Saturday, April 26, 2008

Trip to PNC Park, chapter one

Yesterday I watched my second game at PNC Park, as the Phillies beat the Pirates, 6-5. Jayson Werth hit a home run, his fifth of the year. Tom Gordon picked up his second win, JC Romero got his third hold of the year, and Brad Lidge got his sixth save. Both Lidge and Romero pitched scoreless innings, retaining their 0.00 ERAs.

PNC Park is a beautiful place to watch a baseball game. It has a cool spiral ramp behind left field which gives an excellent view of the whole field. The thing I thought was most impressive was the intelligent use of the video board. In my experience, at Veteran's Stadium and Citizens Bank Park, the video board would be more appropriately named the video bored. Between innings, the board in Philadelphia usually displays useless things like the "Kiss Cam", while the board in Pittsburgh sometimes gives video highlights from other games around the league. After the play, the board often shows a replay. At the end of the game, the board shows a video recap of the game. That's such a simple idea, it took a genius to come up with it. Why in the world can't Philadelphia show a video recap at the end of the game?

The view behind center field is stunning. You can see the Roberto Clemente Bridge, the most appropriately named of The Three Sisters, as well as frequent river traffic sailing the Allegheny below it. Below the batter's eye in center field, there is a bush which is cut in the shape of the word 'Pirates'.

Another innovation is the text messaging system which allows you to text a message which will be displayed on the side scoreboards in between innings. I don't know how I feel about this one, though. It is certainly a creative use of technology, but I feel that it detracts from the atmosphere of the baseball game. About two-thirds of the messages people send seem a little to personal to be displayed to 23,000+ people, like:

Happy Birthday, Adam!
jen and dave 4ever <3!!!

Another one quarter of the messages are statements about one sports team or other not related to the game at hand, such as:

go indians beat the yankees
i <3 Sidney Crosby

The last one-twelfth are just random comments like:

eat lots and lots of wings
why show Philly msgs in PGH?

Overall, the text messages seem to make the ballpark more of an entertainment center than the home of the Pittsburgh Pirates. I think that if you want to tell your boyfriend that you love him, you should just text him, not the whole stadium. The scoreboards could be used for around-the-league updates, baseball trivia, league leaders, or other baseball related subjects.

Something else worth noting is that the large video board has a closed-captioning board underneath it, which is helpful, not just for the hearing-impaired, but also if it is very loud in the ballpark.

I had a great time at PNC Park, which is at least partly due to the fact that the Phillies won the game. Also, after the game, I met Chris Wheeler, one of the Phillies' color commentators coming out of the stadium and shook his hand. I love listening to baseball on the radio. In fact, I became both a baseball and Phillies fan in April, 2000, when I turned on the radio and found the game accidentally. For the last seven years, I have regularly tuned in for almost every game. Now that I am in Pittsburgh, I can't get the Phil's radio station, but sometimes I listen over the internet. The Phillies broadcasters have taught me much of what I know about the sport, and to meet one in person was a very exciting experience for me.


Mike Hess said...

How are you gonna diss Citizen's Bank Park like that, weak sauce Dan. I hate Chris Wheeler, I almost met him once, but decided to go home and eat dinner, hahaha. I didn't know that's how you became a phils phan tho, that's cool.

Sam said...

PNC seems too much like a Minor League ballpark. That could be a good and bad thing. But overall i did not like the 'texting board' and multiple contests between innings (giving away $1000 gift cards, $100 jackets, etc) as they seemed to take away from the Major League ballgame i was trying to watch.

Mitch said...

Hey Dan, I had a great time at PNC and hope that the Pirates continue to be a poor baseball team so that I can go and watch my Fightin' Phils for cheap haha. Nice post bud!