Friday, July 02, 2010

Pitt Stop

When my dad mentioned that he and my mom would be in Pittsburgh for a church conference and that he was thinking of going to the Friday night Pirates game, I told him that I'd drive over to go with him as long as I could crash in their hotel room. Hard as it is for me to believe, it's been nine years since I last went to a game at PNC Park. (I attended the first official game there in 2001. My visiting Reds spoiled the party for the locals.) Assured that there was an available spot on the floor--my parents are sharing the room with another couple--I hopped in the car and made the relatively easy three hours-plus drive for what would be about seventeen hours in the Steel City.

For many people it's easier to park in downtown and walk on the Roberto Clemente Bridge to get to the stadium. Our walk from the hotel allowed me to get a brief glimpse of the interesting architecture and cool city views that Pittsburgh offers (or at least the cultural district that I saw). I'll leave those pictures and thoughts for Saturday's post, though.

Pittsburgh has a storied baseball history, but the past two decades have not been kind to the franchise. The Pirates are the owners of a dubious record. They've had losing seasons for seventeen consecutive years and look to be on their way to adding another to it. (Keep in mind that this is the longest such streak among all MLB, NFL, NHL, and NBA teams.) With as much as the Pirates have rebuilt during these recent years, it seems unlikely that anyone on the field tonight might ever join the likes of the Willie Stargell with a statue outside the stadium.

The team's lack of success meant good seats could be had for great price. While waiting in the ticket line we were approached by a guy looking to unload tickets in the second most expensive section of the ballpark. Just like that my dad and I were sitting in the club level--padded seats, extra leg room, access to interior concession stands, restrooms, and lounges--or more than half off. Since the in-state rivals Philadelphia Phillies were the opponent and the weather was ridiculously great for being outside in July, the game was really well attended, but the secondary market was still in the buyer's favor.

PNC Park affords one of the best views in Major League Baseball. The Allegheny River, Clemente Bridge and the Pittsburgh skyline rests behind the outfield wall. If the game ever lags--we lucked out and saw a good one--you can always take a look at how downtown's appearance changes as the sun sets and lights come on.

With no vested interest in the teams on the field and no fear that the Pirates might make a run at my first place Reds, I decided to adopt the hometown squad for the evening. They sure could use it as the place sounded like a Phillies home game at times. Several clusters of red shirts dominated the lower bowl. The Pirates fans in yellow had a couple pockets up in the more distant corners of the park. That's liable to be the case when a team is this woeful.

Of the newer retro-style ballparks, PNC Park surely is one of the better ones. It's a shame the Pirates haven't been able to do right by their fans for such a long time because this is a really nice stadium with a stunning backdrop.

(Posted a day after the fact because I didn't have a computer with me and the iPhone will apparently only let me type in a title and labels.)

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