July 2009

Indian pitchers make historic debut

The big league Pirates are fading, and fading fast. On Sunday they were shut out for the 7th time this year when they lost 5-0 to the Marlins. This is a story about two Pirates who are actually improving with each and every day.  

In what some called a complete publicity stunt last year, the Pittsburgh Pirates signed 2 young Indian “pitchers” The term pitcher is used lightly because Dinesh Patel and Rinku Singh have never played organized baseball, let alone known much at all about the sport. The pair who hail from the country of India were cricket fans who used their strong arms to win the contest entitled “The million dollar arm”. The event was braodcast throughout India in search of the countrys most powerful arm. In a relaity show format 37,000 particpants tried out in the contest and Patel and Singh prevailed.

indian pitchers.jpgBack in November the Pirates had their eye on the duo and signed them to minor league contracts. There was a mixed bag of citcis about the move. The Pirates were a part of history by nabbing the two Indians. They were the first Indian born athletes to sign a professional sports contract in America. A big move considering there have been atheltes from almost every corner of the earth playing in America. Some people claimed that the Pirates were just siging the two for the sake of making national headlines. Afterall they are the God-forsaken Pirates. A little boost on the national scene is always welcome

 

Some praised the move thanking the Pirates and GM Neil Huntington for opening up a new market for athletes in all sports.

“By adding these two young men, the Pirates are pleased to not only add two prospects to our system but also hope to open a pathway to an untapped market. We are intrigued by Patel’s arm strength and Singh’s frame and potential.”-Huntington said about the move.

At the time I figured it was just a publicity stunt. The Pirates couln’t have possibly thought these 2 guys would amount to anything. I mean come on, If they wanted to take a risk on two guys that have never played baseball they could have signed my 7 year old cousins. I do see where they are goin with the move and I have grown to appreciate it. The Pirates have lacked in the international scouting department over the past decade. There has never been a truly impacting foreign born Pirates player since Roberto Clemente. That may be a stretch considering the 1990’s era boasted Francisco Cordova and Ricardo Rincon who hailed from Mexico. This pair of pitchers combined to throw the first combined extra innings no-hitter in baseball history in 1997. Jose Guillen and Aramis Ramerez were originally scouted and signed by the Pirates and have since went on to have good carrers elsewhere. Personally, I received a lot of heat and friendly remarks about the signing of Patel and Singh, I will explain more about that later.

rinku-singh-dinesh-patel.jpg  The ever heralded first day finally came a few days ago. Patel and Singh made their professional debuts with the Golf Coast League Pirates, the rookie team in Bradenton Florida. The Pirates fell 4-2 to the GCL Yankees.

The Indians each threw an inning of relief with Patel doing the best of the two.

The right handed patel, shown on the right struck out one of his 4 batters faced and only allowed one of them to reach base, and that was on an error.

Singh was solid has well pitching a full inning. He allowed one run on 2 hits and he too struck out a batter.

Huntington was happy with his projects in their debut.

“The learning curve has been steep, but they are holding their own,” He told pirates.com.

The two will probably remain at the GCL level untill next year. They have a lot of work to straighten out their mechanics. They are still rough around the edges and looking at the game from a different perspective. It is almost like training your son or little brother to play in a live baseball game at just the age of 2, except these guys can throw 85 miles per hour. They are learning to cover first base, pickoff attempts, and different breaking pitches, It is alot to take in, in just a few months.

Now before I mentioned that the signing of Patel and Singh kind of hit home, here’s why. My girlfriend was born in India as well.

pirate games 006.jpgJust recently I took her to our first Pirate’s game together. She too is also new to the sport having played soccer all of her life. SHe was adopted from an orphanage in India when she was very young. She has since been living the dream American style. It was fun explaining the ins and outs of the game and getting her to know my passion for the Pirates. In just a few hours she began to hold her own and reiterate back to me what was going on in different situations. It was very encouraging.

The game itself was very special. The Pirates were playing the Royals and both teams donned Negro league jerseys. That took some explaining as well, as she is used to Pittsburgh’s famous black and gold.

The Pirates won the game 6-2 and the Jolly Roger was raised in dramatic fashion.

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A lot of fans brought out their personal jolly roger flags and wove them proudly. Perhaps no Pirate fan is more proud than this guy below.

pirate games 008.jpgThe guy literally goes nuts when ever a 70’s disco song is played over the speakers. Wearing his famous throwback yellow jersey you can see he is honored whenever he busts a move. The “Big Yellow Dance Cam” is a t most Bucco games-cause this guy is always there as well.

What capped the night off better than anything else was the post game fireworks show. All week long I bragged to my girlfriend about how great Pittsburgh fireworks are. She had been to a Cleveland game before and loved the post game fireworks show there. I told she aint seen nothing yet.

 

 

pirate games 010.jpgThe night skies of the Steel City lit up with Zambelli fireworks. It was beautiful as they shone overtop of the downtown skyline. Our seats wer in section 316 right smack dab in the middle behind homeplate. We had a great view of the game and the fireworks show. The game took place at the end of the month of June, it was a great kickoff to a 4th of July celebration of fireworks and happiness.

 

 

 

pirate games 003.jpg Although the girl behind me in the blue may not have had a good time, we surely did. Her favorite player was Nyjer morgan. He had a great game going 3-4 and scoring a run and stealing a base. She even noted how fast he was. When he was traded last week I don’t know who took the news worse, me or her. Needless to say we both are still shaken up with the loss of Morgan.

 In the end, theres no question, a baseball game, especially at PNC Park is great in any company.

 

As for Dinesh and Rinku they are too in good company in the Pirates organization. The leadership group as proved to be commited to young talent and devloping them the right way. The two Indians will recieve proper instruction and a legitimate shot at the big league level when the time is right. The Pirates organization has also proven to be serious about more and more foreign endevaors. Just last week they signed 3 players from Taiwan. Earlier in the year Gift Ngoepe was inked. He is from South Africa and playing great ball ove rthe past few months. He represented his country in the World Baseball Classic Over the past few years the Pirates are trying to set foot in the Dominican Republic. they recently built a state of the art training academy for Caribbean youngsters to be noticed by big league scouts. With all the works being done the Pirates are set up for future success and world wide prestige.

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And hey, they look pretty sharp in black and gold, huh?

I’m talkin’ about America sweet America, God thun shed his grace on thee

works1.jpgHappy 4th of July everybody! I hope we all took time to enjoy the beautiful day with family and friends. It is a great holiday, right in the middle of summer to kick back, relax and enjoy the finer things this country has to offer.

I certainly enjoyed playing badmitton and wiffle ball in the backyard with my neighbors, going to church with my family and grilling some BBQ. However one thing always makes my Independence Day celberation complete. Hearing Ray Charles sing America the Beautiful. It is a great rendition and very much baseball related. I first heard it while watching the Sandlot. It is a touching moment in the movie when the kids gather at their ball field for their only night game of the year. They eat hot dogs while running to the field to catch a glimpse of the sky being lit up by the beautiful pyrotechnics. It is quite possibly my favorite baseball moment in a movie.

Speaking of baseball the Pirates couldn’t fully enjoy their 4th of July patriotism, they lost  5-3 to the Marlins.

The rubber match will be held tomorrow afternoon in Florida.

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I hope you enjoyed these fireworks photos. They were taken at the Scrappers game last night here in Youngstown, OH. I went with my girlfirend, Kim and enjoyed a very nice evening filled with baseball and firweorks. nothing beats that combination.

Step right up and greet the Mets

My latest visit to Pittsburgh was spur of the moment. I was taking my friend Andrew through the area to pick up his car so that he could return home to Baltimore. He had a great time in Ohio. The only thing not great about our Thursday excursion was this…

pirate games 018.jpgIt was doomy and gloomy in the Steel City. there was fog, rain, clouds and downpours. Not very pretty at all. The game was delayed from the start and also suspended during play. The tarp was on the field to start the game.

pirate games 017.jpg And taken off when the coast was clear.

To benefit the home team the groundscrew should have just left teh tarp on the entire day, the Bucs fell to the New York Mets 9-8.

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The game was just as promising, yet gloomy as the weather. Teh Pirates roughed up starter Tim Redding for 5 runs. Pittsburgh was up 5-0 untill the 4th inning; then the tables turned. It was then Paul Maholm who was torched. He gave up 6 runs over 4 innings and was then pulled. There is talks about placing Paul on the DL as he has not lived up to his early season promises. It should do him good to get some time off and much needed rest. By bringing in another starter to replace Maholm there will be a great opportunity to season in some new blood for a possible spot in next years rotation.

But sticking to the here and now.

The Pirates lost the game due to shaky pitching. Matt Capps came in for the hold and blew it. The bats tried as hard as they could. Adam LaRoche belted a game tying dinger in the 9th inning to even the score 8-8. Whats great about that homerun was the fact that Adam got a chance to say “I told ya so” to his doubters. He can indeed come through in the clutch and be the go-to source for power on this team. Secondly, the HR was off Francisco Rodriguez. K-Rod originally blew the save but manged to close it out in extras.

Me and Andrew were able to come away from the game with a smile on our faces.

PNC Park is a great place to go if you like free stuff. With your game ticket you can spin a wheel and win prizes. We came away with this nice clothing combo.

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 Very nice shirt and a cool hat.

Now Friday July 3rd was filled with many updates. 3 to be exact.

First off the Pirates Won. 7-4 was the final score as the Jolly Roger was raised over Miami, Florida with the Bucs win over the Marlins.

cutch22.jpgAndrew McCutchen looked sharp at the plate. The rookie went 2-5 with a double, RBI and run scored. He had a defensive miscue out in center which gave me some doubts on if his glove is ready for big league action. I can’t argue with his plate performance though.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Secondly on a more somber note it was Nyjer Morgan’s first game as a National.

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You can see he did what he does best. Showing off his speed he stole third base after getting walked. It was his only time around the bases in the game asthe bright lights of the nations capital may have fazed him, he went  0-4. Whats even more sad is that in Pittsburgh as fresh shipment of never before worn Morgan player T-shirt jerseys were coming into the PNC Park gift shops this weekend. The vendors said they will still sell them, I hope at a much discounted price. I will surely buy one to support a true ballplayer. 

Last but certainly not least Friday was the return of Manny Ramerez to the MLB.

The game was held in San Deigo and lucky enough my good friend Angeline was in attendance.

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Her family is on vacation in Southern California and to my surprise she was overly excited to see the game. She was pumped for Manny’s return, the chance to see a SoCal ballgame, and to see one of her childhood heroes, former Pirate Brian Giles. Throughout the game she sent me updates and photos through our cellphones. The Dodgers jumped out to an early lead, but no thanks to Manny. He went 0-3 and was taken out in the 6th inning. She said a majority of the crowd supported Manny because half of the stadium were LA fans. She will be posting more pictures and documentaries of her trip and baseball stories form the game. 

 

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