Don’t Text Me

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I just had my first real, full night of sleep in a month last night, so I thought I’d take this time to go on a minor rant, since I have some energy for once 🙂 This one starts as a sports thing, but goes farther than that. Don’t be scared of the sports stuff please.

Above is a picture from inside PNC Park in Pittsburgh, home to the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Pirates played the Yankees last night in Pittsburgh for the first time since 1960. Amazingly, and convincingly, my Pirates won 12-5. It was a nice night.

Now to the rant. Since they were playing the Yankees, arguably the most known baseball team in the country and maybe the world, tickets to the game were quite in demand. In fact, the ball park was 101% full last night thanks to standing room only tickets. I watched the game on television. That’s when I got mad.

Right behind home plate, in the $160 – 210 per ticket seats, was a kid (high school or college age) texting as the game was going on. Not in between pitches. Not every once in a while. During the game, for like the first four innings. Take a look at the above pictures again. This is similar to the view of the city from this guy’s seats.

I just don’t understand people. I also feel old. There were people standing the entire game, just wanting to watch the game in person, to enjoy a ballgame at the park. Meanwhile, this guy is sitting in the best seats in the house, doing an activity he could’ve done in the port-a-potty in the parking lot. Can’t you put the cell phone down for three hours and just watch the game? I bet you a million dollars this dude did not pay for his own seats. If I’m paying $210 to go to a game, I’m sure as heck going to pay attention.

Here’s an illustration of what should’ve happened to this guy.

Next time, I talk about the people who sit behind home plate and wave while talking on cell phones the whole game (or maybe not).

It’s Officially Spring

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Yesterday was the official start of the baseball season for my beloved Pittsburgh Pirates. It officially feels like Spring to me. It helps that the flowers are beginning to peak out of the dirt and the temperatures are above freezing. Oh, and it’s raining.

I’m excited about the baseball season, even though the Pirates haven’t had a season in which they won more games than the lost in fifteen years (half my life!). For one, they won a crazy wild game last night against the Braves 12-11. More importantly, it gives my Dad and I something to talk about on the phone.

This will be the first baseball season since my Grandma passed away. She became a Pirates fan later in life and knew the players better than I! Honestly. I’m not just talking about the stars. She knew the guys that rarely played, the guys that rode the pine the whole game. I would talk to her on the phone maybe a couple times a month and eventually the topic would always turn to baseball and the Pirates, and her favorites on the team. She always though they were so close to finally be a winning team again.

My Dad sent a nice email to the Pirates about what a big fan my Grandma was and how they had lost such a big fan.  They wrote a brief but nice reply.  I’m sure we were both thinking about her as we watched the game last night.  I’m sure she had a better view than we had.

So for at least a day, the Pirates have a winning record. Maybe this is the year Grandma.

Opening Day

As you may or may not know, yesterday was opening day for most teams in Major League Baseball. Yep, this post is going to be about baseball, but bear with me because I hope it will be about more than that.

Opening Day is usually an exciting time for me, a day I anticipate for weeks, reading as many articles I can about the Pittsburgh Pirates chances for the year. This year was different. I’m not sure if it was because of the little one in the house (everything is just less important compared to her), or the Penguins excellent season (they will be in the playoffs for the first time since 2001), or just because the Pirates have been so dreadful for the past 14 years. Leading up to the big day, my Dad and I talked a few times about the upcoming season, and I just couldn’t muster up a lot of hope, which is sad because I used to be the optimistic one. I guess that’s what 14 losing seasons will do to you.

My Dad and I have always been close, and a good part of that has to do with baseball. Now I know that there are many things more important in the world than sports, but I do think they can bring us together. Baseball has always been something we have had in common, from him coaching my little league team, to us collecting baseball cards together, to us attending one playoff game a year for each of the years the Pirates made it (1990, 1991, 1992), driving four hours on a school night just to cheer on our team. I remember the one year we were at a playoff game, and our seats were something like two rows from the top of the upper deck in cavernous Three Rivers Stadium, almost directly behind home plate. When the ball was hit, you couldn’t tell whether it was a foul ball or a home run. Those seats were terrible, but we had a great time.

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Three Rivers Stadium as seen from the Upper Deck (look how small the players are)

Even today, we often have a game of catch. Picture the scene in Field of Dreams where Kevin Costner gets to play catch with his father, except my Dad isn’t a ghost, we play catch on the road instead of on a baseball field, and we live in rural Pennsylvania instead of rural Kansas. Other than that, exactly the same.

Anyhow, I got home from work yesterday, thoughts of opening day were in the back of my mind. First, though, we had to do the usual baby dance: feed the baby, make our dinner, change the baby’s diaper, play with the baby (the best part), bath the baby, and finally put the baby to bed at 8:30 (hopefully). The game started at 7:00, so I only caught glimpses of the beginning. Fast forward to the top of the ninth inning, two outs, and the Pirates down by a run. One more out, and they would lose the first game of the season, as they often do. Except this time, amazingly, the Pirates Xavier Nady hit a home run, tying the game, which eventually went to extra-innings.

In the tenth inning, the Pirates remarkably got another home run to take a two run lead. At this point, I called my Dad, who I knew would be watching the game. We talked about how great it was the Pirates could actually win a game and he told me he had been going through some of our old baseball cards and how I did a great job organizing all of them. Man I wish I had the kind of free time to be able to sort through my cards, as I did growing up.

Anyhow, it was nice to be able to watch baseball again (a sign summer is on the way), and especially nice to be able to call my Dad and talk about a Pirate win. Hopefully they can win again tonight. Stranger things have happened.

Pittsburgh Pirates Make a Good Trade

I need to break away today from blogging about writing and family life to talk about sports, partly because I have to get this off my chest and partly because I don’t know what else to write about. For those who don’t care about Major League Baseball, sorry in advance.

The Pirates have been my favorite baseball team since I have been following the game (nearly my entire life). The once proud franchise has hit bad times lately, having not enjoyed a winning season since 1992. 1992 was also the year that the Pirates were one inning away from the World Series, only to have Sid Bream slide safely into home plate just ahead of the throw from Barry Bonds. Since then it has been bad trade after bad trade (Jason Schimdt to San Francisco for Ryan Vogelsong and Armando Rios, Aramis Rameriez to the Cubs for Bobby Hill) with the Pirates seemingly happy with a great stadium and a lackluster team.

Almost every time I talked to my dad this winter he has started by saying,”I keep waiting for the Pirates to do something, and nothing happens.” My answer is usually, “I wouldn’t hold my breath”. Well, finally something has happened. The Pirates made a trade and actually picked up a player who can help them. Here is an excerpt from the Associated Press:

The Pittsburgh Pirates, filling their need for a left-handed power bat, acquired first baseman Adam LaRoche from the Atlanta Braves on Wednesday for lefty reliever Mike Gonzalez.

Basically, the Pirates gave up a good player who plays at most one inning a game, for a player who plays nine innings a game and hit 32 home runs last season. On the surface, it seems like this is a good trade. This is unheard of. It’s the equivalent of President Bush admitting a mistake. It just doesn’t happen.

The funny thing with trades is there are no guarantees. LaRoche may break his arm getting out of the shower, or simply forget how to hit. These things happen. For once, though, I can be excited about a player the Pirates picked up. Oh, and my Dad and I will finally have an answer to my dad’s question.