Moving Day

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Well sad days are inevitable, this one being that this blog is moving. Don’t cry, it’s not moving far, but to update your bookmarks (Yes I know you all check this site every moment you can get) here is the new address. 
If you’re wondering, I’m making the move for a couple of reasons..
1. Coverage of more teams- Though baseball will always be my favorite, I am a fan of many other sports, and this blog will allow me to cover more teams, in addition to giving an outlet to blog about Ohio University sports.
2. Resume builder- On the WordPress site, I can keep track of all my clippings for easy reference.
3. This site’s title is redundant- This offseason I went from being a rich high school kid with some change to a college student making tuition payments. I had to move from my home in 316 to a cheaper option in 329.
I’d like to thank all the readers. I would have never thought I would have gotten as much traffic as I did in my time here. Hope you will all stop over and hear what I got to say. I’d really appreciate it.
Thanks again,
Steve

Recap: Jays vs Pirates 3-6-11

Thanks to the miracle of MLB.TV, I was able to enjoy today’s game with the rest of Pirate nation. It wasn’t much of a game, but here are my thoughts in typical bullet point fashion.

-The Pirates sent out James McDonald to the bump. He struggled in the first inning, throwing 29 pitches and giving up two runs. He would settle down in the next two innings. His curveball was especially on in the last two innings. That thing is nasty.
-Love Corey Wimberly but I have my doubts about him making the team. His fielding is suspect for a shortstop and even routine throws turned into a challenge.
-Ricky Romero was the starter for the Jays and promptly mowed down the Bucs. He had a great season in 2010, and looks to be on track for a good 2011.
-Pedro appears to be in mid-season form hitting wise. Had half of the team’s hits going 2-3. His discipline still needs some work, but I have a feeling it will come.
-Pedro’s bad defense at 3rd was on display today. He booted a hard hit ball right at him, and plenty of errors are probably in the cards. As long as he’s hitting I can deal with it.
-Joel Hanrahan dominated in his inning today. Justin Thompson, Justin Wilson, and Jeff Locke also looked very good today.
-I hate Jose Bautista. He tore the Buccos up today going 3-3 with two doubles. 
-Prospect Gift Ngoepe got an at-bat in the 9th as a pinch hitter. Love seeing some time for everyone’s favorite South African.
-Today’s dreadful game was made a lot better since I took part in the live blog on raisethejollyroger.com. If you aren’t taking part in the great discussions there, you’re missing out.
Next game is on TV thursday night. Hopefully I’ll catch it and have some more ramblings.
@suhlmann12

…And They’re Off

On Friday afternoon, the Pirates set sail on their 2011 season albeit on some unusual competition, the State College of Florida Manatees. They also faced off against Rays on Saturday and Sunday, here are my thoughts.

Friday vs SCF Manatees W 21-1

-Don’t really know what you could take from a game against a junior college team but I’ll try my best.
-Steve Pearce had a really good game at the plate. He’s doing a lot of work at third base this spring. It would be a big lift if he could take some of the pressure off Pedro Alvarez at the hot corner this season, especially since Pearce hits well off lefties and El Toro has shown struggles. 
-Corey “Wimbo Slice” Wimberly has got some serious speed and potential. He may not make the team for Opening Day but I’m sure we’ll see him at some point in 2011.
-Awesome seeing prospects such as Chase d’Arnaud and Gorkys Hernandez do their thing. Don’t get to see the minor leaguers all that often except this time of year.
-Garrett Atkins had a 3 run HR. He’s one to follow this spring as well, as he’s a part of the competition for a bench spot.
-Though the webcast was low-quality, I still had a blast taking in the game with a lot of the other bloggers and super-fans of the team. 
Saturday vs Rays L 9-5

-The competition for the 5th spot in the rotation got underway. Charlie Morton pitched two innings, allowing one hit and no runs. He was aided by two double plays. Brad Lincoln didn’t fare as well. He got out of a jam in the 3rd, getting a strike out and a pick-off of Sean Rodriguez on 2nd base to end the inning. In the 4th he wouldn’t be as lucky, as Evan Longoria hit a home run off of him. Round 1 goes to Morton, but it is a very long spring.
-Daniel McCutchen didn’t have good stuff at all. Allowed a bases loaded double, and threw just 5 of his 13 pitches for strikes. His future with the team was up in the air before the season, and this first outing didn’t help.
-Lyle Overbay is such an upgrade defensively at 1B over Jones and Doumit. What worries me is his offensive ability.
Sunday vs Rays W 10-3

-Andrew McCutchen had a big game, going 3-3 with a HR off James Shields. He also had an RBI double and a stolen base. A lot of people in baseball think this will be Cutch’s breakout season. However, I don’t like Clint Hurdle batting him 3rd in the order. The team would benefit a lot more with him and Tabata as a 1-2 punch causing havoc on the basepaths for the middle of the order.
-Kevin Correa had a tough opening start. He only pitched 1.1 of his 2 scheduled innings after reaching his pitch limit. He allowed 2 ER on 2 hits and 2 walks. He was thought to be a lock for the rotation, but if he can’t find the control the Pirates will have to look at other options.
-From the obscure ex-Pirate files, there were Jonah Bayliss and Chris Bootcheck sightings as both pitched for the Rays. Boy I though our options were bad.
The Pirates are beginning their first full week of Grapefruit League play this week. I hope to have a week and review post Sunday night. Until then happy Spring Training
 

Coonelly out of line with latest flub

As the man in charge of something as prominent as a Major League Baseball franchise, you need to watch what you are saying at all times. For team president Frank Coonley this has been a major problem for him since coming into power in 2008. Last year at Spring Training it was the infamous “next dynasty” speech before the team went on to lose 105 games. Before that it was promising the team would be returning to glory with a return to sleeved jerseys in 2009. He is one of the biggest fuels to the raging fire that is the Pirates in the eyes of local media.

However a recently released interview by Pirates Prospects with Frank that was done during PirateFest may be his worst foot-in-mouth moment yet.

Kevin: Would the Pirates be able to afford a $70M to $80M payroll, in present-day worth, if this current group of players were competitive enough to merit additional outside free agents?

Frank: Today, no but we will be able to support that payroll very soon if our fans believe that we now have a group of players in Pittsburgh and on its way here in the near future that is competitive.  We need to take a meaningful step forward in terms of attendance to reach that payroll number while continuing to invest heavily in our future but I am convinced that the attendance will move quickly once we convince our fans that we are on the right track.

Really? The fan support is what is keeping this team from funding a higher payroll?

It wasn’t long after it’s release until others had their say about it. Post Gazette writer Bob Smizik says….

This is so typical of how the Pirates operate. They should be groveling at the feet of their loyal fan base and not threatening to raise ticket prices, as they’ve done, and not threatening to withhold a good team until more fans pay good money to see a bad team.”

James Krug of isportsweb.com  puts it this way...

“You could liken it to a car company telling its customers: ‘

We really want to build better cars for you. But before we do, we need you to start buying our lower-quality, underperforming cars in a much higher volume.”

I am usually the last person who will go against the direction this team is going in. However an attack of this sorts is inexcusable. You get fans to watch your product by giving them something to watch, not telling them to come watch crap in order for it to get better. I can understand why people have been avoiding PNC Park and not spending money to go to games. It’s your choice whether or not you want to go.

I’ve made it to roughly 25 games the last few seasons. The last thing I want to be told after doing so is that I have to essentially spend more in the eyes of this team to see a higher payroll. 

I don’t feel nearly as comfortable supporting a team that views their fans in that kind of manner. 

I don’t feel as comfortable giving money and support to a team that views their fans in such low regard.


Obligatory Spring Training Post

Ah the magical time is back upon us. Our favorite players have migrated south, and campus is littered with people sporting their team colors. Spring Training is here! I’m sure a lot of people have already reported on what is going on in Pirates camp so I’ll be brief.

Hanrahan named closer
Today, Clint Hurdle announced that Joel Hanrahan will be the closer for the beginning of the season. One of the main story lines for this spring was going to be the battle between Evan Meek and Joel for the closer role. However after workouts today, the staff felt ready to make a decision. Hurdle told Jen Langosch today:

 “We had a lot of internal discussion.I don’t think there was a bad choice. But based on some experience that Joel has had in the past, just for the makeup of our ballclub, the continuity that was shown late last season with them piggybacking each other, that’s the way we’re going to start the season.”

I fully expected Hanrahan to be the closer, despite Evan looking in much better shape than last year. Joel throws harder and has more movement on his pitches. Plus, Evan is as durable as a reliever as they come. They’d be wasting innings by sitting him in the bullpen waiting to close out games.

Joe Beimel to be Lefty Specialist
It was also announced today that despite being a non-roster invitee, lefty reliever Joe Beimel will be in a set-up role with the team on Opening Day according to Trib reporter Rob Biertempfel. Now in his second go around with the team that drafted him, Beimel has been O.K. in this role with other teams (lefty batters are hitting .259 off him in his career), but the lack of bullpen depth after Hanrahan and Meek has pretty much given him the job by default. 
Doumit Saga Continues
An article published in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette yesterday, shows that Ryan Doumit situation isn’t getting any better. With the third salary on the team ($5.1 million this year), he is essentially relegated to a bench role after the signings of Lyle Overbay and Matt Diaz. The trade rumors continue to swirl about him as well. Despite this, Doumit is ready to but the distractions aside and start the season.
“I can be an everyday player. That’s my approach. No matter where they put me, though, I’ll be the best that I can be. It’s not something I’m going to dwell on. I’m already tired of talking about this. I’ll show up and let my play do the talking.”

Pirate GM Neil Huntington isn’t going to force the issue when it comes to potentially moving him. 
“We’re not dying to move him. He has value to us. It has to make sense to us, and we haven’t found that.”

This is definitely something to keep an eye on before the season starts.
In addition to doing workouts, there is a lot of other pre-season housekeeping that goes on before the season starts. For example, the players were getting their pictures taken for the always entertaining scoreboard art on the big board at PNC Park (pic from @BucsInsider).
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I’m always looking forward to see how those turn out. 
The Pirates first game is February 26th against the hated Manatee Community College Manatees. 
keep it to @suhlmann12 on Twitter for more! #ShamelessSelfPromotion

My Second Home: Ohio University

As you can probably tell from my posts, I go to school at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. It features a beautiful campus that has really grown on me since I’ve started going to school here in the fall. One day after a snow storm I felt compelled to try out my new camera by taking pictures of various parts of campus. Since I can’t think of anything else to blab about until the 

Might as well start where I live, which is the section of campus known as West Green.
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It features a variety of dorm buildings, including my residence James Hall
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You can find a lot of cool landmarks on the nearby College Green
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At the entrance you’ll find the Class Gateway
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Also on College Green there is the Galbreath Chapel
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It was built by OU alumnist and former Pirates owner John Galbreath and he named it after his wife. At the end, where the campus becomes uptown Athens, you’ll find the Alumni Gateway.
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Once you leave College Green and head where the academic buildings are, you’ll see Scripps Hall where budding journalists such as myself learn our craft.
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On the south part of campus you’ll find this nice little park that was frozen over from the storm.
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Past that you’ll see the Ping Fitness Center, where you’ll find me when I’m not covering stuff or studying.
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Nearby is the “Crowned Jewel of the Mid-American Conference,” and home to the Ohio Bobcats football team, Peden Stadium.
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Located on the banks of the Hocking River, the picturesque stadium which has stood since 1929 is among one of the oldest in Division 1 football. It is even been referred to as “The Wrigley Field of football.” The day I stopped by, it stood frozen, waiting for September to roll around.
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Across from Peden, and right behind my dorm, is the home of Bobcat basketball, volleyball, and a host of other things, the Convocation Center.
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Built in the mid 1960s, it is a funky place to watch an event to say the least. From the outside it looks like the old Houston Astrodome. The cavernous interior featuring a system of catwalks hanging from the roof makes me think of Tropicana Field in Tampa Bay. The one-tier seating design gives me memories of the old Mellon Arena in Pittsburgh.
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With pitchers and catchers reporting next week, I’m excited to get back to blogging about baseball. Until then keep it tuned to the twitter (@suhlmann12) for more.

PirateFest 2011

While the city of Pittsburgh is buzzing over yet another trip to the Super Bowl for the Steelers, another group of people had reason to be excited this weekend. Glorious baseball made its return to the steel city for PirateFest 2011. I was able to come home this weekend and enjoy the festivities on Friday and Saturday.

However, the beginning of my events this weekend happened in enemy territory at a Reds Caravan Event in Athens on Thursday. The fact it was just a mile from my school made it obvious that I had to check it out, whether the team was a division rival or not.
We made our way to the Athens Mall where a crowd of 200 or so had gathered. Being that Athens is about 3 hours from Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Pittsburgh, the citizens are pretty split on teams, however the Reds recent success make them a popular choice in town.
The sassy and seductive Rosie Red kept fans happy while waiting in line. 
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The people on this stop was prospect Todd Frazier, announcer Chris Welsh, pitcher Travis Wood, and manager Dusty Baker. 
The first person I met was Dusty. He was very engaging with the fans. 
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I asked him to take it easy on the Pirates this year. He said “Never”. I then quipped back “You better keep beating the Cardinals and Brewers then,” which got a laugh out of him.
Travis Wood was more quiet but still a nice guy.
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Welsh and Frazier couldn’t have been nicer either. It was a good group of guys that were happy to be there. Another bit of good news is that I found out the Athens community day in Cincinnati happens to be the game April 16 against the Pirates. They are hoping to get a bus trip going so you can bet that I’ll be first in line if it gets put together.
After taking a test early Friday morning it was time to head home for PirateFest at the convention center.
I arrived with my brother shortly after 4:15. Apparently the long lines were gone and we walked right in. 
I was curious to see how this would all turn out considering the fact that it was the first season ticket holder night. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it was.
Both the main autograph area and the MVP zone were hopping. Me and my brother made our way over there. After a record 10 minute wait we got to see Garrett Jones and new pitcher Kevin Correia. 
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G.I. Jones I noticed has really embraced the attention he has received after coming out of virtually nowhere a few years back. He loves being around the fans. 
We then stopped at the Collectors area which was smaller than usual this year. We still got some good cards at decent prices which is always a plus.
We then headed over to the main autograph line knowing that Andrew McCutchen and Paul Maholm were signing next. After an hour wait we finally got to the front. At first Maholm wasn’t there which had me a little upset. I didn’t want to wait an hour for just one autograph. However, he came over later along with Kevin Correia and first base coach Luis Silviero.
Cutch’s dreads were in mid-season form.
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Paul Maholm is always a pleasure to meet with.
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We took a break after standing for so long by redeeming a coupon for a free meal at the concession stand, another new perk that I greatly appreciated. I then redeemed my free game ticket at the dart board, where I won the Kids Paddle Ball set that I was denied from getting during the regular season.
Walking around we encountered Brad Lincoln who was more than willing to sign for the fans.
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By that time it was 6:30 and the fest had opened up to all prospective season ticket holders. Not just ones that were paid off. This made things more crowded. We headed back to the MVP zone, where all-star Evan Meek and Jose Tabata were signing. Unfortunately when I was about 20 or so people back in line, there was a changing of the guard. They were replaced by bust pitcher Charlie Morton and bench coach Jeff Bannister. 
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Though Charlie had arguably the worst season put forth by a player in all of baseball in 2010, he still has kept a light heart about things and is always up for a joke. I asked him if he was going to play his guitar for the crowds later this weekend, he said he forgot it back at home.
At the stage, the ask Pirates Management Q and A.
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Usually I pass this up since people always ask the same questions. But tonight I stuck around to get my first glimpse at new manager Clint Hurdle. I have never heard a manager for this team in my life talk with such enthusiasm about the Pirates. You can actually tell he wants to be here. It was at this point that the excitement for the season set in. Well done Mr. Hurdle.
Next was the Team Q and A which is always fun to watch. The crowd often asks good questions that keep the players on their toes. This group definitely has good chemistry from what I saw and heard.
I headed home after a tiring first day having to recover for Saturday.
I made my way to the convention center on Saturday ready to enjoy the wonderful indoor baseball carnival for a second day.
I got there at about 2 PM so it had been going on for about four hours when I arrived. WOW! The place was packed. Say what you will about people not caring about the Pirates, it certainly wasn’t evident th
is weekend.
I went immediately to the MVP zone where I finally got to meet Jose Tabata.
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It’s easy to see that he has been hitting the weights this winter. I don’t remember his forearms being that huge.
Soon after the Pittsburgh kid himself Neil Walker came to sign.
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He was a little under the weather, but props to him for coming out.
I spent some time with my friends that came in just milling around enjoying the atmosphere, which is one of the best parts of this.
I saw my man Clint Hurdle was signing at the MVP zone. Since it started to get later in the evening, the crowd began to shrink. I took advantage of it to get to know the new skipper. We posed for a picture afterwards.
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He thanked every fan that came through line for showing support for the team. While haters of the Pirates can make fun of many things, the manager is no longer going to be the butt of jokes.
I stuck around until closing just to see who would stop by the autograph table. From 6-7 former Pirate Al Oliver and announcer John Wehner.
Two good guys but nothing special. I was ready to leave until I heard Andrew McCutchen was going to be there at 7. I got back in line and waited around again. I got two more cards signed by him. When I got to the table, I could tell a tired and disinterested Cutch was ready to go home. He was biding his time between visitors drawing a Pirate “P” complete with flames and other touches. He barely lifted his head up to say “Hi” to me. He’s come under fire from a lot of fans that have encountered him during the Caravan and PirateFest this winter. It’s something I’m going to analyze in a post later this week (fingers crossed).
I headed home with a few more promos then my mom would have liked, and a ton of new autographs. Perhaps the most fun was mingling with all the people, getting a chance to talk about something different then the Super Bowl ad naseum, with fans that share the same passion I do. It was a productive 3 day stretch of baseball activity that has me wishing Spring Training were here already.
Here are the autographs I compiled during the weekend.
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A Pedro Alvarez kids BP jersey to be given out. The Pirates are making a shift to gold BP jerseys in 2011. I think they look sharp.
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A Dana Eveland game used jersey on sale for only(!!) $100.
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The Pirate Parrot: Part Time mascot, Part Time pool shark.
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Signs that Steve “The Second Coming” Pearce will still be around
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13 Days until pitchers and catchers report.
@suhlmann12 #FollowMeOnTwitterPlease!!

Five Baseball Video Games All Fans Should Play

Perhaps one of the more fun elements of being a big baseball fan is playing the various video games that have been released over the year. Whats more fun than controlling our favorite players? Guiding Ian Snell to a 20 win season and a Cy Young award, or breaking Barry Bond’s home run record with Brian Giles? They give us the chance to be the owners, GMs and managers of our franchises. 

With so many games that have come out over time, which ones are the best? Well here is a list of five essentials that all baseball fans should try out.
5. Baseball Stars (NES 1989)
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Though this game doesn’t feature any MLB teams or players, this was probably the first legitimate baseball game released for a system. The ability to create players and teams was one of a kind, plus the gameplay was one of the most realistic at the time it was released. Think of it as the Tecmo Bowl in baseball sense.
4. Backyard Baseball 2001 (PC 2000)
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Though this wasn’t the first Backyard Baseball game released, this was the first to feature kid versions of 30 MLB players. Playing the game now that I’m older, its great fun to assemble teams of old Pirates (Jason Kendall, Barry Bonds, Kenny Lofton, Raul Mondesi, Jeromy Burnitz) and ‘roiders (Mark McGuire, Jose Canseco, Sammy Sosa). The quirky fields and the witty commentary from Sunny Day and Vinnie the Gooch make this a winner, no matter what the age. 
3. Baseball Mogul Series (PC, various years)
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Maybe you’re not the type that’s into controlling the gameplay, but a huge fan of what goes into a team’s front office. If this is the case, Baseball Mogul is for you. Having the ability to take charge of any team in baseball from 1900 to the present, it’s fun to see how you fare as in control of historic teams. What if Boston never sold Babe Ruth to the Yankees? Scenarios like that and many more can be played out with you in control. Rather than controlling the players in the games, the games are simulated using formulas based on player ratings, making it more realistic. If you are looking for a simple game that you can dive right into, it’s worth a look.
2. Triple Play Baseball (PlayStation, 2001)
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This game was one of the most realistic when it hit the market. The graphics are smooth, the gameplay is great and it features one of the most fun game modes ever: Big League Showdown. You can play the original, which is based off the short-lived off-season competition that aired on ESPN, or you can try your hand at the extreme mode. In extreme mode, home runs get one point for each foot traveled plus bonuses for hitting targets. With gigantic reproductions of a living room, construction site, and medieval castle as the fields, it can get pretty crazy.
 
1. MLB 10: The Show (PlayStation 3, 2010)
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As far as presentation goes, this game is the best all-time. With MLB Network’s Matt Vasgersian in the booth with Rex Hudler, and plenty of little features to make it feels like you are watching the game on TV. The Owner Mode and Road to the Show modes are incredible and will have you playing the game for a long time. There are plenty of gameplay features that make this one of the best all-time. Do yourself a favor and try out this game.
There is now less than a week until Piratefest. I can’t wait to go home for it. Stay tuned to here for an update afterwards. Plus I will be tweeting what’s going on from the David L. Lawrence Convention Center as they happen, so follow me @suhlmann12 if you want to be up on the latest.

New MyGameBalls column

Today a new column of mine debuted at mygameballs.com.

Check it out HERE.
Hopefully the story will keep you warm on this chilly day.
-Steve

Winter Classic Alumni Game/Pens Practice 12-31-10

Id first like to apologize for the lateness of this entry. The last days that I was home were nuts (partially for the event I’m going to describe to you). Going back to school last Sunday didn’t help. However, I’ve found some free time to tell you about a great experience that I had to wrap up break. 

If you’ve live in Pittsburgh you’d have to be under a rock to not know that the National Hockey League’s. Winter Classic was going to be in town on New Years Day. For the rest of the nation, I understand if you have no idea what I’m talking about.
Basically the Winter Classic is the NHL’s “super bowl” held on New Years Day. Two teams are featured in a game played outside. In 2008 it was in Buffalo, followed by Wrigley Field in 2009 and Fenway Park in 2010. In, 2011 the game was to be played in Pittsburgh at Heinz Field.
I didn’t have connections to get tickets to the actual game itself, nor did I have $400 lying around so that was out of the question. However I was one of 10,000 lucky people to score tickets to the “workout day” so to speak on New Years Eve, that featured an alumni game and the Pittsburgh Penguins practice.
Heinz Field was decked out for the game.
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The Washington Capitals was the team going against the Penguins for the Classic.
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The game was slated to start at 9:30 am. I made my way in, and was able to get this picture of the ice.
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However my seats were much closer to the ice. Normally, for a sporting event, you are pretty happy whenever you have tickets for the game just 8 rows up. However this was much different. Hockey wasn’t meant to be played at a football stadium so there were a lot of obstructed views. 
The view from where I sat.
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The only part of the ice that I could clearly see was the end where the Penguins shot so I was content with that.
The Capitals alumni came out first.
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The Penguins came out next led by “Le Magnifique” Mario Lemieux. 
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Mario is often referred to as one of the greatest players in hockey history. With over 500 career goals, 1000 career points, missing time in a season to battle Hodgkin’s disease then coming back to win a scoring title, then buying the team out of bankruptcy, Lemieux is an important part of Pittsburgh sports lore. 
I was lucky enough to see him play before his first retirement in 1997, then after he came back in 2000 and before he retired for good in 2005. It was unreal to see him back out on the ice yet again and all these players in such a unique setting.
My attempt at the team photo.
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Iceburgh was pumped (I think him and the parrot are cousins).
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Some game action
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Half way through the game the sun came out, creating a pretty scene
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If your wondering why the stadium was so empty, the NHL for some reason only had 10,000 tickets available for the game. After tickets sold out in five minutes they’re probably kicking themselves for not letting more people in.
The game ended in a 5-5 tie. Despite a “shootout” chant from the crowd, and protest from the players, organizers made the game end. Though I would have liked to see how the players would have fared in a sudden-death shootout that wasn’t a part of the game when they played, I was content with the result. It was then time for the Penguins to practice. 
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Superstar Sidney Crosby
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The Penguins took their team photo
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I have seen the Penguins practice many a time at Southpointe (their practice facility when the arena is in use). I have never seen a team be so loose and have as much fun as they do. But I guess that’s what winning does for a team.
Every practice they have a shootout competition with the loser having to do something as a “punishment.” The loser today was Jordan Staal who was on the eve of making his season debut due to injury. He had to run all the way to the top of the stadium.
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The crowd was delighted.
It was then time to go. It was a great experience that would rank as one of my favorites all time (hockey related of course). If your wondering why there are actually good pictures on my blog, I got a new camera for Christmas. I can’t wait to break it out for baseball season. 
There is a Reds Caravan event coming to Athens on the eve of Piratefest, so the last week of January will be busy here. 
As always keep in touch with the twitter @suhlmann12. Having followers makes me feel important.
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