Their First “Hail to Pitt” – a tradition continues

Future Pitt Alumni

I remember my first Pitt game as a kid. The energy of the crowd at the old Pitt Stadium, the intensity of the game… I could feel the hatred for PSU grow inside of my 11yr old frame as the Panthers shut out the Nittany Lions. It was at that moment I knew I was going to, and did end up at, Pitt.

Once the rivalry ended in 2000 my emotions towards Penn State diminished and even after the renewal this year kicking off with Pitt’s upset 42-39 win, I find getting worked up over anything sports related as humorous (unless it’s the Flyers. God I hate Philly.)


Twenty nine years later I’m taking my boys to their first Pitt football game but at Heinz Field and for the last game of the season against Syracuse. Not really a big rival, in fact the stadium was barely 1/2 full, but they’re small enough that this would be a good environment to test the waters. Wait. Did I just say that? *UGH* I’m becoming THAT parent.

We were invited with friends of ours to the game which had the added perk of going out on the field for pre-game. Yeah, kids first game and they get on the field. We watched warmups, I explained to my boys the story of fellow Erie native James Conner fighting back from Hodgkin lymphoma to become a top draft prospect and how on Sunday the Steelers play here.

Teaspoon: “Will Big Ben (Roethlisberger) be here?”
Me: “no”
Teaspoon: “Oh, well maybe he’s tailgating with Uncle Bob?”
Me: “Good chance.”
Teaspoon: “Yeah I bet he likes a lot of burgers and dogs.”

First impressions of a Pitt game by the boys:

  • Those girls dancing look cold. They should wear jackets or they’ll miss school
  • Why are there ketchup bottleeeeeOMG THEY POUR KETCHUP ON THE SCOREBOARD!
  • (while in the bathroom) OMG YOU PEE IN A BATH TUB!
  • “We need more popcorn!” as the bottomless bucket was refilled twice
  • LOOK AT ALL OF THOSE DRUMS! – Cheeseburger. “What? No guitars? How can you have a band without guitars?” – Teaspoon

The temps at game time were a balmy 35 degrees and didn’t change for the rest of the day.

We made it until Halftime before finally caving and heading back with Pitt leading 35-21 and little did we know the scoring blitz wasn’t over. By the end of the game Pitt would win 76-61. You’re reading that correctly. SEVENTY SIX TO SIXTY ONE!

The boys asked if we could come back for more games next season so it looks like I’ll be busy on Stub Hub (seriously, tickets on the 50 are sometimes $6-$10) next season. Attention span is short at their age so making it until half time is a good milestone for us.


Luke Bryan fans trash Heinz Field lots. Here’s how we fix it.

I don’t know why this is bothering me more this year than before, but it is. Another summer mega concert and more media coverage of the trash storm left over by people who act like the garbage they left behind. I think that what started to anger me was the reaction on Twitter late Saturday from people saying that if you have a problem with the trash that you “hate fun”.

There’s a difference.

Luke Bryan Trash

There’s having a good time and then there’s thinking you’re entitled to act like pigs because you paid a lot of money to park in a lot and get tanked.

A ban on tailgating won’t solve much. There are other lots that were able to have tailgating just fine, it was the lot next to the stadium that was the big issue. If you ban tailgating the people will go elsewhere. Steelers fans party all day and leave the lot respectable. Pitt fans do the same thing. Heck even Pirates fans deserve to get loaded the way the team has played this year and they’re still respectful. There might be garbage bags laying around but no one is asking you to scrub the lot, just pick your trash up and put it in a bag. There are people who will collect it.

Types of Fans
We don’t hear about problems of this magnitude with tailgating at First Niagara when Jimmy Buffett is in town and those people party HARD. For some reason though it’s THIS show. It’s the mega country music crowd or, as I saw in one comment, “Hick Hop”. I’ve worked many events focused around alcohol thanks to “Should I Drink That?” and EVERY SINGLE BEER FEST has the same problem. Early session is the responsible fans and the late session is the drunk fest with knuckleheads looking to get tanked fast.

It’s not the alcohol, its the traits of the people drinking it. If you’re already a slobbish jag, you’re going to be like that no matter what.

What can be done?
I honestly don’t see the purpose of opening gates 8 hours before a show but also I have better things to do than sit in a parking lot that long. Yeah you can tell me its all about the experience but EIGHT HOURS? Even 4 hours is a bit much. Pace yourselves people!

Here are a few ideas

  • Sell garbage bags – Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto said that something needs to be done and handing out a couple of garbage bags to every car obviously isn’t cutting it. I’ve heard that places to put the garbage once bagged by fans was a problem also. Maybe this is your chance to buy a few cases of bags from Costco and sell them cheap at various spots.
  • Shriner go cart garbage pick up service – I love these guys in every parade. They drive their go-cart cars and trucks in patterns and perform tricks. Grab a few of those and have people put their trash in it. Better yet, have a recycling bin open for people to toss empties. Even better, ask for a donation and you’ll pick up their trash.
  • Recycle for discounted parking  – Have a big collection site in the parking lot for people to drop off their bottles/cans/plastics. The container(s) are on a scale. If the scale meets a certain goal weight, your parking stub is good for 1/2 off parking at another event. They can find out if they met the goal by going to the website on the back of the ticket which… you can also sell ad space on. WHAT? Oh yeah. Get sponsors. WAIT! They have the option to opt into a texting service for updates. If at any point you thought “Well you’re encouraging them to drink more!” I ask that you relax and have a local beer.
  • Stop being pigs – That’s an obvious one that I’m sure someone will say “You can save money and stop being idiots!” so this bullet was for you.

Granted there a lot of logistics behind everything but this is just a brain storming session after my morning run and Special K breakfast.

So what am I getting at? These shows bring A LOT of money into the city (parking, hotel, tourism and patronizing local businesses) and no matter how you try to spin it, that’s what it comes down to. They’re not going away so instead of complaining yet again about the same degenerates ruining it, let’s work towards a solution. That’s what Pittsburghers do, we fix what people say is impossible.


2011 Winter Classic recap

Winter Classic Game album | Alumni Game album

The Winter Classic is quickly becoming the Super Bowl of the hockey world. I couldn’t make it to Buffalo for the first Classic game and the last couple years I would watch the game but I was never “into” it. This year with Pittsburgh hosting all of that changed. I’ve been to a lot of high profile hockey events in my days and will say that this was the most incredible ever.

I walked over from town on a night filled with a mystifying fog lingering over the rivers. With the lights of the bridges and city glowing it was a scene reminding me of a Crow movie. As I passed PNC Park the tailgating began and what a party these people were having! The amount of hockey love was amazing! Still the vibe didn’t hit me until I reached Heinz Field and walked through Spectator Plaza. Knowing this is a growing event I appreciated what was there but could see how the NHL could have dominated a lot more floor space.

Signature Sandwich Face-off
In a first for the Classic, Aramark pitted the signature sandwiches from the Washington Capitals (The Fury) against the Pittsburgh Penguins (Kielbasa Grinder). Its no secret that I am obsessed with the sandwich but I was severely disappointed with the offering at the Classic. The meat was dry, the cheese was hard and there was barely any sauce. Somehow it won though so kudos for that.

The Game

I went to the game with my nephew Ben. We have started making it a tradition going to important Pens games together and this was another one to chalk up. Our seats were in 147 which if you go there for any other event don’t exist. If you’re watching the Steelers game its the open end section of the south end zone. Seats were incredibly tight (dude next to me was 180lbs and barely fit) but the view was absolutely amazing.

Besides the Caps winning 3-1 the game was hard hitting and amazingly fast given the poor ice conditions. Officiating was mediocre which we’re use to and probably to the disappointment of HBO/NBC you didn’t see much from Crosby or Ovechkin. At the end of the game neither team shook hands, they just left the ice. I have a severe hatred for the Philadelphia Flyers but the joy I see in defeating the Caps grows every game. Pens fans hate Philly because that’s history. Its just what you do. Caps players and their fan base hate anything Pittsburgh and I LOVE it. It makes for a healthy obsession with my team.

In between periods were short sets performed by Hinder, The Clarks and Styx. Styx? yeah I guess they thought it was a Steelers game. The bands sounded great but that happens when everyone does the lip sync.

What I wasn’t crazy about
You take the good, you take the bad and… that song is now in your head. You’re welcome.

  1. Heinz Field needs upgraded. It was great 10 years ago but I’m still pissing in a trough, your concession stands don’t take credit/debit cards and your Nacho Grande is 2 cups of cheese? Your sound system crackles and the video was 3-5 seconds off of the audio. It was worse than watching TV and listening to the radio. Lame.
  2. Alyonka Larionov – who hired this girl? The most basic video segments and she fumbled over all of them. You called the band “The Styx”? Were the cards in Pittsburghese and you couldn’t read them? You’re not that cute. What a joke
  3. The Franco Harris/Jerome Bettis shootout – Who’s idea was THAT debacle?
  4. rain – mother nature you were a pain in the 3rd.
  5. Cell coverage – my phone showed 4 bars and 3G coverage but I couldn’t upload anything and twitter was impossible. Its worse than Consol Energy Center. Verizon should spend more money on coverage than on advertising being a top sponsor.

The weekend was absolutely amazing and I will never forget the hockey love that took over the north shore.

Best Christmas Ever!

I’ve never been a big Christmas person. In fact the holiday would annoy the shit out of me every year because of how fake everyone was about being good and giving meanwhile the uber obsessed ones would drive me insane with their bat shit craziness like most of Steelernation. It wasn’t until I started having a family that this would change and while I’m still a bit “meh” I’m coming around.

This year was different. This year I was stunned!

Before I started break from work I received some monumental news from a co-worker that I can’t say until its “officially official” but will hint that.. no I won’t. You’ll have to wait. Then I won $20 on a $3 scratchoff card Lushie got me as a stocking stuffer and $35 from a football pool that my mom apparently entered me in at the church I belonged to in Erie. I was feeling pretty good by this point and as a small family we had a great Christmas day.

We celebrated Christmas at my bro’s a little late because my mom was sick. What I opened as my present left me stunned. I will be attending the Winter Classic on Saturday with my nephew/godson Ben. What a lot of people don’t know is that as a Pens ticket holder I was offered tickets in the summer and had to say no because it was too close to Lushie’s due date. I was devastated as a hockey fan but knew this is one of those things I had to do. My freaking kid could be born, I’m not missing it! I was bitter for awhile and refused to even read coverage.

I started to get angry. I told a few people on Facebook/Twitter about it and was actually called “stupid” and “dumbass” for passing up on such an event. The bitterness grew but by taking a step back I realized it wasn’t Pens fans saying it, it was the Steelers fans who jumped on the band wagon. People can be brutal on the interwebz 🙂

Back to the ticket. So I sat on the couch stunned. My brother said that the family will make sure that if Lushie goes into labor that a plan was in place to make sure I don’t miss the birth.  I was speechless. Not because I had a ticket but because my family pulled together to make sure this happened and I had no idea. Some may think that a game like this is trivial but unless you’re married to me you have no idea how many things I have had to turn down.

And then…

Lushie went into labor at my brother’s. She didnt say anything just in case it was a false alarm but around 6pm she said we needed to find a sitter. By 4pm the following day my 2nd son was born.

This Christmas I’ll be in hockey nirvana. Friday I’m going to the Alumni Game with my good bud John, Saturday I’ll be at the Winter Classic and I have a new healthy son.

I’m Lynn Swann’s cousin

“In case you didn’t know I’m Lynn Swann‘s cousin my man!”

I must have heard that 15-20 times yesterday while I was at the Steelers/Browns game with my buddy John. There was a group of 6 behind us who wouldn’t shut up through the entire game.  It wasn’t just cheering, it every play “OH NO YOU DI-INT!” “OH SCHNAP!” and my favorite “WHO MAH BOOOYYY!” topped off with constant banter about how sucketh it is to not have Crown Royal available in the 500 level.

Finally at the end of the 1st he added “I called Lynn Swann, my cousin, and told him we were coming to the game and he offered me his box seats but I said we already had tickets.” OK so you’re going to pass up seats in a heated box, which is probably stocked with Crown Royal and other free booze, to sit out in the cold with the rest of us who pay for overpriced beer and food. Yeah, that makes total sense.

Yesterday during the 2nd quarter this happened

For the next 20 minutes while Ben laid knocked the funk out on the field, we listened to “Ben get up! Ben get up!” “Awww Ben just get up and walk around! Come onnnnnnnnnnn Ben”.

Lynn Swann‘s cousin and his group finally left in the 4th quarter leaving myself and John laughing our asses off. I wish I would have gotten his picture to show you but that was a FAIL.

It was my first game in years and I did have a great time at it.  It’s one thing to see the games on TV but there is a completely different experience while at the game. It’s the fans who make it a memorable experience. That and my peanut shells that took flight during gusts of wind. Thanks for a great time John!

Oh check out what I won from some txt message conference.

Here are a few more pics from the game