August 3, 2002

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PNC Park, as viewed from our seats in the upper deck, with the Pittsburgh skyline,
Roberto Clemente bridge and Allegheny River in the background

BDBL Weekend III: PNC Paradise

PITTSBURGH, PA - The third annual BDBL Weekend extravaganza was held in the city of Pittsburgh this year. Six BDBL members - Mike Glander, Paul Marazita, Phil Geisel, Billy Romaniello, John Bochicchio and Mike Stein - made the long trek to Pittsburgh to attend the August 3rd contest between the visiting San Francisco Giants and the cellar-dwelling Pittsburgh Pirates at beautiful new PNC Park.

The Commish
Commisioner Glander, prepping for the long journey to Pittsburgh

The weekend began at the Casa Marazita, located in Basking Ridge, New Jersey, where the planned presentation of the 2001 BDBL trophy to Marazita was erased from the schedule due to the ineptitude of Trophy Secretary Geisel, who left the necessary paperwork back home. Unfazed by this tragic turn of events, Geisel, Marazita and Glander used the opportunity to play a series of head-to-head Chapter Five games. Marazita and Glander split a pair of games in one series, Marazita's Zoots took three of four from Geisel's hapless Litchfield Lightning, and Glander capped off the night with an effortless two game sweep of the Lightning.

The next morning (bright and early per Geisel's strict specifications) the four joined up with Bochicchio, loaded up Romaniello's van and began the six-hour journey to Pittsburgh. With the Billyvan fully equipped with a DVD player, the scenic journey across the great state of Pennsylvania was made a little more bearable with the screenings of several features: "Not Another Teen Movie" (a film that provided the catch-phrase of the weekend, "It make-a me happy in pants"), "Planet of the Apes" and "Gladiator." It was during this time that the BDBL learned the shocking (not to mention disturbing) reason why Romaniello has never seen any of these movies (which also explains why he doesn't have any time to log on to any web sites or do any scouting for his team.)  Let's just say he's too busy expanding the Romaniello family tree.

Hanging out outside PNC
Hanging around outside of PNC Park.
From left to right: Marazita, Bochicchio,
Geisel and Glander

At around 3:00 in the afternoon, the BDBL contingent arrived in Pittsburgh and checked into the hotel room long enough to down a couple of beers and catch the final innings of the Fox Game of the Week. By 4:00, they had arrived at PNC Park in anticipation of a phone call from Akron Ryche owner D.J. Shepard that would never come. Unfortunately, D.J. was unable to make it to the game. But anticipating the phone call that never came was the running joke of the week.

Los Altos Undertakers owner Jeff Paulson and Villanova Mustangs owner Tony Chamra were also scheduled to attend at one time, but both cancelled just prior to the event.

After downing a few beers on the streets of Pittsburgh across from the ballpark, the five adventurers wandered into the stadium. PNC Park was as beautiful as advertised, and the seats located in the upper deck directly behind home plate perfectly captured the beauty of the Pittsburgh skyline and the yellow bridges spanning the Allegheny River. Inside, the park had a roominess and a new-ballpark smell you just don't find in places like the Bronx or downtown Boston. The concession stands were refreshingly uncrowded, and the attendants refreshingly accommodating. The parking was ample and reasonably-priced, and the restrooms were clean and uncrowded. In short, the ballpark was about as perfect as a sports arena can get (minus the winning team on the field.)

The Roberto Clemente statue
The Roberto Clemente statue.
From left-to-right: Romaniello, Geisel,
Marazita and Bochicchio.

BDBL legend Kip Wells took the mound for the hometown Bucs in front of a capacity crowd of 38,275. For those 38,275 fans, it was all downhill from there. A leadoff double, a pair of singles and a pair of walks (one to Barry Bonds) gave the Giants an early 2-0 lead. His next time at the plate, Bonds launched a towering drive into the right field bleachers, about five rows from being in the Allegheny, for the 597th homer of his career. That three-run shot (made possible by a walk to San Fran pitcher Jason Schmidt) made it a 5-0 game.

Stein, who was stuck at work in Cleveland until 5:00 that evening, joined the party (along with his friend, Bob) at around the third inning. The next inning, Bonds struck again, sending a long fly ball to the right-center field gap that scored another Giants run.

In the bottom half of that inning, Pirates phenom (and future Zoots part-time superstar) Adam Hyzdu electrified the home crowd with a bloop single that extended the inning for a Kevin Young RBI single. That made it a 6-1 game.

The Giants broke the game wide open in the seventh when Jeff Kent and J.T. Snow went back-to-back off reliever Ron Villone. Jason Schmidt (who went 2-for-3 at the plate with a walk) then drove home the third run of the inning on a double, giving the Giants a 9-1 lead.

PNC at night
PNC at night.

A three-run homer by Brian Giles and an Armando Rios RBI double cut the lead to 9-6 in the eighth, but the late rally was a little too late. San Fran got two of those runs back in the top of the ninth and Robb Nen slammed the door in the bottom of the ninth to secure the 11-6 victory.

After the game, the BDBL crew did their part for the local economy, spending a few hours at various wholesome family establishments in the area. The next morning, it was early rise-and-shine once again as the BDBL road warriors headed back to Jersey, enjoying three more feature films and miles upon miles of breathtaking Pennsylvania scenery along the way.

All in all, the third annual BDBL event was a rousing success. No one was killed. No one was dragged from any vehicle. And not one piece of clothing was ripped for any reason (though Romaniello came dangerously close to ruining a perfectly good pair of shorts at one point.) While attendance was a bit disappointing, it was a great pleasure for the usual BDBL road crew to meet Mike Stein face-to-face.

Among the venues being considered for BDBL Weekend IV are Cooperstown, New York, Shea Stadium, Yankee Stadium and Fenway Park. Place your vote on-line at the BDBL web site.

Catch up on the history of BDBL Weekend:

The BDBL Weekend III crew
The BDBL Weekend III crew.
Top row (l-r): Stein, Marazita, Bochicchio, Geisel
Bottom row (l-r): Romaniello, Glander