Sunday, August 19, 2007

SkyBlast: Fireworks with an Attitude

I've been trying to avoid spending money on the Pirates until they get their act together with management and start spending the money that fans give them wisely. However, whenever I am able to get a free ticket I still enjoy going to PNC Park to catch a game. This happened Friday night, as a friend had an extra ticket and offered it to me. The Phillies were in town, so you know it was going to be a slugfest.

The Phillies won 11-8, with home runs from Aaron Rowand, Pat Burrell, and uh, someone else. The Pirates had their own share of dingers from Matt Kata, Ronny Paulino, and Jose Bautista. Normally reliable Tom Gorzelanny had a poor start, giving up 4 in the 5th to break open a tight game, Shane Youman gave up another 4 in the 6th, and despite the Buccos' best efforts it was pretty much over after that. Some personal notes....the Friday red jerseys look just as awful in person as on TV....the loudest cheers from the sellout crowd were for the Pierogi race and when the Smashmouth guy said he was a Steelers fan (see below).....basically Pittsburgh fans have become completely apathetic towards the Pirates. This is a significant achievement considering how crazy this city gets about the Steelers and even the Penguins when they're good. At no point during the evening did I see anyone in distress about cursing or booing or anything like was like everyone was just patiently waiting for what I'm about to write about.

The game was secondary on this evening. The Pirates have gone to a minor league level of shameless promotions in recent years to put people in the seats. The promotion on this evening was "SkyBlast". It's actually a weekend long event, after each game Thursday-Saturday there would be a live concert following the game along with the fireworks show. Following the Pirates' mold of acquiring talent past their prime, Smashmouth was the scheduled band for Friday. I was upset because I missed Styx, Thursday night's band; but relieved I didn't have to endure the Povertyneck Hillbillies, Saturday night's band. But whatever. After the game, they wheeled a big stage out to the dirt area around 2nd base (wouldn't that tear up the dirt?) and after warming up the crowd by playing the SNL Cowbell skit on the Jumbotron, Smashmouth came out and played a couple songs. Then there would be fireworks for a little bit, Smashmouth would play another song, more fireworks, etc, until it was all capped off by a simultaneous "All Star"/fireworks grand finale. Smashmouth was as expected: vanilla songs from the late 90's. But the fireworks......OMG the fireworks. Western PA is a big place for fireworks, so I've seen quite a few shows in my lifetime. Many after Pirates games, just about every 4th of July, etc. These were by far and away the most incredible fireworks I had ever seen in my entire life. I can't really put them into words, but if they had invested the same amount of money into their baseball team, they may have been able to keep Barry Bonds 15 years ago. Just saying. So I left PNC that evening both in astoundment at the amazing fireworks, and depressed that this is what Pirates baseball had come to.

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