Monday, May 6, 2013

On the road: PNC Park (part 1)

My dad and I enjoyed an outstanding road trip to see a few Pirates games at PNC Park a few weeks ago, and I learned a lot during our visit to the Best Ballpark in America. This week Here is some of the wisdom I can pass along to you:

1) PNC Park is the Best Ballpark in America: Don't believe me? Just ask anyone that works there. It's on banners, it's in their promotional videos...I suspect if we had gotten a speeding citation within earshot of the stadium, the cop would have scribbled it on the ticket. Hey, when your team hasn't had a winning season since 1992, this is the kind of thing you market.

2) Manny's there on the weekends: It seems like every major league stadium has a food stand area that is allegedly owned and operated by a former team standout. At PNC, Manny's BBQ sells...salads and low-fat smoothies. No, I'm kidding; it sells BBQ, and I suppose it sells the prestige of eating at former Bucco catcher Manny Sanguillen's place. In reality, the pulled pork was pretty good, but there wasn't an actual "place" with tables so much as a tent where you paid for and then left to go find somewhere to stand and eat, and the old backstop wasn't there. A guy came up as we were getting our grub and asked, "Where's the old catcher?" In fact he asked it several times before he grasped what the worker told him, that he only shows up on the weekends (this was Wednesday, and Manny must have been at home prepping another colossal batch of BBQ sauce). "Tell him his old golfing buddy ___ showed up to say hi," the guy said. I guess he wanted a little more of a connection that just a sandwich. The woman staffing the BBQ stand, to her credit, didn't roll her eyes.

3) Manny may not be there, but the camera is ALWAYS there: One evening, during one of those ubiquitous "let's show fans dancing while we blare rock music" segments between innings, the giant scoreboard showed men and women, young and old, all getting down to U2's "Vertigo." Then we suddenly got a shot of a girl about 7 or 8 who was finding a different kind of groove--a tunnel in her right nostril, one she was digging with her own finger. Not all Pirates fans like to search for buried treasure, but, yes, some of us do.

She realized right away she was on the big board and yanked that finger out, clearly mortified, but at that point it was too late. The segment was no longer about enjoying the music. My dad and I felt terrible for the poor little girl. Oh, we laughed our asses off, of course, but we felt terrible.

More to come this week. Stay tuned!

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