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The Ultimate Baseball Fantasy
March 17, 2010 - Alex Marshall
"How sweet it is!" Mazeroski, Blass, Virdon, Tekulve, Sanguillen and Walk all on the diamond again – or at least close to it. Throw in Jeter, Sabathia, Emmerling, Mathieu and Knight, and you have the makings of the ultimate baseball fantasy – at least for me. After a whirlwind trip to spring training in Bradenton, Fla., this past weekend, I’m back on the ground here at home and ready to blog the experience. In an act of full disclosure, readers are forewarned that I’m not a baseball junkie, have limited knowledge about players, strategy etc., but nevertheless came away with a sense that a new era in Pirate baseball is dawning.
Welcome to Jimmy’s world. You can visit but you can’t stay.
Oh, how Pittsburgh Pirates fans wish they didn’t have to leave Jimmy’s world especially after the Bucs demolished the New York Yankees Sunday at McKechnie Field in Bradenton.
Jim Emmerling, president of EM Media in Steubenville, Ohio, took all the pride and passion he could fit in his suitcase for his beloved Pittsburgh Pirates to a level that few dare to dream. On Sunday, Emmerling was in the dugout (courtesy of his high bid at a recent Pirate Alumni auction) managing the Pirates against last year’s World Champion, New York Yankees.
It was Emmerling’s pride and passion, along with the talent and hard work of manager John Russell, his coaching staff and Pirates players that provided a lopsided win Sunday as the Bucs bombarded the Yankees with 14 hits including 5 monster home runs before sending the Bronx Bombers to the showers in a 10 to 5 rout.
Emmerling and his travel teammates Dave Mathieu, Jeff Knight and yours truly arrived in Bradenton on Saturday afternoon. After scoping out McKechnie Field, a relaxing dinner filled with baseball chatter - it was lights out. Well not quite; we did stop at Clancy’s Irish Sports Bar on our ride back to the hotel for a last minute lineup chat.
The next morning, Emmerling was met in the lobby by former Pirate relief ace, Kent Tekulve who was there to accompany the skipper to McKechnie Field for uniform fitting and a closed clubhouse team meeting. Tekulve, you may recall, played most of his career for the Pirates with relief stints in Philadelphia and Cincinnati.
The lanky submarine sidewinder considers the Pirates HIS team after 16 seasons in the bullpen. The ’79 World Series ring on his finger serves as a constant source of pride and accomplishment forTekulve and those around him. Teke saved 3 games in that ’79 series against the Orioles including the winning game.
The Teke Record Book
Teke continues to provide relief work for the Pirates in his role as Alumni affairs director. He also serves as an FSN Pittsburgh analyst after each Pirates game.
The group of Emmerling, Mathieu, Knight and Marshall don’t agree on much, but we were unanimous in our opinion of Kent Tekulve. Besides being a gentleman and wonderful host, he is a great ambassador for baseball and especially so for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Thanks Teke for your hospitality and friendship!
Well obviously there’s a game in this blog somewhere. Here’s my abbreviated report:
Skipper Emmerling, in his mostly ceremonial role as manager, did deliver the starting lineup to a home plate gathering of umpires and opposing coaches prior to the start of the game. (For the record, Mathieu lodged a strong objection to the absence of Crosby in the starting lineup, who later hit two home runs in the game.) The Pirates hit a total of 5 home runs during the game including 3 in one inning. And finally, the Pirates beat the New York Yankees convincingly. "We had 'em allll the way!"
For complete in-depth game coverage I invite you to log on to www.piratesreport.com and read Paul Ladewski’s game account. You can also log on to cu.heraldstaronline.com to view more than 160 game and related photos. (see links provided on this page)
Not enough coverage? I’ve also provided a video link on this page with some great footage of the game and skipper Emmerling in action.
We celebrated the skipper’s W over dinner with Tekulve that night. It was another rare conversation where Emmerling, Mathieu, Knight and Marshall were all in agreement; the Pirates are going to make some noise this season, and we can’t wait for opening day.
A trip to Pirate City, the Pirates’ world-class minor league training academy on Monday reinforced our dinner conversation from the previous night. That noise you hear from the Pirates is only going to get louder and louder. Amen!
"Good night, Mary Edgerly, wherever you are."
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Skipper and assistants take nap before the big game