Hello Bucs fans,
No, I am not here to troll your site, considering our teams just got finished playing one another. Last year, I came by BD to ask those of you who are Pittsburgh locals for suggestions for an impending trip to Pittsburgh to see PNC Park I had initially planned. Unfortunately, those plans were shot dead in the water when it turns out that the particular weekend I had chosen happened to also be the exact same weekend that Steelers training camp opened to the public, and every Pittsburgh transplant decided to return to Mecca on that same weekend, thus blocking every flight option I could attempt to watch some baseball.
No matter, because when the baseball schedules broke this year, it happened to be very convenient that my Braves would have a weekend series in Pittsburgh in May, nice and far away from any possible Steelers functions from mucking things up. I saw a perfect opportunity to pick up what I tried to do last year, but this time, it wouldn't be just an ordinary run-of-the-mill trip for me, I would have some legitimate bias here, since your Pirates would be playing my fellas. Now I originally said objective, but I'm not going to lie; I'm disappointed with the way things turned out at the one of three games I make effort at going to being the one that the Braves lose, but I'm still fully capable of glorifying on the positives of this trip, and I'd still like to share them with everyone here.
I woke early on Sunday in order to catch the first flight out from Atlanta to Pittsburgh. The funny thing is that I'm actually reading David Wells' autobiography, and sure as the sky is blue, the guy I end up being wedged next to on my flight up, is a rotund guy with a goatee, that looked like David Wells, and he snored like the devil had indigestion.
A tad groggy, I land in PA, and I pick up my rental car, and make my way towards Pittsburgh. As is the case whenever I do one of these trips, and I find myself driving on roads that I've never driven on before, I feel as if I may as well be on the Moon, but I didn't actually think I'd find the exit for it in Pennsylvania.
There has to be something to be said about this stoic reminder to stay safe, sober, live free, and riding alive, for it to be posted at least seven times on the route to the city. Especially the part about reminding people to stay sober. I mean, I really like Iron City and Steel Reserve too, but I guess Georgia roads are so well, wanting you to get busted for DUIs, so that the local fuzz can rake in penalty fees and court fees, to where I guess they don't bother to remind anyone.
My very first stop, which was also high priority for me, was to swing by a Primanti Bros., because as many of you suggested, as well as friends who had already tackled PNC, as well as people I used to work with from Pitt, have all suggested Primanti's as a "must-eat." And I do like me my food. I wasn't quite sure of what to get, so I took it in good faith to ask the waitress that I was a tourist, and I wanted to know "what to eat," to which she simply responded with the pastrami, and then this monstrosity came back to me minutes later.
My word. Phenomenal. I'm craving another one right now as I'm typing this. Great suggestion, to everyone who suggested it.
I couldn't help but notice that it was the Market Square Primanti's, which I remember seeing in the background of She's Out of My League, (which I actually really liked) so here I was envisioning this romantic, kind of nice urban sprawl, only to discover that it's construction wasteland in the meantime. Disappointed at not being able to further fantasize about Alice Eve, I began my walk towards PNC, stopping along the way to pick up a scalped ticket on the Roberto Clemente Bridge.
I must say, that I'm very fond of parks on the waterfront, and PNC Park is no exception. The walk across the bridge is one of brilliance, because it captures the imagination of any baseball fan, and builds anticipation at getting to enter the park, seeing the fine structure, the name on the outside, as well as a peek at the left field entrance waiting ahead.
But as much as I wanted to get into the park, I took my sweet time and enjoyed what the outside of PNC had to offer. As much as I love Atlanta's Turner Field, it just simply pales in comparison to many other parks when it comes to simple outdoor activities and way to build anticipation, and really capture those who might drive by and see activity and think "hey, maybe a baseball game doesn't sound like a bad idea right now."
I don't know what Manny Sanguillen did to deserve such a fate, but needless to say I'm quite amused by the artwork. Not to mention the meat they were cooking constantly on the giant grills adjacent to the stand were smelling so good each time I walked by.
One of the things I enjoy the most of these trips is getting to see in person, and getting to stand near the things I see on television whenever the Braves play opponents. The RF wall and OOT scoreboard in Pittsburgh is one of those things that is very distinct, and oft-recognizable, mostly because of the 2006 All-Star game, where Ryan Howard, Miguel Cabrera, and David Wright went crazy.
The lame jokes continue! But I am giving you my perspective as an outsider, and here's one of them - Every time I see the Pirates logo in the shrubbery out in CF, all I can ever see is the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles logo. Yes, I can read, and I know that they're not spelled the same way, but the shape of the logo is similar, and that it's green. I can't help it, it's just what I see, and I cannot un-see it anymore.
Not going to lie here - the whole Star Wars themed lineup introduction is quite possibly the nerdiest, geekiest thing I've seen at a baseball park (since Keith Law), and this is coming from someone who has been known to dress up in goofy costumes from professional wrestlers to 80's movie characters and parade around at geek conventions. The lameness quotient of it might actually pass the Minnesota Twins' jingle of "We are the Minnesota Twins."
The statue of just Ralph Kiner's hands and bat alone amused me in several ways. Firstly, I can't help but wonder why all the other Pirate greats get actual statues in prominent locations, but Ralph Kiner only gets his hands, in a pretty secluded part of PNC. Secondly, the stand as a whole, reminds me of a prop from like an Indiana Jones movie, or perhaps a role-playing video game, where the protagonist finds some legendary weapon, and it turns out to be the bat in Ralph Kiner's solitary hands.
Parrot the Pirate walking over a bunch of peoples' heads. The sadistic part of me immediately thinks about all the potential law suits that hit the fan if he were to lose his balance and land on someone, inuring them. That in mind, I'm amazed the brass actually lets he/her do this.
Ask any Braves fan, and you'll find not many actually pleased with the McLouth trade. Unless Gorkys Hernandez is doing wonderful things in your organization, I'd say this turned out to be a pretty poor trade for both teams. McLouth can't even hit .200, and Charlie Morton is like 0-52 by now. Whatever happened to Jeff Locke anyway?
Anyway, I really don't understand this improvisation to salvaging a McLouth jersey, but just the thought of McLouth putting together his 2008 numbers for my team is enough to make me salivate. Honestly, I'd rather have gotten Nyjer Morgan over McLouth, even at the time of the trade, personally.
Please tell me that these graphics are not the every day graphics for the Pirates at home. If so, I really have to consider PNC Park as home of the lamest graphics in baseball. (if you couldn't tell already, I'm a graphic designer by trade, so all these aesthetics stuff is important to me.)
Obligatory action shot of the game - believe it or not, I really was paying attention to the action on the field too. Often times my boy Medlen would get and out of trouble, and I'd find myself paralyzed with apprehension at the impending runs, that didn't actually boil over until the 6th inning.
This is one thing I LOVED about PNC. Although I question the accuracy of it, considering I watched plenty of pitches with good vertical movement register as zeroes, I do love the effort in attempting to relay the information of movement on every single pitch. I have seen this kind of elaboration nowhere out of all the parks I've been to so far.
Despite the fact that I'm supposed to root against him, I find it difficult to dislike Andrew McCutchen. It's no surprise at all why everyone in Pitt loves the guy. Interestingly, one thing I wanted to bring up is the simple fact that I'm astonished by how the vast majority of people with jerseys are to this day, still Roberto Clemente's #21. I fully understand why he's so great, but I guess it would be like if you guys were to come to Atlanta, and the majority of jerseys everyone wore here were #44 AARON, despite the fact that his heyday is long past.
Due to logistic reasons, I unfortunately had to cut my PNC trip short, and leave after the top of the 8th inning. I had to fly back to Atlanta, and the last flights out weren't quite as late as I'd hoped they would be. The last thing I saw left me with a good note to the end of my trip, which was Eric Hinske's 8th inning, game-tying home run. I guess it's for the best, as a Braves fan, because in six "first times seeing the Braves play in another park," including today, the Braves are now 0-6 for me. To have actually witnessed being walked off on, would have demoralized me pretty badly, not to mentioned all the smug Bucs fans who would be eyeing me for being in a Braves shirt and hat. Consider myself lucky, I suppose.
Anyway, as a whole, PNC Park is most definitely awesome. Whenever various announcers talk and gush about how beautiful of a place PNC is, they're certainly not lying, not that I ever doubted them in the first place. The architecture is a little puzzling to me, and the concourses aren't necessarily that big, as made evident by the constant log-jamming while walking around. But as a whole, I really did enjoy my experience visiting PNC Park, despite the less than desirable outcome for me, personally. But hey that's what's sport is, for every winner, there are losers, and more often than not, when I'm on the road, it's usually me.
Thanks for reading, everyone, and enjoy the rest of your seasons.