Thursday, June 02, 2011

Burgh Ball in Queens 2K11

One of the office manuscript editors, Dan, is an enthusiastic Mets fan, and for the past couple of years he's been buying a big package of tickets and selling the ones he doesn't use. But he always goes to the midweek day games, so I took a day off work with him today and went down to watch the Mets and Pirates wrap up their four-game series. Now I can say I've watched Paul Maholm blow a seven-run lead. I also grabbed Dan's tickets for Memorial Day and watched that game with Stu and Stu's friend Craig.

So I've had a lot of baseball in my life this week! I may have caught both Pirates losses in their four-game visit, but the atmospherics were let's-play-two prototypical both times. Today the air was fresh, the sun was bright, and a brisk wind was blowing trash all around the field, which is to say ideal weather for Queens.

Dan's baseball fandom has an old-fashioned cast to it, keeping a scorecard going and all that, so he's a fun game companion. We usually have a two- or five-minute morning chat in the office about baseball goings-on and our respective sufferings; gametime conversation was largely that, expanded to three hours. Around when the score had crept up to 7–5 he said, "You know, I was kidding when I said how disappointed you'd be to go home after watching the Pirates blow a seven-run lead," to which I replied "Yeah, I don't doubt this stuff any more" or one of my other interchangeable laconic Pirates statements.

If I can digress briefly into the onfield action, may I note that the seventh run (the fourth in that inning) scored on a first-pitch passed ball by catcher Dusty Brown, a runner having gone from second to third base because Brown let a throw home get behind him right before that. In short: catcher Dusty Brown scored a key run all by himself from second by failing to catch two consecutive live baseballs that went to him. And let's not even get into what Jose Veras did in relief.

Neil Walker did hit a highly entertaining 430-foot home run into a right-center billboard, although he was somewhat outdone a couple innings later by Carlos Beltran absolutely destroying a ball on a sailing line drive into left.

Monday night was a fine game as well, Armed Forces Recognition Day at the park for Memorial Day weekend. So they had a crew from Afghanistan piped onto the scoreboard by satellite video, and a fighter-jet flyover, and generally a healthily honorary milieu going. And the evening was clear, with a pink-purple sunset passing through. The ballgame was a bit chippier, without many balls being hit all that authoritatively till the Mets broke things open late. But it was fun to watch Charlie Morton pitch without being "Charlie Mortoned" (as Nate coined it last year in one of our voluminous Pirates-related email exchanges). I'm happy to see Morton doing well, and really he just lost the game because of several unlucky ground balls getting into the outfield. And of course it's always fun to watch Pittsburgh sports with Stu.

Citi Field didn't impress me when I went there the first time a couple years ago, but it's growing on me a little bit. I still think it's too big to be ideal. Dan's seats are up in section 514, right behind home plate but of course up a ways. You do get an especially nice view of the outfielders tracking fly balls that way.

I saw a couple of Pirates fans in the crowd wearing actually current player jerseys (Walker, McCutchen), so you can tell that, at the moment, things are looking up for the team. Or at least somewhat less down.


Anonymous Dad said...

Jack, you linked to the earlier game story; check this out:

My favorite line, now an all-time favorite: "That was after the balk, but before the wild pitch."

We were at the Phillies-Pirates game tonight, which featured two solid starting pitching performances, and good relief pitching as well. Great that the Pirates won in the 12th.

6/04/2011 12:06 AM  
Blogger nate said...

I'm jealous of all the in-person Pirates watching, despite their disappointing the fans a little bit more than half the time so far. Improbably, I saw the last three innings of the Thursday game Jack and Dan were at on TV: I went to a sports bar for an impromptu group lunch with my coworkers and, due probably to it being the Mets and there not being much else sport going on at that hour, they had the game up on a couple of the big screens. The Root Sports cable broadcast from the Pittsburgh media market, no less -- Paul Maholm and his wife are a very cute couple and it's very weird to see them in a low-fi cable ad for a Western-PA charity event from 3,000 miles away.

Anyway, I didn't get to see any of the big hits but I did see the Jose Veras-fueled seventh inning meltdown, which looked like vintage Pirateball to me. It's still interesting to see a game on TV outside of Pittsburgh, though, where it's usually hard even to see highlights. And, hey, the team could sweep the Phillies today, which could get them back to .500!, since this is the part where they haven't yet broken our hearts for the season with the customary mid-spring, 10-game losing jag. I will continue to follow from afar.

6/05/2011 11:27 AM  

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