August 2010

Bombs Away

400.jpgPittsburgh was littered with flonkies in the left field bleachers this past week.

Not just because they are the cheapest seats in the house. The Cardinals were in town for a three game tilt but more importantly history could have been made.

On Monday Albert Pujols hit his 399th career homerun. Could PNC Park be so lucky to see a milestone in its next two games?

Not so much.

Pujols hit is 400th homerun on Thursday in Washington. It was an opposite field blast that would have dissapointed the crowd in Pittsburgh as that section in right field was nearly empty as most fans were in left field.

4001.jpg

Pujols becomes just the 47th player in Major League history to hit 400 career knocks. The best part about it now is that there is plenty more to come.

He’s young. Albert Pujols just eclipsed the age of 30 and still has plenty more gas left in the tank. He has the sweetest yet most powerful swing in the game today. He is strong, boy is he strong. When he made his major league debut back in 2001 he was 21 years old and looked like he does today, big. Compared myself at the same age he is a monster.

I like those commercials for MLB that say “We can tell our grandchildren that we saw Albert Pujols play.” It’s true, we can, and it surely is a pleasure.

Just recently has Pujols began a marketing blitz appearing in Gatorade commercials. Other than that he is a relatively quiet guy and rather softspoken. He doesn’t recieve the fanfare of a Barry Bonds or ken Griffey Jr. because he is quiet and not so well-spoken with the media to create a positive national image. We know him as a good guy, a family man and a ballplayer who is presumed to be clean.

he doesn’t need the extra-circulars to be a star, he lets his on the field play do the talking for him.

By the way, the Pirates took two of three from the Cards.

photo credit: msn 

 

 

Pitt Peas Book of the Month club

AreWeWinningCover.jpgThis summer I have been pretty big on reading. With some spare time on my hands and no Public Relations textbooks to bog me down I have done my fair share of reading over the past three months.

I have read “Blink” my Malcolm Gladwell, and a pair of books about Pirates history. But the one that stuck out, not only from the books I have read this summer, but from all books I have ever read is “Are We Winning?” by Will Leitch.

I have always been a fan of Leitch’s. I loved “God Save the Fan” where he trashed ESPN and other media outlets, it really got me thinking. I also enjoy his columns in The Sporting News. But this book is the end all be all of Leitch and baseball books everywhere.

It is an honest tale of the game of baseball and how special it really is to fathers and sons. The memories made, the lessons taught and the good times that can ony be shared and understood by a father and his son.

Each chapter in entitled as an inning, top of the first, bottom of the first, top of the second and so on.

The premise of the book details Will’s trip to Wrigley Field where he meets his father and college buddy who is a die-hard Cubs fan. The Leitch family lives and dies by the Cubs’ bitter rivals, Cardinals. Just as you can expect hilarity ensues with raunchy slurs and colorful words
wrigley.jpg to describe Wrigley Field, Wrigleyville, Cubs fans, Vince Vaughn, beer, women and everything and everyone in between.

He gives a vivid recap of the game at hand, it is a special game as the Cubs are just one win away from clinching the Division title. Along with the game play by play he also flashes back to important moments in his life.

College days, Cardinal games and life in general. It is a perfect autobiography that all men who love baseball can easily relate to, and get many laughs in the process.

While Leitch doesn’t necessairly bash the Pirates he just tells the truth. Many times he spouts that there are not any Pirate fans, well quite frankly there are not. When he spoke of this fact many times he really made me sad, driving me to put down the book a few times and collect my thoughts. I thought long and hard about what the Pirates mean to me, what baseball means to me, what I would possibly do without being a Pirates fan and what a shame it is that more people in Pittsburgh have turned their back on this franchise.

However, all the disdain will eventually turn to the most powerful statement of the whole book. Towards the end he describes baseball towns and how other sports take a backseat to these citizens compared to their baseball teams. New York, Boston and St. Louis are examples of these baseball meccas. To conclude the chapter he delievers a bold prediction.

“Kansas City. Pittsburgh. Cincinnati. Baltimore. These are baseball towns. They will rise again.

Man is that beautiful and I simply could not agree more. All four have had their time in the sun with a large period of famine since either one of the franchises have seen a good baseball season. Cincinnati is seeing what could happen when winning occurs and it has transformed that city in Ohio. If the Pirates have even just a winning season within three years fans will flock back. My generation does not know what winning feels like. The book makes that clear and makes me jealous when Leitch describes how amazing it is to live and die by every pitch, call your father after a must win game and live out dreams by seeing a World Series live and in person.

While its been a tough 18 years with the 18th consecutive losing season just a few games away, the Pirates redirected their future today by signing their first and second round draft picks, Jameson Taillon and Stetson Allie.

jamesontailon.jpg
stetson.jpgTaillon and Allie have been touted as the two best high school pitchers in the country. They are now part of the Pittsburgh organization. Homegrown pitchers have been a specialty of the Bucs, however they never seem to live up to the hype let alone pan out as formidable Major League starters.

This pair has a chance to change that mantra and allow the Bucs to become part of the competitive baseball landscape. We’ve seen that this year has been dominated by pitchers and now that the Pirates have two pitchers with the potential to dominate it just shows that down the road Pittsburgh will rise again.

photo credits: amazon.com, destination360.com,mackmetblog.com, hotstoveinfo.com

You just can’t script something like this

You always hear of the miracles and magic associated with sports.

But how often do we truly believe it?

I admit I have been skeptical, after all my two favorite sports teams always seem to drop the ball; West Virginia football and of course the 17 straight losing season club known as the Pittsburgh Pirates.

However, Saturaday night changed all of that. It took an extra inning baseball game to sell me with the iniative that sports dreams do come true, thanks to a miracle and a sprinkle of magic.

You see it all started Friday.

My brother and I had been looking forward to attending the Friday night Pirate game all season long. It was Andrew McCutchen bobblehead night, the only bobblehead night at PNC Park all year. We had plans to meet up with my best friend Andrew in Pittsburgh to share a nice night at the ballpark.

Instead we shared in what would be the last night with my ailing grandfather. Papaw Peaslee had been diagnosed with cancer earlier this summer and his timetable of life was greatly shortened. He passed away Saturday morning.

As sad and troublesome as it is to lose a loved one you must first celebrate the life and be happy that the suffering is over.

Papaw Peaslee was a hard working man all his life. He was a farmer who raised cattle for a living and he was darn good at it. As a city boy I rarely took interest in this lifestyle but still entrusted in the skills he taught me and the work ethic my father taught me through the hands of his father.

We did share the love of sports and especially Pirates baseball. He would take my dad to many games throughout the years at Forbes Field in the 60’s. I always hear the stories of how he would reach through wire fences to catch foul balls. My father and papaw witnessed the first night World Series game ever at Three Rivers Stadium in 1971. They also shared in the first Opening Day ever at PNC Park in 2001. I unfortubately was unable to attend due to the chicken pox.

When I would visit him this summer we would talk about the Pirate’s struggles and how frustrating it is to see them lose nearly night in and night out. However, through the thick and thin we always remained the most die hard of fans. Although he never got to see a winning season at PNC Park I think he had a little something to do with that Saturday’s dramatic win in Pittsburgh.

Down by two in the bottom of the tenth inning the Pirate began a little rally with Andrew McCutchen lacing a double off the center field wall. Jose Tabata drew a walk. A pair of batters later Pedro Alvarez stepped to the plate. 

He drilled a pitch into the right field bleachers. A walk off home run.

 Something inside me knew something special was about to happen. My family shared the same sentiments as the Pirate announcers as tears flew down our faces.

“That was for Papaw!” we all said. It was true, Alvarez did that for Papaw. Although we were not at the game I still think that game and that moment will go down as one of if not the most memorable sports moment in my life. After the game manager John Russell even said,

“The heavens must have looked down and said enough is enough.”

We all think Papaw had something to do with it.

Thank you Pedro for making the roughest moment in anyones life a little more tolerable. 

pedrowalkoff.jpgphoto credit: post-gazette.com

Did somebody say McDonald?

jmac1.jpgThey say first impressions mean everything.

James McDonald’s first impression with Pirates fans was as beautiful as his performance on the mound.

Pittsburgh defeated the Rockies 5-1 thanks in part to the Southern Califonia native’s stunning debut.

McDonald went six full innings allowing just four hits and one walk. The golden number for McDonald on Thursday was eight.

The newly acquired Bucco struck out the side to start the first inning. Came out firing in the second mowing down two more and at one point after facing just seven batters McDonald fanned six of them.

I was very excited to turn on FSN Pittsburgh to watch his debut. Las Angeles used him mostly as a reliever but the 25 year old has been fairly touted throughout his career as a future starter. I was proud of the Pirate’s decision to give him the starting nod and all who watched the game cheering for the black and gold were pleased as well.

jmac2.jpgWhile I was excited I was also nervous. Listening to the pre game show on TV McDonald seemed very timid and not sure of himself. He was very soft spoken and only talked in that “player speak” giving vague responses.

He let his pitching to the talking.

What is even more impressing is that his battery mate is also new to the club. It’s not like he was throwing to someone he was used to or somebody within the organization who is used to the ways and tendencies of PNC Park.

McDonald solidified himself as the Pirate’s ace with his masterful start tonight. He has earned a spot in a struggling rotation and has the potential to be the leader that trickles strong starts into other pitchers.

PHOTO CREDITS: Gene Puskar, espn.com

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.