Big Lead Sports Bar


Mondesi's House Field Trip: Cubs at Pirates

Today is the unofficial Mondesi's House in-person recap day. First, we were treated to the in--person account of the big Pittsburgh vs. Cleveland women's football playoff game courtesy of Andy at Bugs and Cranks. And now, sit back and enjoy a true rarity - a recap of a Pirate game I actually attended:
Sunday afternoon was my first Pirate game of the year, and it couldn't have come on a hotter afternoon. It was approximately 122 degrees when "Sugar Shane" Youman threw the first pitch, and 120 degrees when Matt Capps recorded the last out. It was so hot, you could smell the plastic seats of PNC Park burning in the Sunday sun. But enough about the temperature. Since I can no longer enjoy a game without writing about it the next day, I took over 70 photos and two pages of notes. So let's get into it.
Sunday's game was a belated Father's Day present for my dad, and why he wanted to go to the Pirate game, I still can't figure out. So we hopped in the car and took a trip to the House That McClatchy Built. On the way to the game, we listened to 104.7 and the Dave Littlefield pregame show. Littlefield took calls, and not surprisingly, all were pro-Pirate. He flawlessly gave non-answer answers to question after question, even making up words such as "spottingly" when describing Nate McLouth's playing time this season. After listening to about 20 minutes of Pirates propaganda, I was ready to order playoff tickets. I mean, you have homer announcers, and then you have the Pirates. They've raised the bar for the rest of the sporting world. Listen to Greg Brown and Littlefield for a few minutes and you'll think the Buccos are sitting on a 15-game lead at this point. As I told my dad and brother, heaven help us if the Pirates ever actually get good. Their broadcasters' heads may explode with enthusiasm.
We actually had pretty good seats right behind the Cubs dugout, so you know what that meant...plenty of Aramis Ramirez-bashing from my brother, an outspoken Ramirez hater. At one point, I asked him why Pirates fans boo Ramirez when he returns to Pittsburgh. If I remember correctly, he was traded, which means he did not leave as a free agent. The Pirates simply could not pay him fair market value for his services. And this trade that I speak of, it was, how shall I put it...somewhat controversial. In fact, it's looked at by many Pirate fans as one of the worst trades in franchise history. So Pirate fans want to have him on their team...yet they still boo him like he was Ray Lewis in a baseball uniform. But they'll cheer Jim Leyland, who managed three ultimately underacheiving playoff teams and left on his own free will, as if he's won 10 championships. I don't get it.
Well, we're at the Pirate game, and you know what that means: promotions. And lots of them.

Young Pirate Customers can see the game through Pirate-colored glasses

Unfortunately, the only freebie today was a pair of kid's sunglasses, so that means no Tony Armas bobblehead for my collection. It was also Irish Day and Kids Day. Funny, I don't ever remember the Penguins or Steelers ever running promos like this. And why not? Oh, I don't know...they're too busy worrying about putting a winning team on the field.

As for the in-game know, besides baseball...there was plenty:

The first inning gave us some lame trivia game where the guy was playing for tickets to the Chicago Live! show at Heinz Hall. Because Pirate fans are usually such big Broadway buffs.

Next came the second inning, where you could vote for the Pirates Performance of the Day via a text message. I ask, in all honesty: who's sitting around voting for Pirates plays on their cell phone?

The third inning came quickly, and you know what was next: The Stitches T-Shirt Toss. Nothing riles up true baseball fans more than a free t-shirt flung from a slingshot. People go after these like they're wrapped in $100 bills.

Listen up, investors: it's the fourth inning, so that can only mean one thing: the PNC Stock Market Report. Maybe it's just me, but I think if there are really some serious players in the stock market attending a Pirate game on a Sunday, they'll know the price of a share of Alcoa when it closed two days ago.

We then move to the fifth inning, and it's time for the game show that's sweeping the nation: BUCCO! Basically, some guy drops a game piece onto a Plinko-style board and wins a Pirates t-shirt. Trust me, it was riveting.

Next on the agenda, it's the always important Great Pittsburgh Pierogi Race N'At. I'll spare you the sarcasm, because my prayers go out to the poor people who had to wear pierogi outfits on a scorching day like Sunday.

The next baseball distraction was a vote for the song you want to hear in the 7th inning.

Your choices: The Twist, Life is a Highway, or a YouTube video of a Monkey Washing a Cat. What did Pirates fans choose? You'll have a to wait an inning...

...and here's their choice of the "Monkey Washing Cat" video. Notice that today wasn't Mensa Day at the ballpark.

7th inning stretch: the Pirate cheerleaders are here for your amusement. Watch as their moves hypnotize slack-jawed yokuls who arrived in the 6th inning (I'm not kidding about that...they really did get an usher and sit down in the 6th).

The 8th inning (at least I think it was the 8th, as my brain was fully melted by then), was the inevitable hot dog gun. You know the drill by now: a member of the Bucco Brigade jams hot dogs into a gun shot by an Adam LaRoche-lookalike.

Obsessed with guns...just like LaRoche

Who wants an airborne weiner? You?

So is that bag filled with hot dogs? Does David Wells know about this, and could it lure him to Pittsburgh someday?

Any chance of shooting Armas at close range by "mistake"?

See, here's what happens with all of the distractions going on throughout the game: on the rare occasion when the Pirates are playing well, it's lost in the shuffle. They won by a 6-2 count on Sunday, and they actually played a pretty solid game.

Notes from the scene of the crime:

--22,470 in the house today, with a ton of Cubs fans. But what was up with right field? Did that guy forget his Axe body spray?

--Ever wonder what $136 million looks like in person? Let me fulfill your curiosity with this pic of Alfonso Soriano.

--Here's a scary sight: the always-crazy Carlos Zambrano with a bat in his hands.

--Nice performance by Shane Youman today, but we have to stop Greg Brown's "Sugar Shane" nickname before it catches on. Sorry Greg, that name's been taken. And given that his name is pronounced "YOU man" and not "YO man", I suggest we steal the name of Sirius DJ Human Numan and call him Human Youman.

--If there's a Beerman Hall of Fame, T.C. has to be the first inductee. The guy is a Pittsburgh icon. Today he was belting out "Party Like a Rock Star" to anyone who bought one of his lemonades.

--According to the scoreboard, the Pirates Will Inspire. Just curious...who has been inspired by the Pirates this year? Could I get an example?

--I thought LaRoche's usual "Babe Ruth Called Shot" pose was going to get him plunked by Zambrano. Luckily for LaRoche, he struck out twice.

--Look, LaRoche makes yet another gun reference on his scoreboard photo!

--Xavier Nady, who comes out to Xzibit's "X", actually drops the X a la Carl Krauser on his scoreboard intro. Thought this was worth mentioning.

--From the "Never Thought I'd See THIS" category...Jason Bay touching 'em all today

--This would've been a great shot of Zambrano if a Cubs fan didn't stick his finger up in front of me.

--Not a lot of activity for the Kennametal K Club today. Human Youman was putting them to sleep.

--Here's Etch-a-Sketch LaRoche, and for once, no reference to firearms. What a looker.

--Dropping 2 of 3 to the Pirates surely had Lou Piniella second-guessing his decision to leave Tampa Bay.

--The number 21. A tragic number in Pittsburgh sports history. Roberto Clemente...Michel Briere...Amos Zereoue...

--After the game ended, a somber Ryan Theriot stared at the field for a good five minutes. Someone took a midseason loss to the Pirates pretty hard.

--To close the first-half of this year's Pirate season, I leave you with this lasting image of Xavier Nady.


Adam said...

1. Life Is a Highway is either played at every homegame, or its one of the choices. Someone up there loves the hell out of that song.

2. At least you didnt have to deal with Godzilla vs. Mothra over a two week span. After 5 games, the act got old. funny enough, they played that at Kuwata's first home game. I'm sure he felt welcome. The first night they used it was against the dodgers, too, when we faced Hung Che Quo. Whoever picks these songs/videos in a Rascal Flatts loving Bigot.

3. THe pierogies's don't even race on the score board anymore. They send them to all these stupid places, and then they race.

4. Apparantly the scoreboard has been splashed with more color in the last week. The linescore in red and yellow? Never seen it like that, and I was there last Sat.

5. I was there when the Bucco chip got stuck. THAT was riveting.

Joe said...

This may be a really stupid point, but I hate it when athletes' contracts are cited based on the whole amount rather than the yearly. If you worked at Wal-Mart, you wouldn't say, "I make $100,000--it just takes me 8 years to do it."

Sorry for wasting your time with that.

Louis Lipps is my homeboy said...

For the record, I would have chosen "Monkey Washes Cat" too.

Also, for I think the 2nd time in Mondesi history, Adam did not talk about Penn State.

Matt said...

If I have to see that damn monkey wash that damn cat one more time, I'm going to punch the person in front of me in the back of the head. I don't even care whether or not that person cheered for it. I had to see that damn video three times last week.

Wait 'Til Next Year

Free Pacman said...

I hate those damned pierogies. Where's Randall Simon when you need him?

CapitolMAN said...

True colors, Adam. Can someone alert the marketing whizzes that red is not Pirate-chromatic (speaking of made up words...

Chipmunk on water skis has run its course and hopefully, this most recent vacuous video will, too. Godzilla v. Mothra at least was accompanied by a few bars of Blue Oyster Cult's eponymous tune.

I miss the golden days of Three Rivers when the in-game DJ would only offer classic rock favorites during 7th inning jukebox. Seriously, does the promotions dept hate season ticket-holders? I attend too many games to be subjected repeatedly to this jukebox nonsense. I'll settle for musak at this point.

Sean said...

An entire story about a Pirate game and no mention of Ronnie Florian?

Anonymous said...

TC > Ronnie Florian

C-Bur said...

check this out--

Sassy Poker said...

Pacman, Randall Simon only beats sausage.......

Unknown said...

Dear Raul,

I'm surprised that you didn't mention the exquisite Chinese luncheon that we had before the game or the six flights of stairs that we had to climb after the game because none of the parking garage's elevators were working. That was a great topper after just having been rotisseried for three hours in PNC Park.

Regardless, it's always great spending time with your two sons, even if you have to constantly endure the Pirates marketing onslaught while you're trying to enjoy what was a very good ballgame.

Thanks again for the belated Father's Day gift!

Your Father,


Sky Davis said...

So are Cubs fan? I honestly couldn't tell from that article. Didn't Zambrano lose to "Sugar" Shane? I was disappointed with this article because usually you have interesting and ridiculous facts on this site and they all come at the expense of the Bucs, however, they won a great game on Sunday. Don't get me wrong, I'm just as frustrated by the pirates, but why hate on Pnc Park? Sure some things are childish, but you can't tell me you aren't glued to your seat wondering if that one lucky fan is going to trade in a pirate jacket for the box of mystery. Even Three Rivers had a few childish traditions. PNC Park makes the games entertaining, and aside from one or two choice parks, PNC is no different then any other new park when is comes to promotions and score board activities. It's the new era of baseball game entertainment, like it or not.
For once this year the pirates are playing respectable baseball, getting situational hits, getting excellent pitching (van benschotten on saturday aside) and getting great crowds at the games. And all you can do is make fun of Xavier Nady (.291, 14, 50), Adam LaRoche (last 10 games, .423, 5, 11), and Jason Bay (career .286 110, 362 in just 3 and a half seasons) You got your wish, McClatchey is stepping down, which will likely lead to a new GM. Great. But the Pirates are only 8 games under and 9 games out despite the fact our ace has given up the most hits in the bigs and is on the DL, our star is in the biggest slump of his career, our power hitting acquisition had a historically bad start, our starting catcher is batting .220, our leadoff man may be our slowest runner, our closer lost his job after the 2nd month, and we have no center fielder.
I still have hope because I'm a pirate fan. I enjoy going to the games. I also collect the bobbleheads. The Pirates have done a lot of wrong the past few years, but ease off a bit when they're doing right.

Dirty Sanchez said...

Here's a novel thought for a baseball game - how about NO music or videos or pierogi races? And since we're down to Rajai Davis and Jonah Bayliss as the only Pirates without a bobblehead, how about we say those have run their course too?

On a far more important subject relating to Pittsburgh sports, Sid the Kid was just inked to a 5 year extension. Now if we could just get Mike Lange back to doing the TV broadcasts.

Louis Lipps is my homeboy said...

I agree with sky.

Look, knock the Pirates for sucking. That's fine.

But I've been to a lot of other ballparks and they do the same stupid crap that they do at PNC in all of them.

That's more a sign of the times than a sign of the Pirates.

And am I the only person that has no problem with stadium giveaways? I've been to Yankee Stadium and even they do it a fair amount. Look, if you wanna give me something for showing up, I'm not gonna bitch about!

Now, I agree that getting on the Pirates case for sucking-ass at baseball is perfectly ok with me. They deserve it. But complaining about promotions and non-baseball entertainment at the park (crap that almost every other team does too) is just kind of piling on.

And given the other two choices, I choose "Monkey washes Cat" anyday. I make no apologies for that!

Anonymous said...

Mondesi, a very well-written piece. The length of this article scared me off at first glance, but I put the time in this evening, and it was worth it. Thanks for bashing the Buccos...again.

Now let me join in...

I went to the two and a half hour rain delay game against the Brewers last THU (no, I"m not blaming Bucco mgmt for the rain, but I do blame them for making me watch 2 hrs of an awful country music country from the "PNC Park's Greatest Hits" collection), and I recall watching that awful PLINKO rip-off they put on the video board.

In true Pirates fashion, it broke. Not physically, but the chip stopped about 3/4 of the way down the board and sat motionless.

Like you'd ever see that happen on The Price is F'n Right!

So Cecil From Cecil, in his 4-buzz stage, stands and proclaims to the 34 other people in his section that "The Buccos bought that cheap Plinko board dahn Woodland Flea Market - typical cheap-ass Buccos!"

I was so obnoxious, that even my brother, Scott From Scott Twp, left the section for half an inning....and lost another half inning of mound ball as a result.

Sky Davis said...

Nice, you have slumped all the way down to knocking a friendly game of plinko. I think there may be more bigger issues than a plinko chip getting stuck on a plinko board. I was at that game too, they gave the board a little nudge, the plinko chip fell free, and the guy won free tickets. Like most the fans, that little incident was forgotten right away, but you feel the need to post it and somehow intertwine it with the Pirates lack of spending money. If you love Pirate bashing and hate PNC Park's half inning entertainments, then why are you at the game in the first place?? Grow up.

Talkin_Proud said...

When even my cornball dad cries out for Randall Simon, something's wrong.

I must've been in the section right behind you. "Party like a rockstar," institution or not, was completely annoying and if I wasn't too busy sweating out my $7 beers I would have partied like a rock star and dumped it on his painfully obvious bald boiling head.

The yokuls however provided me with a self-satisfied chuckle.

Anonymous said...

It's so annoying when people get up during an inning. And why do the Pirate's have to bribe people to go to a game? Where's the team spirit?