Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Game 4: A Stadium of the People

Pirates 4, Diamondbacks 0

As we left the city and headed it West, it felt as if our trip was truly starting. The four of us have all spent ample time in D.C., Philadelphia and New York, but Pittsburgh gave us the first sense of the trip that lies ahead of us.

As I wrote today for the Fan Manifesto, the culture of baseball sometimes grants us a window into the culture of a city more generally. In Pittsburgh, this is especially true. The wide streets and sidewalks and spacious parking lots are sprawling with street vendors and college-aged kids playing cornhole, and I cannot imagine there is a better venue in all of Major League Baseball to watch a game than PNC Park. For just $26, we sat twenty rows behind home plate, narrowly missing out on a number of foul balls — mostly off the bat of Neil Walker, who I think hit at least 10 of them back our way during his four at bats. From our picture perfect seats, we could see out over the field and into downtown Pittsburgh, which provided spectacular views of its famous yellow bridges and the modern day fortress that is PPG Place.

But as nice as our seats and our view were, both were outdone by the hospitality and generosity of the fans and employees at PNC. Time and time again, people would engage us in conversation, asking us where we were going and how many stadiums we had already seen. And though our conversations varied here and there, to a person everyone assured us that PNC Park was as nice a park as there was anywhere. After three hours of exciting baseball, great food — Primanti & Brothers' capicola sandwich will be tough to beat — and wonderful people, the four of us left the stadium glowing.

It is hard to imagine another city or stadium that deserves a winning team more than Pirates fans do, and  finally that day — the one they've been waiting 20 years for — has come. Pittsburgh is playing great baseball and have a team full of young, talented, high character players — a match made in heaven for the city. For the first time in a long time Pittsburgh is fully embracing the Pirates — and, as we learned Monday, very few people embrace as warmly and enthusiastically as Pittsburghers.

Again, I hope you check out the piece in the Fan Manifesto.

Games Watched: 4
Games to Go: 26
Thuuz Score: 23
Stadium: I went into greater detail on the Fan Manifesto, but the history of PNC Park is fascinating. Despite strong, negative feelings towards using tax payer dollars to fund a new baseball stadium from constituents, the city government used pretty much every tool at its disposal to make a deal to keep the Pirates from leaving Pittsburgh. Not only was it successful in retaining the team, but the city also managed to construct a state-of-the-art stadium without the absurd prices found at other such venues.
Food: The food was unquestionably the best stadium food we've eaten so far. Click on "Read More" to get a look at one of Primanti & Brothers famous sandwiches. In addition to the sandwich, the fries were very good. Craig was disappointed by the lack both of local beer or any sort of variety on tap.
Fan Atmosphere: The baseline atmosphere inside the stadium was as positive as any I've ever witnessed. It felt like the Pirates fans were giddy to have this success and are still trying to believe it's real. Craig, might have described it best when he said, "It's like they still don't get that they're good."
Troll of the day: During the middle of the game Monday, Jeff and I both heard a man behind us turn to his kids and ask, "Who's the only person to ever play for both the Steelers and the Pirates?" Intrigued, Jeff and I glanced at each other with curious, this-is-a-great-trivia-question look in our eyes and surreptitiously cocked our heads sideways and leaned further back in our seats. Understandably none of the kids knew the answer, so the father responded: "The organ player." Now, that may sound silly, but Jeff and I were straining to hear his answer in the hope of learning some new, extraordinary fact and had to laugh at our child-like naivety.
Quote of the day: "Hey that's like hashtag noonesays... 'I'm a Mariners fan'" - My friend Jackie's roommate.
Tim Kurkjian Award for Thing We've Never Seen Before: In the bottom of the 4th inning, Andrew McCutchen blooped a ball into the outfield that fell just in front of Diamondbacks' centerfielder Chris Young. When Young fumbled the ball and lost it in the grass momentarily, McCutchen, who had hustled all the way out of the batter's box hesitated for just a moment and then scampered towards second base. Having located the ball, Young fired a low throw to Willie Bloomquist who was covering second, but was unable to beat McCutchen's head first slide. Further, the ball got a way from Bloomquist, heading away from the base. Without any hesitation this time, McCutchen took off for third base, once again sliding in before the tag and bringing the PNC Park crowd to its feet. We all agreed that we had never seen a baserunner take two extra bases on the same play in this manner. McCutchen is awesome, by the way. I'm not sure that there is a more fun player to watch in the league right now, with the possible exception of Mike Trout.
Total Miles Travelled: 955
Miles to Next Stadium: 286

"Read more" for pictures from the day

Primanti Bros sandwich 
Downtown Pittsburgh

Andrew McCutchen

Clemente and McCutchen; the past and the future
An overlook of Pittsburgh at night

1 comment:

  1. saw the mccutchen hustle highlight on sportscenter, first thought: "wow, never seen that before." the guy is electric.

    also, why did only three of you leave the stadium glowing? i'm tempted to make a "pirates taking a hostage" joke but i won't.