One of the cool things about my room at the Doubletree was that I could see the Pittsburgh Penguins new arena, the Consol Energy Center, from my window. Sunday morning, we wanted to go over and visit the new statue of Penguins owner and legend, Mario Lemieux. I would have been able to provide a nice aerial shot, except that there was a damned church in the way.
The Damned Church. The arrow points to the Lemieux statue.
I was already starting to think of it as “The Damned Church,” and then when I heard that Sitcom Kelly’s room was looking the opposite direction, so I told her to come get a look out my window. When she said, “But there’s a Damned Church in the way,” I knew the name would stick for the rest of the trip.
Our itinerary for Sunday was to go see the Lemieux statue, visit the Rivers Casino and then go to the Pirates/Tigers game at 1:30. After the game, Sitcom Kelly and her sister were heading home. My plans were still up in the air.
My big dilemma was whether or not I should wear my Pirates game jersey right away, or carry it until game time. But then, I remembered that I was in Pittsburgh… a game jersey is appropriate at all times.
As we strolled around town, we came across this fountain. I took some shots while Sitcom Kelly looked for an ATM.
The fountain outside the PNC Tower, with the Omni William Penn in the background.
It occurred to me, while I was moseying around the square, how much I enjoyed just being in downtown Pittsburgh. There’s really no city like it. I felt such a sense of comfort and ease. Perhaps that’s because I knew that the likelihood of being jumped and robbed by a pissed-off Ratbirds fan was practically nil.
We made our way over to the Consol Arena to visit the statue.
This is the front side of the Mario Lemieux statue, showing Le Magnifique splitting a pair of NY Islanders defensemen.
Just about everyone that has seen pictures of the statue have seen it from this angle. So I figured I’d get a shot of the other end.
I was pleasantly surprised by the detail that went into the two defenders. I almost expected a thought bubble to emanate from them both, going, “Oh shit!”
I didn’t want to stay out in front of the arena for too long, or else I’d find Sitcom Kelly plastered to the outside glass, like a kid outside a candy store window. I’m not saying she’s got a thing for hockey players, but I’d hate for maintenance to have to come out and clean the boob marks off the glass.
Our next stop was to get back onto “The T” and take it under the river and over to Rivers Casino. This is a new subway route that just opened a few months ago. It’s a free service that runs from downtown, under the Allegheny River, over to the North Shore, where the casino, Heinz Field and PNC Park sit all lined up in a row. Residents may debate whether it was a worthy project for taxpayer dollars, but it sure helped us out.
“I’m all for it!” says the non-taxpaying nonresident.
The Rivers Casino is a full service gambling joint with slots and table games. None of us being much of a gambler, the sisters and I settled on playing some slots, to kill the time before the game. While I was there, I met up with my cousin Greg, who had managed to procure himself a ticket to the game, right beside our seats.
While I was busy pissing my money away, I swear he sat down beside me, fed in $5 and instantly hit a big one. I don’t know how much he won on that roll, but he played for about another 15 minutes and still walked away with $50. Bastard!
So Greg won, I dropped about $40, and the sisters broke close to even, before we broke and headed for the ballgame.
This is the Duquesne Incline. It’s not the one we rode the night before; that ones about a half mile to the left, but they are similar.
Our seats were pretty good… 3 rows from the field (not including the row of special needs seats), down the third base line.
The game was a rare sellout, mostly because a lot of Detroit fans realized that this was a cool road trip to make. And why not make the trip? It’s still the most scenic ballpark in the country. (In my humble, but biased opinion.)
OK, it would have looked nicer, if it had been sunny and we were shooting from behind home plate.
Justin Verlander was pitching for the Tigers. To me, this was good news and bad news. The good news was that I’d be getting to see a future Hall of Famer pitch. The bad news was that the Pirates were probably going to get their asses kicked.
That’s Verlander, on the left. The big guy on the right is Prince Fielder, who isn’t so much a first baseman but a nose tackle.
As for the game, the Pirates were down 2-0 early, came back to tie it later, gave up another run in the 8th, had guys on in the bottom of the 9th but couldn’t score and lost 3-2.
It was an exciting game, but boy, was it hot. With no shade and few clouds, we were left to simmer in our own juices. Carpetbagger and his wife were with us too, although Mrs. Bagger spent most of the game back on the concourse, in the shade. (Obviously, she’s the brains of the operation. And so are Sitcom Kelly and her sister, as they ducked out early, to start their drive home, in glorious air conditioning.)
With the game over and goodbyes said, I had the rest of the evening ahead. I had originally planned to hang with Greg for a while before retiring to my hotel, and then go out on Monday morning to see my Grandpa on the west side of town.
But before the game, Greg said his mom was making homemade pasta and invited me out for dinner. Homemade spags? You don’t have to ask me twice. So Greg ran me out to Coraopolis so I could hang with my 96-year old Grandpa and other loved ones for a while.
Greg and his wife recently had their 2nd child, a girl whom they named Luci, after our Grandma. Needless to say, that made my Grandpa a very happy guy.
Grandpa with his great granddaughter, Luci.
Check out the cheeks on this one! She looks like a cabbage patch doll…
There’s enough room in there for a bowl of pasta and a couple of meatballs!
So we ate and yakked and had wine and looked at old pictures and yakked some more. It was a great way to finish up a wonderful week and another satisfying trip to The Burgh. Greg got me back to my room in time for True Blood on HBO, so I’d have less DVR to catch up on the next week.
Having my visit on Sunday night allowed me to head for home first thing Monday morning. But the down side is that I wouldn’t be able to stop by the local market for some authentic Pittsburgh chipped-chopped ham and fresh Italian bread. At least I learned that the place that serves the monster fish sandwiches that I love, was closed Monday too, so I didn’t miss anything there.
I got home uneventfully, which is good. I made my usual Wendy’s stop in Breezewood, and for once had time to stop at that place that sells all the Steelers and Penguins paraphernalia. Lord, I spent 30 minutes in there and could have dropped a ton of dough, but I was able to keep it under $35.
My biggest problem was that I now had to go back to work on Tuesday.
After all the craziness I’d just been through, I figured I’d need at least another day or two to recover from the vacation.