Results tagged ‘ Zach Duke ’

The streak ends with a mediocre contest

I had a checklist with two short requests heading into the 2010 season. The first was to have the Pirates finish the year with thier first winning season since 1992. With an All-Star break record of 30-58 that doesn’t look like a possibility now.

My other note was to have the National League dethrone the American League during the mid-summer classic. My NL boys did just that in last night’s 3-1 victory. Thanks to Brian McCann the Senior Circuit (why has the NL always been called the Senior Circuit? It’s not like the PGA Champions League) won thier first All-Star game since 1996. So check and mate on getting one of my two wishes granted.

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The Brave’s catcher’s 3-run double provided the only relative excitment in an otherwise boring game. The only run scored by the AL was un earned.

Not only was this game excruciating to watch, it dissapointed me on two seperate levels.

First off the lone Pirates representative did not even sniff the field. Evan Meek was not even called on to warm up in the bullpen. This has been the second straight year a Pirate’s representative has not seen game action. Last year Freddy Sanchez and Zach Duke went to St. Louis and were held out of the lineup.
Thumbnail image for meek.jpg Manager Charlie Manuel led the NL squad both years and refused to play a Pirate. Now obviously nobody outside of myself and a handful of others around Pittsburgh cared to see Evan Meek play, but he dang well deserved to be in Anaheim. I still think Andrew McCutchen was the better choice but Meek is having an All-Star caliber year. His ERA is the lowest among MLB relievers. People criticize him because he is a no-name but team’s will be salivating to trade for him around the July 31st trade deadline. He is a nice guy who I had the pleasure of meeting at the Pirate’s Caravan event in the winter. If only Manuel wasn’t bitter at the fact the Pirates recently took 3 of 4 from his Philies he would have given Meek a shot to enjoy his first ever All-Star game.

My other pet peeve about last night can be summed up in two words-Ryan.Braun.

If anybody follows me on twitter I was very critical of my least favorite baseball player calling him out from the very beginning last night. He looked lost and the plate and missed an easy fly ball in right field, I blamed him for not hustling. However, it was Braun who got the last laugh as he pulled off a beauty of a diving catch a few innings later.

 

braun catch.jpgI do tip my cap to the pretty boy. It was a heckuva grab.

I had the pleasure of watching the game with family and good friends at Jerome Bettis Grille in Pittsburgh. It is one of my favorite eateries and bars in the Steel City and reccommed the food and atmosphere to any one passing by.

There my dad, brother and friends Andrew and Ed watched the 81st mid summer classic. We basically stayed until the game was over and the bar shut down at midnight. We anticipated the start as we were anxious in our seats but the real spectacle came in our attire.

nlbeeral.jpgOn our Spring Break trip to Cooperstown Andrew and I purchased these old umpire hats with the respective leagues on them. We had a friendly competition as I cheered for the National League and Andrew, being a Yankee fan wore his American League emblem proudly.

We were a loud and rambunctious bunch watching the game, seeming to be the only ones in the joint that cared. I was the only one to stand and cheer for Meek when he was introduced. My brother, Zach, answered the pre-game trivia question.The bartender asked who was is the Pirates representative? After crickets sounded Zach went up and won himself a free t-shirt.

With the All-Star break nearing an end the second half brings anticipation and hop for a more successful age of this Pirates Generation. While the Pirates are hosting the Astros this weekend my family and I will be on vacation in the Sunshine State of Florida.

AP Photos 

 

To retaliate or not to retaliate?

andrew mizuno.jpgIt is no question that Andrew McCutchen is the best player on the Pirate’s roster. He is a five tool player that also possess the leadership that this team crucially needs.

He led off Saturday’s game against the Dodgers putting the first run on the board, a solo shot in the first inning.

The blast was his 4th of the year and the homerun that brought him the most attention since last year’s 3-homer night at PNC Park.

As McCutchen was rounding second base he looked to give a little fist pump. There was no doubt he was excited as he is a fiery player who tends to show his emotions, a good thing in my opinion.

The Didgers did not think so. And neither did Pirates color analist Bob Walk. Walk, a former pitcher, said he was and would have been upset with McCutchen’s actions when he was a MLB starting pitcher and as a player today.

In the fifth inning Dodger’s relief pitcher, veteran Ramon Ortiz sent messages to Cutch. Not a message. Messages.

Two pitches brushed the back of McCutchen. Back to back pitches, no way they could have “gotten away” from Ortiz. The two pitches come after a pair of Bucco batters were plunked earlier in the game as well. After the at-bat McCutchen was visibly upset as he walked to the dugout jawing at the field and what looked like other teammates.

Pirates starting pitcher Zach Duke had an oppotunity to settle the score against Ortiz and the
duke.jpgDodgers. He went back on the hill and went back to work as usual. Even when Ortiz stepped to the plate, such a rare occurance for a relief pitcher, Duke did not come inside.

Now I am torn. Part of me thinks Duke and manager John Russell took the high road. They looked at this objectively and knew that throwing at Ortiz or any Dodger would be disrespectful and even childish.

However, if I was McCutchen I would feel betrayed. I would expect my teammates and my manager to stand up for me. He goes up there night in and night out and busts his butt for the team to apparently not be as appreciated or valued.

After the game when asked about the scenrio Duke said he “dropped the ball” in regards to not protecting McCutchen. Post-Gazette reporter Dejan Kovacevic reported that the mood was very somber and angry after this 5-1 loss to LA.

Outfielder Ryan Church seemed offended regarding the issue saying “It stinks. You don’t throw at somebody’s head.” Referring to McCutchen’s noggin.

Now when Duke was pulled from the game in favor of reliever Jack Taschner, he came in with a bang. The first batter he faced was Andre Eithier. The first pitch he threw sailed behind Eitheir. The dust settled there for the night.

The Pirates are now 10-15. They return home to face the Cubs. And I must go back to my finals studying.

photo credits: mizuno.com, AP-dodgers.scout.com

A little Buccos magic to beat the Reds

 

reds game 016.jpgThe Pirates may be at .500, but I have yet to lose. In my second trip to PNC Park this Spring the Bucs have not dissapointed winning the pair of games. Not only did the Pirates treat my friends and I to a gem of a ballgame, the city of Pittsburgh did as well.

reds game 003.jpgFrom Morgantown we arrived in Pittsburgh around 4 o’clock. The drive up to the city was probably the worst conditions I have ever had the displeasure of driving through. The winds combined with rain, combined with debris flying from cars was absolutely horrendous. I was legit scared but kept my cool and we made it.

It has been a plan of ours to check out the Andy Warhol Museum sometime before a Pirate game. We got the opportunity on Friday for only 4 bucks. The museum is just a two minute walk from PNC Park right on the North Shore. After paying and walking to the first exhibit I
balloons.jpg realized this was not my scene.

Now I did appreciate the artwork, I guess just not enough. It was trippy, weird and sometimes disturbing. I wouldn’t pay more than four dollars for the experience again. The coolest part was the room with floating metallic ballons. I could have stayed in there for hours.

When we walked through the gates of PNC Park the song “Centerfield” by John Fogerty was playing. The same song that was played in the same exact moment Opening Day. I love this song and really puts me in the mood for baseball!

From the concourse we were greeted with this albatross.

 

reds game 007.jpgThe tarp covered the field as it was lightly drizzling. The clouds parted and it was actually sunny for a good half hour.

 

reds game 017.jpgThe rain eventually picked up to torrential downpour form, we would have to wait out a 70 minute rain delay.

In the meantime the “Milledge People” were setting up shop before the hard rains came.

reds game 004.jpgLast year some buddies and I made a sign for leftfielder Nyjer Morgan. “Morgantown” it read. When Lastings Milledge was acquired we had speculated about doing the same in the form of a “Milledge People” sign. Well, these guys beat us to the punch and sure did pull it off well.

Speaking of Lastings, here is rocking the number 42 jersey.

reds game 011.jpgEven though Jackie Robinson Day was technically yesterday, the Pirates had the day off. I was glad to see the whole team, even the Reds, wearing the number 42. This was my first Jackie Robinson Day I have ever attended. It was also a Lastings Milledge Day.

 

First off, Zach Duke pitched fantastic. Seven innings of not allowing a run and surrendering just six hits, it was a gem. After a leadoff walk in the 7th, he was pulled and the Pirates releievers collectively gave up three runs. It was sad for Zach because he was shooting for his third wn of the season. The win was given to Octavio Dotel after Milledge’s walk off hit to score Andrew McCutchen in the bottom of the 9th.

I as too excited to snap a picture but here is one from the Associated Press and Pittsburgh Post Gazeette showing the team’s jubilation.

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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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Pirates All Decade Team

Before the ball drops and “Auld Lang Syne” is blared over the speakers it is only right to reflect on what this past year has held. Not to mention just this year, but a whole decade of memories that have played out right before us. These ten years have been special and and happy. The same can not be said for this last decades Pittsburgh Pirates team. Lets just say the 60’s and 70’s will forever remained untouched in terms of Pirate supremacy. These past ten years have been below dismal and hard to bear, but if there was to be a Most Valuable Player throughout the decade, I give it to the fans of Pittsburgh. Yes we remain near dead last in terms of overall attendance year in and year out, but can you blame ‘em? With two championship sports team playing in the same city the Pirates have steadily declined in popularity, however the loyal fans remain. Whether they’re enjoying a $4 bleacher seat on a Sunday afternoon, listening to Bob Walk and Greg Brown on the radio while riding in the car, or raising the jolly roger in their own front yard after a Pirates win, the fans are here, anticipating the next 60’s and 70’s-esque decade. Until then I implore you to reflect on what was the 2000’s in Pittsburgh baseball lore. These fine players made us proud and actually gave us something to cheer about.

STARTING PITCHER: Zach Duke


Zach Duke.jpg

As the lone representative from the current Pirate squad, Zach Duke stumbles into the Ace role of the 2000’s. The hype surrounding Duke back around 2003 was unparalled with nearly every publication ranking him as the Pirates best pitching prospect in quite sometime. He arrived in 2005 and was everything the doctor ordered. Duke went 8-2 with a 1.81 ERA. It looked like his reign was just beginning. However, since then Duke has not had a winning season and has been a mediocre pitcher compared to most in the league. Last year he went 11-16 with an ERA just over 4. Sad to say but it really was his best year since his rookie campaign. He has shown signs of improvements with his fastball and can really be a reliable starter. At just 26, he is still a major part of the Pirates future. There was talks of shopping him around this winter but expect to see him back

Honorable Menions: 1) Kip Wells, 2) Oliver Perez

CATCHER: Jason Kendall

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His trademark scowl and unique batting stance, Kendall was a staple of leadership for the Pirates. He had an image Pittsburghers ate up as he became an all time favorite in the hearts of fans. He hustled and bustled his way around the basepaths and was a brick wall behind the plate. He lacked power but always flirted around and above a .300 batting average. He was one of the longets tenured Pirates having been drafted in 1993 before being traded in 2004. He helped usher in PNC Park and lead hope for the future-a future that never came.

Honorable Mentions: 1) Ryan Doumit, 2) Cody Ross

 

 

FIRST BASEMAN: Craig Wilson

craig wilson.jpg

Probably more famous for his long golden locks of hair than his play on the field, Wilson was a hard-nosed reliable players. Yeah he struck out a lot, 427 times in five seasons in Pittsburgh, but he was a power threat in the lineup (a rarity for the black and gold). Wilson had a monster year at the plate in 2004. The California Crusher belted a career high 29 homers and drove in 82 RBI. He also had 148 hits in that year. He always hit around 15 home runs a year and was versitile having played the outfield and 1B as well.

Honorable Mentions: 1) Adam LaRoche, 2) Sean Casey

SECOND BASEMAN: Freddy Sanchez

freddy-sanchez.jpgOne of the most likeable guys to ever don a Pirates jersey, Sanchez played his heart out everytime he stepped on the field. He is a talented fielder and a star at the plate. He very well could be one of the most well rounded second basemen of the decade in the whole league. Coming over from Boston via trade in 2004, he was a relatively unknown prospect but said to have decent potential. He surely exceeded expectations in 2005 when he stepped right in and batted .291 in his first full season in the league. From there Sanchez took Pirates fan on the ride of their lives. The very next year Sanchez took home the National League batting crown hitting .344. He struggle din his last year as a Pirate but he still has some good years left in San Fran.

Honorable Mentions: 1) Jose Castillo, 2) Pokey Reese

THIRD BASEMAN: Aramis Ramirez

aramis ramirez.jpgOften times criticized, often times praised, Ramirez never could quite find his niche in Pittsburgh. It never did stop him from putting up good numbers. Coming into the league as a scrappy 19 year old in 1998, he was a major performer christening PNC Park in 2001. A-Ram went off batting .300 with 34 HRs and 100 RBI. It looked like the Pirates finally found an uprising star to build around. However he went through slumps the following year with just a 2.34 BA. His trade in 2003 to the Cubs was the first of many “salary dumps” fans would have to endure throughout the decade. 

Honorable Mentions: 1) Jose Hernandez, 2) Andy LaRoche

SHORTSTOP: Jack Wilson

 

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Jumpin’ Jack Flash. A name forever synonoumous with the Pittsburgh baseball club. Words simply cannot describe Wilson’s effort, desire and heart. Game in-game out it always was expected to see his uniform dirty. Wilson had tremedous range at SS. Turn on Baseball Tonight and Wilson is seen on Web Gems with his tremendous glove work. Kendall may have been a clubhouse leader at the beginning of the decade but this was Wilson’s team during the waning years. His production is underrated amongst the entire league. He wasn’t the best at the plate with a career .269 but he could do everything asked of him. His presecence was always missed in the lineup when he was injured and now no longer part of the Pirates, he simply can never be replaced. Honorable Mentions: NONE

LEFT FIELDER: Brian Giles

brian giles.jpgNamed to the All-Decade MLB team for a reason, Giles patrols LF for the Pirate’s decade team as well. A dead heat between him and Jason Bay, Giles gets the upper hand due to statistical better seasons with the Pirates. Bay is surely the better player-post Pittsburgh and may have been in the black and gold as well. However, numbers don’t lie and Giles had some of the best out of any Pirates player ever. Four straight seasons of 30+ home runs, three straight .300 batting average season-unheard of numbers for a Pirate. But the best decision the Pirates made during the decade was trading Giles for Bay and Oliver Perez.

Honorable Mentions: 1) Jason Bay, 2) Nyjer Morgan

CENTER FIELDER: Nate McLouth

nate mclouth.jpg

An all star and a gold glover, Nate truly was Great during his four and a half year tenure in Pittsburgh. McLouth was used as a bench player primarily in his first two seasons, he just needed a bit of playing time to show he truly belonged. He was a speedy center fielder who played impeccable defense and was rewarded with the gold glove following the 2008 season. 2008 was really his attention grabbing campaign. McLouth knocked 21 home runs and batted a solid .276. The power shown surprised many fans and notched him a spot on the National League All Star team. In the game he threw out Dioneer Navarro at the plate and his arm surprised the baseball world. He ended up racking up good numbers for the year finishing up in Atlanta in 2009 after hitting nine homeruns in 45 games in Pittsburgh.

Honorable Mention: 1) Andrew McCutchen, 2) Tike Redman

RIGHT FIELDER: Reggie Sanders

reggie sanders.jpgThough he played just one season in Pittsburgh, Sanders patrolled the gaping hole that is RF for the Pirates masterfully. It has been tough to find a solid player to be a right fielder for the Pirates, but Sanders brought fanfare in 2003. He was an off season acquisition along with Kenny Lofton. These two aging vets breathed a new life into the club and brought greater attention to the team. Playing 130 games Sanders hit 31 home runs and hit for a .281 batting average. He had quite the high OPS at .912 and was a threat at the plate at any given time. What really sets Sanders in a class of his own is his own poise. He was a great guy off the field. Having only been in Pittsburgh one season, you would have assumed he was a local citizen all his life.

Honorable Mentions: 1) Xavier Nady, 2) John Vander Wal

RELIEF PITCHER: Mike Williams

mike williams.jpgThe “Cardiac Kid” played with fan’s emotions for five years as a Pirate. He was a reliable closer, but seemed to take forever in mowing down the last three outs of a ball game. It wa sthe way he worked giving up doubles, walking batters, loading the bases. It all came together as a whole mismatch, but he eventually would get the job done. He had two tenures as a Pirate, 1998-2000 and 2002-2003. In 2002 he went down in the Pittsburgh record books with 46 saves in a season, a team record. The flamboyant Virginia Tech grad was infamous for snubbing West Virgnia fans hunting for autographs.

Honorable Mentions: 1) Matt Capps, 2) Mike Fetters

Yep, there ya have it. Some players you have heard of, some you have not. They all do have one thing in common, none of them ever gave the Pirates a winning season. A few of them played together but still couldn’t get the job done. It is hard to tell whether or not this starting lineup would compile a competitve team with a shot at the playoffs, let alone a .500 season. I wouldn’t bet on it.

Anticipation for the 80th All Star game

After a mediocre Home Run Derby took place in St. Louis last night. Sorry to offend Prince Fielder. He had a great showing and earned the win no doubt.

 


prince.jpgMy buddy Andrew came up with a cheesy, yet well defined sentiment in regards to Fielder.

“Cecil’s son is crowned Prince.”

A good way to sum it up and a great journalistic touch. Too bad he is a history major, but nonetheless it would have been a great newspaper headline.

 

Tonights game is sure to be a doosy. The Nl is due for a win, and I truly believe that the National League will pull it off. Lincecum and Halladay will duke it out and have a showdown for teh ages. Although they both will probably be in the game for a mere 2 or 3 innings I’m predicted a handful of strikeouts from each of them.

I’m ready for Jason Bay to have a big game. This will be the second time he will be starting an All-Star game. He did so in 2006 in Pittsburgh and notched a hit. This year in his first ASG as a Red Sock I think he will collect 2 hits, one of them being an RBI double. While I will be watching the game in my favorite Bar and Grille, Jeremiah Bullfrogs. It is a cool place to watch a sporting event with 25 plasma screen TVs and surround sound it will be a great atmosphere. Paying homage to Bay I will be wearing my “Bay” Red Sox shirt. While I feel I techniquely have to cheer for the National League (because of the Pirates) I will be rooting for Bay.

By predicting that the NL will win I have to give a prediction for MVP. At the plate, in playing in front of his home crowd Albert Pujols is going to have a day. He was a bit of a dissapointment in the HR derby. But he will turn things around tonight and will go deep. The crowd will set into a frenzy and rivaling the Disco Demolition of Chicago in 1979, the crowd will go insane. Pujols will go 3-3 with a homer and 2 singles.

Throwing out the first pitch will be a familiar face, our commander and chief, Barack Obama.

barack.jpg Obama will have his arm warm and ready delievering a perfect strike to the catcher. I’m sure those in attendance will give the Pres a warm ovation.

Now onto two guys that will provide me with pride for the evening.

freddy asg.jpg

 

 

 

FREDDY SANCHEZ

 

 

 

 

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ZACH DUKE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Freddy and Zach are the two representatives from the Bucs. While Freddy will probably get an inning or 2 of playing time I do not think Zach will get into the game. Honestly, I do not feel he deserves to be here in the first place. He is replacing the injured Matt Cain. Duke has a mediocre 8-8 record but has performed well. If he had some health from the offense his record would look alot better. I bet these two had a great week in St. Louis and I know I will be looking for them throughout the game.

As batting practice is occuring on the TV behind me I’m heading out to the restraunt ready for an exciting night of baseball.

 

GO NATIONAL LEAGUE

GO FREDDY

GO ZACH

GO MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL

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