Dear Mark Appel,

You’ll be a part of the Pittsburgh family — the family of Sidney Crosby, Mario Lemieux, Roberto Clemente, Franco Harris — and you’ll probably come to love it and cherish it and you’ll find a ton of sports heroes who will tell you what a cool thing that is — athletes who chose to stay here long after their star of sports glory faded.

Just don’t talk to Jaromir Jagr, dude.

That guy died alive here.

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58 comments on this post.
  1. TripleC:

    What a pecker! Little brat.

  2. YinzerInExile:

    Ginny, that’s way more eloquent than the letter I mentally penned. It went something like this: “buck the eff up, you petulant child.”

  3. MJ:

    Damn, girl. If we weren’t both married, I’d make it my life’s work to get a date with you based solely on the way you write some of the things you write (the easy on the eyes part would be a bonus).

  4. emilie:

    Now if there was just a way to get him to read this – then he would totally fall in love with pittsburgh, because I just did – again. ; )

  5. Washpa:

    Nicely written, Ginny. I hope people won’t put too much credence into the whole “possibility of a pro career” thing. Sounds like Boras-speak — a little dig to start the negotiations. And who could blame him for not wanting to do the Pgh media conference call? He would almost certainly sound disappointed, which would become an already bigger story than it is. It’s not about wanting to play for Houston over Pittsburgh. It’s about being 20 years old and missing out on an extra $5 million.

  6. G-Man:

    I especially liked the turn/fork in the road your post took – ending up as a potential happy ending for both Mr. Appel and for Pittsburgh. More than his youth, I interpret his reaction and eschewing of the conference call to that asshole Boras. It’s how he does things. Add to that he and Frank Coonely like each other about as much as you like pigeons. But I digress. For this to have a happy ending, we onlly have to remember back to the 1980s when a petulant Mario Lemieux refused to come down from his seat in the stands and stand on the draft stage with GM Eddie Johnston. He regrets that to this very day. Just ask him next time you see him. And look how that turned out. He’s the single biggest sports hero – with apologies to Roberto – Pittsburgh has ever known. I’m not predicting Appel will be the next Mario. But I am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt that one day he’ll see what a peckerhead Boras is and do the right thing.

  7. AndyGolfs247:

    Thanks for saying what we couldn’t quite say and making us proud to be Pittsburgh. You’re Church!

  8. gunnlino:

    Nicely written .

  9. Christina:

    This, my friend, is an absolutely fantastic posting. I love every word and you are totally right. If I learned something than it is to embrace the unexpected and make the best out of it. So many times I realized a while later that some guardian angel threw himself between me and what I wanted in the first place in my juvenile stupidity.

    And my first thought was not too far away from yours: “Let the kid talk to my Captain (Sid) and let him explain what this city has to offer to a young and talented sportsman.”

    Let’s go Bucs!

  10. rickh:

    Well done Ginny. The Pirates front office could use your skills.

  11. Cassie:

    I feel the exact same way, MJ. Except, I have to get her and myself to switch teams.

  12. Reality Check:

    Douchy self-entitled jocks are douchy and self-entitled. Pick up the little ball and play with it, clown.

  13. burghbaby:

    That’s church.

    Well, except for the part about “something bad happened.” Nothing bad happened to Appel, except perhaps that lofty expectations fell a bit short. Perhaps that is the problem. Perhaps nothing truly bad has happened to Appel and that is why he is seemingly acting like a spoiled child even as he is living the dream.

  14. Sam I Am:

    I just love your blog so much Ginny! You always write the words that I wish I could. Well done!

  15. Suzie-Q:

    Excellent…..true…..CHURCH…..thanks Ginny…..written perfectly with deep insight… usual!!!

  16. bluzdude:

    Pittsburgh: Our hills are OUTSIDE the ballpark, not in freakin’ centerfield.

  17. drea:

    Ginny – if you haven’t read The Alchemist, I think you would really like it.

  18. Kacie:

    “it’s a one-way street so there’s no turning back now”

    it is known as Forbes and it is one-way in both directions. Figure that one out, Mark Appel! Loop around and you may cross a river.

    /took me 3 years to figure out how to navigate Pittsburgh without a GPS
    //moved away a year ago
    ///miss yinz, n’at!!

  19. bucdaddy:

    Wait … you want both of you to be men?

    I’m confused.

  20. Susan Helene Gottfried:

    Seems to me the last time someone was this petulant about being signed to a Pittsburgh team, they became the sport’s top star, made millions, poured millions back into the city, saved that very same team that had the audacity to draft him in the first place, and now has a statue in his honor.

    This kid would do well to learn from that. Except the petulant part, but he’s already got that down.

  21. MissChris:

    He’s a kid. He’s stupid. He will learn quickly that if there is one thing we don’t tolerate in Pittsburgh it’s arrogance.

  22. Jim W.:

    I’m sorry, I’ve been to Houston. It’s awful. It’s hot and run down, and filthy. That said, I moved to Pittsburgh for my first REAL job from Montana about 18 years ago and thought to myself. . . “Pittsburgh is about the last place I’d ever want to live. . . smog, steel mills, filthy people, street urchins. . . ” Everything I thought I knew about Pittsburgh had been gleaned from my 8th grade social studies class that taught me all about the industrial revolution and the soot stained “Steel City”. I was young, and dumb, and didn’t know what it was like to live anywhere but Montana.

    And then I got here, disappointed though I was, and was impressed. What’s more, because my expectations were so low, Pittsburgh blew them away. I love Pittsburgh now, but if they had press conferences for young Chemical Engineers about to take their first job in a new city, I’ll bet my reaction (at 20. . . okay, 24) would have been just about the same.

    Yeah, he’s a dumbass. . . but I can forgive him his preconceived notions about Pittsburgh. We just need to show him how wrong he was.

  23. spoon:

    Every time I hear of a cocky pitcher draft pick I think of Todd Van Poppel. See how being an arrogant p(r)ick turned out for his career. I was going to throw Ben McDonald in that mix but he at least had a mediocre career.

  24. George:

    Being a life long Pittsburgher, I can understand to a certain degree the love that people have for Pittsburgh as a town. It does have some wonderful amenities.

    But with all due respect, if I was a soon to be professional baseball player – Pittsburgh is the last organization that I would want to be drafted by.

    Personally I would equate it to be in the same category as being told by my employer that my job was being relocated from the sunny Caribbean to Siberia.

  25. YinzerInExile:

    @George—but entering the draft as a top prospect you *expect* to go someplace shitty. That’s just the nature of the beast. He’s just picky he didn’t go to an even crappier baseball team than Our Beloved Buccos.

    I know Houston is his hometown; maybe he just likes that sort of thing–heat, sun , humidity, sun, endless suburban sprawl, irrational and inhuman urban planning, and a glaring ball of cancer-inducing skyfire. In that case he’s going to be really disappointed in Pittsburgh. He’s also going to want to limit his real estate hunt to the north hills. Oh snap.

  26. Rachel:

    Didn’t Mario refuse to put on the Penguin jersey when he was drafted? Now look at him ;)

  27. biggeorge:

    This is why I read what you write. This is why you are a writer.


  28. Adriane:

    I completely agree. He’s 20 years old and he’s taking his marbles and going home because he didn’t get his way. Seems like Jason Bay made it work with the Bucs on ascent to fame and fortune (at this point, it’s a distant memory). So man up, Mark Appel. Of course, that being said, Eli Manning did the same sort of thing with the San Diego Chargers and ended up in NYC where he wanted to be. The rest is history.

  29. cmd_45:

    Regardless of what the Pirates have to offer this kid, he is soooo lucky. The average college graduate with a bachelor’s degree can expect to earn, if lucky enough to get a job, maybe just enough to buy a 1999 Chevy Cavalier. A little perspective is what this kid needs. And you know if he turns out to be awesome, Pittsburgh will love him forever.

  30. matt:

    I agree fully, with one tiny exception: The conference call.

    Someone on ESPN wrote exactly what I was thinking: It’s a non-issue really. If the Pirates want him to act like an employee, then hire/sign him. He’s under no obligation to do any sort of PR-type work (let alone baseball-type work) without being under contract.

    Just because others are writing articles for free (OK, lame example because you DO write basically for free – witness above) doesn’t mean you have to – or should.

    I’m not a Pirates fan (though I’ve been to a couple of Pirates’ games at PNC when I’ve been in Pittsburgh and LOVE the stadium) but I hope he ends up signing – I really do. I think it will be a benefitial arrangement for all involved.

  31. matt:

    Note: I’ll just go ahead and reiterate the desire for an “edit” button.

    “*beneficial” Sheesh.

  32. Virginia:

    Good point.

  33. Virginia:

    I’ve heard of it, obviously, but haven’t read it. I’m curious as to what makes you think I’ll like it? I’ll put it next on my list of books to read.

  34. Virginia:


  35. Drea:

    Because of this comment in your post – I have a thing I say … every bad thing that happens in life will eventually bring you to exactly where you’re meant to be. It is the churchiest, truthiest thing in my life.

    I would be happy to loan it to you – send me an email if you are interested in borrowing (could drop it at the restaurant).

  36. bucdaddy:

    McDonald wasfairly good when he could actually pitch, which he couldn’t often, what with being hurt all the time.

  37. bucdaddy:

    My memory says he did. Or the cap, or something.

    He also ran a terrible hockey team for four years that drew some of the worst attendance figures in the league, and then topped that by threatening to move it to Kansas City if he didn’t get a new building for it to play in.

    And they just built a statue to the guy.

    Funny what Stanley Cups will make people forget.

  38. Sam's Dog:

    Gotta respectfully disagree- the team was one of the worst in the league due mostly to financial issues not created by Mario. He certainly could have sold his interests in the team and walked away, but instead chose to stay and help make this team into the jewel it is.

    As to the arena, while I don’t enjoy being strong-armed either, that’s the way major league sports do business these days, not entirely different from the tax breaks, etc. given to businesses to relocate to or stay in any particular location. Yeah, it sucks, but that’s the reality of the situation. Without the Pens, we would be seen as more of a second -class city, without all of the tax revenue that hockey and all of the other attractions held at Consol provide. Like most issues, it’s not all black or white.

    Stepping down from my soapbox now….

  39. Dr Kevlar:

    Uh, I tend to agree here. I think that the mistake many have made is that they are reading a dislike of Pittsburgh, the City into Appel’s statement. It is, imho, a dislike of the PBC as an organization that is causing Appel to be less-than-delighted.

    This opinion piece by Gene Collier identifies the sources of discontent and none of them have naything to do with “Pittsburgh” or “Pittsburghers.”:

  40. Dr Kevlar:

    Yes, Mario refused to put on the jersey when drafted by the Pens. He was also vilified at the time for doing so…

  41. Sarah:

    Hi Virginia,

    as someone who personally knows Mark Appel, all I ask is for you to read this article.

    Thank you.

  42. Dan (Not Onorato):

    oh man….this may get ugly in a hurry

  43. SJ:

    You’re the dumb-ass here, don’t assume things when you don’t even know they guy. So tired of hearing people bash on someone they haven’t met.

  44. Katie:

    Great piece! I think his “friends” who are reading it missed the parts where you said how great he was and how loved he’d be very soon. I read that other piece that someone posted..and can see that point but…let’s be take 10 min..say hi to your new town..finals..ballgames or not…and everyone is happy. And in the grand scheme of things..what’s 10 mins even during finals week to breed some good will instead of ignoring people and starting your own bad press. Me personally..I can’t wait to see what this kid can do and will enjoy watching him play in black and gold! Let’s go Bucs!

  45. TripleC:

    That’s fine and all and I would imagine Mark is likely a good person, so let’s chalk this one up to him being a 20 year old kid (we’ll leave his agent, Boras, out of this for now), and obviously I don’t know Mark but maybe he could take a cue from A.J. Burnett who wasn’t exactly known to have a sterling reputation before he came to Pgh but now appears to be the leader in the clubhouse, and is embracing his role on this team.

  46. Butcher's Dog:

    Money for the arena pales in comparison to what the oil companies are set to get for building in Beaver County. To attract jobs that may or may not be forthcoming; there are no guarantees attached to the tax breaks. The arena will turn out to be profitable eventually due to the increased number of events there vs. Mellon/Civic.

    I’m off my soapbox now, too.

  47. Dr Kevlar:


    Thank you for posting this. Unfortunately, many folks here are so insecure about living in Pittsburgh that in their rush to skewer the young man they aren’t going to let gathering any facts/impressions/information about him get in the way.

    I feel bad for him. He was drafted lower than he hoped to be by an organization not known for its ability to bring talent to the big leagues, he is in the middle of an important tournament, finals and now he is being savaged for not participating in a conference call.

    You know, it is a shame that we really need to do this to someone in order to somehow validate our feelings or more accurately our insecurities. Talk about treating people the way they expect to be treated themselves…its a shame…

  48. Dr Kevlar:

    He has not signed a contract, so really the town is not “his” is it? In fact, he could decide to go back to Stanford and finish his senior year and re-enter the draft next year.

  49. Dr Kevlar:

    As a counter to that I would recommend Barbara Eherenreich’s: “Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking has Undermined America.”

    It provides excellent insight to the notion that somehow when bad things happen they are really good things or result in good things happening.

  50. YinzerInExile:

    I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that most of the city’s irritation stems not from feeling slighted or insecure, it’s over some kid in college getting huffy over the prospect of a *mere* 3.something million dollar paycheck. He chose to enter a human lottery knowing nothing was guaranteed, and when he didn’t get what he wanted he didn’t deal with the situation in a particularly elegant manner. He’s 20, not 2. I get that it’s disappointing on some level, but so is life (broadly-speaking) and I can’t stand ADULTS whose poor behavior is allowed to slide because they’re “only” X years old.

    Professional sports are an inherently public endeavor. How old must players be before we expect them to start acting human?

  51. YinzerInExile:

    This is absurd. He entered a draft. He was picked. There’s no way he *didnt* know he’d be expected to have some sort of public reaction to it, whether or not it was the team he wanted to be picked by.

  52. Dr Kevlar:

    Getting huffy? And what exactly has he said? The folks getting “huffy” are the folks here making assumptions about what the young man intends, about what the young man is thinking or what his character or lack thereof is.

    This has given folks carte blanche to call him a “pecker’ and a “brat” and worse. Further, no one has actually given thought to the fact that this IS finals week at Stanford and that the team is getting ready to play for a title this weekend. God forbid that this guy might actually think that dealing with those obligations takes priority over participating in a conference call with a team he may not even sign with let alone ever play for.

    if this young man is suffering from a lack of perspective, than I would suggest that folks who think that he owes us or the PBC anything at this point suffers from a similar affliction.

  53. Dr Kevlar:

    What is “absurd” is your expectations over what his “public reaction” is supposed to be.

    He gave a statement. That would, I believe, fulfill the public reaction requirement. It didn’t fit the format that you wanted. So now he is not “acting human.”

    If public reactions are the guideline to determine if one is “acting human” then most of us would be failing miserably based on this level of expectation.

  54. JMetheny:

    Hell,for a couple million bucks and a chance to play pro ball,I might even move to Cleveland.

  55. Bram R:

    Hopefully it’s just a passing mood of grudging bitterness, and Mark has already awaken to his better angels. The guy just crisply told an organization and a fandom, “Thank you, but ew, no,” and so it’s only natural to think him a bit of a shit. Unless you never, ever, EVER gossip or have ill feelings about any celebrity — it seems unnecessary to single him out for any kind of kid gloves treatment.

    He has an image to protect now. That’s his responsibility, not as much ours.

  56. McSmooth:

    The karma boomerang got him on Friday night in the NCAA Super Regional game against Florida State.

    He was charged with 7 runs (5 earned) on five hits, walked four, hit two batters, and struck out three in just 4 innings.

  57. McSmooth:

    BTW, his team lost the game 17-1.

  58. First. Place. « Carpetbaggery:

    [...] grabbing superstars. This is the guy who represents Appel. Ginny Montanez at That’s Church wrote a brilliant letter to Mark, urging him to get over the disappointment of being picked by the Pirates and not going [...]