Tuesday, August 15, 2006


I'm currently in Gettysburg, PA and had an incredible morning in West Virginia, but first up to catch you up will be my experience at PNC Park in Pittsburgh.

I love PNC Park. My love of Pittsburgh definitely quintupled at what had to be both my best and strangest ballpark experience of the trip.

First, the best: PNC Park is as beautiful as described, and the city closes off one of its stunning downtown bridges to cars to you can walk right in. It's one of the lovely new parks, all beautiful curves, open walkways, and focused on providing a great view of the city, and in this case the rivers, from wherever you are. It rained but only briefly. The people were charming and excited about the team despite their dismal weather. And the guy in front of us caught a foul ball, putting me closer to a foul ball by about 200 yards than I've ever been before. And they have guys walking around selling beer, which Cleveland was sorely lacking. It was the only park I've been to all summer does not force you to sing God Bless America as part of the 7th inning stretch. Also, a girl's prize for losing the trivia contest (which was entertainment, rather than sports, trivia) was a copy of the DVD of "Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo". Some of you (RUTHIE) know I have a penchant for calling the second version of anything "Electric Boogaloo", for instance, "Wharton 2nd Year: Electric Boogaloo".

The strange: The pregame entertainment included a digitally animated pirate onscreen talking some smack about Davy Jones's locker and reciting most of the speech you hear on Pirates of the Caribbean at Disneyland before you go down the first drop. Then we pan to an absurdly elaborate animated scene of all the NL Central teams represented as old-fashioned boats, with the Pittsburgh boat as the pirate ship among them. We were then treated to a full three minutes of a naval battle, with the Pittsburgh Pirate ship (unlike the team this season) dispatching effecively with each of them. The Brewers ship, and this was perhaps tailored because this was their opponent for the evening, was dealt with last. Instead of the usual triple cannonballs of doom, this pirate ship suddenly had underwater missiles which the ship previously did not have and which seem anachronistic given the structure of all vessels involved.

Also, the piarte came back to talk about other stuff. He was generally weird.

Also, they did a stock report during the game. That was strange.

All told, it was also our worst hot dog.

Oh, another weird thing was that the players had done some fundraiser where they created original paintings to be sold for charity. When they'd announce the batter, instead of the usual 'badass' photos or images of the player swinging a bat superimposed in front of some pretty image of the park, we got video of them painting and then sometimes closeups of the paintings would stay onscreen while they hit. These paintings all look like fifth graders did them. Sometimes they were their names in pretty colors; other times, it would be a salute to their countries of origin and "I love you Mom" in Spanish. It was hard to fear any of these hitters, but they did win pretty convincingly.

OK, I'm exhausted. West Virginia will wait.


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