Saturday, August 8, 2009

Pittsburgh Pirates 3, Arizona Diamondbacks 4 -- Wednesday, August 5, 2009

On Wednesday I went to "The Best Ballpark in America," in quotes, initial caps. For years people, including Melvin, have told me PNC Park is the best ball park in the country and I have been longing to see it for myself. The Pirates certainly buy into the belief. I bought a pin for my collection that makes the declaration and the beer cups have the same logo. The only problem with the statement is that it is not true.

As each new stadium opens, ownership incorporates as many amenities as it can. PNC Park debuted in 2001 and seven ballparks have opened since. I have been to four of these; Citi Field (Mets-2009), Yankee Stadium (2009), Nationals Park (2008) and Citizens Bank Park (Phillies-2004). Of these, only the stadium in Washington didn't surpass PNC Park. In fact, Mel and I were surprised that Coors Field was 15 years old because it had all the features a fan can expect to find in a contemporary major league baseball stadium. An analysis of those features deserves a post all its own and I will save that for another time. PNC Park is very nice and one fact is indisputable: the view of the Pittsburgh skyline across the Alleghany River is truly magnificent. (Since I have credited them in other posts, I will add that every ball park mentioned here was designed by HOK Sport Venue, now operating as Populous. They also designed the new Busch Stadium (Cardinals-2006), PETCO Park (Padres-2004) and Great American Ball Park (Reds-2003).

The game was a low-key affair. Both starters--Doug Davis for the snakes and Ross Ohlendorf for the buccaneers--limited the scoring to a home run apiece. Pirate Andy LaRoche hit a two-run homer in the second that gave the crowd hope for a win. D'back Ryan Roberts hit a solo shot in the top of the sixth. However, in the top of the eighth, Arizona's Chad Tracy hit a chopper back to reliever Joel Hanrahan, who considered going to second for an inning-ending double play, but spiked it when he threw to first. Alex Romero hit a pinch hit single followed by a single by Stephen Drew and the score was 4-2. An almost-rally in the bottom of the ninth briefly raised the spirits of the home town fans but only scored one run in the end.

MLB Reports: Wrap-up Box Score

It seems that many Pirate fans are really sour on the team, the management, the ownership (circle one or more), especially after the trades leading up to the previous week's trading deadline. Heading to their cars after the game, many chanted, "Let's go Steelers!" The man to my left, a long-time purchaser of an "eight-pack" (which actually gets you ten games), told me he was not going to buy his seats again next year. The folks to my right, apparently a father and daughter celebrating her birthday, were in better spirits. After attending hundreds of games, he caught a foul ball while on a food run. The next inning, she caught a hot dog shot into the seats. The attendance was only about 5,000 more people than attended the previous night's contest at Triple-A Toledo.

As for my dinner, I stopped at the barbeque stand operated by former bucco' Manny Sanguillén on the concourse overlooking the Alleghany. (Photo by wstera2.) The three-time all-star signs autographs as staff dish up eats. Like The Pie Lady, the meat was over-cooked, but at least Sanguillén, who played on two world champion teams (1971, 1979) when the Pirates were competitive, thankfully didn't get creative with the sauce.

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