Big Lead Sports Bar

8/29/2008

A.J.: PITTSBURGH VS. MILWAUKEE – A REBUTTAL

by A.J.
from 105.9 The X


Recently, the former queen of FSN Pittsburgh, Trenni Kusnierek wrote an article for a website comparing her home town of Milwaukee with her former city of residence. Judging by the comments left by the Mondesi’s House readers, her critique of our town struck a nerve. Personally, I had a nice chuckle while reading what she wrote. See, I’ve also had the luxurious experience of having lived in Wisconsin and have spent a considerable amount of time in Milwaukee. Since the Pirates will be playing host to the Brewers this weekend and attempting to redeem themselves after getting swept in America’s Dairyland last week, we thought it might be fun to set the record straight and give a home town boy’s view of how the Brew City really matches up with the Steel City.

We’ll take a look at a few of Trenni’s comparisons from her article and see how accurate they are. Is this necessary? Absolutely not. Do you have anything better to do right now? Exactly. Here we go…

BASEBALL ATMOSPHERE

Trenni mentions that there hasn’t been much to cheer about in Milwaukee as far as baseball goes for quite some time, and she’s right. The Brewers haven’t sniffed the post season since 1982 when they were still in the American League. They’ve appeared in only one World Series (1982) and failed to win it. That means that even with the Pirates current 16 year-long streak of ineptitude, they still have had more recent post season success than the Brewers.

Fact is, before the recent surge in the Brewers’ performance, attending a game in Milwaukee was just as lifeless as going to a Pirates game. If you want to make a fair comparison, base it on the craptactular Brewers/Pirates teams we’ve watched for the past decade, not on recent history. Here’s the real story:

PNC Park vs. Miller Park = edge, PNC Park.

Sure, they have a retractable roof, but we have the coolest skyline view in Major League Baseball. Throw in the remarkable job that the Pirates marketing staff does, and they make going to see a lackluster team an enjoyable event.

Pierogie Race vs. Sausage Race = edge, Sausage Race.

Face it, the Pirates ripped off the racing food products idea from the Brewers. Let’s give credit where credit is due (even if Randall Simon disagrees).

Pirate Parrot vs. Bernie Brewer = edge, Parrot.

In the old County Stadium, Bernie used to slide into a giant vat of beer every time the Brewers hit a home run. Ironically since moving into Miller Park, the vat of beer has disappeared from the outfield and Bernie now just slides down a plastic slide. Sorry Bernie, your P.C. copout has cost you your edge. You should have stayed true to your drunken roots.

Lanny Frattare vs. Bob Uecker = edge, Uecker.

C’mon… the guy’s a legend. Anytime you get stuck in a seat that has a “partially obstructed view”, it’s called the Uecker seat. A Lanny seat probably involves sitting next to Greg Brown for 3 hours every night. I’d rather have a bad view. At least Bob Uecker played the part of a Pittsburgher when he was on Mr. Belvedere.

Overall Edge: Milwaukee… for now (just because they actually care about the baseball). However, if both teams were equal in the standings, Pittsburgh without a doubt is the better place to see a game. Truth be told, I’m pulling for the Brewers in their quest for a playoff spot. Their fans aren’t nearly as douchey as Cubs fans.

OVERALL SPORTS SCENE

Trenni gives us props on being the better sports town, and she’s right. For pro sports, they’ve got the Packers, Brewers, and Bucks (with a K). Meanwhile here in the Burgh, we gladly substitute the NBA franchise for one of the finest in the NHL. We already looked at the baseball teams, so let’s compare how the other pro teams stack up.

Packers vs. Steelers = edge, Steelers

Granted these are two of the most storied franchises in the NFL, and I’m not sure you will find two more dedicated fan bases in all of sports. That being said, I’m about to debunk some of the myths about the Packers.

1) Lambeau Field is a frickin’ hole. Sure, it has “mystique”, but it also has aluminum bleachers and they give you about 12 inches of space to sit on for four hours every Sunday. Try wedging yourself in between two cheese eating Wisconsinites and you’ll long for your no-leg-room-having seats in the upper deck at Heinz Field. It also happens to be located two hours away from Milwaukee and they have this whole confusing system of certain home games being Milwaukee ticket holder games and some being Green Bay ticket holder games. Any team that needs a flow chart to distribute season tickets gets an F in my book.

2) While Packer fans love their team, most don’t really know much about football. Honestly, they are like the soccer moms of the NFL. I’m surprised that they don’t hold bake sales in the parking lot on game day.

3) It ain’t that hard to get tickets. We always hear about the waiting list for Packers season tickets and how they are impossible to come by. Maybe so, but scalpers in Green Bay can’t demand the prices that big city scalpers charge. During the time I lived there, I attended several games and never once paid more than face value* for a ticket from an “independent ticket broker”.

* It should be noted that at the time of purchase, the Packers stunk and the fans were calling for the team to get rid of Favre… funny how times change.

Bucks vs. Penguins = edge, Penguins

I suppose it is unfair to compare two franchises that play different sports, but I did live there while the Bucks were involved in a few playoff runs. The intensity in the city paled in comparison to the fever of a Penguins Cup run.

Overall Edge – While sports are an important part of everyday life in Milwaukee, it just isn’t the same as in Pittsburgh. Having all the major teams located centrally gives Pittsburgh the advantage.

DOWNTOWN

I think this is a matter of semantics. Downtown Milwaukee is better suited for living with affordable housing and nearby night life, which is what gives it a more vibrant feel than Pittsburgh. Sure, our downtown is relatively dead after dark with the exceptions of course being the cultural district and the area around the arena on event nights. However, city neighborhoods such as the South Side, Lawrenceville, Oakland, the Strip, and Shadyside are very much alive and each has its own unique feel.

Pittsburgh also has many cultural offerings with its symphony, theaters, ballet, and multiple museums & art galleries. Apparently in Milwaukee, the museum is just another place to get drunk and throw up.

Edge = Even

Downtown is dead after 6pm. Big deal. Try crossing a river next time you’re in town, Trenni. What Milwaukee gains in regional development of its downtown, Pittsburgh makes up for in its diversity of city neighborhoods.

SHOPPING

Trenni says Pittsburgh is better. I’ll believe her because I can usually find anything I need at Kuhn’s Market or Target.

RESTAURANTS

Both cities have great places to eat, so I’ll make this simple.

Primanti Brothers = meh.

Once again in another publication, Pittsburgh culinary achievement is measured by a sandwich with fries and slaw. I know this is blasphemy, but 99% of the time when I eat at Primanti’s it is only because I am with someone from out of town who wants to try it. There are probably a dozen neighborhood bars that make copycat Pittsburgh-style sandwiches that are better than the original. Sorry, just wanted to get that off my artery clogged chest. Am I alone with this?

Pizza = edge, Pittsburgh

Seriously, if you want to make a fortune, move to Wisconsin and open a decent pizza shop because I couldn’t find one. We have more great pizza shops just in Squirrel Hill alone than they do in their entire state. I don’t think there is a single paisano in all of Milwaukee. To make matters worse, most places make “bar cut pies”.


What the hell is up with that? I want slices, not little squares. Epic fail.

Beer = edge, even

This may seem like an insult to what made Milwaukee famous, but Pittsburgh can hold its own when it comes to beer. They have Miller & Pabst, but we have Iron City. It may not be as popular nationally, but it’s as Pittsburgh as it gets. Granted we lost Rolling Rock to New Jersey, but it doesn’t really matter. The bastard bartenders in Milwaukee considered it an “import” and always charged me extra for it. I once brought a map into a bar to show them that Latrobe was indeed located in the U.S., but no dice. I still had to pay full price on dollar domestic night. Where Pittsburgh really gains ground is from our fantastic micro brews and specialty beers. I’ll put places like Penn Brewery or Church Brew Works in the Pepsi Challenge against anything I drank while in Milwaukee. Sorry Leinenkugel, you’re no Pious Monk Dunkel.

However Milwaukee does offer some great culinary treats. If you ever are in town, do yourself a favor and get some fried cheese curds. These little nuggets of cheddar are breaded and deep fried and make the perfect bar food. The brats at Miller Park with the secret red sauce are a must have. Also, try a Miller High Life while in Milwaukee. Honestly, it tastes so much better there. You can hardly taste the formaldehyde.

NIGHTLIFE
Trenni raved about the wonderful outdoor patio bars in Milwaukee. I will think of her next April when I am sitting on the deck at Rolland’s enjoying a drink, while the bar owners in Milwaukee are still shoveling snow off of their patios. Those things must be awesome for the two months out of the year that they can actually use them.

I will admit, the people in Milwaukee know how to drink. Think of the worst, staggering drunk, falling down, can’t feel your lips, how did I get here, bender you have ever experienced. The kind where you wake up the next day and say, “I am never doing that again.” In Milwaukee, they call that Thursday. People take their cocktails very seriously. It’s not uncommon to be rubbing elbows at the corner bar with just-turned 21 college kids and 80 year old grandmothers. It is part of the lifestyle.

Milwaukee also has a killer live music scene. The city has multiple great venues of various sizes and not many tours miss stopping there. From punk, rock, and rap shows at The Rave, to arena rock shows at the Bradley Center, to great outdoor amphitheaters like the lake side Marcus or nearby Alpine Valley, that city has it all. Milwaukee is also host to Summerfest every year which is an amazing music festival that takes place along the shores of Lake Michigan. Imagine two weeks of nightly entertainment on multiple stages featuring everybody from Jackyl to Stevie Wonder to 311.

The same can’t be said about Pittsburgh. With the closure of so many music venues in recent years including the Station Square Amphitheater, this city could use a shot in the arm when it comes to live entertainment. Events such as the New American Music Union are a nice start, but we have a ways to go before we can catch up. I will give the nod to our local bands. The home grown talent of our local music scene outshines the city that brought us The Violent Femmes.

Pittsburgh does suffer in the singles scene. While there are plenty of college bars to find sexy coeds, the pickin’s are slim locally for the young professional crowd. Of course the mass migration of our city’s young people before they reach that age contributes to the problem. Things like high wage taxes, bloated amusement taxes, and now ridiculous drink taxes do nothing to help Pittsburgh’s nightlife.

Milwaukee on the other hand is a city filled with young professionals. Unfortunately most of them weigh 300 pounds. The grass may be greener in their pasture, but that’s mostly to feed the cattle. I kid, I kid…

The Conclusion…
Honestly, it is frightening how similar these two cities are. There were times when I was in Milwaukee and it actually felt like I was in Pittsburgh. Both cities are filled with friendly people with amusing accents, both are blue collar, and both are wonderful & underappreciated places to live.

So my verdict? Duh… Pittsburgh of course. Why? Because it is home.

More A.J.:

LEAVE MARIO ALONE!

PITTSBURGH'S ONE-HIT WONDERS

THE PITTSBURGH PIRATES ARE MY EX-GIRLFRIENDS

THE OFFICIAL PLAYLIST OF THE NHL PLAYOFFS

THE GOAL SONG: When Hockey Becomes a Rock Concert

The Ballad of Cotton Eyed Joe

The Greatest Defunct Places to Suffer Hearing Loss in Pittsburgh

7 comments:

Russ Hailwood said...

Don,

I gotta congratulate you on beating the worldwide leader to the punch. Putting the same comparison out, but more in depth, on the same day (but at least 4 hours before) is awesome. Maybe you should go join Baraband up in Bristol.

RH

HotDog_Zanzabar said...

This is the first I've seen in print, someone that doesn't care for Primanti's, but certainly not the first time I've heard that.

A sandwich from Fathead's is as good or even better than a Primanti sandwich. I've yet to see them get any sort of media coverage, locally or nationally like Primanti's does.

Pocket Rockets said...

In a related item, Trenni didn't make the 100 most beautiful things in Milwaukee list. But another sports reporter, Jen Lada, did.

The list:
http://www.onmilwaukee.com/buzz/articles/100beautifulthings.html

Miss Lada:
http://www.onmilwaukee.com/buzz/articles/jenlada.html

Edge: Milwaukee.

Then again, why do I care? Oh, right. Two minutes 'til quittin' time.

Matt H said...

I'll take Pittsburgh any day!

Broke But Still Drinking said...

Famous Serial Killers who liked to eat body parts.

Milwaukee - 1
Pittsburgh - 0

matt the cal u grad in tampa said...

I don't care for Primanti's either. I believe the Foster House in Belle Vernon is leaps and bounds better at that style of sand-o.

I also believe the best overall place to get a sand-o of any kind is any of the Peppi's locations.

Egotrpin said...

I'm happy to hear that I am not the only one that prefers Peppi's over Primanti's. Just a few blocks up from Primanti's on Carson st. There is the Real McCoy. They have been making sandwiches there for over 25yrs or better. They have the best Hoagies! :)