There were two other players I was curious to see last night; Brian Bixler and Argenis Diaz. In the top of the sixth or seventh inning (I honestly don't remember which), Diaz stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and nobody out with the Indians behind 1-0.
He promptly bounced into a 1-2-3 double play. That left runners on second and third for Bixler. Below, you can see him failing to check his swing for strike two of his inevitable strikeout.
We all know what Bixler's problem at the plate is (the strikeouts), but Diaz is more complicated. He's a tall, lanky, athletic looking guy with a pretty nice looking swing in the on-deck circle. The problem is that when he gets to the plate, he's about a year behind everything and he either weakly bounces it into the infield or fouls it over the first base dugout. I snapped a picture of him after the double play that I think captures his problems at the plate perfectly; he's on focus while everyone around him is blurry, giving the illusion that the whole world is moving at a much greater speed.
As I walked around the park with my camera, I talked to several people about Andy Van Slyke and the Pirates. At one point, I was flagged down by two guys, one wearing the classic "Pittsburgh Baseball: Rebuilding Since 1992" shirt and the other wearing a t-shirt with print of the old Three Rivers Stadium graphic of the man shoveling coal into the engine of a train. When they asked where I'd gotten my shirt and I began to explain about my blog, I was stopped in the middle of my sentence by Rick (the man in the Rebuilding shirt), telling me that he had found WHYGAVS while looking for trade analysis this week. The three of us talked a bit about the recent trades, the trades of the 1980s that cleaned house and brought us the 90-92 division champs, the surprising number of diehard Pirate fans, Game 4 of the 1992 NLCS, and Jim Leyland's gambling habits. And so, I promised I'd give Rick and Matt a shout-out in this post, so here it is:
More proof that when you're from Pittsburgh, you're never far from home.
Behind Matt's head, you can almost see the famous Durham Bull. Everyone thinks of that as the defining characteristic of the park, but I've always been partial to the big Lucky Strike smokestack right next to it.
Whenever a Durham player hits a home run, the Bull's eyes glow red and smoke shoots out of its nose. This might seem like an amusing and relatively harmless little celebration, but I assure you that once the sun has gone down, it's absolutely terrifying.
Thanks for sticking with me if you've made it this far. I hope the image of the Bull doesn't haunt your dreams tonight.