impressed on his opening day going 2-4 with and RBI. He showcased his speed by stealing a base an scoring two runs. He along with Nyjer Morgan both celebrated the day and showed the Mets that speed definately kills as the Bucs downed the Metropolitans 11-6.

Jon from the Mc Effect was at the game and had the time of his life. He has a nice rundown of the days events over on his blog, be sure to check it out. http://eatsleepmlb.mlblogs.com 

The Pirates are now inching closer and closer to that coveted .500 mark. WIth a new sense of identity and Cutch the boy wonder in teh lineup on an everyday basis watch for Pittsburgh to deliever and prove to the baseball world that they can win.

After Day 1 of the McCutchen project PNC Park was able to

RAISE THE JOLLY ROGER…25-28

“A Bombshell Dropped in Pittsburgh”

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  • 2008 Gold Glove winner
  • 2008 All-Star
  • 46 doubles in 2008
  • 2008 Roberto Clemente Award winner
  • Allegheny River splash ball

Shock. I was in complete and udder shock upon hearing the news that Nate McLouth was traded to the Atlanta Braves. Our cornerstone player, fan favorite and all around best player has been dealt away. I just don’t get it.

I’m all for improving the team. I want more than anything for the Pirates to win. I just felt lied to and dissrespected as a Bucco fan for the event that just occured. GM Neil Huntington, pictured to the left of Nate, claimed that he was a part of our winning future. He was a building block for the Pittsburgh turnaround, Not so much anymore. Gorkys Hernanadez, Charlie Morton and Jeff Locke will now be part of that glorious future. Ever heard of them? Me niether.

The Pirates play third fiddel in the city of Pittsburgh. The Steelers come first, the Pens come second, the Pirates come third. Its almost like the world has been turned upside down in the Steel City when the baseball team is brushed off. Now that the most recognizable player has been traded again, who can the casual fans identify with? They abided in Jason Bay-traded away. Brian Giles-traded away. Aramis Rameriz-traded away. While Bay, Giles, and Rameriz were traded away for younger talent, money was also in issue in each of the trades. McLouth is affordable. He was signed through 2011 making just in the low millions. WHile he was probably traded awya for upper-level prospects, we have enough. I guess you can never be too cautious about the future, but when management claims to want to win NOW, how is this move justified? I just don’t see it, and if I can’t see it, the casual fans of Pittsburgh surely wont be able to either.

Well Nate I guess Green Day said it best…

IT’S SOMETHING UNPREDICTABLE, BUT IN THE END ITS RIGHT…

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I HOPE YOU HAD THE TIME OF YOUR LIFE

The Pitt Peas, in Pittsburgh, Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Finals

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Get you rmotor runnin’. Head out on the highway. Thats exactly what I did last night and yes I was born to be wild. Me and my buddy Andrew, yep the Yankee guy who influenced me so much to don the A-Rod jersey last Friday, headed over to the Keystone State for a fun night of Pittsburgh hockey. Now I love driving, I enjoy road trips for the freedom, the music and the sense of adventure. Last night, we had all three. The road I take to Pittsburgh is the road most traveled. From Youngstown I always drive to the Burgh for Pirate games and other activities in the city. From Morgantown I always drive to Pittsburgh also for ball games and activities. Its safe to say I know this road pretty well. Being just an hour from both Y-Town and Mo-Town, Pittsburgh is the ideal epicenter for life and development in the Northeast Ohio, Western PA and Northen West Virginia Metropolitan area. I always get ragged on for making that statement, especially in Youngstown. Everyone in the YO are Cleveland people and everytime I even make a slight regard to Pittsburgh being closer to Youngstown I hear the hate train a-coming.

But last night was unique. We headed out to Pittsburgh for a fun night of sitting outside Mellon Arena with thousnads of other poor Pittsburghers who couldn’t afford a ticket inside the arena. The Versus network sponsered a big screen TV to be hung outside of Mellon for the public to view the game in an exciting setting. Both us not being the biggest hockey fans but happy to support the Pens found this offer to be quite thrilling and we wanted to be part of the action. Now call me a front runner, tell me I’m jumping on the bandwagon, but its simply not true. Earlier in the hockey season I was quoted on saying that “I’m not really a Penguins fan, I’m a Penguins supporter.” While somewhat true, I have followed the Pens. I went to a game earlier this year and have been to a handful of others. I fell in love with players such as Jaromier Jagr, Johan Hedberg, Tom Barrasso, and Super Mario Himself. 

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summer stuff 047.jpgThese pictures were taken in the Strip District of Pittsburgh and my favorite Burgh hangout, Primanti Brothers. I mentioned Primantis in my Opening Day entry a few month sback, to refresh your memory it is a sandwich shop famous for putting coleslaw and french fires on the sandwich. I enjoyed a cheese steak with fries and slaw while Andrew indulged in the capicola. My favorite part of Primantis aside from the historic location is the murals inside. Covering the walls are caricatures of famous Pittsburgh movie stars, actors, and sports figures. In honor of teh hockey game I snapped a pic of Mario and in honor of the Pirates that is a picture of Honus Wganer and beloved manger Jim Leyland.

After we enjoyed our dinner we drove up to the arena and was greeted by a throng of people.

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The area outside of Mellon Arena was loaded with thousands of people decked oout in their black and gold. Some people were fighting their way through the throng of people to make their way to the gates and in the stadium. The vast majority of people were just taking in the show laying on blankets, sitting in lawn chairs and watching the game on the big screen outside, that was mine and Andrews plan, to be one of the outsiders. While still in the car we came across many sclapers selling tickets to this big game. Out of curisoity we inquired about how much we would have to pony up to see a part of Pittsburgh history. The first guy said $175.00 each, the next $200.00. A little out of reach, especially for 2 college students who aren’t the biggest hockey fans in the world.

We eventually parked the car and walked towards the arena in hopes of finding a comfortable place to watch the game.

summer stuff 056.jpgThe big problem was that we didn’t have any lawn chairs. Stupid mistake because we were hard pressed to find a comfortbale setting. We sat on police barracades-but were kicked out. We croched in front of a group sitting on a couch-yelled at, so we moved. Our last resort was standing. We were way in the back acoross the street and could only catch a glimpse of the screen, with people and trees in the way it would not have been an enjoyable night. 

We walked around the dome in hopes of running into more scalpers, to beg, borrow our way into Mellon Arena.

We talked to about 8 sclapers who all offered outrageous prices for a pair of tickets. The lowest we were going to recieve was $120.00. Still too much for us at least. In reality that is a reasonable price for an event such as this one. With about a half hour til gametime we still were not giving up.

We talked to a handful of more scalpers untill we heard somebody was selling them in the 80 dollar range. A little closer to our target price. We ran into the 80 dollar guy. He was cordial and realized we were just two kids looking to get in the stadium. We pleaded for him to give them to us for $60. By this time it was 8 o’clock and close to gametime. We were on the verge of becoming desperate. He said teh lowest he could go was 80, in the end we walked a way.

UNTIL

The voice cried out, “HEY GUYS…I GOT YOU”. We alked back and he said $60 bucks. We couldn’t believe ourselves $60 bucks to see a Stanley Cup game, a great deal for us, not so much for him. We were overjoyed walking into the stadium yelling and high fiving each other. I was tempted to go up to the couch people who yelled at us just to rub the tix in their face.  

The security in the stadium was tight, almost liek an airport. There were pat downs, industrial bag checks and those electric metal detector sticks that you have to spread your arms out when they go over you. It was intense. As we walked through the gate we were handed a white t-shirt and rally towel. Perfect paraphernalia for my collection. The insigna of the  Stanley Cup logo on the towel is a great collectors item.

We walked around the old stadium having a little trouoble finding our seats. I’ve been to Mellon Arena before, plenty of times actually stretching back to when it was called Civic Arena. It reminds me alot of Three Rivers Stadium. Its just like those cookie cutter baseball parks such as Vetrans Field, Qualcomm Stadium, Riverfront Stadium, and old Busch Stadium. Winding walkways and circular dimensions, its very weird when navigating your way through. We finally came across section E17, row O seats 17 and 18. Our home for the next three hours.

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You can tell from the excitement on Andrews face he was thrilled to be in there, as was I. Were in in the dead last row. You can see the roof of the dome peeking out behind my shoulder. It was great to pund on makign noise during the action. The seats weren’t all that bad either. There was a level above us so at times we had to crouch down in order to see the on-ice action. We were able to see the puck travel clearly and see it drop in the net. It was an amazing time.

It was honestly the most exciting sporting event I have ever been to. Now I’ve been to my share of Pirate games, WVU football and basketball games, Steelers games and Cavaliers basketball games-nothing compared to the suspense. I was never on the edge of my seat as much as I was last night. I have been to my share of high profile events. 2005 NCAA basketball tournament first round, 2006 Sugar Bowl and 2006 Home Run Derby and All Star game but nothing was as meaningful as the Stanley Cup Final game.

It was also not just a party for the Penguins, it was a celebration of the city. Mike Tomlin, Casey Hampton, Heinz Ward and Heath Miller were all in attendance. It was great seeing some Steelers join in with their fellow citizens and cheer on the Pens.

Here are some more pics of the night.

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Mario Lemieux dropping the ceremonial puck

 

 

 

 

 

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The White Out T-Shirt given away to all fans

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Opening face off of the game

 

 

 

 

 

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Red Wings mobile-bet it didnt make it out of the Burgh alive

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Reppin’ some Pirates pride. That is a Donnie Veal jersey. He is a rookie reliever who is currently on the DL. The first Veal jersey I have ever seen, not sure why they would even manufacture them

 

 

 

 

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ITS TOWEL TIME

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Final Score- 2 goals for Max Talbot

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A downtown building flashed a laser of the logo. Very cool to see

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While the hockey game was going on I couldn’t help but to think of my buddies across town. the Pirates were playing the Mets and with Johan Santana on the mound I feared for my bucs.However, a 3-1 win was the result and I couldn’t have felt more proud. I was upset with myself for coming to Pittburgh and not supporting my Bucs. But a trip past PNC Park was definately in order.

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Do you believe in miracles? THE PIRATES DO!

MIRACLES.jpgI kind of jumped the gun a little with last nights post. I had just seen Snell get yanked from the game and assumed that the Bucs were detined for another loss, their 29th of the year. However, by the glory of Andy LaRoche teh Pirates pulled together a 5-run 8th innings and propelled Pittsburgh to a 8-5 win over teh Mets. I love answered runs and the Pirates had 8 of them last night.

The Buccos put together a string of 13 hits in the game and were relentless at the plate. Nyjer Morgan went 2-4, Adam LaRoche went 3-5, Jack Wilson went 3-4, Jason Jaramillo went 2-4 and Andy went 3-4 with 3 RBI and a TRIP_TRIP_ TRIPLE.

The big hit was delievered by pinch hitter Delwyn Young. His single drove in the go-ahead run and gave the Bucs momenum to add their insurance in  the same inning. 

This was a special game for a handful of reasons.

1) My good friend Chris Kiernan was able to witness the game. If you remeber a few weeks back when “A Deeper Look Inside Chris Kiernan” was written, he is from New Jersey. Being in teh New York metropolitan area he was able to catch the game on Chris was fresh off a visit to a minor league game where the Trenton Thunder played against teh Pittsburgh AA farm club, the Altoona Curve. Prior to the game he went down to the baseline and scored me some autographs of future Pirates players. He was very generous and so were the players. He offered them words of encouragement in hopes of seeing them at PNC Park in the near future.

2) Capps got a save. I’ve been very nervous as of late when I see him warming up. However, it seems that the dust has settled and the Capper has found his groove once again.

3) Attendance= 11,812. While the Mets were probably shocked at that number the Pirates probably weren’t. For a weekday game that is actually decent in Pittsburgh. We’re so used to crowds below 10,000 dipping into the 8,000s. With summer quickly approaching and the Pirates looking above average get used to Western Pennsylvania residents flocking the North Shore to see some Bucco baseball

4) Its a win and you know what that means…

RAISE THE JOLLY ROGER…23-28

 

 

Photo Credit: AP photo/gene puskar

 

 

Snell Shelled

dianapirates0521a_500.jpgGood call on my part getting this guys jersey last year, he has done nothing but been a dissapointment. The Mets harrased him for 5 runs today over six innings. He has a record of 1-6 on the year and an era of 5.68. If he doesn’t look out Tom Gorzelanny could very well be on his tail for a spot in the rotation. If he doesn’t get his head on striaght or something I’m going to be shopping around for a new jersey.

 

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