I held that sign with great pride and honor last week in Arizona and even today, amidst all the so called damage that has been done-my bucco banner waves proudly. The madness still seems to continue as the Pirates delt away two solid pitchers in John Grabow and Tom Gorzelanny. We got 3 decent looking young arms in return but as of now they are no where near the caliber of Grabow and Gorzo. But the most important thing here is not the return, its the giving away. With the trades of the two pitchers yesterday the Pirates have now traded a good majority of their major league roster. Some say its ludicous. “What are the Pirates doing?”-they bellow. “Huntington you’re an idiot”-they scream. “You’re breaking up the team and the clubhouse.”-they whine. And quite honestly, I don’t get. Its a mixed bag indeed, I really don’t know how to feel about it all in fact I couldn’t sleep last night trying to organize and dissect everything that went down. Jack and Freddy are gone. The dynamic duo of the double play. Fan favorites for many years and now they are traded away. What fans need to realize is that its time they moved on. Its how the major league system works. We did’nt win with them and we have a better shot of winning without them. Thats the main point here. People question whats going on and act like their breaking up such a great team. This is the team thats hasn’t had a winning season in 17 years! They’re not the ’27 Yankees. (a quote from Huntington the GM himself). He is trying to build a winner here, a winning organization through and through. He is making these moves for the team can be better. There isn’t a way he could do that keeping players such as Adam LaRoche, Jack Wilson, John Grabow, etc. They have all been replaced that guys that will be capable of actually righting the ship with a breath of fresh air. It may take time, we’ve had patience for more than enough years another year of losing won’t be all that bad, but in two years with experience under their belt the talent they recived will blossom and turn this team into a true winner-and keep them in the compettive ranks for more years to come.
Whew! now that thats over I have been looking forward to sharing details from my trip to Arizona. From Colorado we rented a car and drove to AZ. It was a nice ride that lasted nearly 14 hours. Its tough work meandering through the middle of nowwhere. We would drive for miles and miles of straight barren wasteland. Although it was field with many cool natural sights that I’m not used to here on the East Coast.
The states of Arizona, Utah, New Mexico and Colorado make up the Four Corners. It was a nifty little sidetrip we took so we could tell our of our friends that we were in four states at once. We meandered down long dirt roads that looked like there would be no end in sight to make it to the landmark, but upon our arrival the reward was perfect. It was a coll little area run by native Americans as a tourist spot.
We then visited the natural crown jewel of Arizona and perhaps the entire continental U.S., the Grand Canyon. I was awestruck by the scene and dazzled by the history of this place. It was so real that it was almost fake. (if that makes any sense). It was like a large canvas painting hanging there right in front of me. It was absolutely spectacular. It woul have been cool to be like the Brady Bunch and ride a burrow down the canyon. Not only was it too hot, I wouldn;t trust a little donkey carrying me down hundreds of yards.
From the Grand Canyon we ventured to the capital of AZ, Pheonix and the main reason for our vacation.
Chase Field was also the center point as it was the 25th ballpark I have seen a game in. (just 5 more to go to complete all 30). I was very impressed with what they have there in downtown Pheonix. I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about the retractable roof, I am a purist and believe baseball should be played outdoors. The roof actually made this park much more exciting. The lighting and all made for an unforgettable atmosphere. It felt like I was at a basketball game with the lighting and sound. It was the most exciting setting I have been a part of to tell you the truth. Their intro video was so thrilling it honestly gave me chills.
They claim to be the most unique venue in all of Major League Baseball, and I am one to attest to that. There is so much to see and do around the park. From the concession stands that feature a wide variety of different ballpark concessions, to aswesome deals in their souveneer shops (7 bucks for a hat, 5 for a t-shirt) to an array of different seating venues this ballpark had it all, including….
A POOL! A freaking POOL. How cool is that? I know I’ve seen it on TV and it looked awesome being right there in front of it was incredible. A homerun landed right in it over the weekend too. Talk about a real splash ball. Only problem was I wasn’t allowed in it. Security was watching it like a hawk and made sure it was reserved only for those “special” guests that were part of a party.
Before the game one day we went down right as the gates opened to get as close to our Bucco heroes as possible. To our surprise we were surrounded by many other Pirate die hards. Some made the trip from the east coast. Some were locals of the southwest who just love the black and gold. It was great to see such a strong and loyal following watching the Buccos. It just goes to show you how great a Pirates comeback would be. Thats the awesome part about-nobody hates the Pirates-in fact there are many closet Pirates fans in the world. A couple grown men were talking to us saying how much their families loved the Pirates back in the 70’s, they were truly America’s team with their fun style and personable, colorful players. Pittsburgh truly lost a whole generation and more of potential fans with this nearly two decade long losing streak. Any hint of competitiveness will boost the Pirates back where they belong-national glory.
The current players, well current as of last week, were so forthright and honest with the fans. My brother and I nabbed a bunch of autographs from the players and took pictures with a lot of them too.
Starting pitcher Charlie Morton. I really like this guy. He said he loves it in Pittsburgh and should be a mainstay in our rotation for a few years. He has a lot of potential and has been making strides to earn his success.
The Mad Capper! Our closer who has been quite up and down this year seems to be the most genuine guy on the team. He made sure every fan recieved a picture and autogrpah before he went into the clubhouse. He stayed out for a good hour just chatting away. While I haven’t been too fond of his performance on the field this year he truly earned my respect as a person.
Paul Maholm has recently earned the title of longest tenured Pirate. At such a young age he is the vetran prescence in the clubhouse. He made light of the situation the Pirates were going through by saying “it seems like we’re all on the block.” It has to be tough to see your teammates and friends shipped out, it has to be weird in the clubhouse. However I think that the adversity will bring the new faces closer together and unite in soon to come victories.
The weekend of games did not go so well for the Bucs. The Jolly Roger was only raised once-that was on Friday. They were blown on Thursday 11-4 and were blanked on Saturday and Sunday, 7-0 and 9-0 respectively. Nonetheless, it was an aswesome time. We met some cool players, amazing fans and saw a great ballpark.
Before leaving Chase Field I had to voice my displeasure with D-Backs starting pitcher Brandon Webb. He has been injured all season and is surely missed on the field. He was the number one pick by myself in my fantasy league and had he been healthy my team would be near the top of the standings. I found a replacement for him in Kevin Slowey of the Twins, but he too is injured, for the rest of the season in fact. Maybe I’m just bad luck.
All in all I cam eaway extremely impressed with Chase Field, The Diamondbacks organization, and the city and fans of Arizona. It is a nicely run ballpark and organization. They haven’t had a great season this year but it is all part of the ups and downs of MLB baseball. I have a greater found respect for retractable roof stadiums. WIthout it there in Arizona they surely would not be a baseball team. Its too darn hot!
Tonight is a big game for the Pirates. They host the Washington Nationals. Even though national pundits are banging the Pirates for everything top to bottom. But the show must go on, the game will be played and fans will be treated to a glimpse of the future, a good future. I’m most excited for the homecoming of Nyjer Morgan. I wish I could be there to give him a warm welcome. I can only hope the fans show him the appreciation he showed while he was in Pittsburgh. It is also the black and gold debut for Lastings Milledge. It is a night between the two “laughingstocks” of baseball. Maybe tonight can be a cornerstone and both franchises will put on a good show and team up to turn it all around.
KEEP THE FAITH….GO BUCS
Well it has been quite the interesting week now hasn’t it. With blockbuster trades, exciting plays in the field, walk off homeruns, grand slams (2 in one game by Josh Wilingham in fact)-it looks like I picked the wrong week to go on vacation and be away from the game of baseball.
Well I have finally returned home from a relaxing week of awesome sights, great weather, 2 baseball parks and unforgettable memories.
Before I start this entry I want to give a big thanks to Jon from the Mc Effect. While I was on my vacation he did an excellent job of informing me of what was going on in the Pirate’s world. From Brandon Moss’s walk off dinger-to the flurry of trades that went down, he was always on the ball. Each day on his blog he has been documenting something about the details of the moves and the future of the Pirates. GREAT JOB JON!
My vacation lasted a week and even when it was over I still did not want to return to the real world. As I look out my window here in Youngstown, OH the pitter patter of raindrops keep falling down. It is depressing. It is hard to imagine how anyone could leave the beautiful weather of the American southwest to come to overcast skies and temeratures in the mid-60s. But nonetheless I am back where I belong. It was a great vacation that will hold lasting memories for years to come.
Our first stop was Denver, Colorado and beautiful Coors Field. When I say beautiful I mean, classy, elegant and proud-from the outside. I love the facade, and brick walls of the outside of the stadium but from the inside it is quite a drag. It is a large stadium built to hold nearly 50,000 people.
The outside of the ballpark was bustling hours before the game. Our hotel shuttle bus dropped us off a block away from the stadium. It was a nice walk amongst other fans and bars and restraunts in a revitlized area of downtown Denver.
The area just right outsdie of Coors was loud and rowdy. There were at least 20 vendors selling everything from hot dogs, peanuts, water, sodas, shirts, hats, and burritos. yes, BURRITOS. The people selling them were very colorful and loud yelling their heads off trying to unload their goods. To say the least, my mom was quite annoyed.
My brother and I were all clad in our Rockies gear ready to root, root, root for the hometeam. We bought the shirts for $5 bucks at our local Gabriel Brothers store. It is basically this big warehouse of name brand clothes for really, really discounted prices. They have a large selection of obscure sports team shirts and Zach and I cashed in. He got a Helton and I got an Ianetta.
Coors Field is a lot like other parks I have been to. It is reminiscent of Great American Ballpark in Cinci, Progressive Field in Cleveland and Citizens Bank Park in Philly. As you can see the inside is kind of awkward. A highway runs behind the stadium and there is not that great of a view.
The scoreboard was not very impressive. In my opinion the scoreboard makes or breaks the ballpark. I enjoy the Rockies logo hoisted above the video board. The video board lacked the necessary pizzazz. First of all the Rockies photo of each player did not change with each at bat. They had an exciting 10 second intro video for each player to go along with their at bat music, but the picture displayed always remained the same. I guess I am a little spoiled because the in game entertainment crew in Pittsburgh is always coming up with new styles to show off.
There were videos throughout the game that were made to pump up the crowd. Different montages were put to music such as Lil Wyane’s “Let It Rock” It got the crowd into it and put everyone’s focus on the game. I came away most impressed with the crowd itself. Everyone was attentive and hinged on every pitch. All the fans including concession stand vendors were on their feet in anticipation of what was to come. I guess that’s what contending teams will do to a fan base, something else I am not used to in Pittsburgh.
I also enjoyed the inning break entertainment. There was a challenge for a guy from the stands to change the bases in under 20 seconds, which was exhilarating. The mascot shot out actual jerseys out of a cannon instead or just T-shirts-very classy.
The lowest ticket price in baseball may be at the Mile High City. In staight away center field there is a large section of bleacher seats, affectionately called the Rockpile. These sell for $4 dollars. So cheap and easy, it was packed for the game. Walking around out there was intimidating though. There were a lot of guys who had too much to drink shouting obscentities at everyone that passed by.
The Rockies would lose this game to the Diamondbacks by a score of 6-5. I felt bad for the throng of loyal fans, they did not deserve to see a loss. They were up 4-0 but a key error courtesy of Dexter Fowler and shaky bullpen pitching blew it away.
Here are some more pictures from my time in Colorado….
My favorite part of a big city is the skyline. Here is Denver’s skyline at night. I was dissapointed by the sight. There were no distinct buildings and they all kind of ran together.
The team store in Coors was very spacious. It featured many nice items at high prices. I was considering this Jeff Francis T-shirt to upgrade from my cheap gray shirt. I have a long history with Jeff Francis, I have actually earned the nickname Jeff Francis. My manager and I were talking about my trip and he asked who the key players for the Rockies were. I mentioned Helton, Hawpe and Tulowitzki. He says “They still got that lanky goofy looking picther Jeff Francis” I said yes, but I believe he’s hurt. He responds with a “Haha. He’s a bum and reminds me of you all lanky and goofy looking.” A little harsh but it was all in good fun.
Zach enjoyed the Team shop too. He has turned into a Rockies fan. He likes the colors and players and enjoyed the stadium and the atmosphere. He was deeply considering buying this offical on field team gamer jacket. I liked it too. The gray color is nice and perfect for cold weather. He loved it untill he glanced at the price. $160! pricey, pricey pricey. I do not think theres any way I would spend that on a Pirates jacket…o wait maybe I would.
If you’ve ever watched Man vs Food on the Travel Channel you may recognize this resaurant. It is called Buckhorn Exchange and located just a few steps from downtown Denver. It is an excellent establishment with an obscure menu. It is the place for hearty meats. I ordered Buffalo, which was fantastic. The atmosphere and serive is top notch as well.
Our travels to us to the college town of Boulder. It was a greta small town and reminded me or Morgantown. CU is alot like WVU. Last season the Buffs defeated the Mountaineers 17-14 in an overtime thriller. I was angered by the loss at the time and hated Colorado. The two programs will meet up again this year but in the meantime I showed their precious Buffalo mascot whos boss.
Our finals stop in the Rocky Mountain state was well, the Rocky Mountains. They were beautful and truly a sight to behold. It was a bit chilly and windy up there at the high altitudes but my mom and I braved the elements and posed for this picture. I LOVE YOU MOM.
I still have another stop on my voyage to discuss-the time in Arizona. However more improtantant issues have risen. The Pirates fire sale is ongoing and continues through Friday. It kind of seems liek general manager Neil Huntington is a furniture salesman slashing prices through a sales binge. However I am pleased with the trades and the returns we are getting. It is tough to see these familiar faces on another team but it is what needs to be done to set us up for success in the near future.
That being said..
JACK, FREDDY, IAN, ADAM, JOHN, TOM, NYJER, NATE, SEAN and all the other guys that have been Pirates staples over the past few years I wish you all the best and hope you enjoyed your time in Pittsburgh.
On Sunday the Pirates couldn’t nail down the sweep as they fell to the Giants 4-3. Brandon Moss homered for the Bucs and Garrett Jones seems to have fallen back down to earth. He went 0-4 in the game.
The game was lost due to masterful pitching from this guy.
If you can’t tell by the oversized head and miniature body— that is pitcher Matt Cain and that is his bobblehead. Cain was outstanding against Pittsburgh only allowing one run on five hits. He also struck out eight batters.
The Cain bobblehead rests on my night stand next to my bed. Now I’m not the biggest Matt Cain fan, in fact I’m not the biggest Giants fan, but I am a huge fan of the Bay Area of Northern Califonria.
You see each summer my family goes on a vacation. Just like a lot American families we save money, pack our luggage and venture out to a hot tourist spot. We’ve been to the beach and Disney World when we were younger but over the years we’ve tried something new. We now pack our bags and head to a big city, a major league city at that. Our goal is to hit all 30 ballparks as a family sometime in the near future. Prior to this week we have gone to 23 of the 30. After this week we will be at 25. On Tuesday I’m off to Colorado and Arizona. Home of the Rockies and Diamondbacks respectively.
Last summer Northern California was hit with the stops being in San Francisco and Oakland. It was a great trip and one I will remember forever. It was my first time to that part of the state of Cali and I absolutely fell in love with it. The attractions, natural beauty, scenery, climate, ocean life, everything thrown together to make a perfect city.
Below is Zach and I at my second favorite ballpark, ATandT Park in San Fran. It is absolutely breath taking. From the views of the cove, the the splash landing zone, the boats and kayaks from the marina all converge onto the site. It is a dramatic scene for baseball and one of my favorites. That is whats nice about the area. The stadium is in exact coheasion with the city. The society of San Francisco is famous for its arts and laid back style. The ballpark provides that same essence. It was a great place to watch a game. This is where I got the Matt Cain bobblehead. We went to the Giants-Diamondbacks game here on a Sunday in July and lucky enough it was a free giveaway day. I’m a sucker for the free promotional giveaways. I have a room full of Pirates swag that has accumulated over the years. I have bobbleheads from players such as Brian Giles, Jason Kendall, Pokey Reese, Willie Stargell, Roberto Clemente, Rennie Stennett, Jason Bay and Matt Capps. Along with statues of Honus Wagner, plates of Bill Mazeroski, a Pirate Parrot piggy bank and a Roberto Clemente locker, and plenty more. The Matt Cain bobblehead earned a spot on the coveted night stand of myself.
From San Fran we traveled across the Bay to Oakland. Quite the dropff if I do say so myself.
Network Associates Coliseum is a dump. You’ve seen the wide open spaces and large seating bowl is just an eye sore. It lacks the intimate setting that baseball was meant to be played in. Plus it doubling as a football stadium doesn’t help the matter. Oakland too is a big dropoff from the lovely city of San Francisco. It was quite scarry and ominous right outside the stadium. We took the subway back to our lovely, plush hotel in SF, keeping to ourselves on a train full of hooligans, hooligans to say the least.
Whats great about our vacations is that their not just about baseball. As much as we love the sport and enjoy going to the games it is nice to take in what that city has to offer. We make a week out of the trips and have fun at stops along the way.
Another tactic is trying to get more than one stadium out each trip. We did a Texas trip one year, from there we hit the two Missouri stadiums and up to Minnesota and Milwaukee. We are flying into Denver tomorrow, spending a few day in the Colorado area. On Tuesday we will be at the Rockies-Diamondbacks game. A trend is occuring with them D-Backs doesn’t it seem. Then we will be renting a car and driving to the state of Arizona. We are stopping at the 4 Corners out there and taking in the Grand Canyon. Over the weekend we will be at the Diamondbacks games against the……PITTSBURGH PIRATES. I am very pumped for this. As I’ve said before I love being an opposing fan in a ballpark, especially with the Pirates. I am looking forward to being one of the only Bucco Boys in attendance. I’m hoping to head down to the dugouts to talk with some players and get balls and autographs. It will be great to have an alterior motive at this game. Everything changes when the Buccos are playing.
It will be my first time in the state of Colorado but I have been to Arizona before.
That is me in second grade. I was eight years old then in 1997. My mom and dad took me out there for a convention my father attended. It was great because I got to miss a week of school. Nothing better than that, every little kid knows that. We spent a week in Tuscon and at the grand Canyon. I am exciting to be back at the marvelous attraction once again. Because I do not remember a thing about it except for the helicopter ride we took over the canyon, in which I got sick, right there on teh ride. Can’t ya see why I really didn’t wish to remember it. If you notice atop my head is the original Diamondbacks logo. I got this hat on that trip and loved it so much. You see, there were only 28 teams back then and the Diamondbacks were just gearing up for their innagural season. It would have been cool to see them in their first season in existence, but 12 years later, I know I will appreciate the ballgame so much more.
I’m all packed and ready to go and this may be my last entry for this week. If there is a business center at any of our hotels I will try to get on with some updates from my trip. I would take my laptop but it is a hassle and all, especially going through secuirty. Plus what I love about a vacation is that seperation from the real world. I want nothing to worry about. I don’t want distractions from work, friends, facebook and those problems. I left them in the terminal at the Pittsburgh International Airport. On vacation I’m free, in a new place, making memories and sharing experiences.
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.
Quite the All Star Game wasn’t it.
It was fun to watch, pretty exciting, fairly boring, a little disappointing but in the end a great baseball game.
The play of the game belongs to the rightful MVP Carl Crawford.
This picture on the front page of MLBlogs.com captures the essence of teh spectacular play CC made to rob Brad Hawpe of a sure fire home run. The catch saved the game for the AL, but it was Curtis Granderson that set up the victory. He used his speed to motor around the bases and slide in with a triple. He would then score to put the AL up 4-3.
Crawford’s catch was reminded me of another remarkable play in an all star game. It was back in 2002 in Milwaukee’s Miller Park when Torii Hunter leaped over the wall to rob Barry Bonds of a jack.
I was just 13 at the time and I remember watching the game at my grandma’s house. I was going nuts went Hunter flew through the air to bring the ball back in. I loved seeing the replay over and over because I like teh cartoon dude on the wall. Its pretty fitting that Hunter made the great play right in front of the annimated baseball player. They are almost in the exact same pose within inches of each other. Even to this day I still believe it was one of the coolest baseball plays I have ever seen.
While the game itself could be considered a classic, it surely wasn’t one for the ages. It was the shortest played ASG since 1988. A stat I really enjoy. The 2:36 minute game was much shorter than the 15 inning marathon played last year at old Yankee Stadium. Tip your cap to the American League pitching for speeding up the acceleration of the game. By retiring 18 consecutive NL batters from the 2nd to 8th inning. It was kind of embarrassing to see these big name players get mowed down like they did. Whats even more embarrassing were my personal pre-game predictions.
I said Albert Pujols would rock the stage going 3-3 with a homerun and earn MVP honors. Prince Albert pulled the complete opposite by going 0-3 with an error at first base.
I was proud of Jason Bay. He started the game with a nice rip in the first inning.
While I was dissapointed in the NL loss I was wearing the Jason Bay shirt. I was the only Red Sox “fan” in the restaurant. There were Indians fans, Tigers fans and Yankees fans. Even by wearing an AL team’s shirt I was the only one cheering for the National League.
I was rather miffed at the way Charlie Manuel managed the game for the NL. Prior to the game I wa smad that so many Philies made the team. It was the same for the Rays but I figure since their own managers are managing the game, the bias factor sets in. But Manuel did not do a good job with the rotation of players. Justin Upton, Ryan Zimmerman and Brad Hawpe were all reserves but still managed to bat twice in the game. Why not substitute another player and give them a whack. I’m mostly talking about Freddy Sanchez. I would sure with his proven All-Star game experience and being a familiar face with Manuel he would at least get in the game for one at bat. He did not. Zach Duke did not get in the game either. I kind of saw that one coming, but at least give Freddy a shot.
Other disappointments came from the starting pitching. Halladay was solid but still had trouble getting out of the first. Lincemcum was a dare I say disaster. Being the dominating pitcher that he is he allowed AL hitters to damage him for a run. he was wild throwing the ball all over the place. Molina was solid behind the plate just keeping the balls in front of him. Lincy even hit Derek Jeter. It was not a good night for “The Freak” Luckily for him he is still on track for another stellar regular season.
What I love most about the baseball All-Star game is all of the though and discussion that goes in to it. I mean come on. Every one on these blog has their own comments and opinions about this one game. Its fantastic and shows that it truly is about the fans. You take any other sports and their All Star games are not as fun.
The NBA All Star game is more of a celebrity showcase. With all the stars lining up to see the game and spend time in the host city. Plus trouble always seems to brew. Pacman Jones had his legendary “make it rain” episode in the ASG in Las Vegas. Plus the game itself is so unpredictable. Actually I take that back. The one thing you know is that there is sure to be many dunks, mid range shots, and no defense. The end scores are astronomical and so high.
Even though I am starting to get back to watching hockey more and more, their All-Star game is just as brutal as the NBAs. Hockey is an exciting sport and is very fun to watch. But the All-Star game, quite frankly is not. Its all about the offense here to, with no defensive poweress at all. Double digits goal totals always occur and the puck flies at will. Plus the game is broadcasted on Versus. Nobody watches Versus. It is hard for the NHL to gain more fans and notoriety when the games are shoved away on Versus.
The NFL ASG is just plain irrelevant. The players just use it as an all expense paid vacation to Hawaii. One of the biggest reasons I personally dislike the Pro Bowl is that it is always played in the same stadium out there in Hawaii. I love the rotation of the All Star games. Its great to bolster the economy of different cities and it puts that host city on display for the world to see.
The Baseball All-Star game is the most like an actual game which makes it the most fun to watch.
After a mediocre Home Run Derby took place in St. Louis last night. Sorry to offend Prince Fielder. He had a great showing and earned the win no doubt.
“Cecil’s son is crowned Prince.”
A good way to sum it up and a great journalistic touch. Too bad he is a history major, but nonetheless it would have been a great newspaper headline.
Tonights game is sure to be a doosy. The Nl is due for a win, and I truly believe that the National League will pull it off. Lincecum and Halladay will duke it out and have a showdown for teh ages. Although they both will probably be in the game for a mere 2 or 3 innings I’m predicted a handful of strikeouts from each of them.
I’m ready for Jason Bay to have a big game. This will be the second time he will be starting an All-Star game. He did so in 2006 in Pittsburgh and notched a hit. This year in his first ASG as a Red Sock I think he will collect 2 hits, one of them being an RBI double. While I will be watching the game in my favorite Bar and Grille, Jeremiah Bullfrogs. It is a cool place to watch a sporting event with 25 plasma screen TVs and surround sound it will be a great atmosphere. Paying homage to Bay I will be wearing my “Bay” Red Sox shirt. While I feel I techniquely have to cheer for the National League (because of the Pirates) I will be rooting for Bay.
By predicting that the NL will win I have to give a prediction for MVP. At the plate, in playing in front of his home crowd Albert Pujols is going to have a day. He was a bit of a dissapointment in the HR derby. But he will turn things around tonight and will go deep. The crowd will set into a frenzy and rivaling the Disco Demolition of Chicago in 1979, the crowd will go insane. Pujols will go 3-3 with a homer and 2 singles.
Throwing out the first pitch will be a familiar face, our commander and chief, Barack Obama.
Obama will have his arm warm and ready delievering a perfect strike to the catcher. I’m sure those in attendance will give the Pres a warm ovation.
Now onto two guys that will provide me with pride for the evening.
Freddy and Zach are the two representatives from the Bucs. While Freddy will probably get an inning or 2 of playing time I do not think Zach will get into the game. Honestly, I do not feel he deserves to be here in the first place. He is replacing the injured Matt Cain. Duke has a mediocre 8-8 record but has performed well. If he had some health from the offense his record would look alot better. I bet these two had a great week in St. Louis and I know I will be looking for them throughout the game.
As batting practice is occuring on the TV behind me I’m heading out to the restraunt ready for an exciting night of baseball.
GO NATIONAL LEAGUE
GO MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL
Probably my second favorite day of the baseball season happens today, the Home Run Derby. I’ve always loved the contest from I was a young boy. I remember the ’97 derby at Jacobs Field, the ’98 derby at Coors Field and the ’99 derby at Fenway. Thsoe were the glory days for baseball in my lifetime. I loved seeing a young Griffey drive the ball deep and the B-list players entering the contest. Players such as John Jaha, Brady Anderson and Jeromy Burnitz. They are just afterthoughts in today’s minds but I welcomed them with open arms back in the day.
More recently I’ve followed the derby closely and embraced a new era of players. In 2005 I was overjoyed when Jason Bay was selected to be a derby participant.
You can see from the grimace of on his face that he was pretty dissapointed. Bay did not hit a single ball over the fence at Detroit’s Comerica Park. He was booed off the field, but remained in good spirits. This was back when Jason was coming off his Rookie of the Year campaign. He was fresh on the scene and a young face. It is amazing how far he has come. WIth all the talks on his multi year and multi million dollar contracts forthcoming, I’m proud to say I was there form the start. When he was booed at the derby in 2005 I was still proud. Seeing one of my guys with the gold P, in the national spotlight. It was touching.
While seeing a single player in the spotlight is cool it was even better to see the city of Pittsburgh and PNC Park living in the limelight. In 2006 the All Star festivities came to the Steel City. With everything on display for the entire baseball world to see, the city surely did not dissapoint….and neither did Ryan Howard in the 2006 Home Run derby.
Howard too was fairly new to the baseball world back then. He was a big body filling in the shoes of Jim Thome out there in Philly. He used his big wood to amaze the sold out crowd at PNC Park. I was lucky enough to be in attendance at this derby and let me tell you, it was the best live baseball moment I have ever seen. Howard, along with other sluggers David Ortiz, David Wright, Miquel Cabrera and Miquel Tejada dazzled the world with their powerful swings. Many balls landed in the Allegheny River and boats and kayaks went crazy trying to recover the commemorative balls. The best jaw dropping scene came when Howard hit a “HIT IT HERE” sign out in left field. If you’ve ever seen the derby you will see a smattering of these banners around teh stadium. They are sponsered by Mastercard and if a player hits it somebody in the crowd wins a bunch of money. Howard nailed the banner to win the derby. You couldn’t have asked for a better finish to cap off a homerun derby. It was fantastic. As much as I dislike the Philies I was so happy for Howard and myself for seeing such an amazing feat live and in person.
With the derby just hours away I can’t help but feel a little sad. I will be working late for the second year in a row missing the Home Run Derby. Last season I was working and recieved a wave of texts from friends telling me a play by play. I heard all about Josh Hamilton going bonkers and how he ended up losing it. This year I’ve informed my buds not to tell me what is going on. I will have it taped for my enjoyment when I am home and showered up.
Here is the lineup for this year’s HR Derby.
Joe Mauer, Minnesota Twins
Brandon Inge, Detroit Tigers
Nelson Cruz, Texas Rangers
Carlos Pena, Tampa Bay Rays
Albert Pujols, St. Louis Cardinals
Prince Fielder, Milwaukee Brewers
Adrian Gonzalez, San Diego Padres
Ryan Howard, Philadelphia Phillies
The National League guys look stacked. It was unique seeing all members of the NL being first basemen. They are the best candidates for the derby and will be sure to put on a show. With Albert Pujols batting in front of his hometown fans, I’m sure he’ll be loaded with an advanatge. He knows the park and knows the atmosphere, however I do not think he will win it.
The American League is the lesser of the two of two in terms of power. Cruz, Pena, Inge and Mauer are doing well at the plate and earn the spot but compared to Pujols, Fielder, Gonzalez and Howard the first basemen blow them out of the water.
When the dust settles I beleiev an underdog will come out victorious in this derby.
Thats right Adriiiiiiiiian! Not Rocky’s wife, Adrian Gonzalez of the Padres. He’s a cool guy. Playing on a well below average team but he sticks out. He has 24 homers in the first half and has been swinging the bat very well. I remember a game earlier in the year when Gonzo nailed 2 dingers in a game.
I’m very excited for what is to come in this derby. Just make sure nobody texts me the results between the hours of 8 and 10.
7:05- Bucco game starts. Excitement runs through my veins as another Philies-Pirates game begins. I enjoy this cross state rivalry and look forward to the games each year.
7:15- Pirate right fielder Garret Jones launches a home run to right field. I was skeptical of Jones at first. He never did intrigue me. He has since proven me wrong. Since his time in the big leagues he has connected with the ball well and been an asset in the outfield. He showed tonight that he has the power that the Pirates need.
7:18- Delwyn Young homers to left field. I love Young. He seems like a good guy with a nice personality and a good fit in the clubhouse. He brings a fire and passion to the team and always seems to get on base. A home run from him is always welcome.
7:48- Andrew McCutchen continues the trend and blasts an HR to left field. I had actually called this homerun. With Adam LaRoche on first I was ready for him to score. I figured no time like the present. I said Cutch is due for a dinger and he delievered right on cue. With a 5-0 lead I figured the Pirates had this game in the bag.
9:07- The Pirates got 2 more runs here in the 7th in thanks to a handful of miscues by the Philadelphia defense. Garret Jones drew a walk scoring Jack Wilson. Later in the inning Ryan Doumit knocked in McCutchen to earn his first RBI since returning to the big league club.
9:40- With the Pirates in the field and the Philies searching for any form of life at the plate Jack WIlson showcased his glove making a diving, over the shoulder catch in mid left field robbing Shane Victorino of a hit. Being the always aware, always attentive shortstop he is, Wilson flung the ball over to LaRoche at first doubling up Jimmy Rollins. It was an amazing play and sure to be a web gem and top 10 play on tomorrows ESPN broadcasts.
10:00- Matt Capps comes in with a 7-3 lead. I am always weary of these situations. I’m talking baout when a closer is brought in during a non-save situation. Capps had a little breathing room so I was sure he could seal the deal and give the bucs a win.
10:02- Just a few minutes after coming into the game Capps gave up a solo shot to Matt Stairs. I wasn’t worried yet. I like Matt Stairs, he too is a good guy and a fan favorite no matter where he plays. With the Pirates in 2003 he hit 20 homeruns. He leads all current MLBers with 18 pinch hit homeruns.
10:11- Ryan Howard steps to the plate with 2 men on and one out. This was the first meeting between Howard and Capps. Howard took advantage of the Big Bull Rider and absolutely blasted a shot over the centerfield fence. With one swing of the bat the game was tied and another chapter was written in Howard’s legacy book.
10:22- Ten minutes later the ball game was over. The bases were loaded and Paul Bako singled to left field scoring Raul Ibanez, who would be the dreadful winning run.
With the loss the Pirates slip to 11 games under .500. There is little hope for the rest of the season. There is also little hope for the future of Matt Capps. It is inexcuseable for a closer of his nature to blow a game like this. The Bucs recently brought in Joel Hanrahan from the Nationals. I do believe they have plans for him in the pen as a closer here in the near future.
Ryan Doumit performed well in just his second game back from the DL. He was 0-4 in his first game but turned it around tonight with 2 doubles.
Andy LaRoche turned on the jets when he laced a triple in the 8th inning. I did not realize it but it was his 4th triple of the year.
Andrew McCutchen had a heck of a game. He had 2 hits, one being the HR, a stolen base and scored. This is the kind of production we need from him in the leadoff spot.
Virgil Vazquez will square off against J.A. Happ tomorrow for game 3 of the series when Pittsburgh hopes to avoid the sweep.
You think I’m kidding right. Kennywood? America’s favorite amusement park? Don’t believe me, check the sign…
See…told ya so. Since 1898 Kennywood has been a Pittsburgh family tradition. I put emphasis on family. It is a great place to bring the kids and share a heart warming experience. It is not like those big parks such as Cedar Point or a Six Flags, Kennywood is better than that. It has this vintage feel that can not be duplicated. The park is relatively small and easy to navigate. Just like any other amusement park, Kennywood brings out all the bells and whisteles. There are roller coasters, kiddie rides, water rides, and midway games. Put it all together and you have a recipe for success. This week me, my cousins, my brother, my aunt and my mom had quite the successful day navigating our way around Kennywood.
My brother joked with me before our trip saying “You aren’t going to write a blog bout this are you” I laughed right back at him and said “Yes Zach, yes I am”
“But its not about baseball,” he responded. I simply replied, “It is called the Pitssburgh Peas, not just like baseball Peas.” (btw Kennywood is located a mere 10 minutes from downtown Pittsburgh)
But Zach had a point I had to find a way to make a day of amusement and turn it into a day of baseball. Zach and I decided that we would pay close attention to other guests at the park and study what they were wearing. We were going to count how much Pirate gear we saw compared to that of the other Pittsburgh sports teams. I was kind of mad at myself for not wearing anything Bucco during the day, but pride was still on the line.
You can see me on the far left wearing my “BEAT PITT” shirt. I was carrying on a family tradition started by my father from his day as a WVU student. He would make the trip from Morgantown to Pittsburgh with his buddies when he was my age to enjoy the rides at Kennywood. He proudly wore his “BEAT PITT” shirt everytime he entered through Kennywood’s gates. From his experiences he said it wasn’t always the best idea because it ticked off some of the locals. From my experience I recieved some jeers, such as “Not in the last two years buddy.” and a handful of “Go Pitt” cheers. But WVU got the last laugh on this day. Zach and I both agreed that there was a considerable more amount of West Virginia garb than that of the Pitt Panthers. Blue and gold ran through my veins. I was however dissapointed by the turnout of the Bucco faithful.
The day started by giving credit to my younger brother for wearing this Pirate hat shown on the right. He was number one on the couning ticker. I was hoping to see alot of Pirate hats considering most people wear hats when it is hot out and we are in the middle of baseball season. I was surely mistaken. Tens of thousands of people flock to Kennywood each day. Considering that number Zach and I both counted just 22 pieces of Pirate paraphernalia. Hats and T-shirts included. While there were probably more than that, from our naked eyes we could only spot 22 people wearing the Bucco black and gold. There were authentic 59 Fifty caps and thorow back pill box caps. A majority of the people wore the free giveaway caps that are given away on promotional days. I am not a big fan of these caps. I believe they are junky and I really don’t care for the sponsors logo that is always on there somewhere. Only one guy I saw had on a complete head to toe irate outfit. He had on a Roberto Clemete T-shirt with a black “P” hat.-a true fan indeed.
I was also dissapointed that I did not see many current player T-shirt. I saw countless numbers of Crosby and Malkin T-shirts. In fact I even saw Talbot, Fleury and Gonchar shirts. (All Penguins players for you non-hockey followers) I only saw two current Pirates players on the back of people’s t-shirts. Adam LaRoche and Jack Wilson. The funny thing is, with the way talks are going around Pittsburgh both of these players can soon be gone. It really does make me sad all the turnover that happens with Pirate players. It is really difficult for teh casual fan to embrace a player with the uncertainty that he will possibly be traded withing a couple of years. The Penguins are so successful because they have cornerstone players and market those players to the general public. It is hard to be a casual baseball fan in Pittsburgh when the casual fan can’t even name 5 players on the team.
The real sports king in Pittsburgh is without a doubt the Steelers. I was hard pressed however to see and Steeler jerseys in teh crowd. It was a 78 degree day so that may have held people back form wearing their Roethisbergers or Palamalus, but still I expect to see a Steeler jersey in Pittsburgh at any time.
All in all the real winner was the Pens. We lost count in the 50s for the amount of Hockey gear seen. The hats, player t-shirts and Stanley Cup commemorative shirts were overwhelming in the sea of people at the park. The Pens even ruled in the park’s decor.
These posters were hung on the platform of the roller coaster “Thundebolt”. In the 1960s the Thunderbolt was called the “King of Coasters” in 2009 the Pens are clearly making a run for “The Sports Kings of Pittsburgh.”
To conclude my sports memorobilla and such talks I’ll leave you with one of my favorite Pirate
things I have ever bought. Me and my brother spotted this hat at the Monroeville Mall near Pittsburgh and couldn’t pass it up. It is the vintage Pirate logo from the 80’s and early 90’s situated on a bright yellow hat. It is very comfortable and fits my head nicely. I wear it proudly.
Kennywood really is not a place for the roller coaster enthusiast. As I said before it is more geared towards families. That being said it is still a destination for adrenaline junkies. There are four coasters in the park. The Thunderbolt, The Jack Rabbit, The Racer and The Steel Phantom. The Steel Phantom is the only newer coaster with a steel track. It is my favorite because it rides smoother and reaches speeds of up to 70mph. the other 3 are older but still very fun. I enjoy the Jack Rabbit because it is quick. It also features a pair of double dips with back to back hills. Your butt will jump out of the seat when the car goes ove rthe bumps. The Racer is cool because two cars run at once, in a racing fashion. It always fun to compete with the other car even though you have no control over how fast it goes. I really do not like the Thunderbolt at all. I can tolerate alot of wooden coasters but the Thunderbolt is down right nasty. I rode it with my brother and he was squished up against me the entire time. It wasn’t comfortable at all. And the fact that I was being thrown around the whole time gave me a headache.
My favorite ride is this beauty.
I was proud of my brother for riding all of teh roller coasters with me. My little cosuin Jacob, isn;t a big fan of the intense ride so he sticks to the tames ones.
We took a nice spin on the cars. He also enjoys getting wet. It was refreshing on a nice hot summer day.
Him and Zach got front row on the Pittsburgh Plunge water ride. They were completely drenched afterward.
They also came away with these sombreros after winning the weight guessing game. Not really a big feat because come on, who doesnt win at that game.
It was another fun summer day in Pittsburgh with my family. If you are a regular reader of this blog you will know that there is nearly nothing that I enjoy more than that.
In honor of being named #34 on the Latest Leaders list, why not pay tribute to the Buccos own 34, John Grabow.
John has been one of teh longest tenured current Pirates. Which is saying alot considering how fast the organization is known for shipping out their talent. At 30 years old he has been on the major league roster for the past 7 years. Over thos years he has posted winning records in 4 of them.
So far this season Grabow has been an asset out of the bullpen, just has he has throughout his career. He is number one on the depth chart and the go-to guy in tight relief situations. In the 2009 campaign he has a 3-0 record. He has had his share of miscues including giving up a hit in every inning of his 38 innings of work. His era could be better, as it is pretty much average at a mark of 3.49.
Although he has been in the organization since 1997, Grabow is as reserved as they come. He is looked to as a leader in clubhouse, even though he is relatively overlooked when it comes to being a fan favorite. He rarely speaks to the media and is not in the game long enough for the fans to get a grasp of what he is really doing. I guess that is the case with most relievers. Its hard to appreciate the work they really put in. They are only in the game for 1 maybe 2 innings, sometimes only 1 maybe 2 batters. Plus relievers are only noticed when they give up a big hit or home run. It may not be fair, but its the truth. TPeople in the stands expect the reliever to come in get a hold and set up the game for a win. They think its that simple. When the unepected comes the reliever is booed mercily. Its a hrad job and somebody has to do it. Grabow just happens to do it pretty well.
He has done it so well that he is almost always being corted by other teams. Grabow is always brought up in trade talks even though the Pirates may not have him on the block. This season more serious talks are being brought up. So far the Yankees and Twins have expressed interest in the Buc’s go to guy. All bets are on that the trigger will be pulled and Grabow will be gone by the July 31st trade deadline. He will probably be shipped in a package deal along with another Pirate player, probably a current starter. Wherever Grabow lands up whether it be the Big Apple, Land of 10,000 Lakes or even here in the Steel City he will keep his rugged, always prepared approach.
Last night Grabow was a big part in the Pirates 6-3 win over the Astros. He came in for one inning of work and did not let up a run. Things got pretty shaky as he let up 3 hits and a walk. His 20 pitch inning was good enough to set the Pirates up for victory thanks to big games from Jack Wilson, Andrew McCutchen and Garret Jones.
Grabow’s grit and hard work have landed him many accolades throughout his time in the league. The veteran left hander was on the World Baseball Classic team this past spring. He came out of the pen for USA and did a solid job. Just recently the Pirates put up one of his WBC jerseys up for auction.
Along with many other cool memorobilla pieces Grabow was front and center on PNC Park’s main concourse. The auction was held to benefit Pirates charities. As I stood there drooling over these wonderful pieces my jaw dropped as well when I looked at the prices each was going for. Grabow’s jersey had reached $800,far more than that Andy LaRoche jersey seen to the far left. It goes to show that Grabow is respected for what he has done on his time with the Pirates. I wish him the best wherever his career takes him.