A Refreshing Opening Day At PNC Park

It was such a gorgeous spring day for a Pirates game. 

The weather triggered our memory to sunshine filled spring days of our youth.  We couldn’t help but think back to when Dad would blare the Pirates radio broadcast as  he hit us infield practice in the shadow of the Osceola Mills coal mine,  we have been hooked on the Buccos ever since.  

But as we drove to the game we began to think about how these new Bucs are in transition. 

Some of them aren’t so new, so we had some reservations before the game began.  We mentioned it and it revolved around Paul Maholm and his curve ball.  It didn’t look sharp from where we sat.   

After the game he said he threw four bad pitches. 

He added, “it happens.”   

So maybe the Bucs didn’t show up on opening day, but there are even bigger days ahead for them. 

As for Maholm, it’s difficult for us to be fired up about a guy that didn’t have the time to make an offseasoncamp.  Maholm is a left handed, mule of a pitcher, who continues to make start after start, and eat up innings.  He talks a great game, but inconsistently pitches one.  

But the results from the mound did little to discourage the crowd.  Most fans realize Paul Maholm will not be leading this team to glory anytime soon, the first rounder back in 2003 has seen his share of losses and most Pirates fans excitement with Maholm is waning.  

But the fans have definently not grown tired of the festivities around PNC Park.  It only took a little bit of April sunshine and some wins on the road for Pittsburgh to turn up in record numbers.     The pregame speeches on sports talk radio were  fantastic.  Bob Nutting keeps on spewing.  Neal Huntington recieved an ovation when he strolled into Mullen’s to speak with 93.7 The Fan. 

And the crowd was enjoying the sunshine in a big way, arriving late to their seats, but the turnout was tremendous.  PNC Park was packed with the second largest crowd in history.

The always courteous staff was ready.  The food was great.  The beer was cold.  

But most importantly for us, some of the young players were on the field for their very first Pirates home opener.  And something that was very interesting to me was, one of the key members of the future, Tony Sanchez, was watching somewhere as the AA Curve prepared to take on Erie.

Even if Sanchez is a poor judge of the size of a baseball crowd [he later admitted he spoke to soon] the important thing for us was the fact that he has his eye on the prize. Sanchez is dying to help this ballclub. 

It make me wonder where Jameson Taillon and Stetson Allie were watching the game.  I know Luis Heredia was watching, the kid never misses a game.

As the game quickly moved along and Bucco after Bucco was sat down by Mr. Rogers,  we remembered back to last year when Ryan Church and Aki Iwamura came through. 

The opener last year was more enjoyable, but the hardcore fans knew that both those players had little to do with the Bucs future.  Likewise on the mound today was a pitcher who despite all of the opinions, will have no impact on the Bucs future.  He is merely a holdover from a forgettable era in Pirates baseball. 

So despite the loss, most fans realize that pitching help is on the way.  One day soon, better, more talented pitchers will be on display for the 39,000+ to enjoy on opening day.  The opener next season will include even younger players.  The days of watching older players in Pittsburgh are numbered.   

And like the April sunshine yesterday, that is something refreshing–something to soak in and enjoy.  

So as Neil Walker rolled out of the parking garage in his hot black BMW SUV, he apoligized to the handful of autograph seekers.  It wasn’t necessary, but like the April sunshine, it certainly was refreshing.

Walker had places to be as he was being honored at the 38th annual Art Rooney dinner. Walker won the Bob Prince award, an award he shared with Bill Mazeroski. It’s nice to think that after making a bonehead play on opening day, Walker was with one of his mentors. 
I wonder if they took some grounders outside in the grass after the dinner? 

It sure was a nice day for it.

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