Pitt Peas back in Pittsburgh!

It has been a total of 15 excruciating days since I was last at my summer home, PNC Park. On Friday night I met my best friend Andrew in Pittsburgh to help open the weekend series with the Braves. I’ve said it before that Pittsburgh is a de facto halfway point for Morgantown and Youngstown.

The traffic into the city was horrendous. Parking was hard to come by once I escaped the bumper to bumper mess. It honestly was the worst I have ever seen the North Shore set up prior to a Pirates game. I expected a packed house with a shot at a sellout.

It was far from that. The announced attendance was just 22,000, still a decent crowd but with most tickets $7 dollars and a sweet Andrew McCutchen canvas photo wrap giveaway there should have been more people.

Many of the people were college kids, around my age. It is weird to be a Pirates fan in and around Pittsburgh for someone younger than the age of 25. There really has been a generation of Pirates fans lost thanks to the 17 straight losing seasons. I really do wish it was cool to be a Pirates fan but until that happens I’ll be stuck surrounded by hooligans who only go to the game to drink, meet with friends and start the wave while not paying attention to the game at all. Baseball ignorant people rub me the wrong way when I go to the park to enjoy a couple hours of a ballgame and to escape the outside world. PNC Park is my santuary for peace.

Anywho, the Pirates lost 7-0 and only managed four hits. Nothing went well for the Bucs. I expected a strong performance out of starting pitcher Ross Ohlendorf, but this guy made sure that didn’t happen.

 

DSCN2098.JPGThe Jay-Hey kid (I really do not like that nickname, it is cool no doubt but Willie Mays is the only one who should have that rhyming distinction). The 20-year old (I still can’t get over the fact that I’m older than this guy, I should be a Major League player!) belted a two run homer and teed off for a double. He will be fun to watch as I have already dubbed him the next Ken Griffey Jr. He has the marketabilty and is easy to connect with.

 

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If only I had a better camera. This was the at bat in which Jason launchedhis homerun over the Clemente Wall in left field.

This was the at bat that Heyward went deep in. You always see those flashbulbs going off when a big player steps to the plate. While it seemed that I was the only one snapping a picture of the future star I’m sure that in a few years ballparks will be flickering when he is at bat.

The night didn’t end after the blowout.

I met up with my friend Erin who is a regular reader of the blog. She recently graduated from Pitt and yes I do old that against her. However, she is an awesome girl who rivals me in terms of Pirates knowledge and passion. She also is in love with Nate McLouth. A man that I can just not respect anymore. 

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 The reaction to McLouth’s return to Pittsburgh was underwhelming. It was almost unheralded completely but there were more cheers than boos. I missed his first at bat as Andrew and I fought for parking while we made the game in the bottom of the second inning.

I couldn’t think of a better way to end the night than drinking away my sorrows of a shutout. We went to the Hall of Fame Club located below the scoreboard in right field. It is a cool place to hang out before of after the game and even watch the game from the deck area outside. Every so often there are former players and local celebrities that come by the HOF Club to pour drinks for patrons. Customers were treated to an appearance by one of the most famous Pirates of the last 20 years, Andy Van Slyke.

DSCN2106.JPGI do not remember much about Van Slyke as I was just around the age of three when he played. He autographed my program and fielded questions from thirsty guests. He said “There’s no doubt Barry Bonds used steroids” and “He was a jerk and a terrible teammate.” I told him I was a fan of the Tigers because at one time he was a coach for Detroit along with my favorite manager Jim Leyland. Former Pirate managers Gene Lamont and Lloyd McClendon were also on that staff. Literally the Detroit Pirates. Andrew brought up the Tigers-Twins playof play in game of last year dubbing it “the bets baseball game of all time.” Van Slyke agreed saying “it rocked.”

Speaking of Van Slyke it was fitting we met him on that given night. A parking garage between Heinz Field and PNC Park notes their levels based on fmaous Pittsburgh athletes. We just so happened to park on the Andy Van Slyke level.
avs.jpg

Now that was not our only coincidence of the night. There was a second that also has to do witha Pittsburgh celebrity.

Remember Erin? Pitt fan. Back in the Hall of Fame club we ran into the only person I respect at that school, basketball coach Jamie Dixon.

DSCN2105.JPGAfter shaking his hand I asked for the picture and then told him that I may get in trouble for this because I am a die hard West Virginia fan. He showed nothing but class and laughed at me. He boasted about Bob Huggins saying he is a first class gentleman and a great friend. I wish I would have taken my jacket off to show off my WVU shirt underneath. It was a once in a lifetime chance but I guess I took the high road and displayed an ounce of respect.

Once again it was a fun night, as all nights are in Pittsburgh, as all nights involving baseball are. Saturday’s game was not televised and I’m actually glad it wasn;t as Pittsburgh fell to ATL again. However Saturday’s game was on and boy was it grand. Ryan Doumit hit a walk off home run in the tenth inning to avoid the sweep.

 

11 Comments

Peas, missed you in Pitt. Took a “few” photos. Check this out: http://cookandsonbats.mlblogs.com/archives/2010/05/pnc360.html
-Todd

Sounds like another great time, despite the losses. You always manage to meet up with high-profile people, so I wonder who you’ll have your picture taken with next!

http://janeheller.mlblogs.com

Looks like a blast. That’s how ya do baseball, Matt. Kudos. As for Heyward’s age… tell me about it. I’m 31. I’m older than Albert Pujols…yet he’s MY idol. Confusing indeed.
–Jeff
http://redstatebluestate.mlblogs.com/
http://mtrredstatebluestate.com

I saw Heyward hit too…very impressive. If he does turn out like Griffey, I hope he avoids all the injuries ;o)

Jenn
http://philliesphollowers.mlblogs.com/

Heyward is definitely a candidate for the RoY award this year, but will he be able to sustain it or will he collapse towards the end of the year or next year…. So nice to avoid the sweep even better when you guys beat a Phillies rival…

-peter
Phillies Outside

You’re right. The Buccs did lose a whole generation of fans. I think it’s a terrible shame. Wait till you start seeing rookies retire and watching careers start and end. Wait till you start talking in decades! LOL This is as good as it gets my friend. Live it up! : D
I hated Van Slyke since his days as a Cardinal.
mike
http://thebrooklyntrolleyblogger.mlblogs.com/

If it’s tough to think that you’re older than a major leaguer, imagine how I feel – I could be their mother! (theoretically) That’s a tough one to get used to.
Sue
Rants, Raves, and Random Thoughts

Matt,
Keept those stories coming! That is so cool that you ran inot Van Slyke! That is one thing we don’t have at Dodger STadium, hangout places after the game. Still, I love where is located, a hidden jewel in the Ravine.
Emma
http://crzblue.mlblogs.com

hahaha love his honesty about Bonds!

Glad you had a great road trip :)

Oh and Jay-Hey Kid is a horrible nickname despite his tremendous talent! haha better nickname please Brave fans!

http://mimi.mlblogs.com

I know what you mean about getting people in the ballpark. The Bucs are playing decent baseball (taking it to my Cubs, come on!) and that beautiful stadium should have more people in it. Nice to hear that you have been able to rejoin your boys.

http://raysfanboy.mlblogs.com/

Laughed when I read your comment about being older than Heyward — I remember the first time I realized that I was older than most of the athletes I follow — it was while I was playing a game of NBA Live 199something, and looked at a couple of birthdates listed for some of the players. And this was 10+ years ago. Felt old then, ancient now!

Chris
illinoisemaker.mlblogs.com

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