Folks, it seems like it's impossible to plan a Walkoff Walk Field Trip without having the home team stage a remarkable comeback and win the game in a walkoff (see: last year) On Saturday night, the Pirates beat the Rockies 8-7 in 10 innings thanks to a tidy, game-ending three-run tater tot by rookie slugger Pedro Alvarez. One needs only to look at the win expectancy graph to see just how hugely improbable Alvarez' homer was. The rest of the game was a bit of a slog but oh, that ending!
But Saturday night was about more than baseball: it was also an anthropological exploration of what happens when you take 40 awesome people from all over the country, drop them into three rows at PNC Park, and observe the interactions between them and the native Pittsburghers. Imagine it as sort of a Survivor: Western Pennsylvania where the rewards are kielbasas and pierogies. To that end, I've collected a few cultural observations about the local folk.
White Pittsburghers get excited about even the stalest party music. During one particular Rockies pitching change, the PA system pumped in the irritating 2000 hit "Who Let the Dogs Out" and white folks all over the park stood up and started to dance with such vigor, you'd have thought the tune was laced with Caribbean voodoo. Folks were seemingly in a trance, a la Weekend at Bernie's 2. Also, I'm pretty sure it was the extended "Dogs" remix because the song felt like it lasted 18 minutes.
Later, when the Village People's obscure classic "YMCA" blared between innings, nearly every single human within earshot of downtown Pittsburgh stood up to clap their hands on the downbeat just waiting to throw their arms up and spell out letters in time with a song about men sleeping with other men. Fans in New York get excited when the groundskeeping crew rakes the field and does the YMCA dance, but the crowd participation level pales in comparison with that of Pittsburgh folk.
Western Pennsylvanians like fireworks. No no, wait, they don't "like" fireworks, they LOVE fireworks. Perhaps "love" isn't even strong enough a word to describe how Western Pennsylvanians feel about pretty explosions in the sky. According to the group ticket rep I spoke with back in February, there are only a handful of Pirates games that are guaranteed sell-outs each season. Saturday night was one of those games because there were fireworks.
To their defense, this was one of the finest displays of fireworks I'd ever witnessed in my life, fine enough that 30,000+ people sat through a four-hour baseball game, a 15 minute interlude, and at least 15 minutes of a really quite boring George Thorogood concert. Ironically enough, George Thorogood's PA system was neither thorough nor good. But oh, those fireworks! They were shot from the field, shot from the river, shot from the Roberto Clemente Bridge, and shot off the tops of at least one downtown skyscraper. And the show went late, not ending until just before 1AM.
But most of all, people in Pittsburgh are very gracious and excellent hosts. Sure, perhaps the American-flag-clad-dad sitting down the row from us was not pleased with our shrimp-chanting antics, but otherwise, we #HEIST attendees felt more than welcome everywhere we went. Cheers to our waitress at Finnigan's Wake bar who managed separate checks for 30+ people with aplomb during the pregame, and then welcomed us back once we departed the park mid-Thorogood. Even better was the kind old man standing on the concourse who graciously donated his bag of peanuts to Kris.
Attendees, please share your memories and/or photos of the #HEIST in the comment section.