My brother and I come over from the Buckeye state once a year to take in a Saturday night game, spend the night, watch a Sunday afternoon contest and then drive back home. This is our weekend this year and for the first time we have dragged my son into the trip.
Stopped by the Tanger outlet just north of Washington on the trip in. It was a typical outlet village. There was a pretty solid crowd, which is nice.
The pizza at Giovanni’s is tough to beat. Two slices of pepperoni for $5. It is part of the annual trek over here. I’m always happy to partake of a Big Gulp from the 7-11 on the corner of 6th street.
PNC Park has held up very well. It still looks great and still has a very comfortable feel and atmosphere. The occasional updates that have been made are solid. Kudos to the stadium operations team.
A negative mark for the merchandising department. A continued negative mark. I complain every year about the poor choices that are available in the gift shop at the park. I can buy a Michael McKenry jersey t-shirt if I want to (or one for Clint Hurdle). And then I could drive home and stick it in a drawer along with my Pokey Reese and Sean Casey jersey t-shirts. Kidding as I didn’t buy a Reese or a Casey. And I won’t be buying a McKenry. Nothing against the Fort – I’d prefer him behind the plate most nights instead of Rod Barajas. But how can the merchandising department justify a McKenry jersey t-shirt? They can’t. They apparently don’t have any ideas because if they did, they would certainly have a better selection. Here’s one: how about a Dave Parker jersey t-shirt? Here’s another: how about an Andy Van Slyke jersey t-shirt. Want one more? How about one for Al Oliver? The only shirt I’m going to buy is one that reads ‘We Are Family’. But it was made by Nike and the Pirates marketing team almost certainly had nothing to do with it. A couple of years ago, the shirt selection was so poor that the only thing I took home was the free long sleeve t-shirt that was available when I signed up for a credit card. I’m a sucker for Pirates stuff and more than happy to spend my money. Yet, year after year I find myself scratching my head and taking much of my money back home with me.
The lack of a jersey t-shirt isn’t the only instance of Dave Parker being slapped across the face by the organization. The background on the big scoreboard for the visiting players is a collage featuring images of people from the visiting city. In this case, the Reds are in town. They have pictures of various celebs from the Cincy area (or those who are associated with the Cincy area since Oscar Robertson, whose picture is part of the collage, is from Indy but played for UC and the Cincinnati Royals in the NBA). This group of celebs shown includes Carmen Electra, Barry Larkin, Kent Tekulve, Don Zimmer, George Clooney, his aunt Rosemary, Marge Schott, and Roy Rogers. Dave Parker is a near Hall of Famer. He grew up in Cincinnati. Graduated from high school in Cincinnati. He played for the Pirates. He played for the Reds. But somehow his picture isn’t included as part of the background for the visiting players? It makes no sense. Either the people in charge are doing it deliberately or they just aren’t thinking. Either scenario isn’t good.
I miss the ‘It’s time to Shoot Some Hot Dogs’ jingle. It was replaced by a knock-off of ‘Don’t Stop Believin’ by a knock-off cast of ‘Glee’. Not nearly as cool.
James McDonald was tough again. He whiffed two hitters in each of the first three innings. I like Mike Leake a lot. He doesn’t throw hard. But he works quick and has an idea of what to do. His only mistake was the gopher ball he served up to Neil Walker.
There was a scuffle among fans down the right field line. I was too far away to see what was going on. But it appeared that at least one person was being booted from the game. I’m going to go out on a limb and say alcohol played a factor. Nothing like coming to a game and getting drunk on $8 beers.
Jose Tabata’s running catch to end the top of the sixth was amazing. From my seats in section 112 up the first base bag, I had no idea he caught it for a few moments. It was also funny to watch a blooper from Joey Votto fall in fair territory down the left field line and then bounce into the stands for a double. Only Votto didn’t know it. He thought it was going to slice foul. He stayed by the plate and turned his back on the ball. Oops.
Clint Barmes and Barajas both came up with big plays in the field. Barmes looked awful at the plate. He came up in the bottom of the eighth with the bases loaded and two outs. He swung and missed at ball four on a 3-2 count when a walk would’ve forced home an insurance run. When he came up, I told my brother that Hurdle would almost be better off having Alex Presley purposefully bat out of turn (skipping both Barmes and Barajas) in the hopes that Dusty Baker wouldn’t catch it. Either way, the Pirates were giving away an out.
After Barmes whiffed to end the eighth, my brother said, ‘Can’t they get someone else to play short? I mean, I think Mike Benjamin is available.’ Ouch.
I also don’t like the entrance production for Joel Hanrahan. As my son noted, it’s like MLB has stolen directly from the WWE when it comes to entrance music and video. It is overdone and over the top. The grand entrance production would make sense if John Cena was coming to the plate to face him.
My nominee for fan of the game is the guy wearing the Lastings Milledge replica jersey in the concourse near section 108.
Good crowd tonight. It was fireworks night. Good show as we walked back to the Renaissance across the Warhol bridge since the Clemente Bridge was shut down.