Monday, January 11, 2021

Pirates, Steelers and Penguins? Umm, no.

As I’ve gotten older, I get less and less geeked up about pro sports. Especially the teams that represent Pittsburgh. I don't lose a minute of sleep whether they win or lose. 

Hell, I don't sleep very well anyways, but the Pirates, Steelers and Penguins don't contribute to my insomnia. I refuse to be Joe Shit the Yinzer who has to die a thousand deaths every time they win or lose.  I don't use 'we' to refer to these teams. Who the hell am I and how does my involvement increase these teams chances of winning?  

That's not to say that I hate the teams. If they win, they win. If they lose, they lose. The sun comes up again the next day.  Wins and losses don't direct my life.  I just choose to follow from a distance.  I'm not just going to call up the sports talk yakkers on the radio and moan about Ben's four picks against the Browns. I'm not going to vent on Facebook about Mike Tomlin's inability to win in the playoffs. In the grand scheme of things, it really doesn't matter. 

The last Steeler game I went to in person was in the 80's.  The last Penguin game I went to was...I don't remember. It was at the Igloo, and the best seats in the house were $50. These days, you can't get an order of nachos, a beer and a hamburger for that. The last Pirate game I went to was about two years ago when a friend of mine asked me to go so I could get her a giveaway shirt for her and her daughter. The previous time was when some friends invited me because Chicago was playing a post-game concert. (Which, due to a rain delay, didn't happen until midnight. To Chicago's everlasting credit and professionalism, they honored their commitment and gave their fans 45 minutes at 1:00am, but I digress.)  

Aaaaaanyway.  I'm not looking down my nose at those who truly are Pirates, Steelers, or Penguins fans.  If you enjoy watching them whether in person or on TV, God love you.  And if you have to call some dude on the radio up to go hammer and tongs with them about why the Pirates suck or the Stillers can't win in the playoffs, or why the Penguins' power play is in the shit. Knock yourself out.  

But anymore, you need to have big money to watch games in person. Between tickets, parking, food and merch, it can cost a few hundred bucks. That's bucks I ain't got. And being that I don't have a TV nor cable and consume my media thru a tablet, watching games thru streaming isn't really an option.  So my limited interest in Pittsburgh's Big Three sports franchises comes from those circumstances. 

Now, I do have a team I give a shit about and that's the pro soccer team in town. The Riverhounds. I've had season tickets for the last couple years, and I go pretty hard for them. 

Why? I played soccer in high school and the service. I sucked at it. But I enjoy watching it. Thing is, I only care about the Hounds. I don't care about MLS, or the Premier League.  But unlike the Big Three, I can go to Highmark with a twenty, watch some pretty good minor league soccer and munch up at the concession stand and come back home with change from that twenty.  

And I tend to root for the underdog. Pirates, Steelers and Penguins don't need my support.  But the Hounds are grassroots. They play in front of a few thousand. Their players don't command huge salaries. They're looking to get an MLS deal. The Hounds don't have much in terms of media coverage or TV deals.  Sports media in this town couldn't find Highmark if I put them at the West gate.  But it's a fine way to spend a Saturday night.  They want my business. And I'll give it to them.

And ironically, I have a degree in Sports Management from Robert Morris. Which 20 years on, was probably a waste of time, money and brain cells in that the sheepskin isn't being used.  It just sits on my wall, mocking me.  I just didn't want to study anything that involved calculus.  Algebra kicks my ass.  You start using letters to represent numbers, my brain has a meltdown. And as far as I'm concerned, algebra was the work of the Devil.  I'm not very smart.  But I digress...

Ahh, Robert Morris. Yet another overlooked institution in this town that deserves my respect. In terms of college athletics, everybody roots for the big University in Oakland. They block out the sun in Pittsburgh.  Even Duquesne gets love here. Bobby Mo, not so much.  The scrappy little brother of Pittsburgh's D1 colleges. The fifth horse in the four horse race between Pitt, Duquesne, Penn State, and West Virginia.  The little school out by the airport that  punches above its weight and occasionally lands a jab. 

Why Bobby Mo, you ask? Because they took a crap ton of my credits from CCAC, the price was right, and at the time, if you could walk in a straight line and count to five, they accepted you. In retrospect, The Relentless Pursuit of Higher Education wasn't very well thought out.  But I digress...

Though RMU in 2021 is a very different school than when I went there in the late 90's. But it's MY school. I'm a part of it. I've given that school money. I have a brick on campus that I bought to support the building of the student chapel. I value loyalty. Once I latch onto something that earned that loyalty. I don't give it up easily.  That's me. I have to have a connection. I have to have skin in the game. I have to have an investment. And I just don't have that with the Big Three. Any swinging dick can root for the Pirates, Steelers, and Penguins. Rooting for the Hounds or RMU? That takes commitment. To zig when everyone else zags. At least to me.  But what do I know?  

I'm just some idiot who likes to write long winded screeds read by five people and a Cocker Spaniel on Facebook.