March 2010

Like Andre Dawson, I’m Cooperstown Bound

I mentioned in my previous entry about a special spring break trip. For about two month now my buddy Andrew and me have been planning a trip to baseball’s most hallowed grounds. The National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.

hof.jpgThis will be my second trip to the Hall. My first came in 1997. My dad, aunt, both my grandfathers and myself made the trek up during the last week of August of that year for the annual induction ceremonies.

Phile Niekro, the famous knuckleballer is a very distant relative of my extended family. It was a neat experience although I never formally met Phil. My house is filled with autogrphed memorobilla Mr. Niekro was nice enough to sign for us.

 

 

niekro.jpgNow mind you I was just eight years old in ’97. I do not remember a thing about the weekend, the Hall or Cooperstown. Let me just say that I am pumped beyond belief for this special baseball moment.  There is not one person I’d rather share it with than my buddy Andrew either. He and I appreciate baseball more than anyone I know. The history, the passion and the overall fun of the game is what we both live by.

I anticpate having the time of my life through the hallowed halls. I have been researching the exhibits and cannot wait to get started. I will be like a kid in a candy store.

I have also heard the city of Cooperstown is a baseball lovers paradise. The quaint little town offers themed restaraunts and shops. I’m stocking up on cash to bring along because I am a free spender when it comes to baseball related items.

mlb hof.jpgFINAL FOUR UPDATE: In my last entry you got a peek of my elation after West Virginia played their way into the Final Four. If only you would have seen me a few hours later. I recieved an e-mail regarding student tickets available at a first come-first serve basis. I am the lucky owner of one of the available 600 tickets given to WVU students. At a miniscule price of just $25 dollars we are able to catch WVU’s game as well as the other game on Saturday. Also, the championship game Monday. It has potential to be a fantastic weekend, which I already have a gut feeling that it will be. My and five of my Mountaineer friends are eagerly searching for hotel rooms and other travel plans for Saturday. It is hectic, but so much fun at the same time. 

photo credits: wktv.com, ajc.com, espn.com

Country Roads lead to Indianapolis

It was hard to sleep last night. The anticipation was hard enough, but living it after was even harder.

I feel like I am dreaming. It is tough to even say it.

WEST VIRGINIA IS IN THE FINAL FOUR!
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  As I watched the game in Youngstown, OH with some buddies from back home as well as my WVU roommate I could not help but think that this is my World Series.

Andrew, my best friend who is a Yankee fan agrees. I’ve never experienced this before. Yeah the Penguins and Steelers have given me great memories over the years, games I will never forget. But there is just some sense of pride that I have with West Virginia that the Pens and Steelers have never given me.

I go to WVU. My family is born and bred in the Mountain State. There is that geneaology that only comes with your alma mater. And in a state that is always overlooked and put down, this means something. Something special.

It is safe to say that the Mountaineers and Pirates are all I care about sports wise. I’ve been to hundreds of Pirates games and West Virginia basketball and football games. I feel that you have to be there, live it live and in person to become a true fan of something. It is too expensive to go to many Steelers and Penguins games. I have been to a handful of them but the passion is lacking compared to that of the Mountaineers and Pirates.

I was made fun of last night by some of my friends for having tears in my eyes as the clock winded down and Kentucky fell to the Mountaineers by a score of 73-66. From the moment I was born I was swaddled in gold and blue blankets and a WV beanie hat. Let me just say I was a cute baby. But for the last 21 years WVU has always been the college team who failed to live up to expectations or were looked down upon for not yet being elite. We proved everyone wrong last night, the underdogs that we always are were victoriuous and finally mentioned among the nation’s best. Who knows when this moment will happen again? You just got to take advantage of it now.

My Sunday morning has consisted of scavaging the internet looking for tickets to next Saturday’s Final Four games in Indianapolis. I got some money to spend as I turned down an opportunity to go to Florida for the week for Spring Training. On Wednesday Andrew and I are going on a day trip to baseball hallowed ground, which I will post about later. For now I got basketball on the brain. Thank you Mountaineers-for a lifelong of memories climaxing on March 27, 2010 a day I will never forget.
maz and butler.jpgphoto credit: bluegoldnews.com

Very Superstitious

….writing’s on the wall.

Sorry do not want to go all Stevie Wonder on you but it is a fitting opening for a tale I am about to preach.

I hope you all were able to catch some of the WVU basketball game last night, or at least see the score.

 

butler-KJ.jpgThe Mountaineers pulled off a 69-56 win over Washington on Thursday. Whether it was the swarming defense of West Virginia or the 18 points dropped by Kevin Jones (dude with the smile), it proved it was for real….yet again.

WVU will now take on Kentucky Saturday at 7 p.m. for one of the most anticipated contests of the tournament.

Now WVU proved they were the better team as they handily defeated a lesser Pac-10 opponent, but some in Morgantown feel the win should be attributed to a greater cause.

As I was driving to work this morning ( I recently got a job as a tour guide showing off the university to prospective high school students. Keep that in mind if you ever want to check out this great school!) I was listening to a poular morning show in town discussing the game.

Apparently the hosts know a guy who has yet to watch a WVU tournament game because he feel if he does, it will lose. Also, the same guy does not watch Steeler or Penguins playoffs games for the same reason. This prompted one of the guys to chime in with “Well he does watch all the Pirate games, thats why they always lose!” Sounds logical doesn’t it? Haha i don’t care. I find it funny.

That was my superstitious spiel. I cannot say I believe in any type of superstition. I try to never wear a WVU football jersey to any game. I have done it twice and we’ve lost both. Both games were against Cincinatti nonetheless.

It will be hard to sleep as visions of Bob Huggins and Devin Ebanks dance in my head.

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Thumbnail image for ebanks.jpgLETS

GOOOOOOOO

                  MOUNTAINEERS!

 

 

 

photcredits:

AP photos-herald-dispatch.com, statesman.com

Sour Grapes

grapes.jpgIt has been well documented, by myself, that Nate McLouth is a scum bag.

Harsh words? Maybe he always came off as a nice guy in Pittsburgh, but since his trade last June he has done nothing but trash the team I love.

It hurts to hear one of my favorite players of the last few years go off like that and I agree he does have a point.

Jason Bay too was traded somewhat unexpectedly, he still raves about his playing days in Pittsburgh. I just cannot respect a guy (McLouth) who does not respect the team that brought him up.

 

 

I am bringing this up again because ironically enough the Braves faced the Pirates today. McLouth would not only go up against his former team, but bat against the man he was traded for, pitcher Charlie Morton.

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McLouth wasted no time sending a message. He lit up the scoreboard with a solo homerun to lead off the ball game. The Buccos got the last laugh when they won 7-6 over the Braves.

The win was surely welcomed for a ball club who has lost seven of their last ten. The ‘W’ puts the Pirates at 6-12-1 for the spring training tilt.

With just a mere ten days before Opening Day at beautiful PNC Park, there is something just a little more important along the way. The SWEET 16.

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Tonight West Virginia and Washington do battle at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, NY. The third round of NCAA tournament action tips off. The scene around Morgantown today and all throughout the month of March has been one of anticipation. We want it! A National Championship that is.

The Huskies and Mountaineers are a good matchup in that UDUB instills a run and gun offense while WVU plays lockdown defense. It is an 11th seed (wash.) vs. a 2nd seed (WVU). Many pundits across the country are picking the Huskies for the upset. In fact and ESPN.com poll says 32% are labeling this as the upset of the night.

I respectively disagree.

West Virginia will be without starting point guard Darryl ‘Truck’ Bryant, but that is okay. He has a foot injury and has not been playing his best in the postseason. Joe Mazzulla will step in nicely. He has starting experience and may play the best defense on the team. Mazzulla also has a unique tie-in with the Pirates. He was arrested in PNC Park two summers ago for dissorderly conduct. Not the brightest move and I cannot really stand up for him here but it has shadowed his illustrious Mountaineer career.

joemaz.jpgI hope those of you following the tournament get to tune into this game tonigth at 7:30 on CBS. I hope your brackets are still in tact and that you picked West Virginia to go far. I surely did. Tonight will prove to the country that WVU is for real and that we really will make noise on our way to the Championship game.

photo credits: dontveret.com, i.cdn.turner.com, fromthedugout.com, msnbc.com, cbc.com  

Whats your Prediction for the Season?

 

 

clubber%20lang.jpgPrediction? Yes, Prediction…PAIN

That was Clubber Lang’s response in Rocky 3 in regards to his upcoming bout with Rocky Balboa. Rocky defeated Clubber in a rematch knocking him out after being knocked out in the first match.

As I watched Braves-Mets on ESPN this afternoon it was refreshing to hear the voices of Joe Morgan and Jon Miller resonate through my television. They were talking about the competiveness of the NL East and I agree with them. It will be the most competitive division in baseball.

It will be a tight race between the Braves, Mets and Phillies.

70sPhilliesLogo.jpgAs much as I want to pick the Braves I do think the Phillies will win the East. This is practically the same National League Champion team with the addition of a better third baseman (Placido Polanco) and the League’s best pitcher (Roy Halladay)

The NL Central will be a tough one to pick. Obviously the Pirates are

card fans.jpg lightyears from making this division their own. In fact I’m not quite
sure if I will be alive when it does happen. (I take that back, it will happen sometime this decade). But the Cardinals are the class of the six-team federation. Every team has improved but Matt Holliday and Colby Rasmus will accompany Albert the Great with great seasons.

dodgers.jpgHow the West was won. This season will tell the tale of the Dodgers. This team underachieved last year dipping out of the Playoffs early. If the starting lineup stays healthy and Manny Ramirez has his head on staright in his self-proclaimed last year in LA this team will win the World Series.

The Wild Card of the National League will either come from the East
braves logo.jpg or Central. Probably the Central because it will be competitive in spurts throughout the year. I give the nod to the Braves. Tommy Hanson will break out and be the real deal.

The American League will be strong as well.

boston.jpgThe East if forever changing with the most powerful players landing on teams on the coast. The Yanks and Red Sox will still keep the monopoly on the Division, but the Orioles will make some noise that has not been heard in quite some time. The Red Sox will win the East thanks to their revamped pitching efforts. They degressed offensively but still remain strong.

The AL Central has always been my favorite division in baseball and not just because I dislike the Indians so much. It is always a battle and the Tigers/Twins have always been the two American League teams I follow the most. That being said the Twins will take the Central. Target Field will be rocking just as loud as the Metrodome. Even without Joe Nathan, John Rauch will take over nicely.

 

target-field.jpgAfter years of domination by the Angels in the West, a new champion will emerge. The
marinerslogo.jpgSeattle Mariners. With a total overhaul with Chone Figgins and Milton Bradley in the field and Cliff Lee to pair with Felix Hernandez.

The American League Wild Card- New York Yankees. No way they do not miss the playoffs after winning the World Series. 

nyy.jpgphoto credits: mgm.com, blogs.spectator.com, johnnygoodtimes.com, newsimg.bbc.com, bravesbaseballblog.blogspot.com, sportslogos.net, sacbunt.wordpress.com, tomseaoltz.wordpress.com, layoutsparks.com

‘She’s Out of My League’ knocks it out of the park

 

shes_out_of_my_league.jpgIf you’ve been watching TV at all this weekend you may have seen a preview for this movie. To the naked eye it may just look like a typical romantic comedy. However, that generalization is way off. It is a typical romantic comedy that takes place in Pittsburgh!

The main character Kirk (Jay Bruchtel) is an average Joe working as a security guard at the Pittsburgh International Airport.

pittsburgh-airport-address.jpgThis got my blood flowing immediately. I love to travel and always travel out of the Pittsburgh airport at least once a year. It was filmed directly in the airport which was very genuine and realistic to the context of the movie. I’ve been to airports across the country and Pittsburgh ranks near the top with its atmosphere and charm.

Kirk, working by the metal detectors comes across a beautiful woman, Molly (Alice Eve) going through security. While the other security guards are hitting on her, Kirk resists and acts polite which in return gives him a beaming smile courtesy of Molly.

Once boarding her plane, Molly relaizes she left her iphone back in a security bin. Using her friend’s cell phone she calls it, Kirk has it in his hand.

The end up meeting in each other at the Andy Warhol musuem in downtown Pittsburgh.

 

 



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Now I’m not the biggest art buff, but I do think enough of myself to know something is good when I see it. Warhol is well respected in the art world and his creative mind is on display here in his hometown in his own musuem. The musuem is located just steps away from PNC Park on the North Shore. I have never been there but it is a goal of mine to check it out this year.

 

Anywho, back to the movie. Molly is a high ranking event planner in the city and has connections across the ‘burgh. She offers Kirk Penguins tickets, on the ice!

 

ice.jpgSurprisingly this beautiful girl is really into this self proclaimed dork. The two end up seriously dating and go on other dates around the city.

They eat at this beautiful river side cafe and walk through a park that is very similiar to Central Park. But the icing on the cake and the one you all have been waiting for-the couple goes on a date to a Pirate game.

 

pnc park.jpgLet me just say my shrieks of joy could be heard throughout the 300 seat theatre. It was awesome to see a beautiful roundabout shot of the stadium. The cameras started out by the river and slowly gravitated upward for a perfect area view of the beautiful stadium. The couple walked across the Clemente Bridge in the Centerfield entrance. 

The movie was very good, very funny. With its R rating I do not suggest it to some of you as raunchy humor may not be your thing. However, for a There are breathtaking views of the downtown area and really just presents a great perspective on the Steel City.

photo credits: imdb.com,visitingdc.com, flickr.com, movies.yahoo.com, iguogo.com  

 

 

Mountaineer Baseball is underway

 

hawley field.jpgAfter a sloppy start to the 2010 season, West Virginia University’s Baseball game finally was able to get a game in.

Tuesday’s matchup with Duquesne was called due to wet conditions. After being covered in over two feet of snow WVU’s Hawley Field was cleared off thanks to rain and valiant efforts by the coaching staff and players.

Opening Day finally occured Thursday evening against Bryant. Ever heard of them? Don’t worry, I haven’t either.

I asked a family with Bryant gear on where they actually were located. Turns out they are from Rhode Island, very close to Providence. I joked and said “I though it was Kobes school.” The lame joke was actually was recieved by the Bryant faithful, who had a son on the theam, in fact the father even said “It’d be nce to have him nearby, we could use his money.”

From my perch in the pressbox I witnessed a thrilling 7-5 victory for the Mountaineers. At the time it was their fourth victory of the year after playing games in Florida and SOuth Carolina to open the season. SInce then WVU dropped a double header to Manhattan on Friday.

It will be a long year for the Mountaineers especially after losing seven seniors, all of whom had a major impact on offense the last four years, If it hopes to compete West Virginia will rely on Morgantown native Jedd Gyorko.

 

jedd1.jpgGyorko may sound or look familiar, he was on the front page of MLB.com for a draft preview. The shorstop may just be at the top of many draft classes as he is a top player. The junior has two home runs on the year and is batting .333. He leads the Mountaineers is slugging at .571.

He has put on weight and is bulking up to add even more power to drive the ball to all corners of the field. For his draft stock to rise he will need to be better in the field and add speed.

Saturday’s game was rained out but I am hoping to get it in Sunday at 1 pm.

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photo credits: msnsportsnet.com

Tippin’ their hats and callin’ the Pirates their daddy

Sorry Pedro…

 

 

 

pedro-martinez-7001381.jpgAnd sorry Yankees…

 

Thumbnail image for jeter.jpgYa’ll are much better currently and historically than the Pirates, but give me time to enjoy a win.

The Buccos defeated the Yanks 12-7 on Tuesday, but most impressive was what was done in the first inning.

Andrew McCutchen got things started with a single.

Ronny Cedeno…a single also.

Lastings Milledge brought home McCutchen with a double.

Then this guy…

 

GFJ1_edited-2.jpgMade it rain!

Jones blasted a three run homer off none other than CC Sabathia. Sabathia got rocked in two innings pitched giving up seven hits and five earned runs.

It was nice to see us do some damage against Sabathia. The Pirates totaled 15 hits against NY, the most of the spring. It wa salso nice to out hit a team for a change also, the Yanks recorded just eight.

Charlie Morton, anticiapted fourth starter, had a decent outing with a three inning showing on four hit ball. He did give up three runs, but struck out a pair.

By the way, that Garrett Jones picture, photo shopped by yours truly. I got the program for my brithday and have been playing around with it.  

Tomorrow it is Pittsburgh-Baltimore live on FSN Pittsburgh. 

photo credits: nytimes.com, espn.com

 

 

 

 

A case of the Mondays

For the first time this spring the Buccos held their first split squad games. Both teams were in action today against the Yankees and Rays.

New York and Tampa Bay both defeated the pair of Pittsburgh teams.

The Yanks shut out the Pirates 6-0. Steve Pearce recorded the only hit of the contest for the Bucs, a single.

Thumbnail image for stevepearce.jpgPearce has long been heralded as the next big thing in Pittsburgh, however his time is running short.

In 2007 after just one season in A ball, he made the jump to the majors, swiftly moving through the system. It was just too much too soon as he was overwhelmed at the plate and at first base.

Last season he spent a majority of the season in AAA Indianapolis setting career highs in every offensive category. It was not the same story in the majors. In 60 games in Pittsburgh, Pearce batted six points over the Mendoza Line with just a .206. He lacked power that he showed throughout the minors just hitting four homeruns.

He has a chance to make the team out of camp but that most likely will not happen. There is a heated battle for the last bench spots and Pearce will be one of the odd men out.

 

The Rays and Pirates played their way to 10 innings, but TB outlasted the Bucs 4-3. Brian Friday hit a homerun for Pittsburgh.

In a similar, yet completely different scenario, Friday is in a “Pearce like position.” For about the last two years he has made a name for himself in the minors.

brianfriday.jpg

With the major league roster jammed with infield talent (Ronny Cedeno, Delwyn Young, Akinori Iwamura, Ramon Vazquez) Friday will need at least another year in the minors to develop.

The Rice University product spent last year in AA Altoona. He hit just .265 but is said to have a great glove. By showing pop in his bat today he may just be “the guy” at second in say 2012.

 

 

 

The Bucs will bring the team together tomorrow when they face the Yankees yet again.

Remember me issuing my excitement for Tuesday’s WVU baseball game? Well it was postponed due to the snow still on the field. It is melting rather quickly as temperatures reached the mid-50′s in Morgantown today. But I hear the field is wetter than the Everglades. They may be able to get in Thursday’s game however.

To hold me over these next three days I have Wednesday to look forward to. The Pirates take on the Orioles Wednesday at 7p.m. The game will be televised on FSN Pittsburgh. My buddy Andrew is a big Orioles fan so we will enjoy watching this game together.

photo credits: espn.com, pirates.scout.com

 

 

 

 

A 2-0-1 weekend

The Pirates competed in a trio of ballgames this weekend in the Sunshine State.

They did not lose a single game.

 

 

 

 

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The jolly roger was raised for the first time this spring training season on Friday in a 5-3 win over the Orioles.

One of my favorite prospects in the organization is catcher Tony Sanchez.

tony sanchez.jpgI was able to catch one of Sanchez’s very first minor league games in person back in Youngstown, OH. He was with the State College Spikes facing my hometown Mahoning Valley Scrappers.

He is a very likeable fellow coming out of Boston College. 

In his very first spring training at bat, Sanchez belted a solo homerun off Baltimore’s Troy Patton.

Sanchez is just 21 years old, eight months older than me. It is very funny that someone my age is one of the hottest prospects on a major league ballclub. I guess it is really not too much to fathom as I am a year from graduating college surrounded by Division 1 athletes at one of America’s top sports universities.

Sanchez will probably begin the year in AA Altoona, but will find his way in the ‘Burgh by 2011.

On Saturday the jolly roger may have been raised, but just halfway.

The Pirates and Philies played their way to a 3-3 ten inning tie.

The reining National League champs got hot right off the bat with two runs in the first inning. Pirates starter Kevin Hart looked very sloppy. He looks to be the 5th starter in the rotation so he really needs to hone his mechanics for the remainder of March.

The bottom of the first inning let the Pirates match the Phils, in fact they one upped the boys with Brotherly love. The Buccos scored their only three runs of the contest in the first frame. Ryan Church delievered a two run home run.

On Sunday’s day of rest, the Buc’s bats did anything but. Pittsburgh destroyed absolutely destroyed Minnesota 15-5.

Bobby Crosby gave a good audition for the starting shortstop position with a four RBI performance.

Crosby belted a 3-run homerun while going 2-for-3. It was great to see this guy come through. Whether starting or on the bench he will be vital to the team’s success. Garrett Jones also connected for a homerun, his first of the spring.

The weekend was fun filled with Pirates baseball.

On Sunday it was 30 Clubs/30 Days featuring the Pirates on MLB Network. I think the broadcast team led by Matt Vasgersian really brought to light the hope and promise of the Bucs. They were valiant to praise the efforts of Neil Huntington and the restocked minor league system. They also had good interviews with Lastings Milledge, Andrew McCutchen and Paul Maholm. McCutchen also had a “wired-in” segment with him playing around with teammates comparing his speed to Usain Bolt (a stretch) and hitting an opposite field homerun into the Allegheny River at PNC Park (a bigger stretch).

This weekend I also recieved a package I have long been anticipating.

daveparkerposter.jpgMy Dave Parker poster finally came! I saw this on ebay for a nice price of seven bucks and could not pass it up. It is actually a 7-up ad from the early 80′s. I’m sure the cobra will be so proud to know a college id knows who he is and that the Pirates pride is still stemming from the “We Are Family” days.

On Tuesday I will get the opportunity to see live baseball for the first time in a while.

The West Virginia baseball teams hits the recently snow vacated field to do battle with Duquesne. I once again will be the beat writer for the school newspaper covering the team.

photo credits:piratebox.com, AP/sportingnews

 

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