Life’s been hectic, preparing for my daughter’s return to school and my return to work. I guess that’s the best way to explain the fact that I am only now writing this post on two Met games I went to in Pittsburgh–after the Mets went on to Washington, returned for a home stand, and began another road trip this evening in Philadelphia.
Anyway, PNC Park lived up to all of the great things my family and I had heard about it.
- It is small (second smallest, only to Fenway and has an intimate feel to is.
- It has a GORGEOUS view of the beautiful downtown Pittsburgh skyline.
- As with so many of the new "old-fashioned" ball-parks, the architects incorporated elements of older designs. In the case of PNC Park, the lights are imitations of the old "toothbrush lights" of the old Forbes Field. The distinctive black poles and unusual design of these lights catch one’s eye immediately.
- In keeping with the "retro" design and at the same time acknowledging the city’s historic past, the architects made ingenious and artistic use of steel truss work in the design.
- Very well-done tributes–individual statues and video tributes–to members of the Negro Leagues and players from the Homestead Grays and Pittsburgh Crawfords stand at the entrance at the Left Field Gate. There are also large statues outside the park of Roberto Clemente, Honus Wagner, and Willie Stargell.
- Although there are parking lots near the park itself, with its location right on the banks of the Allegheny River and the fact that the nearby Roberto Clemente Bridge is closed to vehicular traffic around and during game times, there is much pedestrian traffic to and from the park itself: a very nice touch for the community itself as well as visitors.
- File under the "Unique and Unusual" Department: the Pierogie Races, i.e., PNC Park’s version of the Sausage Races. For the uninitiated, pierogies are deep-fried polish potato-filled pastas. Just don’t ask me to name the three different characters that race each other at each game (although I’m sure my daughter probably could identify each of them just as she knows every single Major League Baseball mascot.) One is cheese-flavored and one is jalapeno-flavored, I think…
- Although this is a local chain and probably nothing particularly special to the locals to find this at the ballpark, we found it fun to order a bucket of wings from Quaker Steak and Lube–in our choice of Arizona Ranch, Garlic, Hot Sauce, or Atomic sauce. We didn’t risk the nuclear reaction but were nonetheless glad to have been supplied moist towelettes for the clean-up following our consumption of the delicious ranch variety.
- Behind Center Field, former Pirate catcher Manny Sanguillen holds court at a barbecue joint bearing his name. The clouds of smoke that billow up during the game and waft over the outfield (as well as the engaging aroma) would be the only enticement necessary, trust me. But additionally, Manny himself is there for every game–sitting high and mighty in his leather easy chair, Sharpie in hand, poised to sign autographs for those waiting in line for barbecue.
Having been to both Camden Yards and Citzens Bank Park and become familiar with Boog Powell’s and Greg Luzinski’s barbecues in each of those two respective ballparks, I wasn’t surprised to learn of Manny’s place in Pittsburgh’s new park. I also happened upon an article, addressing this phenomenon of former athletes retiring and still enjoying the spotlight…albeit by shedding the helmet and donning an apron.
My mind started racing:
Since the Mets will soon have their own "retro" ballpark, what former Met might we see serving up barbecue sides of beef in Summer 2009 at CitiField Park?
And then it came to me!!
I can see it now: hungry Mets fans lined up, waiting innings at a time, unable to get enough… imploring, begging, "Give me mo’ MO!!"
But will even the most succulent sandwiches, the most lip-smacking sauces make up for all of Mo’s on-field shortcomings? Hmmm.
Yo, I’ll take mine with the [bitter]sweet and sour sauce, Mo.