I was fortunate enough to score some tickets to Opening Day (thanks, Steve) and my Dad and I went to the game. The atmosphere was very festive outside. As soon as we got off the exit from I-279, the smell of charred meats was lingering in the air as we passed grill after grill in the various parking lots. It felt like we were at a pre-season Steeler game, rather than going to a Pirate game — cornhole was set up all throughout the lots, with music blaring — but you were reminded it was a Pirate game thanks to nearly everyone (guy and girl) wearing some type of Pirate merchandise. After a little pre-game tailgating with one of his co-workers, we headed in to get something else to eat and find our seats.
It was quite the mob scene at times in PNC Park. I was at games during both the Phillies and Red Sox series last year, but the crowds were not nearly as thick as during those times it seemed. There were times on the main 100-level concourse where we would just come to a complete stop while walking. The clubhouse store and all the food lines were packed solid with fans. One of the new interesting areas at PNC Park is the Budweiser Bowtie Bar, located down the 1B line next to the Clemente Wall. It’s a nice open air bar, replete with giant free-standing propane torch stands and hanging pendant lines, that allows you to get some food and drink while overlooking the river and the field. They also have two rows of seats, maybe 40 seats total, that cost $50 but come with a $20 food voucher. The usher we talked to said they finished the bar at the Bowtie Bar last night.
The weather was absolutely perfect for Opening Day, with barely a cloud in the sky. We were in the sun for most of the day, which made it nice and warm, but I imagine in the shadows it was probably a little chilly.
As for the game itself, if this is what we can expect out of Erik Bedard the Pirates should: a) rejoice at getting him for a steal at $4.5M, b) encase him in carbonite like Han Solo after each start to preserve him as long as they can. He was sitting at 88-91 on his fastball, but his curveball was baffling the Phillies at 79 mph with tremendous break on it. He really was the hard luck loser today, as the Pirates were just completely befuddled by Roy Halladay.
When the Pirates only muster 2 hits, and none after the 1st inning, there’s not a lot to say about the offense other than “anemic”. It seems as if Chris Resop and Juan Cruz may be the set-up men when the Pirates are losing by 1 or 2 runs, with potentially Meek and Grilli being the winning by 1 or 2 run set-up men. Resop was shaky in his inning, allowing Halladay to get a hit and issuing a 4 pitch walk to follow, but he got out of it eventually with no damage. Cruz is a wiry (code for “skinny”) pitcher with nice 93 mph heat and a fantastic 84 mph changeup. He seemed to have some upper 70’s curve that wasn’t working well today, too.
Overall, it was very exciting to be at the ballpark and the experience was fantastic, aside from the non-trivial issue of the Pirates losing. Just 161 games to go.