Category Archives: Pirates
(Taken by me. Top of the 10th inning. Opening Day 2014. INTENSE SPORTS MOMENT.)
Remember in October when I put the totality of my medical knowledge to the task of understanding why I nearly passed out at the two postseason Buccos games I attended?
I determined that, medically speaking, it was a combination of the noise, an inner ear thing, standing up too fast, not eating enough, screaming too loud, anxiety — all those things all at once = fainting.
Well, at the home opener when Neil Walker hit the walk-off, it was super loud, I jumped out of my seat having eaten nothing yet having imbibed alcohol, I screamed at the top of my lungs and guess what? I was fine. Not one spell of darkness enveloping my vision and pulling me into the abyss.
Therefore, I have now 100% medically determined that it is simply a matter of this: I cannot handle postseason Pirates ball.
That’s it. It’s not the noise or my inner ear or screaming or eating or drinking or jumping.
It’s weakness of constitution. This is an actual medical condition discovered by me and I will be writing a paper about it to appear in the Journal of Totally Fake Medical Discoveries.
1. Thou shalt not get to third base on the Kiss Cam.
The Kiss Cam is tradition. A chance to awkwardly high-five your opposite-sex sibling or smooch your honey for all the stadium to see. A chaste peck perhaps. Or a more forward full-on smush. I salute your love with my $25 beer (rounding here). Kiss on. But baseball, more than any sport, is meant to be enjoyed by families. Moms, dads, gramps and kids all in a row. So when you find yourself on the Kiss Cam being urged to lay one on your neighbor, don’t turn it into late-night Cinemax. Don’t shove your tongue down her throat. Don’t, for the love of God, round first base and head sprinting for third as if Nick Leyva is frantically waving you on while thousands of children watch. Get a room. This I command yinz.
A pox on ye if ye disobey them.
Pittsburgh, this is half not a real post/half a real post.
This first part is a post to ask you that if you get paid in the next few weeks, could you go to the ATM, get $5 or $10 bucks out, stick it in a baggie in your freezer, and then when I ask you for it in early February when I try to raise $10,000 for Make Room for Kids, you’ll give it to me and the Mario Lemieux Foundation? (Hiya, Mario. I love you. Will you marry me?)
Hell, send me a picture of your $5 in the freezer. I’ll post every single damn one of them. We’re being crazy ambitious this year and we’re going to need every single cent. I promise these kids need it. Group hug.
So last night was the Pittsburgh Magazine Pittsburgher(s) of the Year party, honoring the Pirates.
It was held at the Casino, included real actual outdoor and indoor fireworks (Pittsburgh, YEAH!) and was very fancy. Wine, shrimp, crab legs, grape leaves, stinky cheeses. Someone make a chart that shows the relationship of cheese stinkiness to cheese fanciness.
Wait. I’ll do it.
There you go. I just gave myself an A-plus for that.
And a gold star.
And a no-homework pass.
I’m very self-congratulatory.
It was a great event. I got to chat with Rick Sebak about getting drunk on margaritas.
I got to be the sole attendee drinking IC Light from the bottle.
I got to meet some readers, one of whom is a nun and I was like, “Tsk. Does God know you’re reading my potty language?”
And she was like, “Shut up. I love you.”
Nuns are cool.
Neal Huntington, Bob Nutting, and Frank Coonelly all showed up to accept the award and then stick around and chat with attendees. I just happened to be standing near Neal Huntington when he found himself alone and THAT WOULDN’T LAST because it’s a bird; it’s a plane; it’s …
SUPER AWKWARD BLOGGER GIRL! [awkward kung fu moves]
Remember how embarrassing I was when I met Mario Lemieux? Why fix what ain’t broke?
Me: “I LOVE YOU. I do. I love the Pirates. I am their biggest fan and supporter and I love you and can I touch your arm and your silky hair will you marry me you are the best [sports butt slap] you have better hair then Jeff Jimerson I can’t believe I just said that don’t tell Jeff how do you feel about pigeons can I hug you I love the Pirates will you marry me I am a really really big fan can I get a picture with you can it be a selfie okay great will you marry me?”
Neal: [scared smile]
[swishes cape and runs off in dramatic fashion]
Jolly Roger waving in the wind? Check.
City of Champions? Check.
Gold P? Check.
Home of the Pirates? Check
Check out this photo from reader Zack of the baseball stadium in South Pittsburg, Tennessee:
Not only that, check out their school mascot:
I think we found our next sister city, Mayor Peduto.
Look, I can’t really say I’m speaking on behalf of an entire city or an entire fan base — I’m not THAT egotistical –but for the past eight years I’ve heard a common refrain and that is this: “You wrote exactly what I was thinking, but couldn’t put into words.”
So, I’m going to try to put into words what I think the fans of the Pittsburgh Pirates are thinking as they wake up to the first morning of the 2013 offseason …
You didn’t do enough.
You did more than enough.
But before I get into that, you first have to understand what Pittsburgh’s passion for baseball was like back in March. It was a tiny, barely smoldering piece of tinder resting on the wet floor of a massive damp forest of disappointment that hadn’t seen a lick of flames in decades. Those were the odds stacked against you … lighting a fire in a monsoon. Good luck. You have a better chance of leashing the Kraken and taking it for a walk in the park.
What you managed to do as a team — a brotherhood — was to take that little piece of smoking tinder, and to slowly nurture it. Pick it up, blow on it gently, give it sun and warmth and oxygen. And when it grew ever so slightly, you didn’t let it get trampled or snuffed out. You protected it and fed it until that tiny flicker of light became a fire big enough to warm our hands on.
You didn’t stop there. When it died down ever so slightly, you went Bear Grylls on it — stoked it with wins until come September that once barely flickering tinder became a raging fire of baseball passion burning a path to the postseason and Smoky the Bear was all, “HAVE I TAUGHT YOU PEOPLE NOTHING?! LOOK AT THIS MESS, DAMN IT.”
You, not the team before you — not any of the teams before them — brought baseball back to Pittsburgh.
Who cares, right?
It’s just a sport.
Let’s get some perspective here, people. What about world peace, amirite?
Sure, it’s just a sport, but I haven’t found a single scripture in the Bible or the Brocode that says we can’t care about world peace while also caring about the fortunes of our baseball team. There’s nothing wrong with baseball mattering.
And you reminded us that, here in Pittsburgh, baseball … matters.
The sport of Roberto, of Maz, of kids in dirt fields. The sport of peanuts and Cracker Jacks and Jolly Rogers and Pierogie races (What’s in your purse, HANNAH?!), and high-fiving strangers, and the crack of the bat, and the glorious double play, and the slide into home with one finger gliding across the base, and living and dying by one single pitch in the bright late summer sun. It matters to us again, as it has mattered to America for centuries. You did that. You gave us that gift that will ripple on for years, and there’s no way for us to repay that gift to you.
You out-gifted us. You gave us a Mercedes with a big red bow on top; we are holding an engraved pen from Things Remembered behind our backs. Hope you like it. It says, “You’re #1.”
And that brings me back to my original point.
You did more than enough.
As a fan base, 2013 was like taking part in the Showcase Showdown on the Price is Right. “What would you say about this … FIRST NON-LOSING SEASON IN 21 YEARS?!”
“But wait, there’s more! Enjoy your non-losing season for a few days, but then we’re going to put you into this … GORGEOUS WINNING SEASON!”
“And that’s not all! After you’re done celebrating your winning season, why not step into this brand … new … WILDCARD GAME!”
“But before you bid on all that, step away from that Wildcard Game and make your way over to … your very own NATIONAL LEAGUE DIVISION SERIES!?”
We would have been happy to go home with the winning season. And maybe one of the Showcase Showdown models.
But you gave us more than that — more than enough for 2013.
You gave us our pastime back. You gave us baseball that was more than bobbleheads and Free Shirt Fridays and Fireworks Spectaculars.
You made it okay to love the Pirates — the baseball team — again. You negated two decades of losing. You gave us the blackouts and fist pumps and a Strip District once barely dotted with Pirates merchandise, now bursting at the seams with thousands of unlicensed Bucs shirts. You gave us incredible defense, a home-run king, the Shark Tank, and a Sid Bream palate cleanse. You gave us that grizzly bear lumberjack werewolf Gerrit Cole (grrrrrrrrmmmmrowrrrrr).
Sure it sucks that you didn’t win last night and it probably feels like the end of a road. But before you start blaring Boyz II Men in the clubhouse, I’ll remind you of the 2008 Pittsburgh Penguins who lost in the Stanley Cup Finals … only to win it the very next year.
This road ended last night, but come March, you’re going to step on another road, and for the first time in a long time, you’re going to walk that road with postseason experience, with the respect of the MLB, and with an entire city walking behind you. And I’m almost positive that road will lead us to an even better destination than this one did.
The bandwagon will not be burned and rolled into the Mon. It’s being cared for all winter. Upgraded. Bigger oxen. More margarita options. Extra taco topping choices. Additional seating not paid for with public dollars. And we’ll pull it out in March and we’ll climb in and we’ll raucously show America that indeed … baseball is back in Pittsburgh because the 2013 Pittsburgh Pirates gave it back to us.
Much love and sports butt slaps to every single damn one of you,
Me and all of Pittsburgh
I hate to make Pirates baseball all about me.
But let’s talk about me.
Let’s talk about me so you can talk about you and tell me if you are experiencing or have experienced something similar and that is this …
October baseball is killing me.
I am not handling it even remotely well. Amanda Bynes is handling things better than I am right now. I am a lunatic basketcase of craziness and nausea.
I am fortunate that because of our Bucs partial-season tickets, my family has our postseason tickets in hand all the way up to and including the [inhale] World Series [stress vomit].
I told you what it was like going to the Wildcard game. I almost died.
Yesterday, I almost died-er.
My sisters (all but one I’m looking at you Tina Fey get on a plane, bitch [throws signs]) came into town from Cincinnati [patooie!] and Richmond for a girls weekend full of Burghy awesomeness such as Kelly O’s, Strip District shopping, giant duck, Pens, and yes, the Bucs.
This was before the game started. Which is why I don’t look like death yet.
Again, like the Wildcard game, the ballpark was louder than anything I’ve ever heard. There are jet engines putting out less decibels than the rabid fans inside of PNC Park. My sisters were stunned with the noise volume and wished they had earplugs. I had my hearing aids turned the entire way down again, but could still very clearly make out the KELLLLLLLL-EEEEEEEEEEEE chant.
The KELLLLLL-EEEEEEEEEE chant was as brain-destroying as the Cueto one. With the ballpark filled with the waving sound, it felt like the ballpark was a huge ship full of pirates caught in a storm, chanting with the rise and fall of each ferocious wave. I mean that. That is how my brain processed it. KELLLLLLLL-EEEEEEEEEE. Blood-thirsty pirates shouting joyously in the face of danger. Daring doom to come closer.
When the Cardinals’ error happened at first base, I was one of the few who jumped out of their seat (sorry, twenty-something dude sitting next to me who had to deal with me all game. I shall call him Bob.) I yelled out a quick “YES!” and threw out a few Arsenio Hall pump/WOO!s then sat back down.
Then Byrd sends one down the middle and the ballpark and I erupt. Inside the swell of deafening roars and chaos, I stand up and begin to scream when suddenly a sea of blue blobs start overtaking my vision from behind me, moving forward and in, to a pinpoint. I could not see anything but the blue blobby shadows. My head was spinning so violently, I felt like someone had cranked that damned Rotor ride up to Mach ALL OF THEM.
I sat down with a thud as the cheering continued around me, and waited a good fifteen seconds before my vision cleared. I am not even joking … this is basically what I looked like:
Jean Claude made that movie only so that one day I would have the perfect GIF to illustrate exactly what I looked like when I almost passed out at a Pirates postseason game.
I had several similar spells during the Wildcard game, but nothing as intense as that. The remainder of the game, I did my best to stay in my chair lest I fold into Bob’s lap, but when I did spontaneously erupt and rise, the wave hit me and I had to sit right back down and guzzle a bottle of water. I couldn’t even stand up for the last out of the game. AND I TRIED.
After that final out, I felt just fine and was able to bounce down the three flights of stairs to the ballpark exit like an eager puppy about to go on a walk.
My sisters diagnosed me with one of several things:
1. Stress of 20 years of losing + extra stress of a close game + noise + me yelling + one beer + Twizzlers + standing up too fast = fainting.
2. Some sort of hereditary inner ear deformity, requiring surgery to correct, that causes the ear and brain to be unable to process noise correctly. There’s an official name for it and my sister Ta-Ta has it. Since I blame an “inner-ear thing” on my inability to parallel park, I could easily jump on this bandwagon of medical blame.
But really? The most likely cause of all of this?
3. I am a mental weakling with the emotional fortitude of a toddler and therefore October ball is killing me.
My body is a mess and there aren’t enough Tums in the world to fix what baseball is destroying, namely my stomach lining. My heart races and my palms sweat every time I put a picture of the Pirates in my brain. When Melancon allowed that home run in the 8th inning, I could feel my kidneys shutting down all, “WE ARE ON STRIKE. THESE ARE UNACCEPTABLE WORKING CONDITIONS.”
And it’s so dumb and first-worldy of me. There is a world of suffering out there and I am physically and emotionally falling apart over BASEBALL. That’s just pathetic; you don’t have to tell me.
I’m off today, sending my husband and son instead. This means I can do as I’ve done for countless games this year … watch in the comfort of my kitchen on my little wall-mounted TV where the whole thing feels much less threatening and terrifying. At the same time, I record the game to the DVR on the big living room TV so I can re-watch the non-scary parts.
Basically, for me, Pirates baseball is like watching a horror movie.
Let’s just hope this movie doesn’t end with me passed out in the stands at a World Series game with medical personnel hovering over me all, “CAN YOU HEAR US, MA’AM?! DO YOU KNOW WHAT YEAR IT IS?!”
I seriously need prescription meds, you guys. Or medical marijuana.
P.S. Dear Bob, I’m sorry I unthinkingly grabbed your arm in joy like that when I thought that Card was out at third base. Hope the nail marks heal. I’m not well.