Baseball, Day 4

After almost 1500 miles, 40 innings, and 31 runs, our baseball adventure is over.

Today, we left Toledo, Ohio about 8:30 am, and drove a few hours to see the Pittsburgh Pirates take on the Chicago Cubs at PNC Park. It was a hot afternoon for baseball, but beautiful. We entered the stadium by passing Honus Wagner:

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My brother and my dad committed to this trip before I did, so my brother first bought 2 tickets for each game, and then went back and added one. In Cincinnati, he was able to get one literally right in front of the other two; but in the other cities, they were usually a few rows or a section or two apart. Sometimes, we could trade seats and all sit together, and sometimes we would take turns sitting in the lone seat.

The Pirates aren’t having a great year, so these tickets were the easiest to get, and therefore the best. The two together were great-about 20 rows back, just a little bit down the first base side behind home plate. They were both in the shade, which was nice today.

But the single seat was absolutely perfect: about 12 rows back, and dead center behind home plate. I have never sat in such a good place. The perspective totally drew me into the game. It was like being in the batter’s box yourself…or at least, that’s what happened to this ex-baseball player. I found myself on every pitch doing what I would do as a hitter; trying to guess fastball or curve, outside or inside, high or low; trying to make that split-second decision about whether or not to swing, and then comparing that to what actually happened.

The Cubs pitcher had wicked stuff. Filthy wicked. Translated, that means he had a curve ball that easily broke two feet, and a fastball that came in on a right-handed hitter like a screw ball. It was easy to see why it’s so hard to hit in the major leagues. I sat there for the first three innings, then gave Doug his turn while I cooled off in the shade next to my dad. Then I snuck back down and sat by my brother in the good seat again, because it was so hot, nobody else was sitting down there. It was worth the “sweat equity” to have that view.

The perspective was so amazing I tried something different with my camera phone. I took two different pictures to get a panorama, e-mailed them to myself, and stitched them together in Photoshop. It turned out so stunningly well, I wish I would have done this at every stadium:

PNC Park in Pittsburgh

It was a pretty good game, with the Pirates’ shortstop making a phenomenal play in the first inning and some good hitting, as Pittsburgh beat the Cubs 6-2.

After seeing four of the newer parks in the major leagues, I’m really impressed. Each one is different, with its own character, and each one has put a lot of thought into getting good views of the game, and situating the park with a cool skyline view. This one actually reminded me a lot of Safeco Field up in Seattle. The bridge across the river beyond center field is very cool visually, and if you walk behind the right field bleachers (but still in the park), you get a great view of the river and downtown Pittsburgh:

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The outside of the stadium is stone, which I liked, but the classic brick is probably better. As Doug said, this stadium didn’t have as many of the little touches or extras like the Tigers all over Comerica Park, or the Riverboat in Cincinnati. It probably settles in nicely on this trip behind St. Louis and Detroit, and a little ahead of Cincinnati (which would still get an A-…these are great places to spend a summer evening or afternoon.)

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There’s the evidence of our romp through the midwest/northeast/old northwest. Doug and Dad are driving to Cleveland tonight on their way to a flight home to Seattle tomorrow from Chicago. I’m crashing here in Pittsburgh tonight, and fly home early in the morning, so that I can spend most of Aubrey’s 5th birthday at home with her. Thanks for indulging me on this pictorial journey!

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5 thoughts on “Baseball, Day 4

  1. Awesome stuff, Gregg.

    Chris and I just got back today from Chicago – he was competing in a track meet in the southwest suburbs and we also made college visits to Wheaton and Univ. of Chicago.

    On our first night we saw the White Sox host the Orioles at New Comiskey Park. A nice yard, but my favorite of the new parks is still Petco in San Diego. The massive commercialization has made me ambivalent about my summer home at Dodger Stadium.

    But man, in Chicago – $20 to park in a gravel lot a half mile from the stadium. Yikes.

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  2. so the cubs actually have a PITCHER with WICKED STUFF and they still lost.
    Sigh.

    May be I just need to go live in Africa
    when I went in 03 the Cubs made it through the playoffs
    when I went last winter the Bears did pretty well I hear.

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  3. This was fun to follow. Thanks for sharing your enthusiasm for baseball. Great pictures!

    Happy (late) birthday to Aubrey. Have you really been back that long?!

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  4. Peggy, Jason Bay for the Pirates proved an immutable law of baseball: there is always one guy who owns a pitcher. Bay hadn’t hit a home run since June 1, but he went 2 for 2 against Zambrano with a home run and a double, knocking in 4 runs and Zambrano out of the game. They put a stat on the board that said he was hitting almost .500 lifetime against Zambrano.

    Thanks for the comments, Nancy and Bob and Kathy. Yes, Kathy, I’ve been back that long. Sigh.

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