Image Copyright: Me
Programming Note: In the interest of transparency, it’s worth admitting to you that I’ve fully embraced the notion that I’m not interested in keeping a regular blogging schedule, and I am far more consistently interested in reacting and interacting via Twitter. There are several excellent options for regular updates on the Pirates and their minor league affiliates in the blogroll to your right. If you don’t already, please follow some if not all of them. I will continue to post updates here when the spirit moves me, but if you’re seeking regular updates and reactions in blog format, follow one or more of those listed to your right.
I was not able to attend last year’s home opener (though I did attend a game during the opening series at Wrigley Field), so making the trip to PNC Park for this year’s Opening Day festivities was a good way to start the year. My last Opening Day with the Pirates was two years ago, when Garrett Jones, et al. launched an assault on Vicente Padilla and the rest of the Dodgers en route to an 11-5 victory.
Yesterday’s game was not nearly as pleasant for Pirates fans, as Roy Halladay did Roy Halladay things, pounding the strike zone and inducing weak contact (when they were fortunate enough to actually make contact). It was my first time seeing Halladay in person, and he did not disappoint. You can definitely see how Charlie Morton has taken as much of Halladay’s throwing motion as he could; watching Hallady warm up was eerily similar to all the innings I’ve watched Morton toss around the #ElectricStuff.
My general reaction to the game is that the offense was stymied by a future Hall of Famer, but I didn’t feel like their plate appearances were all that bad. Bedard was lucky on a couple balls, but he mostly pitched very well, especially with his curveball. I was also impressed with Juan Cruz’s inning–he was the only pitcher to hit 93-94 before Papelbon. Both the outfield defense and infield defense looked good; Pedro was slow to get a 5-4-3 DP started, but Walker made a nice turn on a throw to his right to get the runner at first. Overall, I was disappointed they lost, but I tipped my cap to Halladay. He was the difference in the game.
But plenty of people have reacted to the game already, and that’s not why I’m here. What prompted me to share some thoughts (aside from the fact that I have the day off work), was the guy sitting three seats down from me. We all know this guy in one form or another: he yells at his own team and never credits the opposition; he’s apoplectic when a difficult play doesn’t get made; he sits angrily tapping his foot like he’s trying to run a sewing machine at 15,000 RPM, knuckles clenched white. We’ve all seen this guy, or sat in front of, or behind him at a game at some point in our lives. Heck, you may even be that guy.
I just don’t understand him. I described to my companion the relationship he has with the Pirates is like an abusive partner. He hates the Pirates–I mean, he really HATES them–but he was wearing Pirates merchandise, and bought tickets for Opening Day. I’d bet good money that he watches at least 100 games a year; he just can’t walk away. His constant yelling and complaining made me angry, but I also felt bad for him. Not because I felt like he didn’t know what he was talking about (though he didn’t), and not because there were kids sitting around us that didn’t need to hear him (though there were), but because a sports team that he clearly hates is probably having a very negative effect on his quality of life.
There’s a point at which you have to decide that you just can’t continue to be that upset over whether or not Jose Tabata can make a running catch on a tailing line drive and then throw a runner out at the plate, or that Neil Walker can run down a blooper to right, pick up the ball, turn in the opposite direction, and get enough on the throw to get the runner going from first to second. Both of those plays would’ve been very good to excellent had they been made, but they weren’t, and that’s ok. It’s not worth pounding your leg six times and screaming that those were plays any major leaguer HAS to make.
I know most people bristle when it seems like someone is trying to tell you how to run your life, but in the immortal words of Jeremy Piven in PCU, “Don’t be that guy.” Be a reasonable and sometimes passionate human being; that’s fine. Drop an “OH, COME ON!” when someone blows an easy play; that’s no problem. But if you happen to find yourself at the ballpark, perhaps at PNC Park on Opening Day, take a minute to consider your environment before you launch into a rant about how Pedro Alvarez has no power and Andrew McCutchen can’t even make contact.
And if you do find yourself inspired to heretofore unseen fits of rage because of a sacrifice fly, take a minute to consider why you’re at the game in the first place. It’s supposed to be fun.
Let’s Go Bucs!