Results tagged ‘ Braves ’

Pitt Peas tours the beltway

I couldn’t take it any more. 

Watching the first two Pirates games on Pittsburgh’s recently updated Root Sports Channel, had me very pumped up. Both games were competitive with great starting pitching. It’s safe to say myself, along with many others, are pumped up about the now 2-1 Buccos. They head to St. Louis for three games with the Cardinals and arrive back in PNC Park Thursday for the home opener.
That is too long. 
My friend Andrew and I packed up and ventured to Washington, D.C. for the rubber match between the Braves and Nationals and our first taste of big league ball this season. 
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Our nation’s capital is really hopping this time of the year. For good reason because it may be the prettiest spot in America in the springtime. The cherry blossoms were out from every stretch of the city. In full bloom, they were beautiful. It was a great way to welcome us back to a place where all citizens should visit at some point in their lives. The trees were also a perfect gateway to a great day of the national pastime. 
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Adorning my Expos shirt to honor the fallen franchise, we arrived at Nationals Park right as they gates opened.
It was a beautiful day for a game. 
Temperatures flitted with 60 degrees but remained fairly enjoyable. There was a slight chill and a majority of shade in the stadium but it was the perfect setting for a game in early April.
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Our first view of baseball batting practice from the stands in left field. Nats Park is very underrated when spoken of comparing it to other ballparks. In my opinion, it is the fourth best place for baseball behind St. Louis’ Busch Stadium, San Francisco’s AT&T Park and, obviously, Pittsburgh’s PNC Park. We stayed for a lot of batting practice, and while I’m not into the ballhawking scene it is entertaining to see others lay out for balls. The best part is seeing the happy faces of small kids receiving a big league ball. 
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Every Sunday in D.C. is “Signature Sundays.” There was a sparse crowd that early for the 1:35 game so we thought, what the heck, let’s chat it up with some ballplayers. Relievers Tyler Clippard, Brad Broderick, Tom Gorzelanny and Sean Burnett were waiting for fans on the dugout. This is me with former Pirate Sean Burnett. He was very outspoken, trashing the organization from his time with Pittsburgh. I confirmed it. He did say he enjoyed his time, but its not a baseball town. Come on Pirates, change his mind this year.
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Like I said, Nationals Park is a great place to watch a game and an even better museum for the great game of baseball. Honoring their former comrades of Montreal, Joe Carter and Andre Dawson are forever engraved in the walls of the stadium. And in a very cordial move, it honors a slew of Hall of Famers on the polls around the main concourse. As you can see, I had to grab a pic of “The Great One,” Roberto Clemente.
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Milwaukee has the Sausages. Cleveland has hot dogs. San Diego has Friars. Colorado has dots. Of course Pittsburgh has pierogies, but no racing item in Major League baseball is more politically correct than the presidents of Washington. Now, I am a loyal homer, but the race here is very anticlimactic. The jumbotron pre-race video is very funny but the race itself does not correlate with the goofy antics of the presidents, themselves. Come on, look at Teddy Roosevelt. 
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Andrew and I noticed the crowd in Washington is very intelligent. And we’re not necessarily referring to baseball smarts. A majority of the crowd looked like college professors and there were many people wearing local university attire to attest to that. Some fans even brought books to read during the game. We had great conversations with some people at the game. D.C. is a melting pot for many people across the country so being a Nationals fan looks to mean that they play second fiddle in many hearts.
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The game itself was a laugher in the home team’s expense. For the Nationals, the most rewarding part of the game may have been the Virginia Harmonizers who sang the National Anthem and God Bless America in the 7th inning. They were a great male vocal group who performs for the president. The game was an 11-2 shellacking. The Braves we
re paced by a six run 8th inning where they batted around. There was great production from top to bottom. Tim Hudson also pitched a gem. He surrendered just three hits in seven innings.
The baseball fun didn’t stop there.
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We jumped on the beltway and made the 45 minute trip to Camden Yards. There was not a game there as the Orioles were finishing up a series in Tampa, but there was still much activity in the stadium’s vicinity. I felt like we were in the opening scene of “Rookie of the Year” as workers were hustling preparing the ballpark for the team’s home opener against the Tigers.
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Andrew is a Yankee fan. His family is embedded in the pinstripes and their loyalty never wanes. Being in an AL East foe’s stomping grounds didn’t stop him from enjoying himself, though. As Babe Ruth’s birthplace, Baltimore is a historically rich baseball town. The statue honoring the Babe proves just that. 
After a lap around Camden Yards we called it a day and left the area making the three hour trip back to Morgantown, West Virginia. It was a little somber leaving a day that was filled with baseball, but it served as a prelude to the glory that this Thursday will hold. It’s opening day in Pittsburgh. The faith is still growing for fans across the nation. If your team is undefeated, congrats. If your team has yet to win a game, that’s why they play 162 games. The season is still young but many eyes have opened with sparks of hope seen inside. 
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This really is the most wonderful time of the year.

Spring Break photo album

Within 25 seconds of dropping our bags off in our St. Pete Beach hotel room my buddy Marc was out the door headed to the beach. It jump started an unforgettable week in Florida. We created lifelong memories and stories we can share for years down the road. It’s senior year spring break, we did it the best way we knew how. Enjoy some photos from our week in the Sunshine State.


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Our first stop was Gainesville, home of the University of Florida. It was a Sunday and the campus was fairly dead but we ventured out for a self guided tour. The campus is much more flat than what we are used to in Morgantown, but it was very nice, nonetheless. Right in the middle of campus, is a swimming pool. Can’t beat that.



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The Saturday night security guard must have been slacking because a gate to Ben Hill Griffin Stadium was left wide open. We explored the 90,000 seat stadium through all its nooks and crannies. We were able to run on the field and climb about the bleachers. It is an impressive structure with plenty of college football history. 

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We checked into our luxurious St. Pete Beach hotel room on Sunday and immediately hit the beach. The white sand between your toes, cool water flowing up along the shore and the calm rays of a setting sun creating the recipe for relaxation. 
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Monday meant baseball. Pirates baseball. Bradenton was the destination and McKechnie Field was where the afternoon would be spent for a taste of spring training baseball. The Pirates hosted the Twins and I was giddy from the moment that I woke up my three groggy friends as soon as the sun rose.
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Not only was the promise of Pirates baseball enough, MLB Network was there filming its 30 clubs in 30 days hour long special. While may of the cameras and personalities were behind the scenes interviewing coaches and players, their broadcast truck was outside the ballpark for the fans. 
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Activities included the chance to film your own video postcard. Now, it wouldn’t be seen on MLB Network but it was a video to remember a special day. Introduced by a pre-recorded Harold Reynolds and Hazel Mae, the 45 second video was my chance to shine. I had a nice crowd of senior citizens around listening to what I had to say.
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The treats kept coming. A special first pitch was thrown by Twins commentator, former 1979 Pirate and 2011 Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Bert Blyleven threw out the first pitch. 





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I took nearly 100 pictures at the game. Photos that ranged from players signing autographs (I was lucky enough to get a hat Andrew McCutchen threw up to the crowd which he signed for me), batting practice and great stadium shots. You can see them all on my facebook page. This photo, though, stands out. It is Pirate City which acts as the dorm for players during spring training. It is a state-of-the-art facility which is also the entry way to the five practice fields.




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In all honesty, I could have spent the whole week in Bradenton. But, the show must go on and if I had a second favorite place in Florida it would be Disney World, our next stop. The next spring training game on the agenda was Marlins Braves at the Wide World of Sports Complex at Disney. 
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I was never the biggest Nate McLouth fan when he was in Pittsburgh but I was totally shocked on that fateful day when he was traded to the Braves. He has underperformed greatly with Atlanta but seems to be breaking out of his funk. He collected three hits in the game.
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The atmosphere at the game was very electric. I was a hot and packed day with the temperatures nearing 90 and the attendance reaching almost 10,000. It was a first class operation and a rewarding experience. After all, its the Disney way. Also, it may have been the most unique game I will ever attend. The Braves trailed by one in the bottom of the ninth but a solo home run by Brandon Hicks would tie it up. It went to extras with the score remaining the same after 11 innings. Then, it was called. Yep, the game was tied. Ended in a tie. Highly doubt I will ever see that again. 
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We had one more game schedule for our spring training swing. Cardinals-Nationals was on the tab in Viera, but we got word that it had sold out quickly with it being a night game, fireworks night and Albert Pujols. A trio like that is impressive. Chris, Marc and Jared were surprised with the high turnouts at games all week. I wasn’t. People love spring training and I’m glad I finally got to experience it first hand. 
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We were down in the dumps about not seeing that final game but we took matters into our own hands. It was a hockey night in Tampa. Yes, I agree hockey is not meant to be played in Florida. We spent a full day in the Gulf of Mexico then go inside to watch guys skate on ice. It was a fun time, though. Free jersey giveaways and 12 dollar tickets made a guy who knows next to nothing about hockey a little happy. I’m talking about myself. The Lightning do know how to put on a good show despite them falling to the Islanders that night.
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Another stop included a race track. Actually, the best they come. Daytona Speedway has been the epicenter of NASCAR action for many decades. Now, if there is one thing, besides hockey, that I don’t understand its NASCAR. But, the infrastructure is just inspiring. The huge track is the mecca for race fans everywhere. There are a lot, and I do respect them. 
The rest of the week consisted of more beach time, swimming, good food and drinks, putt putt and meeting new friends. Basically we were living out the music that Jimmy Buffett sings about. It was a great, yet expensive week, but you can’t put a price on good friends and good times. I just hope to do it again soon. I will be spending a week in Bradenton! I can only hope.
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Piecing it all together

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The select few of you readers who have stuck it out during my extended leave of absence know I have five passions in life. Three of them were on display last week at the Winter Meetings. 

Baseball
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Christmas
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Disney World
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By now you know that the Annual Baseball Winter Meetings were held at the Swan and Dolphin Resort at Walt Disney World complete with Christmas decor and good tidings. MLB Network was on my television nearly 24/7, that is when I wasn’t studying for finals or writing papers. Chris Rose and Kevin Millar were great on emceeing the entire week with great interviews and top notch reporting on the latest news. While the Pirates didn’t draw much of the attention, they surely made a splash for those that care in Pittsburgh. 
The Pirates were able to sign a pair of talented pitchers who will take a stab at making the rotation.
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Kevin Correia and Scott Olsen are now members of the Pirates. 
Yawn.
But in reality, a moves like these needed to be done. Starting pitchers were in short supply this offseason and the Cliff Lees of the world will not be patronizing PNC Park as their home anytime soon. Correia and Olsen complement each other and the team the best they can. 
Remember that superb pitching staff the San Diego Padres had last year? Yeah, Correia wasn’t a part of it. With an ERA upwards of 10 he was demoted to the bullpen throughout the Padres run to the playoffs that eventually fell short. He seemed to have improved towards the end of the year and will work, most likely, as a 4th or 5th starter in the Bucs rotation.  
Two DUI and assault cases later Olsen is gone from the Marlins and Nationals and is looking to revamp a brief successful career. When he’s been on the mound he has been effective but elbow injuries to his throwing arm have hindered him during the duration of his major league stint. He too will fight for a back of the rotation spot.
General manager Neil Huntington also did his part to bolster the offensive lineup. 
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Matt Diaz, former Brave, now looks to be patrolling right field for the Pirates in 2011. He will fight for playing time along with Garrett Jones. A strong spring could land him in a full time position, but the bench with spot starts may be his most useful position. 
The Pirates also had the first pick in the Rule 5 draft where they selected former Cleveland Indians prospect Josh Rodriguez. Rodriguez is a shortstop who can swing the bat, exactly what Pittsburgh needs. He’s in his mid 20′s and will probably remain at the AAA level. Some disappointments have arisen as other infielders such as Jason Bartlett and J.J. Hardy, both on the Pirates radar, slipped away to other teams. J-Rod may just be the perfect fit, though. A diamond in the rough, so to speak. 
WIth just over two months remaining until Spring Training other moves will surely be made. The Pirates have goals of adding some relievers and another bat is a necessity. 
photo credits: tbb.com, rhapsody.com, momknowseverything.com, piratesprospects.com
 

Happy Halladays to start the postseason

In a somewhat sarcastic way I proclaimed on October 5th that the Reds would not get a hit throughthe NLDS against the Philies.

 

halladay.jpgSo far so good huh.

There was not a better way to script the opening day of the postseason than the first playoff no hitter since Don Larsen’s perfect game in 1962.

So close to a perfect game too. Unbelievable. And to do it twice in one year simply baffles me. Just imagine if Roy Halladay happened to be out of Toronto for more of his career. He could possibly be one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball history. He still has a lot of gas in the tank and judging by this season alone he has punched his ticket to Cooperstown. A first ballot hall of famer in my book.

One game that may hold him out could very well be May 18, 2010.

He lost to the Pirates.

Zach Duke went toe-to-toe with the Philadelphia ace in a 2-1 ballgame where both pitchers
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As I type this the game in Minnesota is going swimmingly well for the Twins. Something to say that I am pleased to see. Francisco Liriano is pitching masterfully.

Pitching has been a common theme when discussing the highs of the 2010 MLB season. So far it looks like the playoffs are going to be no exception. Cliff Lee shut down the Rays this afternoon. Halladay had a freaking no hitter. Liriano is coasting right now.

Tomorrow presents a new day with two similiar teams pinned against each other. It is sure to be anothers pitchers duel as Tim Lincecum faces Derek Lowe.

When it comes to picking a team to root for in the postseason, it hasn’t been the easiest thing. Last year I chose the Dodgers because of my good blogging friends Emma and Cat were so very kind to me. This season is a bit trickier, but not really. I am sticking with the NL West theme and will be adorning the orange and black.

 

sf.jpgI’ve always liked the logo and color scheme. The city is one of a kind. The ballpark blew me away. Besides those intangibles the Giants also offer something special for the playoff run, one of my favorite players of all time.

FREDDY.jpgFreddy Sanchez.

His time in Pittsburgh was headlined by a batting title in 2006 but what may have been overshadowed was his hospitality. Sanchez is a class act and was always a fan favorite. His work ethic and gritty glove work is topped only by his consistent bat. He is finally overcoming injuries that have haunted his whole career and he is showing he belongs in an everday lineup, especially on a contending team.

Nobody deserves the honor of winning games in the post season than Freddy Sanchez.

Go Giants!

photos: ap, yahoo.com

August losses bring September football

Ladies and gents my baseball season has come to a close. Actually, its safe to say its been shut down for the past four months. Its customary for Pittsburghers to close up shop early in the baseball department, the lone fact that I have this blog makes me a rare exception.

It’s tough no doubt. Not many of you that read this blog are Pirates fans and you take for granted the competitive baseball teams your franchise fields year in and year out.

I don’t know that feeling.

The Pirates’ record in August was 8-21 leading them to a mark of 46-91 as of September 7th.

This time of the year gets very depressing at PNC Park. That being said it is still prime time for me to take in a game. I was in attendance for an 8-5 Pirate win on Friday night. Had a blast at the ballpark. Had a great dinner, got on the jumbo tron and met former Pirate and post game show analyst Kent Tekulve.

teke.jpg“Teke” was the celebrity bar tender at the Hall of Fame club beneath the scoreboard in left field. I usually pony up the cash to get a beer at every ball game I go to but at this point I’ve finally realized my 7.25 is better spent else where.

As you can see I’m rocking my West Virginia shirt. Every year I can I like to go to a Friday Pirate game in September and it usually falls on the night before WVU’s first football game.

I treat it as a symbolic ending to summer and signify the transition from one of my passions to another. With another baseball season in the books its time to shift focus to the Mountaineers.
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WVU opened its season against Coastal Carolina and routed the Chanticleers 31-0. With almost 58,000 people on hand I had one of the best seats in the house sitting in the Milan Puskar Stadium press box.

For the past three years I’ve covered minor sports for The Daily Athenaeum at WVU this year my beat is the grand daddy of them all, Mountaineer football.

press.jpgFrom my perch atop press row I was able to watch a football game in a view I have never seen before. I felt some what removed from the atmosphere which make college football great but was still able to witness plays develop. Cheering was strictly prohibited and rightfully so as it is a working press area. But in my heart I was screaming loudly for the Mountaineers, I still got chills when the team ran out of the tunnell and when the band played. it was one of the most memorable games I have been to and look forward to more as the season progresses.

Although I am in football mode completely I will still watch every Pirate game and strive to make it to more by the time the hourglass offcially runs dry at the end of the month. I will be sitting in PNC Park tonight for free compliments of Braves President John Schuerholz.

I’ve noted before that my good friend Andrew is the nephew of Schuerholz so whenever the Braves are in town he tends to treat us to a free game in great seats behind home plate.

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.
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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.

 

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  

Buccos fall to Braves and bitter McLouth.

Two games in. Two losses

The Pirates lost 2-4 at the hands of Atlanta on Thursday. The Pirates have put up miniscule hits these past two days, recording just four against the Braves. Compared to the five hit by Atlanta, I guess it should not be too big of a talking point.

Two of the Bucs reaching base safely were new additions. Ryan Church and Bobby Crosby.

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Church got the start in right field, but should not be too commended for his effort. He struck out twice while getting his single in three at bats. Over the weekend I called in to a local sports talk station. The guys were talking about off-season accquisitions by the Pirates and failed to mention Church. I chimed in expressing my interest in him and that he could be a central part to our team. They agreed and complimented me, a good feeling considering I am not a frequent caller to these type of shows. I normally just like to sit back and listen. The show was Sunday during an intermission of the USA-Canada hockey game and I was lucky enough to be directed straight to the show. I did watch the game and if anybody else did I hope you were listening intently at the very beginning of the first period. Announcer Doc Emerick dropped a Pirates mention saying “I bet the Pittsburgh Pirates are glued intently to this game.” Perplexed I was, but later found out Emerick is a huge Pirates fan. The New Jersey Devils announcer earned major points in my media heroes book.

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Crosby had a decent day at the plate. With two outs in third he ripped a single through the infield bringing in a run. It was the first tally mark of the afternoon for the Pirates. It was the only noise he would make in his three at bats.

Andy LaRoche hit the first homerun of the Spring Training season for Pittsburgh. His solo shot in the 7th was the only other productive at bat in the contest.

The underlying storyline heading into this ballgame was the matchup against former Pirate centerfielder Nate McLouth.

 

nate.jpgThe 2008 Gold Glove winner was the first Pirate traded in last summer’s infamous fire sale. A shocking move to the city of Pittsburgh and the entire baseball world as McLouth just inked a long term deal with the club in the offseason.

In an interview with Jennifer Langosch Nate announced his disdain for the Pirates organization. Here is a sample of what he said.

It feels good to be in an organization this year that’s going to be in a playoff hunt and not have to talk about ‘We hope years down the road …’ and things like that. It’s good to have that feeling in Spring Training.

It was tough, but I was kind of lucky that I was the first one to get sent out and I didn’t have to deal with it the whole summer. 

If I was in Nate’s position, I certainly would be a bit ticked and I understand what he is saying. At the time I was unsure of the trade, but it can pay big dividends for the Pirates. We got a starting pitcher (Charlie Morton) and a centerfield prospect (Gorkys Hernandez) out of the deal. It makes me happy theat McLouth is not down playing that situation. He truly wanted to be a Pirate and felt betrayed by the organization. Some say it is still a stupid move, but it really was not.

Our outfield now is one of the youngest and most talented in the National League. McLouth refused to move to left field when Andrew McCutchen would be promoted and that may have pre-empted the trade in the first place. McLouth’s numbers also dropped considerably when he was in the ATL.

In 85 games with the Braves, McLouth batted a mediocre .256 and hits 11 home runs, bringing his total up to 20 for the year. His on base percentage dropped a handful of points from the year before and his OPS was .773, the second lowest in his five year career.

It is hard to tell what the short and long term effects of the trade will be. The duo the Pirates recieved from Atlanta has yet to pan out. In sort of a fitting manner, it was Morton that started the game for Pittsburgh. He had control issues walking three batters (including McLouth).

photo credits: piratereport.com, coxnewsweb.com

Baltimore is up next! Bucs-O’s Friday at 7p.m.

  

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