Sunday, July 13, 2008

Reporting from PNC Park in Pittsburgh

In Pittsburgh on business this week, I flew in a day early to check out the much ballyhooed PNC Park (and missed what looked from the out of town scoreboard like a pretty miserable rubber match against Houston). Color me impressed.

Here are my observations and some comparisons to Nationals Park:
  • With no giant parking lot blocking the view, the cityscape beyond right field is really stunning. This really is the fatal flaw that will keep Nationals Park from ever being a top-tier park, I'm afraid.
  • Their scoreboard doesn't come close to ours. Much smaller, no high-definition--you really notice the difference. And they go really heavy on the cheesy cartoons where the Nationals have gone more towards cramming as much statistical content up there as possible. Chalk a big one up for Nationals Park.
  • Their Clint wasn't annoying at all. Kind of this Bob Saget kind of guy, but not so extremely dorky. Just low-key and welcoming. Not so desperately trying to draw attention to himself.
  • OK, check this out. You know how the Nat Pack shoot t-shirts into the crowd? At PNC they shoot hot dogs. They even have a little song that goes (I love this): "It's time to shoot some hot dogs (repeat thrice) / And catch yourself some meat." You have to experience it first hand. Big plus for PNC.
  • I love the Pirates' unis. The pinstripes and vests are sharp, and I love how all the Pittsburgh teams have the same color scheme. We would have that, if it wasn't for the Redskins hitting us over the head with the red skin.
  • Even as an out-of-towner with no rooting interest, I was bothered by the Cardinals fans. They weren't really even all that bad, but I just hate it when visiting fans disrespect the home team. Just 'taint right.
  • Racing pierogies? No, that doesn't work at all. This schtick needs to stop. The sausages are ok. But the presidents are the best, and everyone else should just stop. But I give the Pirates credit, they don't say the pierogies are the "main event."
  • Legal, licensed scalpers. Me likes. Ten dollars cash for a cheap seat, no lines, and he even gave me a tip on the best places to get a bite.
  • Can't bring outside food in. Not sure when Stan's going to eliminate that, but in the meantime it's a big plus for us in my book.
  • As you'd expect, they constantly reference the Pirates' history, and I love that stuff. I know we just don't have the history they have, but I still wish they'd do more to celebrate baseball's history in DC.
  • Nothing about the park, but Ian Snell has to be one of the most frustrating pitchers to root for. Young power arms who don't throw enough strikes are my weakness--like JimBo's toolsy outfielders. I love guys like Snell, McGowan, Cain... Snell was dominant for 4 innings. At one point he'd thrown 42 strikes and 10 balls and allowed just one base runner through 4+. It was beautiful--fastball, slider, bam, bam, bam, all pounding the strike zone, getting strike out, jam job, strike out, weak tapper, jam job, strikeout. Then, all of a sudden, he was leaving fastballs out over the heart of the plate and he'd allowed four runs in what seemed like about four pitches.
Overall, I think it lives up to the hype. I've been to Wrigley, Camden Yards, Miller Park, old and new Comiskey, old Milwaukee County Stadium, and of course RFK and Nationals Park. PNC probably would be #2 behind Wrigley, though the fact that 90% of my countless visits there were under the age of 15 just make it special for me. So setting Wrigley in a different sentimental category, PNC I'd say is the best I've seen.


Sean Hogan said...

I've got Wrigley #1 on my list, for sentimental reasons as well. Just can't beat it!

Mike said...

PNC is number one on my list, just ahead of SBC and Camden Yards. I haven't been lucky enough to catch a game at Wrigley yet.

BTW, I'm glad you've stuck with the blog. I've enjoyed stopping by every day.