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Al's Excellent Adventure

PITTSBURGH -- Yes, I'm in Pittsburgh, and on one of those awful in-room TV internet things, so no links today, and you'll have to forgive the formatting too, because this keyboard really sucks.

I was on an ATA flight that was supposed to leave at 7 am, but it was cancelled due to Hurricane Isabel. So I"m at Midway trying to figure out what other airline flies to Pittsburgh;finally found a seat on Northwest, only to find that ATA wouldn't endorse my ticket over to them. Then Northwest said they'd take it even without an endorsement, so I paid the $20 they now charge for a paper ticket and went there. Had to change planes in Detroit, and despite the fog and rain, landed on time.

It rained all day but finally stopped about an hour before game time, so I walked over to PNC Park (five minute walk from the hotel, I can see it out the room window), and got a seat down the 3B line.

First, a bit about the ballpark, which I had not been to before.One really nice thing about PNC is that the way it's built, it weaves into the fabric of the city so well, like it has always been there. The city closes a bridge over the Monongahela River (the one you can see on TV) and people walk over it to get to the park.

Around and inside there are the usual new-park amenities, shopping and restaurants; ballpark food is decent (I had a nice BBQ chicken sandwich) but a bit pricey. When you come in the main entrance in the LFcorner, you have to go up to the main concourse, then down to the seating bowl, and at first the directions were a bit hard to find. Overall, I love this park,and I think it's just behind Pac Bell in the way it fits into the fabric of the city.

Wound up sitting in a section filled with Cub fans, though by the 2nd game I wound up talking to some friendly and knowledgeable Pirate fans.

About the games themselves:neither starter, Carlos Zambrano nor Juan Cruz, threw well at all, though at least Zambrano had a couple of hits. He couldn't even finish 5 innings for the win, and then when Cruz blew up in the fifth in game 2, Dusty's makeshift lineup (really, Troy O'Leary MUST go) couldn't make up the deficit.

So, since the stupid Cardinals seem to be laying down for Houston, it's very simple. With eight games left, it's a great time for an 8-game winning streak. Dusty's Giants did exactly that last year to get into the postseason, and despite his occasionally bizarre moves, if there is a way to motivate these guys to win, Dusty will find it.

Hope still lives.

Apologies for the formatting of this post, but this hotel TV web keyboard really sucks. Will fix it when I return home later today.