Tag Archives: Pirates

The Home Opener

Sunday, April 3rd was the Pittsburgh Pirates Home Opener or Opening Day. For any of you reading who aren’t baseball fans, here is a handy dandy wiki link (I had to double-check I was using the right terminology). I grew up watching more football than baseball, but I used to play softball (not for very long though). When I was thinking about what to write for this post, I really wanted to write about the home opener, but I couldn’t come up with a creative way to write about it, and then I realized that there is SO MUCH information out there about baseball and the Pirates (and honestly that is a good thing … because there are a lot of things happening with baseball).

pittsburgh pirates

People go to baseball games for a variety of reasons, because they like the game (my mom [Hi Mom!]), because they like the food and being in a stadium (me) or because they’ve been dragged there by their family (my dad and sister). So for this post, I wanted to provide some information that may help people who love their family that much that they’re willing to go to put up with the game (there ARE interesting things about baseball).

Major League Baseball (MLB) is split into two leagues, the American League and the National League, which are then broken down into East, Central and West. Have I lost anyone? Not yet? Great! After regular season there is post season, which is better explained here, but is three rounds that lead to the World Series, and the World Series is a best of seven series. Now that you are all-knowing in baseball, you can definitely name the retired numbers and Hall of Famers from the Pirates, right? Okay, maybe not, but if I’ve sparked your interest, there are a number of ways that you can find out more information about (Pirates) baseball. And for those of you who stuck through this post and have no interest in baseball there are some pretty fun fiction reads too.

So are you interested in baseball now? Have you always been interested but found something new in this post? Do you go to games for a special reason? Are you tired of reading this post?  Feel free to comment below (to one or all of the questions if you feel ambitious).



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Spies, Pirates, and Rogues

Sky’s and Suzy’s recent posts about the seafaring life and pirates  inspired me to think about some historical romance novels that mix adventure, danger, and espionage with a romantic love story. In these novels, it isn’t all ballrooms, musicales, and country house parties, lovely as those things are.


Lord and Lady Spy by Shana Galen

Lord and Lady Smythe are out of work spies vying for one prime open position working undercover for the Crown. Their marriage has been foundering on lies for years, as identities are kept secret even from each other. Who will win the position? And can this marriage be saved? There soon will be others in this series, coming this fall.


Swept Away by a KissCaptured by a Rogue Lordand In the Arms of the Marquess by Katharine Ashe

Ashe is a history professor and has a wonderful way of weaving history with romance. In her Rogues of the Sea series, three aristocrats, two who work undercover for the government and another a Robin Hood-type privateer, encounter love amid danger on the high seas. Ashe has another series, The Falcon Club, about another secret group, whose characters also appear in this series.


More Than a Stranger by Erin Knightley

Benedict and Evie have been faithful correspondents since childhood, until he abruptly stops writing and breaks Evie’s heart. Now he’s on the run for his life. Can he count on his childhood friends for support? And will they forgive his deceptions or use them against him? First in a series.


The Turncoat by Donna Thorland

This debut novel is classed as historical fiction instead of historical romance, but there is a beautiful love story that sizzles. Kate Grey is a dubious Quaker turned rebel spy who falls for British officer, Peter Tremayne. Can they trust each other while on opposite sides of a war? The first in a series set in pre-Revolutionary Philadelphia, with the second coming this November.

A Lady’s Revenge and Checkmate, My Lord by Tracey Devlyn

Nexus is a secret network of spies working against Napoleon Bonaparte. A Lady’s Revenge features the dangerous story of agents Guy and Cora while Checkmate, My Lord, is Nexus’ director, Somerton’s story. A bit arduous at times–the author describes her books as “historical romantic thrillers” with “a slightly more grievous journey toward the heroine’s happy ending”–the writing is so strong, I couldn’t put them down. The third book is due out this fall.


Note: This post is the second in a series highlighting historical romance novels I’ve greatly enjoyed.


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Fantastic Voyages

My family didn’t really take vacations when I was growing up. We’d go on day trips instead, packing the car with a picnic lunch and some beach supplies, then tooling around northeastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania looking for adventures. Most of the time we’d end up at either Pymatuning State Park or Conneaut Lake Park. Both are magical, fun places, and I highly recommend that you visit them. However, now that I’ve just returned from my first real vacation (complete with oceans, tasty food, and intense scrutiny from airport security), I’m completely hooked on the experience, and am planning/saving for the next one.

Spotted at Tahoe Unveiled.

Spotted at Tahoe Unveiled.

Taking a cue from Melissa, I brought along some beach reads, leaping at the chance to spend some quality time with the kind of books I like best: fantasy and speculative fiction. If you like that sort of thing, or are open to trying it, these fun, fantastic reading picks will keep you entertained as you lounge on the beach, by the pool, or under a palm tree, sipping your tropical beverage of choice.

awareThe Aware, Glenda Larke. Book one of the Isles of Glory trilogy introduces us to Blaze Halfbreed and her piratical lifestyle, forced upon her by the constraints of island society. Thanks to her mixed parentage, she’s denied citizenship in the Isles, and must work as an adventurer-for-hire to earn her keep. Luckily, her ability to sense magic makes her valuable to the various political factions who rule the islands. One faction, the Keepers, has recently hired her to find a runaway princess, fleeing from an unwanted marriage. As the plot thickens, however, Blaze learns that there are some things she just can’t do, even for a chance at full citizenship. Filled with swordplay and nautical shenanigans, this adventure yarn will appeal to readers who like salty language, strong female characters, sexy situations, and, perhaps, Suzy’s recent pirate post.

Chicks Kick Butt, Rachel Caine, ed. Curious about urban fantasy, but not ready to commit to a whole novel? Try this short story buttsampler on for size. Caine–an accomplished fantasy writer with several successful series to her credit–has assembled stories from various writers in the genre that showcase its greatest strength: the tendency to feature heroines who kick butt rather than kiss it. My favorite piece was Karen Chance‘s “In Vino Veritas,” which features a high-stakes paranormal drinking contest (trust me, it’s hilarious), but the whole volume is solid, and will open up a whole pack of new authors for you to try, if this is your first stab at urban fantasy.

magePaper Mage, Leah R. Cutter. Historical fiction fans will want to try this tale on for size. Our heroine, Xiao Yen, is on a quest to fulfill a promise she made to her aunt: win glory, and bring home an immortal peach. Because she’s a highly trained paper mage, Xiao Yen can make beautiful origami creations that come alive, which is useful when you need, say, a tiger to protect your campsite after dark. On her current assignment, bodyguard to a delegation of foreigners, Xiao Yen accidentally offends a goddess in disguise, and amends for her error by taking up the immortal lady’s quest as well as her own. The pace is slow and stately, showcasing the manners and customs of ancient China while exploring a very different sort of magic. Lovely, sad, and haunting.

zombieMy Life as a White Trash Zombie, Diana Rowland. Closer to home, on the Louisiana bayou, Angel Crawford wakes up in the hospital with no clue as to how she got there. When she checks out, she receives a brown paper bag with a change of clothes, several jars of what looks like iced coffee, and instructions to report to the morgue on Monday to start her new job. What the heck? Angel soon learns that her accident was a lot worse than she thought, and that what’s in those jars? Isn’t iced coffee (though it is delicious). As Angel adjusts to being one of the undead, she finds–much to her surprise–that her afterlife has the potential to be a whole lot better than her human life…unless, of course, whoever is killing all the local zombies catches up with her. If you’re willing to suspend your belief a teensy bit and have a good time, Angel will take you for a great ride. It’s an outrageous premise, but it’s got lots of heart, and I’ll definitely be looking up the sequels.

What can I say? There’s nothing I find more relaxing than a book about girls saving the world, especially if there are magical/paranormal elements involved. What do you like to read on vacation? Are super-powered super-heroines up your alley? Or is there some other genre that spells “beach read” for you?

–Leigh Anne

with apologies to Lakeside and  Coolio


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No More Pretending

I came out of the closet last week.  At least in Pittsburgh fashion.  I’m not a Steeler’s fan, I don’t bleed Black & Gold and I wouldn’t put a mini Polamalu jersey on my Labradoodle or Yorkie – if I had one or the other, or any other pet for that matter.  I’ve lived this lie for the 21 years my wife and I have lived here.  I fake my Sundays between August and January and it has to stop. My wife grew up with Big 10 Football and went to a Big 10 school for undergrad, she’s an honest fan.  So’s my daughter who was born here and has only known the Steelers, that’s her choice.  I won’t pretend anymore though.  Rest assured, it’s not about the Steelers or some other team; it’s about Baseball.

Photo of Met's pitcher Tom Seaver

Poetry in Motion

I grew up on Long Island, about 45 minutes from midtown on the LIRR (Long Island Railroad) and 15 minutes from Shea Stadium by the same train.  When I was born, there wasn’t National League baseball in NY – it had gone west a year earlier.  (The three most evil people in the world? – Hitler, Stalin, Walter Alston.)  My parents were both from Brooklyn and the Dodger strain ran deep.  I grew up with the Mets and by extension their National League opponents.  If there were must see games back then, it was the Giants and/or Dodgers for sentimental love/hate reasons (and always to see Willie Mays,) the Cubs because it was Chicago – the second city, and the Bucs because man for man they were usually the most talented team that came to town.  The Yankees?  They were the humorless also-rans from the Bronx.  If Pittsburgh looks north with disdain to Cleveland, so too do the Children of Kings (County) look up the BQE (Brooklyn Queens Expressway) and the Bruckner to the borough that serves as a gateway to Upstate.

Why now? That’s easy.  DID YOU watch any of the World Series?  It was poetry; it was Agatha Christie without a solution until it happened.  It was unadulterated fun to not see the usual suspects; no Yankees or Red Sox, no Atlanta or Philly.  It was mostly well-played, well executed baseball until Texas’ pitching collapsed in Game 7.  More than that, it was just fun to watch or even listen too.  It reminded me – some 20 years and 2 kids later – why we chose Pittsburgh over other cities.  The tie-breaker between here and some other places (including Baltimore) became “Does it have major league baseball?”  Pittsburgh won because it had National League vs. Baltimore’s American League with its flawed Designated Hitter accommodation.  It may have been something subliminal too; who did the Miracle Mets soundly thrash in 1969?  The same Orioles the Bucs whupped in both 1971 and 1979.

Just remember: Pitchers and Catchers report in 104 days (not counting today.)  In the meantime . . .  to tide you over until then.

The best game ever : Pirates vs. Yankees : October 13, 1960 / Jim Reisler – How can you not include the game in the Series with the most dramatic conclusion in baseball.

“Whoever was up at the time was the team you thought was going to win.”

Ball Four : the final pitch / Jim BoutonThe first and best baseball tell-all.  It makes the game and the players real. Their sins? – nothing like steroids and shaved bats.

“The word on Tim McCarver of the Cards was that Sandy Koufax struck him out on letter-high fastballs. Which is great advice if you can throw letter-high fastballs like Koufax could.”

Men at work : the craft of baseball / George F. Will – Will gets the experts of the day to expound on how mastering the fundamentals takes more than just physical prowess.  Among the interviewees, Tony La Russa of the World Champion St. Louis Cardinals.

“Baseball, it is said, is only a game. True. And the Grand Canyon is only a hole in Arizona.”

Can’t anybody here play this game? / Jimmy Breslin – Breslin, an irascible writer if there ever was one, recounts the first miserable season  of the awful, incomparable and unabashedly loved 1962 NY Mets.

 “So the Mets started with the worst pitching, backed by the most deplorable infield and outfield, ever         assembled on a single diamond.”

Willie’s time : a memoir / by Charles EinsteinMy personal favorite. A well written overview of the grandest period in baseball with Mays as the constant, against 25 years of contemporary American history and current events.

“Branca, taking the mound, threw a called strike past Thompson.  Sitting there without premonition,       I watched Thompson swing at the next pitch, and out it tracked toward the left-field stands.

The Last icon: Tom Seaver and his times / Stephen Travers (Ebook only) – Overall a good, fast read.  What I truly enjoyed here were the recounting of games, especially during the 1969 and 1973 seasons that I distinctly remember listening to, watching, or attending. Travers gets a little lost in the book, elevating Tom Terrific a little too high, even for my tastes, and bringing in extraneous or marginal baseball issues instead of staying on topic.

“Swoboda rolled, displayed the glove to the umpire who made the out call, and in one motion came up throwing home to try to nab Frank Robinson.”

Summer of ’49 / David HalberstamBaseball has finally returned to some post-war, post integration normalcy, and “the” rivalry is about to emerge, personified by the respective excellence of Joe Dimaggio for the Yankees and Ted WIlliams of the Red Sox in one of the greatest pennant races of any era.

“The crowd of 35,000 rose as one to give the star outfielder of the hated Yankees a standing ovation.”

Baseball [videorecording] / a film by Ken Burns – A fantastic 10 DVD set that reintroduces you to everything about baseball, from the beginning.  The original release concluded in the mid 90s when we still (naively) thought Bonds, Sosa and McGwire had cleanly reinvigorated the game.  Since then, additional content brings the viewer through the 2009 season (Yankees beating Phillies in 6.)

“It is played everywhere .  .  . by small boys and old men.”
– Richard


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Ode to August 18th

August 18th is Bad Poetry Day. In honor of that fact, I’ve written a bad poem about today.


Oh, August 18th, you wretched day —
Stuck in the middle of endless summer,
Fall leaves and winter snow delayed;
How can I not think you a bummer?

But if blogging on this day must be done,
How about a little trivia, just for fun?
Know that Roberto Clemente was born today in 1934,
He played with the Pirates back when they could score.

It’s a big day for women, don’t forget:
Ninety years ago today they gained the vote
With a ratified 19th amendment.
(That’s certainly good reason to gloat.)

Today’s the day, too, for family planning,
As fifty years ago today first was sold —
All controversy notwithstanding —
The first birth control pill, Enovid, I’m told.

And let us remember Woodstock,
That most singular of events:
Ended today in ’69 three days of rock,
And lots of mud in hippies’ tents.

Comments will only be accepted in the form of bad poetry.



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