September 2009

2009 Buccos close the door on PNC Park….

WITH A WIN!

What a refreshing way to close the door on PNC Park for the 2009 campaign. It is bittersweet for me. I hate the end of baseball season (yes I know the Pirates still have two series of road games to play and yes there is still playoffs, but the fact I gotta wait til April to see a live game puts me in a tizzy) Bu anyway the faith is still there. The Pirates actually have a little life and a fight in them to take 3 of 4 from the mighty Dodgers.

On Friday the Bucs edged the Dodgers 3-1, they struggled on Saturday but remained in the 8-4 defeat, it was 6-5 on Sunday as Lastings Milledge nailed a 3-run walk off double and on Monday the Bucco big bats came out in an 11-1 victory.

It is all bittersweet. I loved the way we played against LA but where was that winning spirit throughout the course of the season. Pittsburgh is swept by the Reds but can win three games against the Dodgers in the same week. It just doesn’t come full circle. I honestly believe we have the talent. McCutchen, Jones and Milledge will be cornerstones on this team. However, it takes me than three solid major leaguers to win ballgames. The other regulars on the team have had flashed of brillance but never enough to sustain a winning record.

Andy LaRoche was one of those flashes today

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He went 5-5 with a pair of homers, two doubles and a triples. With a showing like that you would think this guy is a superstar but this year he has been far from it. He’s batting .259 with 12 homeruns. Totally mediocre and he has played the 3rd base position all year. For a player at that position he should be doing much better. He has been a dissapointment considering the hype around him. After all we basically got him for the price of Jason Bay. He’s been off and on all year with a 2 week slump here and a week of greatness there. Emma from CRZblue has been asking about her former top prospect in LA. Emma, what you saw today is really just Andy wearing his “good baseball player” mask. He has a lot of slack to pick up if he wants to guarentee his spot next year. Pedro Alvarez is in the minors and knocking at the PNC Parks doors rapidly.

LaRoche came over from the Dodgers in the three way trade last year. The Dodgers gave the Bucs another key player that has been a starter for Pittsburgh most of the year.

Delwyn Young is a natural corner outfielder. Since the Pittsburgh trade he has been converted
to a second baseman. It took him a while to get adjusted but since he has been more nurtured he has been a soild infielder. He’s been seen on top plays and web gems. He’s been strong at the plate doing his job as speedy guy and getting on base. He is a pure singles hitter who always seems to get a hit. He’s flireted with a .300 batting average for most of the season. He has descended throughout the past 2 months and is now at .261. I’m sure this being his first full time position player season he is winded and will need some much needed R and R this offseason.

The Pirates-Dodgers connection extends beyond the baseball field.

Last week the Pirates took a trip out west to Sunny California and were warmly welcomed by the Dodgers in historic Dodger Stadium.

Like always Cat was at the game showing her pride and watched her Dodgers sweep the Bucs in three games. While she was there she so genuinely picked up a token of memorabilla for me.

She was able to snag an autograph from Pirates reliever Jesse Chavez. Chavez has been very rocky all year and isn’t the most liked guy in Pittsburgh. However, he is nice with the fans and always takes time to sign autographs and throw balls to fans in the stands. I’m impressed with him and all the Pirates players. They relaize their not a team like the Dodgers and should be happy with the strong fan base that will always stick with him. I just want to say thanks Cat! I’m definately keeping this on display, my favorite part is actually the Dodgers season ticket stub. It is very cool and add to my baseball collection. I also want to say hey to my friend Steve, he’s lurking in the background and got caught in the pic.

World’s leaders decent on Pittsburgh

Now I know next to nothing when it comes to politics. I have blind eyes to Republicans and Democrats and how our country is run. While I believe I should be more educated with my political science, the ponying up begins now. I am currently taking a political science class at WVU. It is rather interesting and opend my eyes to the past and future of how our country is, and could have been run.

This week I had a great excuse to earn my striped with not only the political world but the economic world as well.

g20 steelers.jpg19 of the world’s ecominc leaders trekked to the Steel City for a convention to discuss the world’s economy and other pressing issues that need to be resolved for the future of out nations.

Pittsburgh has been shut down with road closings, business shutting down for the week, and for the kids-school closings. It has been pretty hectic and I was hoping to take part in some of the festivities and just take in the sights.

However, as college comes first I had a busy week too in Morgantown studying and writing articles. It has been nerve wracking and intense but I’ve done my best to keep my head on straight and concentrated on my studies.

 
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These people looked like they enjoyed themselves making their voices heard and in a word-protesting. THe local media here in the Pittsburgh region have been more concentrated on the riots in Pittsburgh than the progress at the summit.

 

 

g20 woman riot.jpgIts been quite the scene downtown and in the neighborhood of Oakland. People have taken to the streets and escalating their protests into violence. Police crews have been out in full force like never before. It was reported that 84 people were arrested in the day. Tear gas, tasers, and mace have been flooded around in attempts to control the rowdy crowds.

 

 

Somewhere where crowds have been anything but rowdy-PNC Park.

g20 morton.jpgThis picture was taken Thursday by AP Photographer Gene Puskar. The Bucco game against the Reds was held in the afternoon as Cinci closed out a sweep against the hometeam. Its a shame, really it is. Theres an excuse with all the road blocks and congestion around town. The actual was attendance was under 2,000, mind you this is still a major league game. It would have really been something to be at the game just to see what it would feel like to have more people go to your little brothers little league game.

 

g20 xxx prime.jpgOn Friday night at the ballpark it was an international movement for all of baseball. Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatayoma threw out the first pitch. Check out that leg kick. We got a new Dontrelle Willis on our hands, maybe this guy can have more control.

The Pirates actually snuck out a win here against the Dodgers 3-1. It was great to see a W against a great National League team on the verge of clinching the division. Not only was this big for LA, but the world was watching as well. Nothing like free publicity. Pittsburgh sure got a lot this week and the Pirates snuck in there with a cameo appearance as well.

The national media has been very kind to Pittsburgh praising the city for its cleanliness and uniqueness. It is great to be able to see so many people fond of the city that I love so dearly. With all the citizens from so many countries focusing on the area in this time of meeting, I hope every single one of them takes a piece of Pittsburgh home with them. Whether it be the various skyscrappers, the gorgeous bridges, the three rivers or the breathtaking views from Mount Washington and the outlying hills the Burgh truly is a spectacle and should be treated as a top city in the United States.

The summit was held in another one of the city’s finer features, the David L. Lawrence convention center. I have been in here many times as it is home to Pirate Fest every winter. It was also home to the All Star Fan Fest in 2006. I’ve had a blast taking in the baseball features, it would have been weird to see it transformed for a world conference.

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Possible Pirates Players in 2010

It is no secret that the Pirates are far from big players in the free agent market. The front office doesn’t seem to ever have the money to spend to go out and get what is desperately needed to move the organization in the right direction.

There are always holes to fill that are generally only allocated by journeyman vets or young players who are not ready for their debut. When the Pirates do dip into the market C-list players are all they come home with.

Prior to this year the Pirates brought in Ramon Vazquez, Craig Monroe and Eric Hinske. None of the three are on the roster. Vazquez is injured and Monroe and Hinske were released and traded respectively.

Currently with a record of 56-93 one would think big changes would happen and the Pirates would need to get those key bats and arms that would catapault to a winning season. While Neil Huntington, the GM has stated that the Pirates will be “agressive” in the Free Agent market he has also made it clear that in order for the Pirates to win they will have to build through within and get home grown talent from the minors. From the fans prespective it is so excruciating becuase the end doesn’t seem anywhere in sight. It is the same old song and dance with players who have yet to prove themselves and probably never will.

I do believe in our players and like them. Iam confident in a handful of Bucs that will be future stars and the core of our team.

1B-Garrett Jones

2B-Delwyn Young

CF-Andrew McCutchen

LF- Lastings Milledge

Other than that nearly every position spot is up for grabs. There are minor league players waiting in the wings but who knows what will come of those risks.

There are some top free agents out there who I think the Pirates should actively pursue.

Chone Figgins


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At the age of 32 Figgins would be the oldest guy in the Pittsburgh clubhouse. The youth movement isn’t really working as you can see. The Pirates have lost 21 of their last 24 and are riding the worst losing streak in the franchise since 1985. A little veteran leadership never hurt anyone. Figgins is not only a role player but success seems to follow him. He has been a staple in Lor Angeles for eight years and takes the Angels deep into the playoffs. Personally, Figgins holds a .298 batting average this season. He has always flirted with a .300 average however he lacks the power needed from a third baseman. Figgins is an upgrade over Andy LaRoche-by moving LaRoche to the bench he would have time to develop into the third baseman the Pirates thought that he could be (or should have been by now)

Rick Ankiel

 

Thumbnail image for Rick-Ankiel-St_-Louis-Cardinals1.jpgI’ve never been a fan of the guy ever since his John Van De Velde pitching appearance in 2003. His transition to the outfield was rather impressive and he had a good year in St. Louis last year. This year he’s been hurt and appeared in 114 games. He is a rather cheap option. He has never made above the league minimum. WHile he will probably fecth more money it shouldn’t exceed two million. In the eyes of the Pirates that is still a lot but he too would be an upgrade over the current Bucco right fielder Brandon Moss. Moss is in the same position as LaRoche. They both came in from the Jason Bay trade and were looked upon to be solid players. They have failed to meet up to expectations but will still get a chance at playing time in an attempt to save Huntington’s job.

Brad Penny  

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At the beginning of the year the Pirates pitching staff was phenomenal. It was keeping them in games and setting them up for a chance at victories. Paul Maholm and Zach Duke looked great but faltered. Nobody really stood out as dominant. Ross Ohlendorf was the ace of the staff garnering double digit wins. The Pirates have options forthcoming in Charlie Morton and Daniel McCutchen but both have minimal moments of success. They have been shelled time and time again. To have a player like former All-Star Brad Penny come in to reviatlize the staff gives the team a strong option. He is now with the Giants but with the Boston and San Francisco combined he 10-9 with a 5.30 era. Mediocre at best but still better than what the Pirates have now.  He would be taking a pay cut from his 10million this year. But his performance has been slipping and he is worth somehwere between 4-6 million.  It would be a sacrifice but the Pirates need that to salvage their shrinking fanbase.

The Future is here (Kind of)

Congratulations to the 2009 Carolina League Champions…

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Single A affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

It is without a doubt a small step towards big league success down the road. The preaching may soon be paying off. General Manager Neil Huntington and President Frank Coonelly have stressed building through the minors and with a championship club like this it seems that the strategy may be the truth.

The team is filled with blossoiming players and future Pirates.

  • Tony Sanchez-catcher
  •  Starling Marte-outfielder
  • Jamie Romak-outfielder
  • Chase D’Arnaud
  • Bryan Morris-pitcher
  • Rudy Owens-pitcher

That group of five players are studs. They will make the Pirates roster within the next four years, right when we turn the corner and make the playoffs. It is defintately wishful thinking, but confident thinking. If the talent is there and a championship proves that it is, the wins will come with the years.

As for the current big league Pirates-it is same old same old.

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It isn’t fun is it Jason and Ross? It isn’t fun for the fans either. In fact it is embarrasing. The three game series in Los Angeles (which we were swept in) was not even televised in Pittsburgh. Most of the games are on FSN Pittsburgh, with the exception of maybe 15 in the season, but to not even have a crew fly out there is laughable. It didn’t make much difference though, nobody here really cares anyway. The Steelers are kicked off and Penguins pre-season is underway. I kind of fell bad, but not really. It is WVU football time and like I’ve said my passion switches from black and gold to gold and blue. I hope we close out the season somewhat respectably. It won’t even be a moral victory after the pain I’ve endured not only this year, but the past 17.

I just want you Dodgers, Cradinals, Red Sox and Yankess fans, even Indians fans-take that in for a moment. 17 straight losing seasons. Hard to imagine huh, but its all I’ve been used to.

Thanks Hillcats for hope for the future and LETS GO MOUNATINEERS

“I hear her voice in the morning as she calls me”

Hello Everybody!

It has been a week since my last post and I regret that. I’ve taken weeks off for vaction on the blog but there has been something missing and different this week. Maybe its because the Pirates have been tanking, but mostly it has been because I’ve been busy at school.

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Because of this current fall semester Pirates baseball has taken a backseat to something more important, West Virginia football.

For you college football fans out there I’m sure you have been aware of the recent success of the Mountaineer football program. West Virginia has been such a big part of my life, even more so than the Pittsburgh Pirates. My family roots run through the Mountaine State with much of my extended family living here. My father, Rick, went to WVU in the 1970’s and with myself as a current junior, I feel so proud to carry on this blue and gold Peaslee family tradition.

For a better part of my 20 years weekend trips to WV were the norm. Whether it was for family reunions or special occasions I enjoyed treking through the wining country roads to see my grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. There was always something else though that made the trips worth the time…West Virginia football.

For nearly 3 decades my family has had football season tickets. I have had great times at Mountaineer Field enjoying exhillarating wins and hard to swallow losses. The pride and passion I have for the Mountaineers is second to none. Being a student makes these feelings escalate even more.

As I drive myself through the winding roads now I always have John Denver’s legendary “Country Roads” song playing on my car CD player. There is another tradition with this song that always gives me goosebumps.

wvu2009 013.JPGThe young 2009 campaign for the Mounatineers has been very rewarding. We are now 2-0 and have wins over Liberty and East Carolina. Not necessarily two marquee schools but after falling to ECU last year it was great to avenge the defeat.

I get chills everytime I am in the stadium surrounded by a sea of blue and gold. IN the opening game against Liberty I sat in the upper deck as you can see. It was a hot day and the heat and sun was irritating. WVU wasn’t winning in a convincing matter as I had hoped but the Mountaineers still pulled out a 33-20 win over the Liberty Flames.

Just this past Saturday I had much better seats for the game.

wvu2009 021.jpgFront row baby! Being on top of the field right there was awesome. I heckled East Carolina players and high fived my Mountaineers after the 35-20 win. The ticketing sytem at WVU allows students to choose a lower level or upper level seat. My friends and I usually like the upper section for a better view of the whole field. However, being there in the lower level, front row specifically was great. Creating a superb atmosphere for college football.

 

 

One of the best parts of Mountaineer football Saturdays is the Pride of West Virginia:The Mountaineer Marching Band.

Thumbnail image for wvu2009 016.JPGThe band plays a great rendition of Country Roads and forms the state of West Virginia in their pregame routine. With everybody signing along to teh tune it is the greatest feeling in the world. A college tradition for many many years.

There is another WVU team that deserves some respect right now, the women’s soccer team.

I cover the Mountaineer women’s soccer team for the school newspaper. They have great potential to be a strong national competitor. Pre-season, the squad was ranked 7th in the nation but have since fallen to 12th after a 2-2-3 start to the season. They are very young and will surely be on the natioanl stage for more years to come.

One of the biggest changes this year for Mountaineer sports is the transition of the rifle. If you’ve ever watched a Mountaineer sporting event on TV you may have seen one of the most distinct mascots in all of sports.

 

 

 

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The Mountaineer is an intimidating fellow who carries a musket on the field. If you are an opposing fan, player and mascot-watch out! He fires after every touchdown and when the Mountaineers are on a roll, be prepared for a loud kaboom all day long.

This year the Mountaineer takes on a different role.

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Indeed that is a woman. She is a junior at WVU and the second female to don the Mountaineer buck skins. Its been very controversial. Because come on look at the guy on the left. He is the spitting image of a Mountaineer. His name is Brady Campbell and the stereotypical West Virginia mascot. Most people feel it should be strictly a man in the uniform. But she has done a fantastic job displaying excellent school spirit.

My classes are going well. I have a fairly loaded schedule with 18 credit hours. I enjoy my journalism, Public Relations and English classes. I take a better interest in these because they are for my major. However, there are some road blocks that come in the form of Accounting and Statistics. Numbers are not my thing. Math is not my thing. These two classes have been interesting thus far. I’m staying on top and not getting behind because I know if I dig a hole for myself theres no way I’ll be able to get back out. Anybody out there with an expertise in these fields? Hit me up!

If you expected a Pirates update here I’m sorry but I really can’t pony up anything positive to say. They were on a 7 game losing skid for the ump teenth time this season. They actually pulled out a 2-1 win on Sunday over the Astros to avoid the sweep. Andrew McCutchen has been on a month long slump. He’s gone o-fer many times this month and seen his batting average drop to .270. The offense as a whole has been sluggish. Only mustering up 17 hits over the 7 day week. It’s ugly and doesn’t seem to get any better. They players don’t seem to give any heart or effort out there. They know the season is over and I can’t blame them for not giving a die hard effort.

In closing-here is something that I get to look at everyday. It is hanging in my room behind my TV. It shows the pride and passion that I will always have for the Pirates-its everlasting no matter how bad it has been or how good it will be in the future.

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17 again

First off..Happy Labor Day everybody. It is a great holiday, not just because I do not have to be at three of my classes today. It was a refreshing break and long weekend filled with Mountaineer football. We won 33-20 over Liberty. I would have liked a better score but hey a wins a win.

Now in the case of the Pirates on Sunday a loss was certainly not a loss.

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The Cubs beat the Pirates 4-2 at PNC Park. Nothing new, I’ve seen it before, so have every other Pirate fan….for the past 17 years.

The Pirates loss was their 82nd of the year. They have ensured a losing record for this year, mirroring every single season from those past 17 years.

Now Brandon Moss looks pretty upset there in the dugout. I am upset too. But sorry Brandon you’ve only been here 2 years, I’ve been around for all 17 years of the losing streak.

I hate talking about it, because there is really nothing to say. There are some questions though. Such as, “Why do I put up with it?” and “When will it end?”

As a die hard Pirates fan I feel betrayed and scorned for so long. We have been promised winners, but never recieved them. The 90’s through never ending losing seasons at Three River Stadium were brutal. I was young and immature and just loved being at the park. I fell in love with players such as Al Martin, Jason Kendall, Jose Guillen and Mark Smith. Those guys were my heroes. I felt like they were the superstars of not just Pittsburgh but all of the MLB. I was blind by the lossess but never really realized what else was out there.

For years management has preched and preached that once the Pirates shifted from TRS to PNC Park the sun would come out and we would be competitive. Well its been nearly ten years at the mose beautiful park in baseball and while there has been sunny days the losing drags on. Who knows how long it will come. Im hopefull soon, but I’ve been hopefull and let down in the past. But theres never going to be a time when I say I’m Done. I’m here for the bad and I know there will be good. And I will proudly be here for it. Its tought to swallow now but when the time comes for winning it will make it so much sweeter.

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Thats a great drawing there on the right isn’t it? Now for the guy on the left I can’t really give him any credit. We have the best NFL team right next door. Why be a Detroit fan?

However, he makes a great point. People need to realize what us Pirates fans go through. We have the Steelers and Penguins in the city too yes. But the impact that the Pirates have had on people’s lives in second to none.

Its baseball everyone loves baseball. People grow up with the sport, idolize the players and pretend to be their heroes in little league. Baseball is the pastime of America and that will never change.

I’m sure wherever you are you see Steelers fans. In every part of the country, they are there. Pittsburgh was a hub of national attention in the 60’s and 70’s. With mills and factories booming and the Steelers and Pirates dominating their respective leagues everyone knew the teams and wore their black and gold with great pride.

PGH-WORK.jpgWhen the mills shut down work was hard to find and citizens of the Burgh dispersed across the country. They took their love of the Steelers with them but left their Buccos by the wayside. Partially because of the ongoing success of the Steelers and the pitifullness of the Pirates. If the Pirates and Steelers switched positions in the sports rankings I’m sure people would be all for the Pirates year in and year out. Its a shame that the losses make people jump ship, but it is completely understandable.

we-suck.jpgThe jokes get old just like the losing. I’ve stated my confidence that the next 3 years will be special for the Pirates. History has repeated itself for far too long, its time for a change or at leats one winning season. I want to know what October baseball is like. I want September to be fun for a change. There will be nothing like competitive regular season games this time of the year.

I’ve been here long enough, so many fans deserve better for all the sacrifice and pride we put in. It’s about time something happens.

Roberto Clemente Day 2009

clemente_day_logo.jpgWhat a better way to honor a humanitarian, civil servant and not to mention baseball player. Roberto Clemente is a legend. Not just in Pittsburgh but across the baseball world. Not just our country of the United State but the world. From the desolate islands of Latin America to the hills of Western Pennsylvania. Clemente paved teh way for so many athletes to make their way to America and make a living playing the sport they love. While he was not the first minority or Latin American ballplayer for that matter the impact he made on the game is second to none.

Clemente showcased his unparralled athletic ability and proved that spanish speaking ballplayers could flourish in America. Clemente played his entire 18 year career in the black and gold uniform of the Pirates. He was originally signed by the Dodgers but thanks to teh Rule 5 draft Pittsburgh was bale to lure him away. In perhaps the biggest move of the 1950s or even in all of the storied years of Major League Baseball.

In a Pirates uniform Roberto gave 100% effort no matter the situation, scenario or possiblity.
roberto.jpgIn the outfield he had amazing speed and range. He had the arm of a cannon and could gun down runners at any base. At the plate he made contact and could rip the ball a mile. He had a knack for seeing good pitches and could hit nearly anything. He recorded 3,000 hits over the span of nearly two decades.

 

In 1973 the Roberto Clemente award was established.

hdr_clemente_08_595.jpgOriginally called the Commisioners award it was renamed after the tragic plane crash death of Roberto himself. He dies much to young but died in the most respectable way possible. Delievering hurricane relief supplies to Nicaragua. His passion was helping others. He was quoted saying many beautiful comments about his life in Puerto Rico and how giving back is the most important thing in life. The award has been given to the MLB player that has emphasized the ideals of Roberto. last year, Albert Pujols took home the award. A player on each team is nominated for the prestigious Clemente trophy. Here is a list of all the players that are nominated for 2009.

Even today people recognize the accomplishments and life of Roberto. Every player hailing from the Latin America part of the world feels his prescence and carries the torch Clemente has passed to each of them.

Just last night I had the privelege of watching the movie Sugar.

1201018.jpg It is the story of ficticious pitcher Miguel Santos. While it is a work of fiction it portrays what every single ballplayer from the Dominican Republic must go through to crack a major league roster. The sport is king on the island and with millions of young players out there only a select lucky few are noticed by major league scouts. The movie take you to the town of San Pedro from the neighborhood slums to the Baseball Academy established by Kansas City.

Miguel is part of teh academy trying to pitch his way to the United States. He is eventually brought up and proves himself in spring training. He makes a single A roster in a farm town in Iowa. The boundaries he experiences and the struggles he goes through are always overlooked. The problems that are experienced by all Domincan ballplayers trying to make it through a major league system are defined in this movie. Miguel comes across Roberto Clemente, while he was never introduced to the story of his life he reads a book about his life to pass the time while traveling to and from small town cities. He turns into his favorite player and he relaizes him and Roberto went through the same things and have a similair story.

This movie is a must see for every baseball fan. It makes you laugh and cry and gives a greater appreciation for foreign born players. I do not want to give too much away but I will leave you with this. For every Jose Reyes, Robinson Cano and Johnny Cueto there is a Miguel Santos.

 

  

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