Monday, May 5, 2014

Baseball is a Demanding Mistress

It’s not easy being a Pittsburgh Pirates fan. Lost more than they won every year from 1993 – 2012, often a lot more. Now they’re good—made the playoffs for the first time in 21 years last fall—which doesn’t mean they’re any easier to watch. Literally.

The Pirates come to Washington to play the Nationals every year. The best thing that can be said about Nats Park is, it’s a ballpark, and it’s hard for a ballpark to suck. (Though I’ve heard Tropicana Field in Tampa makes an effort.) This year a two-game interleague series brought the Pirates to Orioles Park at Camden Yards, a true gem of a ballpark. I got two tickets for Tuesday (taking The Sole Heir) and two for Wednesday (with The Beloved Spouse). 

Tuesday it rained. Hard. With even worse rain predicted for Wednesday, I expected every effort to be made to get Tuesday’s game in. Both teams had open dates on Thursday, leaving a perfect make-up day. The Sole Heir arrived a few minutes before five. We took care of some logistics, and I went upstairs for a bathroom break while she moved her car to a longer-term space. She told me as I reached the bottom of the stairs from the bathroom: game postponed, rescheduled for 7:05 on Thursday. We salvaged the evening by waiting for The Beloved Spouse and going to dinner together.

On Wednesday it rained harder. We’re talking continuous rain, a couple of inches of standing water in my back yard, dams opened to relieve pressure. Game postponed at 2:30, to be made up at 4:05 on Thursday as the first half of a doubleheader. I was able to shift my work schedule a little, but no one else could on such short notice, so I went alone, something I hadn’t done since my army days when I lived fifteen minutes from Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium. The forecast called for a high of 74, early morning low of 50, partly cloudy. I dressed appropriately and hit the road.

I arrived about ten minutes to four, got a pretzel and a Coke, and settled in. Pirates led 1-0, Charlie Morton cruising along when it started to rain. Then harder, until the tarp had to be rolled out for a half-hour rain delay, during which time I ate supper. (Sweet Italian sausage with peppers, fries, and another Coke.) Morton had nothing after the break and the Pirates lost 5-1, leaving 13 men on base. (That is not a misprint; thirteen men left on base.) Second game scheduled to start at 8:10.

I roamed the concourse between games so I was under cover when it started to rain again, harder now, drops bouncing off the concrete like bacon grease out of a frying pan. Game Two was delayed until 8:55. I got a snack of a hot dog, pretzel, and a Coke, which, along with my earlier sausage, fulfilled my weekly allotment of PLA. (Pig Lips and Assholes.) As I sat for the second game, I turned to the Pirate fan seated behind me—with her Orioles-loving family—and said, “After all this, Daddy’s going to be pissed if they leave another thirteen men on base.”

They left fifteen. Orioles starter Chris Tillman threw 49 pitches in the first inning, the Pirates loaded the bases with one out, and scored two runs only because Tillman walked them home. Pirates’ starter Brandon Cumpton hit the wall in the sixth and the Pirates blew a 4-0 lead. Orioles manager Buck Showalter, proving he’d paid attention to the selection of managers  Joe Torre and Tony LaRussa to the Hall of Fame, attempted to assert his qualifications by showing he can delay a game with pitching changes as well as either of them.

Bottom of the tenth, score tied at five. Orioles catcher Matt Wieters leads off. Weiters is a sore spot for Pirates fans. The hands down choice as best player available in his draft class, the Pirates passed on him to take pitcher Daniel Moskos. Pirates management at the time swore Weiters’s projected signing price had nothing to do with the selection; they thought Moskos was the better prospect. The Orioles representative at the draft pulled a hamstring running to the podium to get Weiters’s name in. Moskos had a cup of coffee with a Pirates team that lost 105 games a few years ago. Wieters is a switch-hitting catcher with power who plays Gold Glove-caliber defense. 

The Pirates countered with rookie Stolmy Pimintel. Alone at the game, I had nothing better to do than to watch Stolmy warm up; everything he threw was in the dirt. I wondered if this might be a problem.

Wieters stepped into the batter’s box at 12:52 Friday morning. Stolmy’s first pitch was in the dirt. The second was in the bleachers. I was on my feet and on my way home before Wieters touched first base, as soon as I saw the ball pass behind the foul pole and I knew it was fair.

My personal box score: two losses, two rain delays, $41 in concessions (I ran out between innings for Cracker Jack during Game Two), 28 men left on base in 19 innings. Total elapsed time at stadium: nine hours, eight minutes.

The Beloved Spouse and I have tickets for next Saturday’s game at PNC Park against St. Louis. My Andrew McCutchen game jersey is already washed and ready.


Mike Dennis said...

But at least you ate the proper nutrition by getting in the four main food groups: sausage, peppers, fries, and pretzels.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Pittsburgh has a lovely stadium. We were there about five years ago and had a great time. That one sandwich they have is grotesque however.

Dana King said...

The Beloved Spouse and I are going early on Saturday specifically so I can eat at Primanti Brothers. She's can't stand them, so I don't usually get to indulge, but at the game, she can eat what she wants.

For those who may be unaware, Primanti Brothers makes sandwiches (such as cheesesteaks) on rough cut white bread, and places the fries and coleslaw in the sandwiches, between the slices of bread. It's a Burgh thing, often unappreciated by others.

Peter Rozovsky said...

“It's a Burgh thing, often unappreciated by others.”

I may have to alter the year’s travel plans.
Detectives Beyond Borders
"Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"

Doug List said...

You are bleeping devoted my friend. But reading your chronicle of the double-debacle was a delight. At least when you see them lose to St. Louis next week you'll be enjoying Primanti Bros. at the greatest ballpark in the nation.