With all due respect for the win in the 2013 Wild Card Game against the Reds, the Pirates 14 inning win over the Cardinals last night surely must rank as perhaps the most strange, weird, exciting, and (perhaps, time will tell) important Pirate win in the fifteen year history of PNC Park. I am pleased to say that I put an ass-groove in my sofa by staying with all fourteen innings and all five hours and four minutes of it.
If you care enough about this sort of thing, you already know what happened, so I'll give no play-by-play recap here, but I will say that this is the kind of game that makes baseball the best sport there is. Consider.....
- Horrendous umpiring
- Second inning ejections of Francisco Cervelli and Clint Hurdle
- Some innings where the Pirates looked totally impotent at the plate with some god-awful at bats
- Key hits when it counted from unlikely sources (AJ Burnett and Chris Stewart)
- Great pitching from seven Pirates pitchers (same with the Cardinals)
- A triple and continued great defense from Jung Ho Kang
- Stewart picking Yadier Molina off of first base
- A key hit from Pedro Alvarez against a left hander
- The possibility of Gerrit Cole being used as a pinch hitter
- A key hit by Neil Walker to lead of the bottom of the fourteenth
- And, of course, that walk-off home run by McCutchen
What a game, and it gives the Bucs a chance to take three of four against the Cardinals with a win tonight.
Let me take detour from the game itself to talk about the Fox Network telecast of the game last night. If you were watching this game with an eye on The Faceboook, it is apparent that most people take the knee-jerk reaction to dislike the national announcers before a pitch is even thrown. However, I really enjoyed the Fox broadcast team of Matt Vasgersian and John Smoltz. Vasgersian did a smooth job of play-by-play and Smoltz is really smart and offers great insight into the game. He has taken all the smarts that led to a terrific career and a spot in Cooperstown right into the booth with him.
No, paranoid Pirates fans, I do NOT think that they favored the Cardinals, and, yes, I felt they were equal in their praise of the Pirates and their players. (There's a reason that broadcasters "slobber" over Yadier Molina, folks - he really IS that good.) I loved how the fact that Vasgersian has to be in Cincinnati this afternoon to broadcast the Futures Game became a comic thread of the broadcast as the game went on and on and on. This is entertainment, folks, it ain't hearts and livers, as we used to say at Highmark.
I also liked how Vasgersian and Smoltz spoke of another subtext of the game, Andrew McCutchen's 17 game hitting streak. Despite an 0-for-3 start followed by three bases on balls, how Cutch was STILL getting chances to continue the streak, which he ended up doing in a most spectacular fashion. It should also be noted that as soon as Walker led off the fourteenth with that single, Smoltz immediately noted that you could "not underestimate the importance of that hit. Now the Cardinals have to pitch to McCutchen." That's pretty keen analysis, and, of course, McCutchen made him look like a prophet.
So, I say, I'll listen to a telecast from Vasgersian and Smoltz anytime!
One cool thing about the Internet is that this morning you were able to watch the replay of Cutch's home run in three different versions: Vasgersian's call on the Fox telecast, Greg Brown's and Steve Blass' call on the Pirate radio network, and the Cardinals call on their radio broadcast. Fabulous stuff.
As the headline says, Oh, What A Night!