Opening Day is the one day every year that reminds me of Christmas. Pittsburgh Pirates skipper Clint Hurdle said it best, you have this present all wrapped up, but you don’t know what it is. Here is the exact quote:
“It’s the opening of a present,” I go back to my first Christmas as a child — when I first realized you get a present, with the bow and the packaging and then you tear it open. That’s like the baseball season. You get to open up a package and start to feel around for what’s inside.”
So, we woke up on our Christmas morning at 5:10am. I just couldn’t sleep – between wondering where the hell the Governor went in the Walking Dead Season Finale, and thinking about the Pirates big day, sleep was out of the question.
We sent out some tweets, thanked Cocktails for the editing help and got on StubHub to see if our tickets sold. Hell. No.
There were over 3,800 tickets still available. I unlisted our tickets and stuffed them in the third jacket I planned to wear, because you never know if someone might need some tickets.
Despite the wealth of tickets available, none of the seats I really wanted were dropping in price at all . Knowing we had to leave in a few minutes, I just overpaid for two tickets in the second row, printed them out and stuck them in my bag. My wife was going with me today, and I wanted it to be special.
I glanced up and noticed… hey, the sun is out! I went outside and it felt like fifty degrees.
I gave the Franchise a hug before he went off to school and absorbed the dirty looks that he flashed my way. God, it was hard to send him to school. (Why isn’t Opening Day a national holiday?)
The wife was layered up for the ugliness known as ‘April in Pennsylvania’. We dropped off a few things at her beer distributor and hit the road. As I put the pedal down, my gorgeous wife asked me kindly if I could put up my window. I told her it was gorgeous out – but as I glanced at the thermometer, I was surprised to see it was only 36 degrees. We didn’t notice it was raining, either.
About halfway into the 90 minute journey to PNC Park, we stopped to fill up the Dodge Ram. The pump stopped at 81 and change. Bad omen? Why couldn’t it be 82??? Look, I know what you’re thinking, “You couldn’t just pump it more?” I spilled a little bit trying to get that damn thing over 82. The wife just shook her head at me.
We pulled into Station Square and immediately it began to snow.
She is an Eagles fan, and needed a winter hat. She won’t wear a Steelers hat. So we stopped at Hometowne Sports. Pirates winter hats don’t exist in their store. After twenty long minutes, I invented a way to cover a Steelers logo by using Pirates pins. (Please forgive me, Mr. Rooney)
We walked toward the Gateway Clipper. But then trouble hit…
She had left her sunglasses on the counter. Back to the store we went.
We walked back toward the Gateway Clipper. We sat on the Princess for about fifteen minutes, but not enough fans were using the boat to shuttle to PNC Park. We were escorted off the Princess, and onto the Countess.
It started snowing a bit harder. What a day to ignore the Lucha Masks usually reserved for Steelers playoff games! God, the boat idea sucked. We get off the boat, checked out our leaf behind the Maz statue, and hurried into McFadden’s.
After we got some refreshments, we saw this bad ass….Miami Marlins hat, bottle of booze in the plastic bag, Jose Tabata jersey, camo fleece, and those bad ass sunglasses that keep Jason Schmidt from seeing any fear in those eyes.
We headed for the gates.
About that time, the day really started to get bad. The greeter at the gates scanned our tickets. A funky sound emitted from his fancy-schmancy hand-held ticket scanner.
“Sir, these tickets are for Wednesday.”
My jaw dropped, the heart stopped, and my wife just shook her head at me. The usher told me to take them to the window they would exchange them, uhhh, don’t think so, but I thanked him anyway before starting to curse a few times. I was trying to remember where in the hell I put the other tickets. Thankfully, they were in my pocket.
Bad news for the wife – she would just have to rough it. My wife is awesome, she didn’t even care where we sat. So we made our way around the park with the goal of making it to The Hall of Fame Club for a beer. We stopped for a bathroom break and she told me a secret about the Hall of Fame Club—apparently it’s a great place for some people to fire up some ganja in the ladies bathroom stalls. So we headed back toward our seats, the second hand stench must have numbed her nerves a bit.
Damn, was it a wild weather day. The sun popped back out just in time for the game. The sun was the big hero on this day, because it started to go downhill once we made it to our seats.
Kevin McClatchy showed up.
We wanted sushi, but settled for a BBQ pulled pork sandwich. It looked awesome on the menu, but they didn’t have BBQ sauce. “You can get it at Manny’s,” the cashier told us. Huh?
Then we saw the Bucs pull an encore performance of last year’s awful Opening Day.
Coincidentally, after McClatchy left in the eighth inning the Bucs mounted a comeback of sorts thanks to Carlos Marmol. Dale Sveum would ruin that idea and quickly the Pirates’ day was over.
On the way home, we got stuck in traffic for two hours because of an accident on Route 51. We walked in the door at 9:30pm.
God, it was a great day. How is that possible, you ask?
1. Kevin McClatchy isn’t the owner of the Pirates any longer.
2. We are one day closer to Bob Nutting not being the owner of the Pirates any longer.
3. If A.J. Burnett can pitch like he did in some shitty conditions (and against a shitty team) for most of the 2013 season, he’s going to be o.k.
4. We are one day closer to Gerrit Cole pitching at PNC Park.
5. We are one day closer to Jameson Taillon pitching at PNC Park.
6. We are one day closer to Tony Sanchez, Kyle McPherson, Alen…go ahead and insert the names here…playing at PNC Park.
7. We drank a couple of beers for the people who couldn’t make it today. People like Mom, Cocktails, Eric, Jerry, Nick, and all of the other people we have loved going to games with at PNC Park.
8. Baseball is back.
9. We’ve got tickets for Wednesday.