Last Friday I took in a Pirates-Rays game at PNC Park in surprisingly nice Pittsburgh. It was a somewhat humid night, but you had one of the best teams in baseball coming in to town and it was Dave Parker bobblehead night, so one would think there would be a decent showing at the park. I would not call having less than 20,000 at the ballpark on a Friday night a decent showing. Outside of the rather lackluster crowd, I had a good time at the game. The following are some highlights:
- People always say PNC is a nice place to watch a game. I would agree with that. I can't say there is one defining thing that stands out about PNC Park, but it was just a good place to watch a ballgame. You have the Pittsburgh skyline beyond the outfield and the Roberto Clemente bridge is also visible. Pretty nice view from home plate. There are plenty of concession stands along the concourse and there is plenty of room to maneuver around when you are up there. At 6'1" I didn't have a problem with leg room, so that is a plus.
- They have a wide ranging beer selection. In the top of the first alone (which was a bit long thanks to 3 Rays runs) we had beer vendors hawking 4 different brands of beer in out section, Miller Light, Bud, Coors Light and Yuengling. If you went up to the concession stands, you also had your choice of Iron City, which I avoided like the plague and some other local brews including Penn Pilsner, which I really liked.
- Scott Kazmir has huge hands. You can get pretty up close and personal to the bullpens from the outfield concourse. I watched Kazmir throw the last few of his pre-game warm-up pitches. When he finished, he shook the bullpen catchers hand. The guy seriously looked like he replaced his normal hand with a big foamy #1 hand. I can see where it would be easier for him to throw some crazy pitches.
- As a late inning double switch participant, Gabe Gross was back into my life. Gross was a mere 40 yards away from my seat as he patrolled right for the Rays. Unfortunately when he was at bat, the Pirates didn't have the Christian rock ready for him.
- Speaking of at-bat songs, the Pirates are a hard rocking team. I can see why Kendall was using Rob Zombie previously this season. The highlight had to be Ryan Doumit entering the batter's box to Danzig's "Mother". That, my friends, is solid. I think that tops Joe Dillion using Nirvana's "Breed" as best at bat song. The only better AB song I can think of would be the theme to St. Elmo's Fire.
- Being a Pirates' fan these days must be equivalent to being a Brewers' fan in the early 2000's. Really, no hope. You have the hard core fans that want to be there and support the team, but rest of the people who are actually at the game just seem disinterested.
- They had a computer generated pirate on the scoreboard. If you closed your eyes, he sounded just like the pirate from Family Guy. Unfortunately the computer generated Pirate had all his limbs.
- I don't know how many of you remember Uke and Powell talking about this last year, but the annual furry convention appeared to be back in Pittsburgh last weekend. The above photo shows the person in front of us walking to the game wearing a tail. Pretty strange, but after spending a couple days in NYC, no big deal. As we were returning from the game, we came across about a half-dozen of these people dressed up like rabbits and foxes. One was a rabbit dressed up like a Storm Trooper. If this wasn't absurd enough, a homeless man was asking them for money. That may have been the most awkward thing I have ever seen in my life.
- The handful of visiting Rays fans in my section seemed to be pretty full of themselves. They quickly drew the ire of the surrounding Pirates fans and even started to annoy me, who had no dog in the fight.
Anyhow, all in all a great experience. It would have been better if the Pirates had a better team and there was a bit more buzz in the ballpark, but what are you going to do. I would highly recommend this trip if someone is looking for a place to watch the Brewers play on the road. Pittsburgh is a nice city and there appeared to be plenty of bar options and the people were pretty friendly. So, Pittsburgh and PNC Park gets a thumbs up from me.