Posted by Steve
I got back from Pittsburgh a couple days ago, but I haven’t gotten around to posting about it until now. I suppose by now you don’t care to hear anything about Pittsburgh or PNC for a while after the Crew’s impressive egg-laying and overall 19-40 record in the beautiful park… But I’m talking about it anyways. Sorry.
- First things first (and this might be the coolest part of the whole trip). We were sitting in the airport terminal waiting to board the plane when Glenn suddenly and frantically got my attention. I turned around, and standing there was none other than everyone’s favorite GM, Doug Melvin. That’s right, apparently the Brewers’ general manager was flying on a 50-person Midwest Airlines jet to go watch his team. My first instinct was to just leave him alone, but then I thought ‘Screw it. Even if I annoy him, when will he ever see me again?’ So I just walked up to him and told him I was a big fan. That’s it.
- From our, uh, small sample size (heh, heh) the people of Pittsburgh (Pittsburghers? Pittsburghians?) were very friendly. They also have sweet accents that I had never really heard before. “Folks” sounds more like “faaoohlks.”
- We got to the park well before they opened the gates to just walk around and check everything out. PNC Park is simply awesome. Their tickets say PNC Park: The Best Ballpark in America, and I’m not going to disagree. Approaching the bridge that crosses the Allegheny River allowed for a picturesque view (What do you know? There’s a picture below!) of the park. We walked all around the stadium. There are statues of Pirate greats such as Willie Stargel, Honus Wagner and Roberto Clemente. Everything is nice and new-looking. There are restaurants built into the stadium, nice tables along the outside, a path down to the river, and all sorts of other things that made the outside of the stadium extremely, for the lack of a better word, attractive.
- I do have to take a moment to make fun of the Pirates’ marketing department though. Their slogan for the 2007 season appears to be, “Pirates Baseball: We Will.” First of all… What? Second of all, they might as well come out and say that they have a bad team, because anyone who can read between the lines will figure it out. Banners were hung all around the stadium. Without remembering exact examples, you’ll get the idea… A picture of John Grabow says, “We will entertain.” A picture of Jack Wilson says, “We will come to play.” A picture of Jason Bay says, “We will excite.” Not a single slogan implied anything about winning or being successful in any way. Of course, in their defense, the Pirates’ marketing department was obviously not given much to work with (John Grabow, Zach Duke, Jack Wilson, Ronny Paulino).
- The prices reflected the team’s talent, and in turn, lack of revenue (it also made me think of this wonderful article. For $27 we sat in great infield box seats about 25 rows up from the Brewers’ dugout. To put it in perspective, those same seats are $42 at Miller Park. Concessions were also generally less expensive than at The Keg.
- We got through the gates in time to see the Brewers warm up and take batting practice. I got Corey Hart’s autograph while standing in the first row near the Brewers’ dugout, and Glenn got Chris Capuano’s a little later. A little inside info on Corey Hart and the golden beard of glory: It’s not for playoffs or anything like that. He isn’t superstitious and it has nothing to do with the hitting streak. He just likes it. You and me both Corey.
- One of the best parts of the stadium is the view of downtown Pittsburgh from the seats. That picture is also below.
- The Pirates really, reeeaaally overdo the “Pirate theme.” Pirates of the Carribbean theme music, a pirate talking to us scurvy curs every other inning, and loads of other clips and sound effects.
- I wasn’t counting, but I’ll set the over-under at the amount of times Glenn and I said “John Vanbenschoten” in the Pittsburgh accent at 30.
- I was impressed with the amount of Brewer fans in attendance. Only 14,000 were at the game (We Will!), and I’d guess up to 2,000 were Brewer fans.
- Jose Bautista fouled off about 46 pitches in his third inning at-bat. One of them was hit directly at me. Just as I was about to catch it, some 17-year old kid reached in front of me… and dropped it. It bounced away and someone else got it. Now I don’t care a heck of a lot that I didn’t get a foul ball. I never have and I wouldn’t be surprised if I never do get one. I’m perfectly ok with that. But this thing would have hit me in the face if nobody moved. I know I would have caught it. It didn’t help that the kid, who had already been fairly annoying, called people from his cell for the next three innings to complain about missing a foul ball.
- Obviously, the player of the game was Damian Miller. Miller had already homered once when he came up in the seventh inning. When the Pirates walked Geoff Jenkins with two outs and first base open to get to Miller, the Pirates fan next to me (the foul ball thief was already gone) said, “Oh sure, walk a guy to get to Damian Miller, the Pirate killer.” One pitch after telling Glenn and chuckling about that statement, Miller amazingly parked one for a grand slam. I looked back at the poor fan next to me and he was just shaking his head. As a lifelong Brewers fan, I felt his pain.
- One minor gripe. We moved down into the second row behind the dugout in the ninth inning. The section wasn’t even half-full anymore, yet some grumpy old usher came and kicked us out of the seats in the ninth inning.
- All in all, it was a great trip. PNC is the cat’s meow, and we definitely picked the right game to go to. Here’s the link to my PNC album on my photobucket page if you want to see the rest of the pictures I took.