Saturday, June 30, 2007
Having a Great Time in Pittsburgh & PNC Park
Yes, The African Queen and I are here in Pittsburgh enjoying ourselves tremendously. This City has come a long way since the Blue Collar Steel Town of 25 years ago. The Downtown Skyline is quite attractive. And, from PNC Park, provides quite the stunning backdrop. If New Nationals Park is anything near The Pittsburgh Pirates Home Field, Sohna and I would be quite happy. The entire area surrounding the park is quite the happening place.
Although, that great adventure called baseball played inside tonight involving Our Washington Nationals did anything but provide us bliss. The Pittsburgh Pirates hammered Jason Bergman tonight in the second inning. Three Singles, Two Doubles, Two walks--all amounting to six runs. The Final three coming after two were out and it appeared Catcher Brian Schneider would be able to handle a pop foul by Freddy Sanchez. But, Schneider ran into the camera well railing behind home plate, toward the 3rd Base Dugout. The collision jarring the baseball out of what would have been a very fine basket catch to retire the side.
Sanchez's new life resulting in a run scoring single to center scoring Pittsburgh's 4th run of the night. Then Adam LaRoche put this game out of reach with a two run double into the right centerfield gap scoring the 5th & 6th runs for The Pirates. Just like that, this game was over. 7-2 the final score. There really wasn't much excitement for Nationals Fans in attendance.
Oh yeah, there was that so called third inning walkout by Pirates Fans disgusted in their ownership's ability to continue to field mediocre teams. It didn't amount to much. Maybe a few hundred or so fans, many dressed in Electric Green T-Shirts. All that many of them did-- was walk up to the concourse, stand for a half inning--then return to their seats. The Local Media was all over it. But, Honestly, it didn't amount to much. Although, there was this great bed sheet banner hanging over the left field pavilion early on--until police made the folks take it down. It read "Worst MLB Owners" You might be able to see it in this photograph. I was far from it.
But, this dreary loss didn't take away from the tremendous amount of fun we encountered in and around PNC Park.
So tonight, a little chance of pace. Its all about everything else, but the game.
We are staying at The William Penn. The Grand Old Hotel of Pittsburgh. A Registered Treasured Landmark. The William Penn is a throwback to those times when traveling was always Prestigious. What a Lobby. And, when they offered afternoon "Royal Tea" with Champagne Cocktail, Scones & Sandwiches--we were not going to pass up on the opportunity. Sohna is from A British Commonwealth Country--The Gambia--Afternoon Tea is in her blood.
After Tea, we walked across The Roberto Clemente Bridge to take in all the festivities. A Street Tailgate Party, and dozens of restaurants--packed with fans enjoying themselves before the game. The Atmosphere was Great.
What The Pittsburgh Pirates have done extremely well is bring forward, in time, Pittsburgh's very historical baseball past. It begins just outside the park with HUGE MONUMENTS to Clemente and Willie Stargell. Then continues inside PNC Park with Legacy Square--more monuments dedicated to Pittsburgh's Negro League Past and their famous team--The Pittsburgh Crawfords/Homestead Grays. These statues are just great. Josh Gibson, Satchel Paige, Smokey Joe Williams, Cool Papa Bell, Oscar Charleston and Buck Leonard--to name a few. Sohna and I loved them. We could only hope that The DC Sports & Entertainment Commission and Our Washington Nationals could provide a similar Proud Showing of Washington's Fine Baseball Heritage on South Capitol Street beginning in 2008. The fact that Gibson, Bell, Williams and Leonard are immortalized in "Grays" Jerseys, the same one worn when their team played at Old Griffith Stadium in Washington, DC--made our feelings that much stronger toward this fine art work.
From there, we continued inside PNC PARK.
We enjoyed The EXPANSIVELY WIDE CONCOURSE--stand up steel tables surround the bowl that allows ANYONE to eat and enjoy a meal--while still watching a game. There was not a single place around the concourse--that you could not watch baseball proceed--while attending to other business. That was terrific. Something New Nationals Park is supposed to mimic in every way.
And really, what more can I say about that Skyline Shot. Camden Yards has The B&O Warehouse. AT&T Park has the San Francisco Bay. PNC PARK has the nicest city backdrop imaginable. The simplicity of The Clemente Bridge--ceiling the deal for me. Sohna and I marveled at that Skyline from our seats--until nightfall. Then, the lighted Clemente Bridge looked better than ever. Just Stunning, really.
The Pittsburgh Pirates also provide a wealth of In-Game Entertainment. Stuff that Sohna and I came to enjoy throughout the evening. Their version of The NatPack are called DiamondGirls (I believe) and they travel around the ballpark with a host--similar to Clint doing NatsTV. They interact with fans--play trivia games--And, Of Course--set up The Piroge Race at the end of the 5th inning. Just like Our Racing Presidents--The Piroges run out from near the right field corner and race toward the first base dugout. Waved on by The DiamondGirls and their TWO PITTSBURGH MASCOTS--"Parrot & Pirate".
Just after this race, Sohna was heading up to the concourse level and a Pittsburgh Fan stopped her to show her his Most Prized Possession Picture at a baseball game in some time. The Picture was Our Racing Presidents. This Pirates Fan mentioned to The African Queen that they were HIS FAVORITE EVENT EVER at a Sporting Event. When Sohna told this fellow Bobbleheads of all four "Rushmores" were being given away over the next two months--she said you could see the envy in his eyes. This Pittsburgh Pirate Fan was very fond of something Our Washington Nationals have produced.
The PNC Park Scoreboard looms over the left field stands. The Video quality is excellent. Their Sound System First Class. Just before tonight's game began--a terrific History of Pittsburgh Baseball Anthology was played in the park. The Video Producers used some fabulous historical photos, then digitally removed the players of most interest out of the piece--nearly 3D in style--to emphasize their importance to the past. Honus Wagner, Pie Traynor, Ralph Kiner, Clemente, among others--including Barry Bonds, the entire fine past of The Great Game in Pittsburgh was shown. IT WAS TERRIFIC!!
Then, followed immediately by a very funny animation of 1800's era warships flying Washington Nationals Banners sailing at sea. Only to come across THE GREAT BLACK SHIP--flying The Pirates Flag. Although there were 9 Nats Ships, this one Pirate Ship blasted away with cannon balls depicting The Pirates Fine Logo. Sohna and I couldn't stop laughing. Again, another well produced video. "I guess they aim to Blast Them Away--this Pirates Fans mentioned to us."
This type of Quality Stuff continued throughout the ballgame. And, their music selection--excellent. Really, The Pittsburgh Pirates do a great job when it comes to In-Game Entertainment. They seem to care so much, that after the game ended, their scoreboard actually gave credit to each and every person involved in Tonight's Production by depicting everyone's name. That's classy. Too bad, their team hasn't been able to turn things around for some time. Of course--Our Washington Nationals have done a fine job of making The Pittsburgh Pirates look good in 2007.
Every seat at PNC Park is turned toward the Pitching Mound. Never does anyone have to turn their head toward the majority of the action--while sitting in an awkward direction. The Cup Holders on every seat--a life saver. No one could kick your drink over. Yet, not being use to it--I consistently kept reaching under my seat for my drink. Sohna and I kept chuckling over my continuing mistake.
As we left tonight, we took the long way around PNC PARK, and slowly walked back to The William Penn. Unlike RFK Stadium, where fans are quickly ushered out of the stadium--in Pittsburgh, we were allowed to linger for some time. One Usher telling us: "We have realized coming here is Big Thing for many. No one should go home, unhappy and quickly." It was a kind and considerate comment. Something, we appreciated greatly.
Yeah, I know and understand--Our Washington Nationals lost badly tonight. And, you know what--The African Queen and I didn't go back to the Hotel Unhappy. We would have loved a win--but tonight the experience outplayed that defeat. Our BASEBALL Adventure at PNC Park was JUST TERRIFIC. If Baseball is to be enjoyed--We felt that emotion tonight. I can't say anything bad about Our Time In Pittsburgh Today. Everyone was nice--including each and every Pirates Fan sitting around us.
What more can I say--Highly Recommended is a journey to Pittsburgh for a game versus Our Washington Nationals. Especially, if you sign up for "The Grand Slam Package" at The William Penn. This Deal included a fine suite at this Historical Hotel, Complementary Valet Parking, Sunday Champagne Brunch, 2 Box Seats to tonight's game, and a Pirates Welcome Gift--which included a Nice Pirates Home Cap, Pittsburgh Pirates Stein, Pirates Pen, Medallion, Peanuts and other various Pittsburgh produced Goodies. Total Cost--$189. Like I said: Highly Recommended. Its a GREAT DEAL!!
Despite the loss and Our Washington Nationals continued struggles--The African Queen and I are Having a Great Time in Pittsburgh and PNC Park!!