Results tagged ‘ Garrett Jones ’

On the offensive

I’ve been to three Pirate games thus far, this season. The young season has not treated me well, personally, as I am 0-3 when seeing live games.

Pittsburgh has been outscored 19-5 in those games.
The offense was looked at as an emerging force in the preseason as a young group of hitters were polishing off solid seasons in 2010. While players such as Jose Tabata (.310 BA, .420 OBP) and Neil Walker (11 RBI, .517 SLG) have anchored the top of the lineup, shortcomings from Pedro Alvarez (20 Ks, .197 BA) and a slump from Andrew McCutchen (2-for-30 in at-bats entering Sunday) hindered the team from getting proper production. 
Most of it has changed this series against the Reds. 
On Friday the Pirates scored six runs en route to a 6-1 victory. 
Sunday, Pittsburgh notched seven runs to sneak by with a 7-6 win. 
Players, other than those aforementioned, have stepped up and delivered to put these bigger numbers on the board.
Of course, they would do it on the road, when I’m not there.
Chris Snyder has gone 3-for-7 in these two wins. 

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After starting the season on the disabled list, Snyder was penciled in behind the plate, right away, moving Ryan Doumit to a bench spot. His production has been consistent to open his season which should keep him in the starting lineup for a majority of games from here on out. His biggest asset is not at the plate, though, it’s behind it. Pitchers rave about his quality of calling games and he played a big part in Charlie Morton’s complete game against the Reds on Friday.
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In a platoon with Matt Diaz in right field, Garrett Jones has had his back against the wall. His decline in power had the front office concerned, but now he is beginning his comeback campaign. Jones has it two homers in the series and brought his average up to a respectable .282. Diaz has struggled to sustain a presence at the plate. So, it may play to Jones’ advantage is he continues to produce consistently. He may just get that starting job back.
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If Jones and Diaz both falter another viable option is waiting in the wings. John Bowker is trying to find his identity on the Bucs. He hasn’t been the first used pinch hitter of the bench, so far, but that decision may change quickly. He brought in the winning run in the top of the 8th inning, Sunday. Bowker drilled a 2-out pitch to deep center field that could have been a home run in other ballparks, while adding further insurance with just that one swing of the bat. 
Prior to the Reds series, manager Clint Hurdle tinkered with the lineup to make a change.
It was needed.
As I said before, the offense was dormant to open the season at home. My three games were pitiful and beyond that, the funk at the plate scorned the early optimism that many fans accumulated. Hurdle moved McCutchen up to the leadoff spot from the three hole. Tabata will bat second, with Lyle Overbay third. Walker is now the cleanup hitter dropping from the two hole. 
These moves paid off as more runs were produced, save for Saturday’s 11-2 beat down. As Tabata has proved he is the best hitter on the team, the second spot is the perfect fit for him. He is 5-for-14 in the new spot. McCutchen began his new role with an 0-for-5 performance, but has since proved that his natural position is where he wants to be. He led off Sunday’s game with a home run. Walker isn’t the most natural cleanup hitter. He doesn’t have the most power on the team, although he does have three dingers. But, No. 2 wasn’t ideal for him, either. He strikes out too much and that is not the best liability to have in a two hitter. 
The Pirates will stay in Cincinnati for a Monday game to close out the series. A win would pit them back at the .500 mark going to Florida to do battle with the Marlins on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Then it’s back home to host the Nationals over Easter weekend. I will be in attendance for one of those games ready to be entertained with some offensive action. 
photo credits: postgazette.com, bleacherreport.com, daylife.com

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
 

Bash Brothers

 

cutch-jones.jpgThe Cubbies have not won the World Series since 1908.

They also haven’t won a a game against the Pirates since September 29, 2009.

The Offense of the Pirates has been ignited all season when they are matched up with Chicago.

The Pirates put up 10 runs on Friday and have collected 26 runs thus far against the Northsiders.

Why the surge?

Look no further than the faces of the organization.


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Andrew McCutchen and Garrett Jones made history Friday afternoon becoming the first teammates since 1999 to record five hits each while hitting a homerun.

Cutch went 5-for-5 with homer, Jones 5-for-6 with a three run blast. 

It really has been a tale of two seasons for these two young men. Just establishing themselves last season in their rookie years the tandem had big, pressure filled roles placed upon their shoulders entering this season.  

Andrew has lived up to the expectations. Garrett has not. At least until Friday.

McCutchen has been the unquestioned leader of his team. Batting a team leading .336 with a .522 slugging percentage.

Jones has been slow, but is finally turning his underperforming season around. The power he showed last year (21 homeruns in just a half a season of play) and at the start of this season (two home runs in his first two at bats of the season). Jones and McCutchen are tied for the team lead with five dingers. He has brought his Mendoza line BA up to a respectable .264.

He may never live up to the legend he built himself up to be last season, but Jones can prove he is a legitimate threat in this otherwise depleted lineup.

Currently Jones has struck out with the bases loaded in an attempt to add to the Pirates 3-2 lead over the Cubs. They scattered their only three runs in the first inning but have continued to get on base. This is a big series for not only the Bucs as they try to keep their win streak alive over a division opponent. It is also big for myself and other Pittsburgh fans.


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For every run the Pirates score one dollar comes off the price of a Left field or Right field ticket for next week’s series against the Braves. Currently those tickets will be just $11 dollars. They are great seats regularly priced at $24 dollars. 11 more runs and yep, they are free! I’m hoping for a few more insurance runs and bigger discount. I’d love to be at the ballpark for cheap next weekend!

phot credits: postgazette.com

 

 

War is Over!

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So this is the Brewers

And what have you done?

Took two out of three

It sure was a lot of fun.

Thank you John and Yoko, a great song for a great series.

The Pirates defeated the Brewers ending a 22 game losing streak in Milwaukee on Tuesday with a 7-3 victory.

The man of the hour looked to be Trevor Hoffman.
 

“Hells Bells” resounded and chants of “It’s Trevor Time” could be heard around Miller Park. After all, the MLB saves leader deserves an ovation like that.

Ryan Doumit must have took offense to the fanfare as he took matters into his own hands.
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Hoffman checked into the game with a 3-2 lead. Ronny Cedeno got under his skin launching a solo home run.

A few batters later, with the bases loaded Doumit jacked a grand slam deep into the second deck over the right field wall. That sealed the deal and ended the torment.

It never seemed like it would come.

The series began right where it left off in Pittsburgh following that 20-0 history making contest.
Pittsburgh fell 17-3. It was just an ugly game, something Pirates fans have been used to this past week.

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On a play at the plate that Gregg Zaun was clearly safe, manager John Russell got his butt of the bench for the first time in quite some time. Originally I believed Doumit made the tag and Zaun was out. Russell obviously did not get to see the replay multiple times like I did at one of Morgantown’s famed bars, the Boston Beanery. I was glad to see Russell defending his players and actually talking during a game. He looks like he is going to fall asleep at any time and also can hardly be heard during post game interviews. WVU basketball coach Bob Huggins is the same way in the interviews. A very low talker who is quite soft spoken and talks in “coach speak.” However, Huggins is the most in your face, smash mouthed coach in any sport. Russell needs some lessons from Huggy Bear.

The rubber match on Thursday was big. A win by the Pirates would actually tie the Brewers for fourth place in the Central. Now it is quite an accomplishment considering the beat down the Brewers have laid on the Bucs.

Welcome to fourth place boys!
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Andrew McCutchen teed off for a pair of homeruns and Andy LaRoche kept his big bat hot with a homerun and two hits of his own.

The marathon game went to the 14th inning. It should have been over way before that.

Hoffman came in again. Blew it again. Without saying, Pirates closer Octavio Dotel forfeited his own save a few innings later.

After going hitless the entire game Garrett Jones drove in the winning run to cap off the win and take the series. A great series. There is nothing better than raising the Jolly Roger in Miller Park. After all it was 22 game since it last happened.

photo credits: AP/postgazette.com

Brooms at Minute Maid Park

Guys, it is getting ugly. A 10-3 loss to the Astros on Sunday gave the Bucs a six game losing streak. After starting the year at 7-5, I was pumped. Optimism was abound amongst my 21 year old self. The city of Pittsburgh took notice and there was a bandwagon. Even Regis Philbin jumped on board.

 

The good wishes of Regis must have been the kiss of death.

Since then the Pirates have not won a game.

GFJk.jpgI thought that 20-0 debacle would have knocked some sense into the Pirates. Maybe a heralded speech by manager John Russell, a stern talking to by owner Bob Nutting or even some inspirational tactic used by Bill Mazeroski, would set this team ablaze and maybe pick up a few wins in Houston.

It was the complete opposite.

Friday-4-3 loss, Saturday- 5-2 loss, Sunday-10-3 tanking.

This team is depleted. There simply is no talent. Garrett Jones, pictured left, has fallen off the face of the earth.

He is now batting a miniscule .214. He struck out three times this weekend, but did score a meaningless run on Sunday.

 

There is no power souce on this lineup. Lastings Milledge is just a single machine. A major league rightfielder needs to drive the ball deep and over the fence, occasionally. Milledge doesn’t seem to have the wearwithall to do what is needed to be a big hitter in this lineup.

With the lack of power comes the lack of pitching.

Charlie Morton took the hill Sunday. There was speculation that he was going to come out firing. Hes said to have the best “stuff” on the staff. But “stuff” does not go far. It didn’t on Sunday either.

Looking to depress his 16.55 ERA Morton gave up five earned runs over just three innings. He struck out two batter and actually did bring down his ERA to 16.20.

Little triumphs need to be celebrated.

One forthcoming celebration was the recovery of Chris Jakubauskas.

 

jakubauskas.jpgIn the first inning a Lance Berkman line drive blasted off his head. He was down for nearly ten minutes, legs wiggling. I ccould only imagine his pain. It hurt to see the highlights. He was able to stand up and left the field on a stretcher. After spending the night in the hospital he was placed on the DL. Sad thing is, he was just called up from the minors to get the start.

So what team is up next for the Pirates?

 

brewers1.jpgGod help us all.

phot credits- AP/postgazette.com, milwaukeescoop.com

The brooms are out in Pittsburgh…and Morgantown

broom-1.jpgRaise the jolly roger and sweep PNC Park clean. The Pirates are on a roll and not looking back.

Saturday and Sunday were two games that could make any baseball fan happy. The Pirates came from behind for a walkoff win on Saturday. On Sunday the Bucs got out on top early and sustained the lead until the end.

Raise your hand if your team is .500!

ClassroomGirlHandRaised.jpgThat little girl must be a Pirate fan because we are 7-5. Yes, its April and yes there are 150 games to be played but I will jump at any chance to get excited and the Pirates are giving me that chance right now.

 

gfj walkoff.jpgIt was like deja vu all over again. Thanks for the line Yogi Berra!

The Buccos were destined for a loss on Saturday. Being down 43 in the bottom of the ninth with Francisco Cordero called upon for the save.

I thought we were done for.

Cordero is 4-for-4 in saves opportunities this year and is listed 27th on the all-time closers list.

Can’t you see why I thought we were done for?

But Cordero was erratic. Ryan Church laced a single to left, Ronny Cedeno walked and Lastings Milledge Walked. Garrett Jones stepped to the plate, battling a slump. Jones has been dissapointing fantasy owners everywhere with his lack of power which was expected after his monstrous opening day. He did come through with a hit off the wall to win the ballgame.

 I was not able to watch the Pirate game on Sunday as I was covering the West Virginia baseball game. The 12th ranked Louisville Cardinals brought their own brooms to Morgantown and beat the Mountaineers up and down.

jedd2.jpgU of L beat WVU in the three game series. It was a sweep that the Mountaineers knew was probable coming into the weekend.

Louisville has one of the best pitching staffs in the country. On Sunday I had the pleasure of watching Gabriel Shaw mow down the Mountaineers. In seven innings he struck out six batters allowing just five hits.

Jedd Gyorko, pictured left, drove in the only run for West Virginia. Gyorko is a Morgantown native and high on many experts draft lists. He is a shortstop who will be picked up in the June draft, more than likely in the first few rounds.

Even though I was not watching the Pirates game, 13,860 at PNC Park did. The Buccos jumped out early and produced hits throughout the ballgame. Paul Maholm had a no hitter through four innings and looked the best he has all season. Octavio Dotel picked up the save even after surrendering a homerun to Jay Bruce, who hit two.

Backup catcher Jason Jaramillo brought in three runs with a double in the fifth inning. Jones struggled again, not reaching base in the game.

The Pirates remain at home to face the Brewers this week. Standing just a half game out of first place in the NL Central. This is a big series if the Pirates hope to keep their heads over water in the division and to sustain .500.

photo credit: freeclipartnow.com, nordinho.net, postgazette.com, msnsportsnet.com

13 runs will do that to ya

It was a beautiful day in Morgantown, West Virginia on Sunday. Low 70 temps mixed with party cloudy skies make for one thing, softball.

softball.jpgTen of my closest friends at WVU make a pact that every nice day we have to attempt to get a game of softball in. Sunday was one of those days where we all were on the same page, we found an open field and it worked.

Part of what made the day so great is that I was not even able to watch the Pirate game today. The Extra Innings package blocks the games out regardless because I am in the Pittsburgh market and Fox Sports Pittsburgh was showing the Penguins game today.

I was however game tracking it on my buddy’s iphone. I was happy and please. Up until the 4th inning. The Pirates were up with a nice 4-2 lead. Andrew McCutchen teed off for his first homerun of the year and pitcher Daniel McCutchen was progressing smoothly. I will say it again-up until the 4th inning.

The Diamondbacks put up a whooping 13 runs in one inning alone to win the ballgame 15-6.

Theres not much to be happy about a 15 run performance but take away that one inning and the Bucs win the game easily.

Daniel McCutchen will be sent down tomorrow because relief pitcher Joel Hanrahan is ready to begin the season after an injury. If I was in charge I would send current relief pitcher Hayden Penn with him. Penn currently has an inflated ERA of 30.80 and has been shelled in both of his appearances this season and does not look like a major league caliber pitcher.

There were some bright spots in Arizona this weekend, most coming on Saturday.

 

Thumbnail image for duuuuuke.jpgDuke looked awesoem, maybe the best since his Opening Day start of 2009, pictured above. He went eight innings and only walked two batters. Duke gave up just a 2-run homer to Mark Reynolds and managed to work out of a handful of tough jams. He stands at 2-0 on the year which not only helps his confidence early on, it also elevates his staff ace status.

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Leadoff man Aki Iwamura belted his first homrun of the year and went 2-for-4. Iwamura has been a gem the past few games after beginning the year 0-for-8. He has been working counts and waiting on his pitches. Hopefully he continues to find his stride and become confortable.

The guy touching Aki on the head has not quite been the guy he was the first two games.

Garrett Jones was 0-for-4 on Sunday striking out and grounding into a double play.  His breakout game and opening day seems so long ago as Jones is batting just .208 right now. It can’t really be said that he will breakout of this slump because he never has had the opportunity before. We know the power is there, but the question remians, can he deliever consistently?

I for one am happy to just be leaving Chase Field. It has not been very welcoming to Pittsburgh in recent years. Thej Pirates have lost 11 of their last 18 in Pheonix and have won just two out of their last six. 

I love Chase Field. I was there for the Pirates series last year and enjoyed the atmosphere, affordability and fans at the stadium. However I cannot say the curse the team or ballpark bestows upon the Pirates is good in anyone, simply because it is not.

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It is a nice place to watch a game, and I am not a big fan of retractable roofs at all!

Anywho, it will be a late night for me tomorrow as I have a paper to write and get to watch the Bucs at ten pm. Its Pirates-Giants in San Francisco. 3-3 right now and I would love to take 2-of-3.

photo credits: Associated Press

 

A roller coaster of emotions: Final Four and Opening Day

This has been a Spring Break I will never forget. Three amazing events all wrapped in a week was so very special.

You all read about my Cooperstown trip and here is a quick, depressing synopsis of my Saturday in Indianapolis.

 

Final Four and Opening Day 085.jpgIt was surreal. Surreal that not only was West Virginia playing in the Final Four but also that I was there to witness it. However, the Mountaineers were shalacked. Up and down, it was ugly. We were killed on the boards and Duke was simply shooting lights out.

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It was a great road trip for my WVU buddies and I. Although West Virginia was destroyed 78-57 it was an amazing time with unforgettable memories. It is definitely the best sporting event I have ever been to. Surpassing Game 3 of the Stanley Cup from last summer and the 2006 MLB All Star Game in PNC Park.

As tears flowed down my face Saturday night, I felt a shock of jubilation come Sunday night.

Opening Day was abreast!

I rose at 7 am Monday morning and was on the road to Pittsburgh by 8.

My group of six gathered at Primanti Brothers for a tasty breakfast of meat, coleslaw, fries and tomatoes.

The gates to PNC Park opened at 11:30 and we found ourselves in the left field bleachers. In a “right place at the right time” moment I caught a ground rule double off the bat of an unidentified Dodgers batter. My first Opening Day ball!

From there I ventured over to the Pirates dugout. There I met a fellow blogger, Ms. Kristy of “Hands off My Pirates Booty” 

 

 

Final Four and Opening Day 133.jpgmShe was enjoying batting practice from her beautiful seats right along the dugout, just seven rows back. It not only offers a great view of the game, but the city as well. I am sporting my freshly bought Lastings Milledge T-shirt. I was surprised at the variety of T-shirts offered this year.

The game itself was everything I could have asked for. A win!

 

The jolly roger was raised indeed as the Bucs exploded for an 11-5 victory over the Dodgers.

I was nervous at first as Zach Duke let up two runs in the first inning, however our ace settled down and pitched a solid five innings.

The man of the hour was Garrett Jones, let me re-phrase that, Garrett FREAKING Jones.

Jones went off with a two home run performance and showed he will be our go to guy for power. Both HRs were impressive. The first was a 450 foot blast into the Alegheny River. The other an opposite field homerun to left over the head of Manny Ramirez.

Final Four and Opening Day 158.jpgIt was cool to see Manny. He was greeted with a throng of Boos from the crowd. Although I gave him a standing O as he approached the plate for his first at bat.

Speaking of the crowd, it was great. A sellout crowd of over 39,000 saw the first game of the 2010 season. And boy did they see a beauty. I’m glad the city of Pittsburgh was welcomed with a heralded perforance. I know it will not be packed with 39,000 every game but hopefully today showed what this team can be capable of and bring some new faces to the ballpark.

That being said, this team is solid. Talented in fact, they will surprise some people this year and may, just maybe break that .500 mark and compete after the All Star break. Until then I plan on enjoying each and every game and cannot wait till I am back in the park. Like every year, it was a great Man Day Monday.



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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

 

 

 

 

“They do exist”- Fans flock to PirateFest 2010

 

PirateFest 051.JPGSunday was one of the greatest days of 2010. After an enjoyable night of enjoying the college lifestyle on Saturday, the action continued Sunday morning. A few buddies of mine hopped in my Nissan Versa and trekked up I-79 for the hour long journey to Pittsburgh.

 

VIPpf.jpgPirate Fest opened its doors at noon, we arrived around 12:30. The snaking line extended well past the gates, a surprising sight for my friends Marc, Jared and Richard.

PirateFest 028.JPGThe cost of admission was originally $12 bucks, however we caught a break. A father with a son had four extra “VIP” passes  (which literally meant nothing) he sold them to us for $5 dollars. Scalping tickets to Pirate Fest? Heck yeah!

We rushed to the autograph line where we first hit former Pirate El Roy Face, pitcher Charlie Morton and catcher Ryan Doumit.

PirateFest 034.JPG They’re nice young guys and Jared’s two favorite Pirate players.

Later in the day we came back for another round of autographs.

Firstbaseman/right fielder Garrett Jones and third baseman Neil Walker signed along side another former Pirate in Jim Rooker. It looks like Penguin Sergei Gonchar joined in on the festivities. The Pens were actually playing across town, hosting the Red Wings. Many fans adorning Penguins gear were at the fest and the Penguins won in an epic shootout. The game was playing on an HDTV at a booth.  

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Although the lines were fairly long, we waited in the lines for nearly an hour each time, it was a fun time. We talked to some cool people around us and I got major flack from an elderly man for wearing my Barry Bonds jersey.

One of my favorite parts of Pirate Fest are the memorabilla tables.

PirateFest 037.JPGThis table was filled with just Roberto Clemente stuff. From cereal boxes to buttons to an autographed baseball with a 10,000 dollar price tag. I cam away with a cool Pirates poster from the 90’s, a 1989 game program and some packs of 2010 Topps baseball cards.

Pirate Fest is also a great time to meet some very cool people associated with the team.

 

PirateFest 043.JPGI did meet him on Tuesday but seeing Andrew McCutchen rocking out on Guitar Hero was pretty cool. The guy in the black Cutch shirt was getting owned by the star centerfielder. I think this is a cool picture, considering their both rockin’ the 22.

PirateFest 046.JPGOne of the most bubbly, entergetic and fun people associated with the Pirates is Joe Klimchak. He is famous for his commercials for the Pirates where he mimmicks the “Shamwow” guy. They are very funny and do the job. He is also the in-game host at PNC Park. He hosts the between inning shin digs and brings a good vibe to the ballpark.

The best moment of the day and perhaps my entire life around baseball was meeting General Manager Neil Huntington.

 

PirateFest 045.JPGIt was a very personal time with Jared and I speaking to the GM for a good five minutes. He was standing in the concession stand area just mingling with some fans. He was very genuine and came across like a strong minded individual. After getting a cool snapshot I gave an ill attempt at a joke saying “We just made a deal and I’m the new fifth starter.” Neil really didn’t laugh and Jared just thought I was stupid. It was a good segway into a discussion regarding who the fifth starter for the Bucs. It is a race between Kevin Hart and Daniel McCutchen-he talked highly of both and really believes the competition will bring out the best in the two young guns.

Jared brought up his former affiliation with the Cleveland Indians, Jared’s favorite team. He is excited for manager Manny Acta to take over and think he deserved the job. He made a point that Terry Francona and Joe Torre were not successful in their first two managerial positions and that the change of scenery will be good for a younger manager with potential.

Talk around Pittsburgh has been heated with Pirates debate. It was reported that Penguins owners Mario Lemieux and Ron Burkle have made an offer to Pirates owner Bob Nutting in an attempt to buy the team. It is a hot button issue that probably won’t go anywhere but it has given Pittsburghers false hope. I’m torn on the matter, obviously the Pens are a better run franchise and Mario may perhaps be the face of Pittsburgh sports history. However, because of the market size and baseball regulations, not much would change. It would be cool to have a Pittsburgh cable sports channel broadcasting the Pens/Pirates and other local teams to bring in more revenue than FSN Pittsburgh does already.

While I did not want to bring this up when talking to Mr. Huntington he did cite a similiar position. He said the key for small market teams is too avoid injuries as well as big, bad contracts. While it is easy to say with Lemieux/Burkle the Pirates could spend more money, will they spend it wisely? I don’t just want millions thrown at top free agents to lock them in for multiple years. Currently, Neil is allocating the money properly stocking up with high level prospects who the Pirates have control over for many years at a small cost. It is a risk, but will prove to be rewarded just a few years down the road.

Now that the ownership tangent is over, we made two more stops in the ‘Burgh. Here are pictures from our Steel City travels.

panther.jpgReaders, you know my disdain for the University of Pittsburgh, it is well-documented. We rode into the Oakland section of Pitsburgh and had a self guided tour of the campus. We walked through the basketball arena and stopped by the famous Cathedral of Learning. I hate to say it, but Pitt is a very nice campus. However, it is my civic duty as a Mountaineer to hate everything regarding our bitter rivals. On Wednesday the Panthers come to Morgantown for a battle of top ten college basketball game.

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Before departing back to the Mountain State one final stop had to be made, PNC Park. I honored Willie Stargell the only way I knew how, bowing down. Pops would have been a great player to watch back in the day. He is one of three Pirates honored with statues, with a fourth on the way. It was announced at Pirate Fest that a Bill Mazeroski statue will be erected later this season.

 

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The field was just feet in front of me but the dang metal bars were seperating me from happiness. It was still a cool moment enjoying PNC Park at its calmest. It truly is the most beautiful park in baseball and to be able to regularly attend games here is an awesome feeling. I am spoiled that this is my home park and I can watch a major league baseball games at a great price in a beautiful setting.

 

With February upon us and winter nearly over, actually its not but hey, we can hope, that could mean just one thing.

 

opening day tix2010.jpgOPENING DAY IS JUST TWO MONTHS AWAY! (bought my tickets at Pirate Fest)

I wasn’t the only proud Bucco mlblogger enjoying the fest, check out these blogs for more about the weekend event.

http://kristylovesherbuccos.mlblogs.com/

http://countingbaseballs.mlblogs.com/

http://section316.mlblogs.com

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