Wednesday, October 15, 2008

PNC Gets A Facelift

When the Pirates begin their 2009 home season, a brand spanking new playing surface will be underfoot when the players take the field, according to the latest Buc news flash.

The project consists of completely replacing all the grass, dirt, and track, even though the surface was redone just three years ago, before the 2006 All-Star Game. Could it be that they think Jimmy Hoffa is pushin' up the outfield blades?

The new grass will be made up of a mix of four different kinds of Kentucky Bluegrass. It was chosen because it's supposedly ideal for northern climates. Now Dirt Dog Doug can be covered with blue grass stains instead of green.

The turf was hand-picked by Pirates director of field operations Manny Lopez and field maintenance supervisor Derek Hurlburt from a sod farm in New Jersey after visiting several grass gardens in the Northeast and Midwest. We hope they scout players just as thoroughly as they checked out the new greenery.

The infield will be replaced by a darker dirt called Dura Edge All-Star Infield Mix. The mix is a blend of several different kinds of dirt. GW never knew that you could tell one kind of dirt from another, but we'll take their word for it.

"The new infield mix is coming to us from a company in Slippery Rock called Natural Sand Company," said Lopez. "This mixture has been created exclusively for PNC Park, so it will be unlike any other infield surface in Major League Baseball." So we'll have Pittsburgh dirt. It sounds like a new blog.

Finally, the warning and foul line track will be replaced with crushed lava rock. Seems kinda ouchy to us.

According to Frank Coonelly, the new design of the infield will include unique baselines, with first base, third base, and home plate cutouts, to spiff up the diamond. Maybe the batter's box will be shaped like Bob Nutting's profile - or checkbook.

Keeping with their "Let's Go Bucs, Let's Go Green" campaign, the Pirates are working hand-in-hand with the City's Public Works Department so that the old field surface doesn't go to waste.

The city will recycle the PNC dirt and sod by using it at different ballyards and parks which are in need of field maintenance, and that should be just about all of them. Hey, at least the local little leagues will get something out of it.

Our nagging question is why now? Most fields hold up fine for 5 or 6 years. The Buc suits say it's so they can have the coolest park in baseball, but GW would rather see the money spent on a new infielder instead of a new infield.

Oh well, we'll take what we can get. After all, maybe the Pirates decided to rebuild literally from the ground-up.

>BTW, the Game 7 Gang's blowout Monday was a rousing success, drawing some 500 people, including Bob Friend, Dick Groat, Elroy Face, Nellie King and Frank Thomas. Buc prez Frank Coonelly was there, too. The Post-Gazette's Brian O'Neill talked to some of the crowd in his piece Once Upon A Time.


WilliamJPellas said...

Very interesting that the team is going to spend a fair amount of money to resod the field after a relatively short period of time with the previous surface. I wonder why that is? Is it possible that the previous surface, even though it was natural grass, nonetheless might have caused some injuries? How DID Jason Bay and Brandon Moss, both outfielders, both end up with serious knee injuries? And Xavier Nady was always tweaking his groin or hamstring; could it be that the surface was causing guys to slide around and get strains and soft tissue tearing?

Just a thought.

Ron Ieraci said...

I wondered if they did it for Moss myself, Will. I don't know that it was that crunchy a field - Jay Bay and the X-Man didn't seem to have any problem with it this year - but I have to think that there's something more to it than just keeping up with the Jones. Maybe one of those deals they swung was for a field to be named later instead of a player.

H.O. Blues said...

The Game 7 Gang event was visible from the webcam on the Cathedral of Learning! I got to be "there" all the way from down here in Georgia!

Ron Ieraci said...

Yah, H.O., the Cathedral cam should have a great angle now that they've made the old parking lot a Plaza. If you ever get the chance, stop by one year. It's sorta a street fair atmosphere, and in my experience, the crowd and the old players are all as friendly a bunch as you'll ever run across. You'd enjoy it.