I was home for the Easter weekend and made my first trip to PNC since last year’s opener against the Dodgers. A few thoughts after a visit to the most beautiful park in baseball:
* I think someone posted their comments after Opening Day and said they mainly saw Clemente jerseys in the stands. My experience was nearly the opposite, as there were a ton of McCutchen, Walker and Jones being sported by all ages and genders. There were still a few Clementes, obviously, along with the occasional Alvarez, Tabata and Sanchez, but McCutchen and Walker were 1 and 1A.
So here’s a question for you: Is Walker the second, or even potentially first, most “untradeable” Pirate?* I think a good many people think that McCutchen might not finish up in Pittsburgh, should his potential contract join his skill set as Carl Crawford-like, but Walker is the less-ballyhooed player who everyone assumes will take the hometown discount. This is probably jumping to conclusions, but I was just really surprised by the amount of Walker stuff, although I shouldn’t have been with all the “Pine Richland’s own!” stuff.
* I fully believe in the “No one is untradeable if the offer is good enough” tenet, but I’m just talking from a PR/”SALE THE TEAM” perspective.
* Loved the selection of specialized t-shirts for players. There was the Number 22 that just said “Cutch,” the red 24 that had “El Toro” with a bull and the camo G.I. Jones one. I don’t remember anything like that for Bay/Sanchez, beyond the Bay Team Canada shirt and Freddie All-Star gear. There was also – again, of course- the Neil Walker “Keystone Kid” shirt. I managed to satisfy my Notre Dame and Pirates itch with one fell swoop, nabbing a Majestic ringer that had the “P” over top of a shamrock.
*The new stacker sandwich they’re offering at Manny’s is ridiculous. Pierogies on top of pulled pork? It should come with a side of coleslaw and angioplasty.
* My friends and I have a running joke/theory that Jeff Karstens is good for roughly four and one-thirds innings, at which point he turns into a pumpkin. It made sense to keep him in for outs fourteen and fifteen because it was the very bottom of the Nats order, but bringing him out for the sixth was playing with fire. Bringing him out for the seventh was like playing with fire after you fell into a puddle of gasoline. Good on Resop to take care of business in cleaning things up.
* It was a little windy in the evening, and that probably cost Walker and Tabata homers, as they both had bombs tracked down at the wall.
* Saturday night was the game where Tabata and McCutchen found themselves on base and stealing the entre time. It was a joy to watch, as the poor Nationals were so flummoxed they ended up just chucking the ball around the yard for multiple errors. It’s funny how different your lineup and infield defense look when you swap out Ryan Zimmerman with Jerry Hairston. Jayson Werth, despite his homer deep into the left field bleachers, does not inspire the same fear that Dunn did the last couple of years. He also got worked over by a bunch of deep fly balls to right. Good investment so far, Nats.
* I think people should make a bigger deal about Livan Hernandez still being a major league starter. His fastball was sitting at 83 miles per hour, and here he is, still a professional baseball player. All of his at-bats ended up as grounders to Cedeno, which was really sort of beautiful, in a way. Ronny actually played great, hitting the ball hard (as he did on Sunday) and fielding his position cleanly, but still: He’s Ronny Cedeno. Let’s hope that the Brandon Wood acquisition provides Ronny with the season-long motivation and focus he’s been struggling to harness his whole career. (Seems unlikely, but this two game sample size is pretty sterling!)
* Neil’s barehanded player moving to his right was really a thing of beauty. I didn’t get to see any SportsCenter or Baseball Tonight the rest of the weekend, but I’m hoping it got some play.
* Being able to take a short walk/drive down the North Shore and play blackjack after a Pirates game is basically the perfect night. I have no idea what the political or financial ramifications of putting the casino on the river as opposed to up near Consol/Mellon are, but from a simple "Making Chris really happy" standpoint? Two thumbs up.