Sunday, June 17, 2012

We Won Over Pittsburgh

I went to the game today with my cousin from the Pittsburgh area and his family. He's got 3 kids, a girl and 2 boys. The oldest boy is 10 and he's a pretty good Pirates fan and "good at baseball" in general. I just love going to games with other fans - and baseball fans are so rare around here it's even a fun time when the other fan roots for the other team!

There were a lot of Pirates fans there, especially in our section behind the visitor's dugout. I'm guessing a lot of Pennsylvanians hooked up with StubHub and got the best seats they could, considering they were coming all this way. We got our seats courtesy of a local food vendor that had passed them along to our oldest cousin who works in the Cleveland restaurant industry. We got 4 seats from them and bought 2 more in the next row from StubHub. The seats we had were 7-10 and the ones in front of us 5-6. When we got there I asked the folks in 7-10 in front of us if they wouldn't mind moving down in to 5-6 so my family could have 9-10. They generously obliged us. Score!

At first my cousin's kid thought he might get some flak for wearing Pirate gear in Cleveland. I said no, people here generally do not care about Pirate baseball or NL baseball for that matter. He was a little perplexed as to what he might do with his giveaway Santana jersey but "lucky" for us we didn't arrive in time to have to deal with it.

Once he settled in and realized that his family wasn't alone in their Pirate love, he tried a little trash talk. But mom shut him down. We had to explain that it's totally ok to cheer for your team in the opponent's park but it's kind of rude to bash the opponent in their park. This is baseball - let's all just get along!

The Pirates noticed the family sitting there, all decked out in their black and gold, as they came in from warm-up. One of the guys took off his "Prostate cancer awareness" blue wrist band (for Father's Day) and threw it to my buddy. He said "I'll never take this off, ever!" I saw him lift it up and scratch his wrist at one point...I wonder if he'll tell his mom if weird fungus starts growing underneath?

Also, the Pirates noticed my cousin's wife, who is a very good looking mother of three. Better than most of us know women from Pittsburgh to look. We are pretty sure she could have gotten some phone numbers and room keys along with the wrist band.

Jeanmar Gomez wasn't the most impressive today. He actually was really tight for the first 3 innings, not giving any runs up. Then in the 4th he gave up a 3-run homer to Alvarez (who had 2 the night before). I missed the kids' reaction because I was off getting my lunch. But the guy in front of me in the line said "Shit!" a lot. Those 3 runs were un-earned, however, because there was an error which should have been the 3rd out. In the 5th inning, Jeanmar gave up a homer, a walk, a double and an intentional walk. Then more shenanigans, and Gomez was replaced with Rogers.

Backwards from Gomez, Rogers started off bad then tightened up. He gave up a 3-run homer - 1 of those runs belonging to Gomez, the other un-earned and the other belonging to Rogers himself. After that, he only gave up one more hit and hit a guy in the foot. He ended up going 2 2/3 and throwing some smoke, which is what they want him for.

Jeremy Accardo took care of the 8th and 9th and struck out 3, not giving up any runs. But by then...well, the Tribe's not scoring 9 runs any time soon it seems.

But the kids were super impressed. They loved seeing the slumping Alvarez hit two homers. They loved seeing their Pirates - who I guess are pretty much on par with the Tribe this year - score 9. The kids really, really loved Progressive Field. I think they also really, really liked the idea of the DH.

When it came to our team...I tried to get the kid to try a little "Choo!" himself but he just wouldn't do it. His younger brother came up with the idea to yell for their reliever, "Huuuuuuuuughes." Not bad! They were not really big Choo fans, especially after he got a 2-run double in the 4th, putting the Tribe back on top 4-3.

I wore my "We Are All Kipneses" t-shirt for the first time, and the family was pretty impressed by the man. My shirtness didn't disappoint and he ended up going 3 for 5 with a homer in the 1st and a stolen base in the 3rd. He also looked sweet in the field. My new buddy said - and I am not making this up - that maybe we'll see him in the All Star Game. YES, MAYBE!!

I told them that Asdrubal was my favorite player, not actually Kipnis (tomorrow I wear Asdrubal's shirt. It's only right on Asdrubal Bobblehead Day). They weren't as impressed by Asdrubal, who made 3 errors today which resulted in 4 un-earned runs. WTF? He did, however, go 2 for 5 at the plate and now he's hitting .303.

Little guy was also impressed by Brantley. I guess he hadn't seen Saturday's game when the streak ended, but he told me that Friday he was excited and "thought he could have a go at DiMaggio's record." He also thinks it's amazing that we have an ex-player named Lemon. Brantley started back at 1 today, by the way. Let's see how far he goes!

Supermanahan was back getting it done today, his second game back after coming off the DL. He looked nice in the field (well, of course!) and went 1 for 4 at the plate. They liked his nickname, especially because their closer is Hanrahan. But I guess they call that guy Hammerhan. Good, no confusion!

I tried to trash talk Damon in a sort of dignified way. In a way that would not upset children. I pointed out that he is as old as their DAD! (my cousin) Then Damon went ahead and went 2 for 4 with a stolen base! He also hit a foul ball that grazed the top of my cousin's head and smacked the seat where a fellow child Pirate fan had been sitting before he went for snacks. Some guy a couple row up got it. When the toddler who'd been sitting nearby returned to his seat (Cleveland toddler, not the Pirate snacker), the guy who got the ball gave it to the toddler. This greatly impressed my kid and he told the other Pirate fans as soon as they got back.

Anyway Damon ended up scoring two. Meh.

We were sitting right next to 1st base, and I guess the kid plays 1st base because his mom told him to watch how Kotchman does it. I said "that guy is one of the best first basemen in the league so if you're going to watch a first baseman you're lucky!" Kotch also went 1 for 4 with an RBI.

Lou Marson went 1 for 2 with 2 walks. The kids sort of took to him, maybe because they spent so much time building up ire for their non-existent Santana jerseys. Santana didn't even play, by the way. I think they dug that the 9th batter could hit and wasn't just the pitcher or a pinch hitter. Hear that, National League?

Between each inning, my cousin's boys and the two Pittsburgh boys sitting behind us went up to the dugout to beg for balls. One of the boys finally got one - a Cleveland kid from the first row had gotten TWO thrown to him from the Pirates (??) and the Pittsburgh dad asked the Cleveland dad if his kid could have the second one. Once again, the Pittsburgh fan was obliged by the Cleveland fan.

My cousin's younger son was sort of sad because his brother got the wrist band and those other kids got a ball. The other Pittsburgh kids told him he'd get the next one, and sure enough they were able to snag another ball and gave it to my cousin's kid.

But now there was one Pittsburgh kid left out! So my cousin's oldest kid went up to the dugout after the game and got them to throw him a ball. He was absolutely stoked to run over to the other, younger Pittsburgh fan and give him the last ball. Love all around! Turns out Pittsburgh fans aren't really that bad. In the summer.

While we were leaving, my cousin's older kid told me "I'll remember this my whole life!" and "This was the best game I've ever been to!" Even my cousin's pre-teen, non-baseball-fan daughter told me she liked our stadium a lot, more than Pittsburgh. The littlest guy was just all smiles. They said I totally need to come see a game with them in Pittsburgh next year. Great - now I don't want interleague to end!

So despite our loss, there was a lot of winning going on today in Cleveland. You really can't go wrong with kids at a baseball game. The kids definitely were won over by Cleveland and how nice everyone is, how nice our stadium is and for the most part how good our baseball team is.

Oh yeah - the kid was also impressed that I went to 11 games last year, and it was my third (!!) game this year. He suggested I might be their MVP fan. I said no that's probably [Patron Saint of this blog] John Adams (who impressed the kids with his drum, of course!) I also told them about the guy who's bringing his baby daughter to every game this year.  He said I was still probably a runner-up. Yeah, buddy!

No Radio Chatter today, sorry. I need to go shower up (lordy was it STICKY out today!) and get rested for tomorrow's game, where I'll be watching batting practice from on the field, having my photo taken with a player, and viewing the game from behind the plate. With my Asdrubal bobblehead, of course.

I'll see you there!


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  2. I couldn't wait to see what you were going to say about Damon's game. Glad to see that Cleveland stepping up to show your family a good time.