Sunday, September 05, 2010

We Can't Wait To Go Back Again

Thankfully, about one hour out of Pittsburgh heading eastward back to Alexandria, Virginia, the pleasant voice of Dave Jageler came booming across our car radio this afternoon. And just in time too, because not 15 seconds after WTOP's/WFED's 820AM popped up, Jags was heard proclaiming: "Tabata, going back--to the wall. And it's gone!! An opposite field home run for Adam Dunn!!" Our Number 44's 350th of his Major League Career.

With Our Washington Nationals playing a 1:35PM start today with The Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park and a 1:05PM Labor Day Monday game tomorrow at Nationals Park versus The New York Mets, The African Queen and I headed back to Virginia this weekend before the final game of the Buccos/Nats three game series. We had some family commitments and we didn't want to get caught up in a throng of vacationing folks heading back home from a Labor Day Holiday weekend--especially after having such a wonderful time in Western Pennsylvania since this past Thursday.

But this early start back to Virginia also proved one point--loud and clear. Are we as fans not lucky to have Charlie Slowes and Dave Jageler calling the games on Washington's Flagship Station, 1500AM? They are two of the best. A far cry from what we heard initially from The Pirates Broadcasting Network. From the very moment we left downtown Pittsburgh until we reached Bedford County, Pennsylvania and the city of Somerset--we were tortured by the droll commentary and play-by-play of The Pittsburgh Pirates host announcing team. They could not have been more boring or less interesting to listen to. We have no idea who the lead guy is on their tandem--but he just could not keep our attention from waning. It was like comatose broadcasting. No humor, no excitement, no fun. And as for The Bucco's analyst--Bob Walk--he nearly put me to sleep. Not a good thing when you are behind the wheel traveling at the speed limit of 65 miles per hour.

Literally, we were about to turn today's game completely off because the Pirate Broadcasters could not keep our attention, when all of sudden by The Baseball Gods good graces--while scanning the airwaves--Dave Jageler was heard clearly within our car. Wow!! Salvation!! From that moment on, after a momentary diversion, our just completed extended weekend in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania ended in grand style.

When Sohna and I go to any venue, any city, any place on earth--our interest lies in much more than baseball. Yeah, we know, that's hard to believe sometimes. But, it's true. From the very moment we arrived in The Steel City late Thursday afternoon, the exploring began. Few cities in America have changed for the better over the past 30 years than Pittsburgh. The locals will tell you, as quite a few did this Labor Day weekend, that when this once blue collar town was filled with soot and ash, you had to change your shirt three times as day. The air quality was that bad.

Look at it now. Pittsburgh is not perfect by any means--but pollution doesn't permeate the sky any longer. The waterways are relatively clean and the city itself has spruced up and sprouted a diversified community. Nothing better than the Mount Washington Neighborhoods above the Monongahela Incline just south of downtown that offers some of the most beautiful scenic views of Western Pennsylvania's biggest city.

Grandview Avenue--the main drag above Mt. Washington--harbors a series of multi-story homes that are impressive in size and enhanced by their location overlooking Pittsburgh and the Monongahela River. When we visited Friday morning, the sights were jaw dropping and simply beautiful. Just look at the pictures. They speak for themselves.

Much like The Allegheny River walkway that runs through the western edge of Downtown Pittsburgh. Across the Fort Duquense Bridge once stood Three Rivers Stadium, the cookie cutter baseball park that looked much like Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia, Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati, Old Busch Stadium in St. Louis, and yes--very much like D.C./RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C.--the original concept for the multi-purpose stadium.

Except for RFK, they are all gone now--swept away in the more modern needs of better designs, better comforts and better suitability. The Riverwalk along the Allegheny River now sports the David Lawrence Convention Center, PNC Park and Heinz Field--the home of The Pittsburgh Steelers.

On Saturday afternoon, before Our Washington Nationals took on The Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park, Sohna and I took in a series of events along the river that attracted thousands to a once underused environment. Docked in front of The Del Monte Food Corporation Headquarters was the LST-325 Memorial--a World War 2 Landing Ship. On the walkway in front of this ship were vintage, Bantam and Willy's Jeeps, along with a 1940's era Half-Track. Quite the sight seeing re-enactors and WW2 enthusiasts dressed in the proper attire worn nearly 70 years ago. The equipment on display worth the trip and our time to re-discover.

Of course, that Vintage Road Show was not what had attracted us to the Heinz Field area in the first place. The annual RibFest was the drawing card. BBQ vendors from around these United States competing for the prize of best ribs. The place was packed, but the biggest surprise for us was the free self-guided tours available of The Pittsburgh Steelers Home Field. Come on in, take your shoes off, have a good time exploring.

Nothing better than after looking over the field, taking in The Pittsburgh Steelers Hall Of Fame on the main concourse on the eastern side of this rather large stadium. Few teams in professional football have the legacy of The Steelers. And the many displays clearly showed how The Rooney Family (the only owners in the history of the franchise) run a first class operation.

Visiting Heinz Field, seeing World War 2 history lined up on the Allegheny River made attending RibFest one of the better choices we made this weekend visiting Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. And the weather could not have been more cooperative.

As for PNC Park, we love that ballpark. The statues, the skyline, the people that work within the stadium--even The Pirate fans themselves. Everyone we've ever encountered over the past three years has been friendly and nice. It's just sad knowing from personally talking to so many Bucco Fans--how everything about PNC Park is first class--except for the baseball product placed on the field. 18 consecutive years of losing has lost much of the casual fan base. But the diehards will tell you, and we believe it's true. Once The Pittsburgh Pirates turn their franchise around--there will be few harder places to compete at than PNC Park. The intimate setting can be a huge home field advantage.

If, and only if, The Buccos begin to win again.

And they need to, because the over 100 years of Major League Baseball history in Pittsburgh demands it.

Great Trip. Wonderful City To Visit. We Can't Wait To Go Back Again.

P.S.: Oh Yeah, Final Score from PNC Park were error after error after error sent The Buccos to their 91st defeat of 2010: Our Washington Nationals 8 and The Pittsburgh Pirates 1. Not much of a game, but thankfully Charlie & Dave kept our interest for Curly "W" Number 59 (tying the season high each of the past two years) most of the ride back this afternoon to Alexandria, Virginia. They are two of the best broadcasters in the game--professional, funny, and very much like just listening to two old friends talking baseball.

The Game Of The Gods.

All Photos Copyrighted--Nats320--All Rights Reserved


paul said...

Next time you're in Western Pa, check out Fallingwater and Kentuck Knob, both Frank Lloyd Wright houses. Also, the memorial in Shanksville is moving, although it is still a work in progress.

Mr. NATural said...

Hey SBF and AQ,

Sorry we missed you in Steel City. We were up there for the Saturday night and Sunday day games. We had a great time watching the Nats win both blowouts.

The difference between the two teams was so clear: one on the rise, the other in the swamp for yet another year. The people in Pittsburgh are very nice, nothing like the swine in Philadelphia.

It was wonderful to be there Sunday, for the dedication of the Mazeroski statue, and to see him in person riding around the stadium in a custom 1960 car, receiving the applause of the Bucs'(and at least two Nats') fans.