Saturday, September 22, 2007

Rambling from the Steel City

I've been known to complain when things go poorly on a road trip, but I must say things have been turning up roses since arriving here in Pittsburgh Friday.

Had a cramped yet quick flight from Bradley to Pittsburgh. Have you ever seen, heard or watched anyone order tomato juice except on an airplane? I thought they only made tomato juice to soak in just in case you're ever sprayed by a skunk, as I learned on the Partridge Family. Apparently, people actually drink the stuff. Also had time to read a ridiculous magazine article ranking the top 4 places to see autumn leaves in New England. After country roads in Maine, New Hampshire and the Berkshires, they listed the Merritt Parkway in Fairfield County. Yeah, that's a serene drive. Try it around 3 p.m. on any weekday afternoon. You'll have plenty of time to look at leaves while stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic for four hours.

After the quickie flight, I went to rental car desk at Pittsburgh airport. Never used Hertz before, but I was pleasantly surprised. Got a sporty Mazda 6 (with Massachusetts plates, guess it's not all perfect) complete with a GPS Navigation system. I'd never used one before, but punched in my hotel information and got turn by turn directions. Another nice surprise was someone left a CD in the car's 6-disc changer...a Bill Cosby comedy album "Revenge" (recorded in 1967), which I owned as a kid but hadn't heard in about 25 years. The album is mainly Cos recollecting his youth growing up in Philly, and features a great bit in which Cosby describes playing a game called "Buck Buck" against a roughneck group of rival neighborhood kids. Cosby's group wins the Buck Buck championship of the world by uleashing their secret weapon, Fat Albert. Great stuff.

Had dinner at "Fatheads", a downtown Pittsburgh beer and wings joint that Hartford Courant writer Mike Anthony couldn't stop talking about last weekend, with six other UConn beat writers. I came away impressed. 40 beers on tap, about a dozen different flavors for wings, and some of the greatest sandwiches (called Hedwiches) you could ask for. Since I know everyone is always interested in what I'm eating, I had a Rogue Dead Guy Ale (not bad), a combination of sweet and sour wings along with the signature Fathead wings (very good) and a steak and egg sandwich that was absolutely fantastic. Unfortunately, I gained 15 pounds before the meal was through. The order of the evening, however, belonged to John Silver of the Manchester J-I. He indulged in an appetizer of wings before his entree -- more wings -- was delivered a short time later. John's drink order? Meatballs. OK, I made the last part up. But John did bring the wings he couldn't finish back to the hotel in a box, presumably for breakfast and to complete the wings-as-a-meal tri-fecta. Let's hope John survived the evening and will be at the game tonight.

After enjoying my first night of uninterrupted sleep since the night before the Maine game (no screaming baby) I checked out the Pitt campus this afternoon. I was here for the UConn-Pitt game in 2005, but only caught a quick glimpse of Pitt's campus. It's a fairly attractive place with lots of big, old buildings. I made a point to see W.W. Posvar Hall, which was built on the site of the old Forbes Field, home of the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1909 until the late 60s. A portion of the old outfield wall remains in tact, including a marker where Bill Mazerowski hit the walk-off home run that beat the Yankees in the 1960 World Series (and made Mickey Mantle cry). Inside Posvar, I searched for home plate, which is preserved under glass, and couldn't find it until I literally stepped on it. Pretty cool. I took some pictures, but can't post them til I get back home.

Just watching Syracuse about to pull off the upset of Louisville on TV. Good lord, Louisville's defense has more holes than Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign. They can't tackle, defend or run. Good thing I took the Orange and the points. This misses being the biggest point-spread reversal by one (see my previous post).

See you in a couple hours at Heinz.


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