Results tagged ‘ Pittsburgh ’

Optimism stems from Wrigley win

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Until today, only one player had hit a grand slam on Opening Day.
That was Roberto Clemente.
It was only fitting that the new “pride of the Pirates” would launch the first four run bomb since 1962. It was the framework for a 6-3 Pittsburgh victory in Chicago. 
The top of the 5th inning proved to be a critical frame with pressing at bats coming from the guys in front of Walker. The inning began with Ryan Doumit reaching second base. Shortstop Ronny Cedeno drew a walk even after falling behind quickly, 0-2. Pitcher Kevin Correia laid down a beautiful bunt which moved the runners over. Another walk from leadoff man and left fielder Jose Tabata loaded the bases.
After a six pitch at bat, Walker dropped a bomb on Sheffield Ave.
Andrew McCutchen had a dinger of his own giving the Bucs every single run off of home runs. Sevem total hits came timely as every one was crucial to make a statement in the opening win.
It’s just what the Pirates need.
Many fans are dragging their feet into this season expecting the same-old-same-old. You can’t blame them after 18 years it’s hard to find a silver lining. Even in the dreary and overcast skies of Chicago today, you could see sparks of brilliance that are ready to stay. 
It’s just one game but collective smiles are on many faces who bleed black and gold. It opened eyes and may have shown that there truly is promise on this team. At post game interviews, manager Clint Hurdle talked about “joy.” The team needs to enjoy this. Special things could happen and while this win may not set the tone for the rest of the season, it certainly can’t hurt.
So Pittsburgh, be happy. It’s Opening Day, after all. 
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Let the Madness begin

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Greetings from Hartford, Connecticut!
Currently, I am here alongside some colleagues from the WVU student newspaper, The Daily Athenaeum, to cover the West Virginia women’s basketball team and the rest of the Big East in the conference tournament.
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After game one, the Mountaineers downed the Cincinnati Bearcats 66-41. From my spot on press row I am now watching the Pitt women square off against Marquette. 
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Thus far, the weekend has provided many great chances to watch some good basketball. The Big East, notorious for its men’s basketball dominance isn’t half bad 

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on the girl’s side either. 
Plus, girl’s basketball, in my opinion, is the game at its

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 purest form. There’s very little need for flash or over bearing skill moves. For young kids watching basketball based on set plays, tight defense and solid shooting; women’s basketball is where its at. 
It really has been a great opportunity to cover the series and wish the best of luck to the Mountaineers. I want to be in Hartford a while. Quaint, vintage looking town and the access is great. Look for coverage of the tournament on http://www.thedaonline.com.
The madness has indeed begun in Florida, too. Baseball spring training has heated up and teams are starting to come together in preparation for the real festivities to begin in late March and early April. 
The Pirates are no exception. 
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Lyle Overbay is not only hamming it up for the camera, he is, as the kids say, going ham on opposing pitchers. In the Pirates 4-3 win over the Phillies Overbay collected three hits, a double being one of them. The newly acquired first baseman also scored a pair of crucial runs. 
He isn’t the only one performing well.
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Neil Walker belted his first home run of the spring on Saturday.
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Jose Tabata has been blazing around the base paths with three steals in the past week.
Right now, Pittsburgh stands at 5-4 against Major League clubs. Its game tomorrow against the Blue Jays will be televised regionally on Root Sports. A national audience can catch it on MLB Network later in the day. 
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Well, its back to the basketball action for now. But not far from now the Opening Day decorations will be laid out among all 30 ballparks. 
You can see the XL Center in Hartford is already excited for the occasion. 
photo credits: bucsdugout.com, washingtonpost.com

Pirates cure the winter doldrums

While December remains the “most wonderful time of the year,” this week in January isn’t far behind. 

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A pair of events in the Pittsburgh region help promote baseball in a time when below zero wind chills, winter weather advisories and 4-6 inch of snow projections are the norm. Heck, especially here in the surrounding areas of the Steel City there are other things to combat around this time of year. Pittsburgh is going to the Super Bowl!
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I’m not complaining one bit. I’ve posted facebook and twitter statuses saying “love ‘em or hate ‘em, you got to respect ‘em. People need to rationally realize that the Steelers are achieving amazing things. Come February 6th I will have witnessed my NFL team in four super bowls, an astounding feat. Some people, die hard fans of many teams may never get to see one.
I feel bad, but I guess its all trumped by the Pirates. I will have cheered for more Super Bowls than Pirates winning seasons. Unbelievable. The first three years of my life the Pirates went to the playoffs and obviously had an above .500 record. I don;t remember it, nor should I, but every year since then baseball has been regressing in Pittsburgh. 
It’s a story that unfolds with every blog post I have ever written and it is all too details to re- hash so I will save everybody the trouble of my personal depression with Pirates baseball.
Any who, I’m pumped. The Caravan was in Morgantown, WV this afternoon but I chose to be a good college student and attend class instead of seeing pitchers James McDonald, Jeff Karstens, second baseman Neil Walker, announcer Tim Neverett and pitching coach Ray Searage. I do get a second chance this evening 20 minutes up the road in Uniontown, PA. The guys are making a stop at 6:30 p.m. to sign autographs and chat with fans. 
For those interested, or those that find themselves board later this Monday night I will be tweeting live from the event. Follow me on twitter @pittpeaswv, for all kinds of updates and exciting thoughts, exciting in my mind, at least.
Also, this weekend, Friday, Saturday and Sunday Pirate Fest occurs. An indoor baseball carnival at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in downtown Pittsburgh, Pirate Fest is a yearly tradition and a very popular event, despite the lethargic fan base of baseball in the area. 
Following that Steelers win Sunday I am riding high. The Caravan and Fest will further fuel my joy and happiness and tells me the Pirates baseball is right around the corner. 
Maybe it truly is the most wonderful time of the year. 
photo credits: pirates.com, postgazette.com

PNC Park-just as beautiful in December

The bustling winds, fluffy white snow and bone chilling temperatures do not scream baseball. However, for my brother, Zach and I, a trip to PNC Park was just what we needed to cure our national pastime blues. 

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Just last week I pulled the trigger on a 20 game package for the 2011 season. For just $140 dollars I will be able to see 20 Pirate games in pretty darn good seats. 
We were allowed to go to the park last Saturday because of a special Christmas event for season ticket holders.
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Notice in the picture to the right I am not wearing that fresh Pirate jacket. This is the first picture we took in the day as we entered the park. The event was a shopping blow out sale for season ticket holders. Many items were available for purchase at heavily discounted prices. After a lot of shopping for others at this special holiday time, I splurged on myself for the jacket at a mere $40 bucks (it usually sells for $99). 
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We were greeted in the Pirate locker room by Santa Pirate Parrot! If I’ve said it once I’ve said it a million times, he is definitely the best mascot in all of sports, put a Santa costume on him and he becomes the most festive mascot in all of sports. The Pirates locker room is the second largest clubhouse in all of Major League Baseball, fun fact for ya. It is behind just the New York Yankees. 
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Another ballpark mainstay graced us with his presence. Joe Klimchak, game day host at PNC Park and regular on Pirate commercials was there spreading cheers of Christmas and baseball. We all shared a productive conversation with topics ranging from gift ideas to new manager Clint Hurdle and from the current core of players to my own career aspirations. He is a guy that would be great to have a beer with.
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Now the Parrot and Joe are great. The Peaslee brothers must be great as well because the Parrot took a liking to us as you can see. Well, Kent Tekulve, famed Bucco pitcher from the 70’s was also there reminiscing about the golden age of Pittsburgh baseball. You can see in the background banners from the 1971 and 1979 World Series Championships, “Teke” was a part of those teams. He was also festive in his Christmas sweater.
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We were able to troll around the locker room and yep, we had a good time.
Some of the items up for sale, including our new jackets, were Pedro Alvarez T-shirts (he is changing his number from 17 to 24, so that may have been a driving force behind the price drop), other jackets, hoodies, Fatheads and many game used items. We also picked up dugout lineup cards from various games we attended. The cards are simple items but add to our priceless collection of baseball goods. Bats, jerseys, bases and balls were also there, including, for some odd reason, a Lastings Milledge autographed baseball for a mere $100 dollars. In all honesty, a ridiculous price, but nonetheless it took everything in my power to withhold buying it to honor a fallen comrade. 

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On our way out we were able to give well wishes to Hurdle on a dry erase board sitting outside his office. It may have offended some but I told him how I truly feel. My message read: “Go Bucs and goodl luck Clint from all your friends at West Virginia University!” 
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The time came to bid adieu to PNC Park but with only about 100 days left until opening day, we knew that before we know it, the day will come. The glorious sport of baseball will again be upon us and a rebirth of a season will come. 

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.

 

Sweeping into the night

cubs 003.jpgMy ratty old broom served a much better purpose Thursday night as the Pirates swept their way to an 11-1 victory over the Cubs.

In a word, the Pirates were dominant, scoring five runs in the opening frame.

The Pirates played a persistent, strong game throughout the contest. Very uncharacteristic of the lovable losers.

The three game series sweep was the Pirates first over the Cubs since August 30, 2006.

While no homeruns wer ehit in the blowout, doubles came supreme. In fact Lastings Milledge rocked a near grandslam just two feet away from me in left field. Look closely at the below picture. On the left is my arm pointing out at Alfonso Soriano.

 

 

 

FSNdouble.jpgThe ball hit the top of the wall and bounced back into play. However it looked as if it would clear. Fireworks are going off, “They Hey Song” is playing, everyone thinks its a dinger. Even Milledge. He trotted around the bases and was tagged out rounding second. I cannot me too mad at him. He shouldn’t be looking at the ball, the extracurricular activities led him to believe it was a home run. In the end it was just his second double of the game.

Beyond the stats and onfield play this game meant a lot more. Pride was on the line.

 

cubs 002.jpgMy WVU buddy Marc is a die-hard Cubs fan. Growing up in West Virginia the Cubs were his  t-ball team. Continuing to follow his team some 15 or so years later Marc is almost like a transplanted fan from the streets of Wrigleyville. The last time I was at a game with him the Cubs scored eight runs in the first inning en route to a 14-3 beatdown. Lets just say the taste of revenge was almost as sweet.

With a handful of Cub fans around us he was in somber company and had more than enough shoulders to cry on. A lot of ribbing was going on by a pair of drunks behind us. These guys were around our age and pounding over priced beers like it was their job. They were making fun of everyone in their general area including Marc in his “Theeeeeeeriot” jersey, the charismatic ederly man with his young granddaughter and the cute West Virginia girls who we struck up a converstations with. They were dissing the Pirates left and right, had no baseball knowledge and took the joy out of me greatly. Marc was the most ticked I had ever seen him. The happy go lucky Southern boy had his fuse lit but kept his emotions in check.

After the game Marc owed me a little something. A beer. We had a bet riding on the game and we had a nice sit down at Mullens, a sports bar on Pittsburgh’s North Shore. There we engaged with chats from a University of Colorado grad, numerous Cubs fans, a guy who knew Lou Pinella and this charming guy.

 

cubs 010.jpgCommunicating in sign language and written notes the guy was very nice and was bubbly to everyone in the bar. He was mute but did not let his handicap keep him from having a good time and supporting his Buccos.

 

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cubs 008.jpgFrom the bar we ran into Frank Coonelly, Pirates President. Nice fellow, said my name again after I introduced myself which is always a sign of respect. Now there were two pertinent messages I could have told Mr. Coonelly,

1. To read my blog! Doubt he would have but shoot I may never see him again could have at least told him about it.

OR

2. My buddy Andrew Schuerholz was also with us, his uncle is John Schuerholz, President of the Braves. Either would have sufficed and created a great convo. But knowing Coonelly’s background as an attorney I told him that Marc was interested in law school.

Speaking of Marc, he needed a pitstop on the way to the car and enjoyed the beautiful skyline of the city of Pittsburgh (recently ranked the USA’s most livable city by Yahoo).

However I will leave you with a snippet of information when visiting Pittsburgh or any big city for that matter. Do not stop walking. Homeless people and creeps are always abound and danger could strike at any second. We learned that tonight. Mom and Dad if you are reading this no need to freak out. We’ve all seen it before and know how to handle ourselves.

Bring on Pujols and the Cardinals! The Bucs are in 3rd place!

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