Trietley: Trip to Buc Night ends with marathon game

By Greg Trietley

I’ve always wanted to be in the stands for a triple-overtime playoff hockey game or an… I’ve always wanted to be in the stands for a triple-overtime playoff hockey game or an 18-inning baseball pitching duel. I’ll even root for rain delays if it means my competition for foul balls packs up and heads home.

A marathon game wasn’t on my mind Friday. The Pirates had their yearly Buc Night — when tickets are a dollar, hot dogs are a dollar, popcorn is a dollar, and a cup of beer is $7.50. It’s an early-season promotion to lure in fans before the team plummets to the bottom of the National League Central. It’s also the only game where you can get so much cheap stuff that you forget you want to dry heave when the Pirates commit their third error.

But five hours, 11 minutes and 14 innings after my first hot dog, the Pirates beat the Rockies, 4-3, on a walk-off double from Jose Tabata. It was the longest game I ever attended. The sixth inning alone lasted 40 minutes. Before it fades from my memory, I want to log how I spent one freezing Friday night — and part of Saturday morning.

Pre-game: The Pirates showered my roommate and me with gifts that would make a Zales commercial blush. Five feet past the gate I had already received a free T-shirt, free poster and free program. I would have made a profit if I had turned around and left right then, but there were still 14 innings of baseball to go.

Our seats were two rows from the top of PNC Park. Of course I stopped at the concession stand along the way to purchase three hot dogs and a box of popcorn.

Top of the first: I’m crushed that the Pirates didn’t use the intro video from last season. When you create an introduction that has Honus Wagner slide-kicking a cannonball into an enemy ship as he steals second, you should leave it like that for a while. Is anyone going to say, “I’m getting tired of Wagner-propelled missiles”? No. No one is ever going to say that.

Everybody really gave it to the Rockies’ Jason Giambi when he stepped up to the plate. One fan chanted “BALCO.” Another man asked him how old he was (his guess was “so old”). To be fair, he is 40 and was hitless before the at-bat — but that didn’t stop him from cracking a three-run homer to right field. Depressed hot dog time.

Bottom of the second: I signed up for text alerts for four hockey games and had been sending messages to the ribbon banner since 6:30 p.m., so I shouldn’t have cried as much as I did when my cell phone battery ran out.

Top of the third: Pirates pitcher Ross Ohlendorf hurt his right arm. The game halted as Jeff Karstens warmed up. To fill the time, they played the “more cowbell” “Saturday Night Live” sketch on the scoreboard. This was baseball at its most pure.

Bottom of the fourth: It got cold. Everybody below us only had on hoodies and seemed perfectly content, but we were sitting where the wind whipped out of the stadium. Our jackets didn’t do the trick. My roommate regretted his decision to come.

Top of the fifth: Rockies pitcher Jorge De La Rosa wore a windbreaker on the base path. My complaint about the temperature is justified.

Bottom of the fifth: Home run, Jose Tabata! I swear I called it. Then again, I say, “This one’s going out,” every other pitch. Anyway, Tabata cut the Rockies’ lead to one. And if that didn’t pump some blood to my frigid toes, I give you two words: pierogi race.

Bottom of the sixth: Pittsburgh tied the game on a Jason Jaramillo single. I thought that the Pirates were a hit away from breaking the game open. I was proven wrong about six innings and zero runs later. Time for a food run.

Top of the eighth: With the game still tied, I convinced my roommate to stay by trading my heavy winter parka for his windbreaker. In the eight seconds during the trade when I was without a jacket, I think I developed mild hypothermia..

Top of the ninth: Joel Hanrahan overpowered three straight Rockies for a 1-2-3 inning. If only every pitcher worked like him, the game would have ended an hour ago.

Top of the 10th: The Rockies threatened to score, but didn’t. There are always two kinds of fans when games reach extras. The first kind wants someone — anyone — to score. They were pulling for Colorado. The second kind wants the game to continue at all costs.

Top of the 12th: My first thought about the last bus from Downtown to Oakland occurred as Rockies pitcher Huston Street flied out. We’re not too far away from the Pirates’ reliever Chris Resop playing right field.

Midway through the 13th: We relocated to the lower level to watch the end of the seventh consecutive scoreless inning.

Bottom of the 14th: Tabata smacked a double off the wall to drive home Josh Rodriguez. The nearest fan goes crazy, yelling, “Pirates win! Pirates win! Clint Hurdle is THE MAN!” Each team only had one bench player left when Tabata won it. “Pirates outlast Rockies,” The Associated Press wrote. When a headline resembles the “Survivor” tagline, you know you’ve witnessed a long game.

In total, I spent less than $10 and received a T-shirt, a poster, a program, about 2,000 calories and the chance to fulfill my dream of being one of the few who sticks around until the end. I have to say, it was worth it.