Posted tagged ‘Pittsburgh Pirates’

Ballpark Review: PNC Park

September 29, 2015

Franchise: Pittsburgh Pirates

Year Opened: 2001

Capacity: 38,362

Games Attended: September 16 & 17 2015 v Chicago Cubs

Sec 119, Row B and Sec 317, Row J

Anyone who loves ballparks will tell you PNC Park is considered the holy grail of baseball stadiums. It routinely ranks at the top of ballpark rankings. A quick google image search will reveal hundreds of breathtaking photos with the skyline in the backdrop. So PNC Park certainly was the most hyped up and anticipated park I have made it to- and it certainly lived up to the hype.

1) Aesthetics- 23/25

Exterior- 4/5

Unlike most other modern parks, PNC did not go with the red brick exterior. However, the exterior still has a smooth, clean design. And to me, it conjures up images of a castle which I like.

Interior- 9/10

My words can do no justice for how amazing PNC Park is so I will just rattle off some of the great features of this park. The video board in left, the batters eye in center with “Pirates” sculpted in the shrubbery, the 21 foot out-of-town scoreboard in right that honors Roberto Clemente, the drinking patio in left, the green fence with blue seats that honor Forbes Field, and the mini facade in the upper deck.

Backdrop- 10/10

The bridge. The river. The skyline. Wow.

2) Seats & View- 17/20

Sight lines- 9/10

Not only does PNC provide amazing views, but the seats are built so you can actually get the most out of these views! Even when sitting up close there is no lack of angle that hurts perception on reading fly balls to the outfield. Seats are also angled down the line to face back in towards the infield which is always a good thing. You won’t have to worry about weird seat angles, overhangs, support beams, or anything else in that nature.

Proximity- 5/5

PNC Park is built so they have the closest seats in baseball. Home plate seemingly runs right up to the fence. Moreover, there are essentially just two levels, so the “upper deck” really isn’t an upper deck at all. And the rows in the second level do not climb up forever as they do at other parks.

Comfort- 3/5

I felt fine, but the comfort of the seats was simply average. There wasn’t a ton of leg room or side-to-side room. It was what you would expect.

3) Atmosphere- 11/15

Fan Participation- 5/5

MLB needs Pittsburgh to be good because this city is a legit baseball town. 90 loss seasons will hurt anyone’s attendance, but now that the team is a contender again, PNC is a boisterous place. Both games were loud, with fans involved on every pitch and waving their pirate flags all over the stadium. It was a ton of fun to experience the PNC crowds.

Attendance- 4/5

Not a perfect score because their attendance still sits at 75-80%, but both games I attended were pretty packed.

Fan Knowledge- 2/5

I only did not give a 1 as a benefit of the doubt to all other Pirates fans. For both games I was stuck behind the dumbest fans of all-time. One guy thought Jake Arrieta, with his 96mph fastball moving 5-10 inches, was throwing a straight fastball any A ball player can hit- and he would not shut up about it. The next day one guy wanted to know why Jordy Mercer was batting fourth and was going in on Clint Hurdle. He must have forgot Kang was hurt and replaced by Mercer not 10 minutes before. Both fans claimed to be ticket holders who have been coming out to games for years.

4) Attractions- 12/20

Museum & Team History- 6/10

The only thing that would have made this park perfect was more attention to their storied history. The Pirates have been around since the 19th century, played in the first World Series, have won several championships, and has been the home of several Hall of Fame players. Yet there is no team museum and the retired numbers are tough to locate in the stadium. The one redeeming quality are the four statues on the outside corners of the park- Roberto Clemente, Bill Mazeroski, Honus Wagner, and Willie Stargell. And there are banners in left field honoring Negro League players who played in Pittsburgh.

The one explanation for not having a team museum of their own is that the Heinz Museum across the river has an entire room dedicated to baseball history Pittsburgh. Still, it would have been better if PNC had their own.

Things to See & Do- 6/10

The Pirates had one of the larger team stores I’ve seen with a good selection of products. The center and right field concourse is also cool because it’s open and has a great view of downtown Pittsburgh, as well as a picnic area. The Pirates have a couple bars/restaurants on multiple levels of the stadium. Overall though, there isn’t much to do other than take in the beauty of the park and take a ton of photos. If you have time- visit Heinz Field which is next door.

5) Food & Drink- 10/10

Hot Dog- 4/5

I got a special dog with BBQ sauce, mustard, ketchup, and onions. Damn it was good. Only downer was that the dog was so big so the bun fell apart.

Best of the Rest- 5/5

I got the special Pirates craft beer and it was really good. If you don’t want the Pirates special brew, there are more than enough craft brews to choose from. They also had wings, Primanti Bros, gyros, burgers, and more. Everything smelled and looked amazing- for an affordable price!

Bonus- Pirogis!

6) Game Entertainment/Presentation- 4/5

PNC Park has one of only three mascot races worthy of excitement- the Pirogi race. As for the rest of their entertainment, it’s nothing special but they do get bonus points for trying to do different “games” and cams than other parks. For example, one game was designed for a person to do a physical activity to win a prize.

7) Cleanliness- 4/5

It was a clean park. It’s 14 years old now so it’s not in mint condition, but clean is clean.

8) Local Scene & Location- 5/5

It’s tough to beat the scene in the Pittsburgh. One- it’s right across the river from downtown. Even if you cross the bridge back over, there will be food shops open and it’s only a short walk to the Strip District where there are bars galore. If you stay on the stadium side, you will also find eateries and bars nearby. Other attractions include Heinz Field, Mount Washington, Heinz Museum, Art Museum, and more.

9) Access & Cost- 4.5/5

PNC, for how amazing it is, has to be the most valuable stadium in baseball. Tickets, even my first level row B tickets, were cheap. The food and drinks are cheap (for stadiums). With a winning team and fantastic park they can easily charge more which made it so surprising that I could get amazing seats for under $50.

As for access, if you plan on walking from nearby then you get the honor of walking across the Roberto Clemente Bridge. The bridge is closed off on game days, allowing fans to walk to and from the stadium for games. However, full points are not given due to traffic. I didn’t drive to the games, but traffic in Pittsburgh is terrible so I’d imagine this stadium isn’t as accessible by way of car. However, it seemed like most people walked and I would recommend it just to walk across the bridge and get that view.

10) Misc- 3

Out-of-Town Scoreboard- 1

PNC has my favorite out-of-town board in baseball- and the fact it’s 21 feet high in honor of Roberto Clemente is just icing on the cake.

Stats & Info- 1

The scoreboard did a tremendous job providing useful stats. What separates PNC from all other parks I have been to is the pitch f/x data. Yes, you heard that right. Along with velocity and pitch count, PNC shows you the horizontal and vertical break of a pitch.

Concourse- 1

11) Personal Opinion- 5/5

Public Enemy once said “don’t believe the hype”. When it comes to PNC Park, that is most definitely false. PNC Park is worth the hype and then some. It has the best backdrop, views, food, and stats/info of any park I have been to. It is without a doubt the #1 park in baseball.

Overall Score- 98.5/115

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Pirates get amazing deal; lock up Jose Tabata long term

August 22, 2011

When I first heard this deal, I was in disbelief. Literally. The Pirates signed Jose Tabata to a 6/$14mil extension. So he’ll be a Pirate until 2017, when he’ll  be 29 years old. What a steal.

Why this is a good deal: he’ll paid $2.3mil per year. Yeah, that’s it. He’s no superstar, but he’ll be a 2-4 WAR player. An average 2 WAR player should make around $8mil- at the least. He’ll be paid 1/4 of that, or about the equivalent of a 0.5 WAR player. Plus, by only giving him $14mil guaranteed, the Pirates have money to lock up other youngsters and possibly sign a good FA or two.

Bucco fans should be pleased with this deal.

Four levels of FAIL

July 5, 2011

Andrew McCutchen has a 4.7 fWAR. That is third best in baseball. He is a legitimate MVP candidate. He can hit, get on base, run, and field.

Andrew McCutchen was not voted into the ASG by fans. He was not voted into the ASG by players. He was not voted into the ASG by managers. And he was not included on the Final Vote. WTF MLB?

Andrew McCutchen is a 24 year old, exciting, and really good baseball player. He is exactly the type of player MLB should be marketing. Especially since as a minority, McCutchen should appeal to the black demographic, which is growing smaller in baseball.

But instead he gets dirt kicked on him.

Embarrassing.

 

 

Divisional Preview: NL Central

March 19, 2011

Last year the turnaround Reds took the division after pulling away from the St. Louis Cardinals in September, the Pirates and Astros took up the rear, and the Cubs stunk as usual. There were a few minor moves in the division, but nothing too drastic to really up the division.

1) Cincinnati Reds (86-76)

Looking to improve upon a 90+ win season and their first playoff appearance in some time, the Reds return just about all their everyday players and the same rotation. Defense should be a strong point with Drew Stubbs and Jay Bruce in the outfield, while Scott Rolen, Brandon Phillips, and Joey Votto roam the infield. Joey Votto, the MVP of 2010, should lead the offensive attack, which also features Scott Rolen, Brandon Phillips, and Jay Bruce. They  may not be the Big Red Machine, but the Reds should put some runs on the board.

The Reds will turn to a young, talented staff which could be good or bad. Players like Johnny Cueto and Edison Volquez have all the potential in the world, but have yet to harness it all. If they can turn it on, the Reds will runaway with the division. If not, they’ll be fighting all year with mediocre pitching. One good thing is the depth. Between Homer Bailey, Travis Wood, and Mike Leake fighting for the last couple spots, there won’t be any problems in-season when injuries arise.

Cincinnati is a young team with lots of potential. Whether or not that potential is tapped at once or not can go a long way for the Reds.

Players to watch: Joey Votto, Aroldis Chapman

2) Milwaukee Brewers (84-78)

After trading for Zack Greinke, the Brewers have become a sexy pick to win the NL Central. But I would hold my horses. Yes, their rotation has an incredible trio of Zack Greinke, Yovanni Gallardo, and Shaun Marcum. But that’s it. They have no depth. Randy Wolf is okay, but Chris Narveson is currently their fifth option. Besides, Greinke could miss the first month of the season, and in what seems to be a tight race, missing him for a month and replacing him with a scrub could cost the Brewers a few games.

But if the pitching holds up, this team could be dangerous. Despite the presence of Yuniesky Betancourt, the Brewers have a tantalizing lineup. Prince Fielder, Ryan Braun, Corey Hart, Rickie Weeks, Case McGehee. That IS a formidable heart of the order. The team will score runs, and if they can limit runs, this team will be good.

Players to watch: Rickie Weeks, Yovanni Gallardo

3) St. Louis Cardinals (82-80)

At first I was intending to pick St. Louis to finish on top, but losing Adam Wainwright is huge. That dropped them to third place in my book. I still think the rotation will be alright with a healthy Chris Carpenter and Jaime Garcia, but losing a Cy Young candidate pitcher hurts.

The reason I still believe St. Louis will put up a good fight is the offense. For one, they still have Albert Pujols. As long as you have Albert Pujols and some okay players, you’re going to contend. Albert Pujols is out of this world good, but you already know that. However, they don’t  have all scrubs surrounding him. The lineup still boasts Matt Holliday and Colby Rasmus. Yadier Molina remains one of the best catchers in baseball and I am a big supporter in David Freese, so long as his ankle is healthy. The everyday players will keep them competitive, but in the end, their loss of Wainwright will derail their playoff run.

Players to watch: Colby Rasmus, Jaime Garcia

4) Chicago Cubs (78-84)

Ah, the poor old Cubs. Over 100 straight years and counting of not winning a championship. 2011 will be no different. While I do think they will lose this season, I think the Cubs will be better than most people realize. They actually have a decent staff with a real good bullpen. They lack a true ace, but between Ryan Dempster, Carlos Zambrano, Matt Garza, and Randy Wells, the Cubs do have an above average rotation that can eat innings and keep the team in most games. From there, the bullpen has the lights out Carlos Marmol, Sean Marshall, Kerry Wood, and prospect Andrew Cashner. The Cubs could be dominant in close games because of the pen, and if they play in a lot of those close games, they could be 2011’s surprise team.

The reason I don’t think that will be the case if the offense. They are old. Alfonso Soriano, Aramis Ramirez, Carlos Pena, Fukudome. They were once good and still are okay, but to rely on those players for 162 games is not good enough. Starlin Castro can be a star and Soto is a good offensive catcher. But as a whole this is an old, unreliable offense that won’t help win games.

Players to watch: Starlin Castro, Carlos Marmol

5) Pittsburgh Pirates (70-92)

Yes, yes, the team everybody always picks to finish last, I have coming in FIFTH. AN UPSET, I KNOW!

Look, the pitching is shit. I am a James McDonald believer, but he is a #3 starter, tops. Besides him they have guys like Ross Ohlendorf, Brad Lincoln, Scott Olsen, etc. Yeah, it’s not good. The Pirates will be giving up a lot of runs and will be losing a lot of games as a result.

The one redeeming quality in my mind is their young talent on the offensive side of the ball. Neil Walker, Pedro Alvarez, Jose Tabata, and Andrew McCutchen. Andrew McCutchen is a stud and one of my big breakout candidates for 2011. He can hit, field, and run. Once the talent around him starts to develop, the Pirates will slowly start to creep back up to .500 baseball. Pedro Alvarez is another breakout candidate. He may never be good with the leather, but he can hit. Once the bat fully comes around, he will be one of the premiere power hits in the NL. To compliment these two in 2011 are Tabata and Walker. Both aren’t great hitters, but they are above average and help Pittsburgh be a middle of the road offensive team in 2011.

Things are still bleak in Pittsburgh, but the sun is starting rise.

Players to watch: Andrew McCutchen, Pedro Alvarez

6) Houston Astros (64-98)

The Astros suck. Plain and simple. Their rotation will be okay, maybe. The “stud” pitcher is Bret Myers. Granted, his 2010 was awesome. He also won’t be likely to repeat it. JA Happ and Wandy Rodriguez are okay. But after them? They’ll be giving 60+ starts to the likes of Nelson Figueroa, Bud Norris, and Ryan Rowland-Smith. Ouch. The pen isn’t any better.

The lineup does have Hunter Pence, a nice, young outfielder, and Brett Wallace could potentially emerge as a pretty good hitter at first. Michael Bourn has also been a total 8 WAR player the best couple seasons. That’s all nice and well. But you wanna hear the names of the other starts? Yes? Okay:

Humberto Quintero, Bill Hall, Clint Barmes, Chris Johnson, and one Brian Bogusevic. Yeah. Crap. And Carlos Lee may play first base instead of Brett Wallace.

The Astros are bad and will finish in last place. Yes, even behind the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Players to watch: Brett Wallace, Hunter Pence

Get out and vote: Roberto Clemente Award

September 8, 2010

Public voting for the Roberto Clemente is now open via mlb.com.

While this isn’t is the most recognized award, it is my favorite. Roberto Clemente is my favorite athlete, and person, that I have had the pleasure to read, hear, and learn about. Not only was he a fantastic baseball player, but he was an active humanitarian as well.

So I just want to get the word out about the award so a deserving candidate can be honored by the legacy of the great Roberto Clemente. The award is given to the player who, “best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement and the individual’s contribution to his team”.

Personally, I voted for Curtis Granderson. I read about his charities while he played in Detroit, and he has continued to be a fantastic role model for kids in New York.

I thought the Yankees are bad for baseball?!

August 2, 2010

This season Tampa Bay is 23rd in attendance with an average crowd of 22,733. In other words, they only fill up 51.9% of the stadium on average. That’s a lower mark than Pittsburgh and Kansas City. Yes- arguably the best team in baseball can’t even fill up their stadium as well as shit teams in Pittsburgh and Kansas City.

The Yankees played a series in Tampa this weekend where all three games were sold out. That marks the first time in Tropicana Field history that a weekend series was sold out. I wonder what the reason could be…oh yeah, that’s right, the Yankees.

Had this been another mundane series against Cleveland, you could guarantee half the stadium would be empty. But the big bad Yankees come to town, and the Rays get three sellouts which boosts the Rays revenue from ticket sales, concessions, merchandise, etc. For a team that doesn’t spend much, they need all the revenue they can get.

Sure, half the crowd probably comprised of Tampa Yankee fans. But a sellout is a sellout. The Yankees lead baseball in road attendance and teams with poor attendance probably jump for joy when New York rolls into town.

Are the Yankees bad for baseball? No- not the business aspect anyway.

Octavio Dotel traded to Los Angeles in last major reported trade of the deadline

July 31, 2010

The Pittsburgh Pirates traded closer Octavio Dotel to the LA Dodgers for James McDonald and another prospect.

I don’t get this trade for LA. Look, I love Octavio Dotel. I really do. I used to play a game called MLB Showdown and Dotel was my ace reliever. I loved him. But you do not trade a pitcher like James McDonald for two months of a relief pitcher. Dotel can still bring the gas face as shown by his 10.80 K/9, which is actually below his career average. Along with Jon Broxton and Hong-Chih Kuo the Dodgers now have three reliable relievers to close out a ballgame. But that price is not worth James McDonald.

James McDonald is not the high upside arm many thought he would be. He is 26 now, has spotty command, and gives up fly balls and home runs. But he is still capable of being an above starter, thanks in part to an ability to get swinging strikes and K’s. The Pirates will have five cost-controlled years of McDonald, where he can fit in nicely as their #3-#4 starter.

Dotel will fetch the Dodgers a compensation pick, but those are worth $2.5mil. McDonald will certainly be worth more than that. And I haven’t even discussed the other prospect going to Pittsburgh.

LA could get a good player with their pick, but considering the low success rate of prospects, it will be a long shot if that pick can get the current status that McDonald has reached.