Three Month Feedback

The View From Section 134 was started up a little less than three months ago. We created this blog without knowing what we were getting into; we really weren’t sure what to expect. About three months, over 265 Twitter followers, and nearly 2500 views later, we are still going strong. We love posting on this blog, and we really enjoy the different features we have done so far. However, we wouldn’t be able to do it without you, the readers.

In the coming weeks, we plan on continuing our trivia segments and spring training updates, as well as division previews starting on the 20th. We’ll try to sprinkle in a few miscellaneous posts also. We’ll have a Pirates preview up a few days before Opening Day. Once the season starts, we’re looking forward to providing Pirates and MLB coverage, including videos and pictures from the games we attend at PNC Park.

We’d appreciate if you’d take a minute and fill out the following form just to let us know how we have done so far, and if you have any suggestions for the future. Don’t be afraid to voice your opinion, we’re always open to new ideas. We’re interested in providing a solid Pirates blog, and we’d like to know what you think of the first 3 months of TVFS134.

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Season Tickets Arrive

Not the FedEx package containing Ryan Braun's urine sample, but this year's Pittsburgh Pirates season tickets

You know it’s a good day when you have a package from 115 Federal Street waiting at your door. Our season tickets have finally arrived.

This is our first season as season ticket holders. We decided to go for a 20-game plan, as we have always attended about 10-20 games each summer. It’s easy for us to get to games with access to the T, and it will become even easier now that we can drive. It’s hard to pass up sitting three rows from the field for just $14 per game, not to mention the great benefits the Pirates provide.

The Pirates decided to go with horizontal tickets instead of the vertical ones seen in past years. The season tickets will once again feature four players. Gracing the tickets this year are Andrew McCutchen, Joel Hanrahan, Neil Walker, and Jose Tabata. Have a look:

Andrew McCutchen:

Joel Hanrahan:

Neil Walker:

Jose Tabata:

Season Ticket Holder ID Card:

Also included in the package was a letter from team president Frank Coonelly, info about PNC Park Tours, online ticket exchange, StubHub, etc.

A true sign that baseball is getting close is when your season tickets arrive. Baseball season is right around the corner. Next thing you know, the Pirates will be back in Pittsburgh and the season will be underway. 29 days until Opening Day…

Go Bucs

Favorite Pirates Memorabilia

Although we have never seen a winning season, we have both been lifelong Pirates fans. Along the way, we have picked up numerous collectibles and souvenirs, most of which hold special memories associated with Pittsburgh Pirates baseball. Even though the product on the field hasn’t been too enjoyable for young baseball fans in Pittsburgh, we still love the Buccos because of the little things, proving that baseball is more than just a game. Here is some of our favorite Pirates memorabilia:

- Autographed ball from this year’s Piratefest. It seemed that the players and management were much more accessible at Piratefest this past December. Also, we had the luxury of entering the MVP Zone for season ticket holders, which allowed us to get a few more autographs. This ball features the autographs of Neil Walker, Jose Tabata, Joel Hanrahan, Clint Barmes, Chris Resop, Clint Hurdle, and Neal Huntington.

TOP LEFT: Walker; TOP RIGHT: Resop, Tabata, Barmes; BOTTOM RIGHT: Hurdle, Huntington; BOTTOM LEFT: Hanrahan

- Tickets from the Home Run Derby and All-Star FanFest. Both the Derby and FanFest were amazing experiences during the week of the 2006 All-Star Game in Pittsburgh. FanFest was similar to Piratefest, but enhanced by 100%. Not only did it take up the entire Convention Center, but the amount of activities related to every single MLB team was surreal. It was certainly a great way to kick-off All-Star week. The Home Run Derby was probably the second-best baseball event that PNC Park has had to offer since opening in 2001, only behind the All-Star Game itself. It was astonishing to see superstars like Ryan Howard and David Ortiz crush balls into the Allegheny with ease. Both events were incredible experiences that will not be forgotten.

- Tickets from two unforgettable games: Opening Day 2010 vs. LA and a 2003 showdown with the Boston Red Sox. The Red Sox game was a “Turn Back the Clock Night” commemerating the 1903 World Series, and even though it was June, it was a chilly evening in the Steel City. There was no scoreboard, no hot dog shoot, and no pierogi race, which made it a true old-school baseball atmosphere. The Pirates handed the Red Sox a loss, and it was a great game in the early years of PNC Park. The ticket is also one of the most unique tickets I have ever used for a sporting event. Opening Day 2010 was also a spectacular game. Opening Day is always one of the greatest days of the year, and this one was particularly special. The man on the ticket, Garrett Jones, hit two homers in the defeat of the Dodgers, in front of a standing room crowd on a marvelous day at PNC. Hopefully Opening Day 2012 against the Phillies will have a similar feel.

- An old batting practice cap with five signatures. The autographs on this hat are Adam LaRoche, Manny Sanguillen, J.R. House, Brad Eldred, and Sean Casey. Although it doesn’t feature the most high-profile names, the hat certainly is a reminder of Pirates history. There’s World Series champion Manny Sanguillen, who is often shown in replays jumping around with Steve Blass after the final out of the ’71 Series against the O’s. There’s Adam LaRoche, who wasn’t all the bad, but the majority of fans hated because he couldn’t hit in April. There’s the very forgettable J.R. House, who decided to paste his Hancock in the very middle of my hat as large as he possibly could. There’s “Big Country” Brad Eldred, who was a hyped prospect that never found his way in the majors. And finally there’s Pittsburgh native Sean Casey, who will be forever known as a Red and not a Pirate. This hat is certainly a keeper in my collection.

- A foul ball from my first ever Pirates game. Although I was only three years old, this is my first memory that I can remember. It was a warm night in May at Three Rivers Stadium, and the Buccos were playing the Astros. We were sitting behind the third base dugout, and a foul ball came our way. A young man in the row in front us ended up with the ball, but he kindly gave it to me. I held on to that ball for days, and that game made me a Pirate fan for life. Also notice that the ball features black ink and was specifically a National League ball. This was a few years before the MLB went to a current standard ball with blue ink.

- Bill Mazeroski bobblehead. This was also a very long time ago, as this bobblehead was a stadium giveaway at Three Rivers. I believe that it was given away in 2000, and it is now a rare collectible. The same bobblehead is on eBay for decent money, but it’s not one I will soon part with. Out of the tons of bobbleheads in my collection, this is one of my favorites.

- Bill Mazeroski autographed picture of Game 7 of the 1960 World Series. Another Maz item, this features the best moment in Pirates history. We were fortunate enough to meet Mr. Mazeroski at a private party when the Yankees came back to Pittsburgh in 2008. It was the first time the Bronx Bombers came back to the ‘Burgh since that ’60 Series. It was a great series, and a privilege to meet Maz.

- Jose Castillo autographed jersey. Although Castillo isn’t the best second baseman in recent memory, this is by far one of the coolest items in my collection. This jersey was won on a Scratch ‘n Win night at PNC Park in August of 2006. Usually the prize is free slice of pie at Eat ‘n Park or something of the nature, but that night I was lucky enough to be one of nine winners of autographed jerseys.

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- The infamous Tom Gorzelanny bobblehead.  This is back from a few years ago, when there were 4+ bobblehead nights a year needed to draw in crowds.  At first glance, this may look like a normal bobblehead.  But look closely at Tom’s glove hand.  Is he flipping Bucco fans off?

- Jose Tabata batting glove.  In 2010 me and a few friends got the chance to watch the Pirates take BP and infield before a game from the dugout.  Tabata noticed that I was especially interested in watching the Bucs warm up, and came over.  Without saying a word, he handed me his two batting gloves, and smiled.  I thanked him, but quickly corrected myself and said “gracias”.  Jose let out a big laugh as he went back through the tunnel.

- Brian Giles signed card.  Giles was a personal favorite of mine with the early 2000s Bucs.  I had also had a favorite Giles card, and when I heard that he would be making an appearance at a Giant Eagle, went down to have him sign it.

- Jack Wilson foul ball.  I didn’t catch it on a fly, but I was able to snag it after about 7 guys in the section over tipped it, and it landed right on the steps.  Being on the end of the aisle, I leaned over, and had my first ever Pirates foul ball.  The date was June 6th, 2008.

- Sports page of the Post-Gazette April 2nd, 2011.  The day after Opening Day.  After the amazing win over the Cubs, I was sure the Pirates would go .500, so I saved the front page of the Post-Gazette, along with the sports section.  Neil Walker graces the cover of both.  Although the Bucs didn’t have a winning season, there’s no doubt that 2011 was the most memorable Pirates season in our lifetimes.  Having the newpaper from Opening Day is a cool way to remember 2011.

As you can see, we both have our fair share of Pirates momentos. Keep in mind that these are just some of our favorites, and we’ve included only a fraction of our collections. It is amazing the amount of souvenirs you can collect based upon something you love. Each small part of our memorabilia, whether it be a game program or a batting practice ball, holds so many memories. On the surface, it may look like a random, beat-up baseball, but beneath the stitches lies a story that only a baseball fan could tell. Young or old, each and every baseball fan has some sort of story about their experiences associated with America’s pastime. Baseball is so much more than just a game, and we look forward to continuing our collections for the rest of our lives. Maybe, just maybe, we will one one day pass on the stories of winning baseball in Pittsburgh, with the items and artifacts to prove it.

Go Bucs

What Can We Expect From Alex Presley?

Alex, not Elvis

Alex Presley is an interesting player to watch in 2012.  With 2/3 of the outfield already locked in, Presley is still a question mark.  First of all, Presley SHOULD be the opening day left fielder.  With only a little over a half season under his belt, he has shown that he is deserving of a chance to prove himself over the course of a full season.  He made his debut in 2010, and came back up in July 2011, providing a spark at the top of the lineup.  He hit .298 and had 6 triples last year, clearly proving that he can hit major league pitching.  With a 1-2-3 combination of Presley-Tabata-McCutchen, the Bucs have a ton of speed at the top of the lineup.  This will leave Walker, or whoever is in the cleanup spot, ample opportunities to drive in some runs.

That’s a great plan for the first 4 or so months of the season, but the problem with Presley will be once we get to August and September.  Regardless of whether or not the Pirates are contending, Starling Marte will be looming in the shadows of the major leagues, and will probably make his debut sometime in August, providing he does well at AAA Indy. Obviously Cutch and Tabata’s starting spots will be secure, but Presley’s may not be if he doesn’t produce.  Alex has to be aware of this, which leads some people to believe that he will be really trying to put up some numbers.  There is no reason to assume that Presley’s 2011 numbers were a fluke, and that he can’t repeat or even improve on them in 2012.  A .300 batting average with a .340 OBP isn’t too much to expect from Presley, with a good amount of triples too.  As he learns more about major league pitchers and makes more adjustments, he will produce more at the plate and also steal more bases.  You can definitely expect big things from one of the baby-faced Bucs this year.  And also remember, if Marte comes up and impresses people, having 4 outfielders that can hit, field, and run very well should be the least of the Pirates’ worries.

Another note – Presley will be making a uniform number change, he’ll go from #44 to #7 in 2012.

Go Bucs

Why are we Pirates fans?

What is it about the Bucs that make us diehards support this team year after year after year? It’s been 19 seasons since this team has seen any real success, and yet us Pirate fans continue to defend and support them. But why? The Steelers and Penguins have both had multiple championships and winning seasons in the last decade, yet we remain loyal the Buccos. Sure, watching guys like Andrew McCutchen and Neil Walker rake is awesome. But being a Pirate fan is more than that. There seems to be some sort of phenomenon that takes over the Pirates faithful each and every spring that convinces us that maybe, just MAYBE, the curse will be broken and we’ll get that 82nd win. And for the past 10 or so seasons, we’ve been let down again and again. But we still watch every single game and put up with the antics of a Pirates broadcast just to support our team. We still go to PNC Park wearing our 2005 J. Wilson #2 shirts and watch the Brewers beat up the Bucs. But WHY? Well, look at the 2011 season. Not much was expected of our Pirates last season, but they played amazingly well for four months. But once again, we were let down in August and it turned out to be just another losing season. But in those four months, the pain and suffering of the last 18 seasons paid off. While the rest of Pittsburgh was getting on the bandwagon, we were on the edges of our seats with every pitch, hoping it would bring us a little bit closer to what we all want. Pirate fans live for a Neil Walker game winning hit, or a Joel Hanrahan K to secure a big win. And THAT’S why we continue to support this team. We live for moments like Pedro Alvarez, Cutch, Brian Giles, and Rob Mackowiak blasting walkoff homers, Ryan Doumit drilling John Grabow on a throw to second, and Jeff Karstens beaning Ryan Braun to start a fight with the hated Brewers. When moments like these happen, it makes it worthwhile to be a Bucco fan. If 2011 is any sign of what’s to come, more awesome moments like these aren’t too far away. Will 2012 be our year? Probably not, but we all know that we will support the crap out of the Pirates just because we love watching them play. So to all the fans that get chills when they hear Pirate Generation or Steve Blass’ call of Pedro’s walkoff, and who cringe every time they see Sid Bream slide into home plate (no need to link that, we’ve all seen it enough); stick around. This team is going to get better, and putting up with the heartbreak of all the trades, losses, and blown calls will be worth it. Someday soon we will be able to proudly say that we are Pittsburgh Pirates fans.

Go Bucs