Thursday, April 9, 2009

Opening Day in... get ready for it... Charleston, WV!

I was a baseball fan until October 14, 1992. That's the day Sid Bream and the Atlanta Braves ruined my baseball life. The Pittsburgh Pirates were ahead 2-0 going into the bottom of the ninth inning in the 7th game of the National League Championship Series. All that stood between them and the World Series was one half of an inning.

I can still hear the announcer, Sean Mcdonough's call of that final hit... a hit by a player named Fransisco Cabrera. Never heard of him? Neither had anyone else prior to his hit. Anyway, the call went something like this, "A line drive and a base hit, Justice (David) has scored the tying run, Bream to the plate.... Safe! Safe! The Braves to the World Series!" This is the only time I've ever cried over a sporting event. And trust me, I can go on and on about why it was so painful. Just ask my wife. She's heard me ramble about this over and over again.

This was the last time the Pittsburgh Pirates contended. Barry Bonds, Bobby Bonilla, Tim Wakefield, Doug Drabek and many others left the Pirates after that season for teams with bigger banks. It was the end of the Pirates for at least the next 16 years. They've had 16 consecutive losing seasons coming into this year and the future isn't any brighter. This kind of performance will ruin your fandom.

Despite the Pirate's pathetic performace over the last 16 years, I've still enjoyed going to games at PNC Park in Pittsburgh. It's one of the best parks in all of baseball. It's the atmosphere, not the team, that made me crave baseball games in Pittsburgh. There's nothing like the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of the ballpark. And in Pittsburgh, all of those things come before what's happening on the field.

Last fall we moved from Morgantown, WV to Charleston, WV. That means PNC Park is now 3-and-a-half hours away. Prior to the move it was only an hour and fifteen minutes away. The Cincinasty Reds are actually closer to Charleston than the Pirates. Kinda gross, huh?

Solution: The West Virginia Power.

That's right. Charleston has a minor league baseball team. They have a brand new park. They run great promotions on a daily basis. Parking is free. Appalachain Power Park is 5 minutes from our house. How cool is that? It's not major league baseball, but hell, I haven't been watching major league baseball in Pittsburgh for 16 years anyway. What's the difference? I go for the atmosphere, not the what's happening on the field.

Last year, the Power was an affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers. They went to the "World Series" of their league. They didn't win it, but they had a great season. Guess what happened in the off season? The owners of the team switched their affiliation from the Milwaukee Brewers to the Pittsburgh Pirates. That's right, the WV Power is now an affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates. All the hope and promise of last year's "World Series" birth for the Power went right down the crapper. All of those players are replaced with players from the Pirates' farm system. That can't be good for this season's record.

So... this year, I'll have organized baseball in my back yard. I'll attend quite a few games, I'm sure. I'll enjoy a couple of Yuenglings, have a hotdog with onions and peppers, chat with other fans, people watch and enjoy the spectacle of a brand new stadium. I have a feeling what's happening on the field will be the last thing on my mind. Sound familiar? The more things change, the more they stay the same.


  1. Ah Ha! I was working and living in Atlanta at the time the Braves thumped the Pirates in 1992. I worked with folks who went to that playoff game. Our office was aglow the next day! One man's trash is another man's treasure.

    Just so happens that 17 years later, as recent as last Friday night (4/17/2009), I went w/a group of work buds to the PNC park to see the Pirates take on another version of the Atlanta Braves. I had the "nerve" to wear my blue Braves ball cap and sat right in the middle of a bunch of Pirates fans. Payback for you Mr. Cat is that this version of the Pirates whupped my beloved Braves in a 10-0 Shutout! Ugh.

    The upside was that my friends felt bad for me about the course of the game and bought me all the Yuenglings I could drink to drown my sorrows. It was also dollar hot dog nite so I had four weenies to go with the beer. All things considered, it was a great outing, just like you say!

  2. I'd trade 16 years of 10-0 nothing games against the Braves for a win on October 14, 1992. :)

    Glad you had a good time at the game. Four dogs!? Way to go!