Welcome to PENCE-ylvania
Usually, one of my weekly traditions is enjoying a relaxing Saturday afternoon watching This Week in Baseball from my comfortable couch.
This past week I did so in Citizens Bank Park.
A Pirates featured segment was shown as part of the 30 minute program on the jumbotron at the exact same time the Pirates were stepping into the batters box for pre-game batting practice. It was a beautiful day for baseball in Philadelphia and Erin and I were lucky enough to enjoy it all. We made the trip across the state of Pennsylvania for the weekend to see the Pirates play the Phillies. Although it wound up being a sweep by the boys from the City of Brotherly love, we had a great time and saw a competitive game on Saturday evening.
As soon as the gates opened we rushed to the field for a closer look at BP. Decked out in red and blue, Phillies fans clamored throughout the park some 2 and a half hours before the game was slated to start. It was the largest pre-game crowd I had ever seen at a big league park. The brass was indeed treated to a show, as were we.
Making his Phillies debut, Hunter Pence responded to the huge ovations he received, just by stepping into the cage, by launching balls out of the yeard. From our account, at least eight of Pence’s swings were home runs, long ones at that.
Pence’s arrival in Philly was the talk of the sports world and surely the talk of the town.
Now, all this Philly hype didn’t get me down. I embraced it, respected it and acknowledged it. The whole set up, atmosphere and pride Philly has with their baseball team is impressive. They put on a great show, both on and off the field, and I had a great time taking it all in.
I didn’t go for them, though.
This trip was made solely for the Buccos. And, win or lose, I was going to support them, be loud and make it known that Southwest PA can competed with the bigger market on the eastern side of the state.
As I did for the Yankees game in Cleveland, I brought my new Nikon D3000 and snapped some pretty cool pics of my team.
With more than enough time to spare before the game, we wandered about the stadium. It was Erin’s first time at the Bank, my second. I went with my parents in 2004, the year it opened, as part of one of our glorious baseball road trips.
I ran into a fellow blogger and minor league baseball connoisseur, Tug Haines.
From the friendly, now to the creepy.
Let me first say that the Phillies have some quality souvenir items at many stands scattered throughout the stadium. I do include these under the “quality” category.
Player stuffed animals were flying off the shelves, after customers forked over $28. I admit they are pretty cool, but also could be used for some forms of voodoo. I would like to see a dreadlocked Andrew McCutchen or bearded Neil Walker doll being sold in Pittsburgh. Secretly, I would buy one.
We scored 45 dollar seats on Stuhub in the week leading up to the game. Not bad considering our fairly primo location in section 419, directly above and behind homeplate.
The night belonged to the Phillies with their 7-4 victory. Ryan Howard went 4-for-4 with a pair of doubles and a home run. Cliff Lee struck out 11, but the fact that the Bucs got four runs off him, we couldn’t be too upset. Not many teams could say that.
As for the “golden boy” Hunter Pence.
Nonetheless, it was a fun time in the very nice city of Philadelphia. It does get a bad rap, although it honestly is a deserved tag. However, the fans, most of them, are first class. Even the bandwagoners that are just there because its the cool thing to do pay attention to the game and hang on every pitch.
The crowd was electric and every single fan of the 45, 737 created an electric baseball atmosphere. It was announced that the 25th million fan in the seven years of Citizen Bank Park came through the gates on Saturday night. That is a phenomenal milestone. And for good reason, the fans come in droves to the park. Upper management puts a great product on the field and the chemistry of the team surely pumps the skills and stats into their on field play. The Phillies are a symbol of success and the strongest dynasty in the National League.
Looking over the sweep, the Pirates added two bats to a depleted offense. Derrek Lee and Ryan Ludwick will be transplanted to Pittsburgh and instilled as go-to pieces in the Bucs lineup. They aren’t much, but they are upgrades and solid additions to make this team competitive towards the pennant run.