PITTSBURGH – I feel bad bringing it up, but hey, every other media member did it today: the 2015 Wild Card Game.
You know those unpleasant memories you have of Jake Arrieta slicing through the Pirates lineup? Well, Arrieta, do you remember?
“When you bring it up, yeah,” Arrieta said.
In Don Draper fashion, Pirates fans, Jake Arrieta doesn’t think about you at all.
“It was short-lived, we moved on to play the Cardinals and the Mets,” Arrieta said. “And our season was cut a little bit short.”
That seems to be the way for this Cubs team. Perhaps the enduring memory was that Cardinals series in the NLDS, the first time the franchise ever clinched a playoff series at Wrigley Field — which you might note is a ballpark that’s been around a few years.
The positive memories are stronger for Theo Epstein, the Cubs’ president of baseball operations. He got the vibes back taking a run along the Allegheny River on Monday, the same path he took before the Wild Card Game, pointing out where Kyle Schwarber’s home run exited the building.
“It brought back a lot of good memories,” Epstein said. “A lot will have to go wrong in this ballpark before that’s not the sentiment we have when we come here.
“Hopefully that never happens.”
You, the reader, may disagree.
Still, the strongest vibes are how they are with any road team coming to PNC Park — an affinity for the ballpark and the city that seems more genuine than a typical soundbite.
“I love coming here. This is an underrated city,” Epstein said. “Great baseball town, wonderful ballpark what they’ve done with the Riverwalk and everything. It’s a great place to come, and they should be proud.”
Cubs manager Joe Maddon has taken a shine to PNC Park too.
“They nailed it. The bridges, the skyline,” Maddon said. “It’s right up there [among my favorites], top three, probably.”
And while Arrieta may not think of the Pirates often, Epstein has, and he sends his condolences.
“I feel bad for them,” Epstein said. “With what they’ve done, the Wild Card outcomes and everything else. I feel bad for them.”
Later, Epstein asked me where good bars in town were.
I’ll keep my suggestions between me and him — but if you’re wearing a Pirates cap while Epstein is in town, see if his pity is worth a free drink.