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Bateman: After Steelers’ loss, still reason to maintain Yinzer pride

By Oliver Bateman

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One of the toughest things to deal with is losing, and the toughest loss of all is a Super Bowl… One of the toughest things to deal with is losing, and the toughest loss of all is a Super Bowl loss. Although it’s now been scientifically proven that our beloved hometown Pittsburgh Steelers can’t hang with those flint-eyed Packers from Green Bay, we mustn’t forget that our city has been voted America’s most livable in several different polls (think Forbes.com and The Economist). In this column, we’re going to take that one step further and argue that it’s also the most lovable city.

Let’s start with local politics. Unlike Green Bay mayor Jim Schmitt, who is old enough to have watched “The Rockford Files” when it first aired on NBC, our MTV-ready boy-mayor has just turned 30. Did you know that Mayor Luke Ravenstahl appeared on the Late Show with David Letterman? That’s so cool there aren’t even words to adequately describe the coolness. Seriously — flip through the thesaurus and try to find some. We dare you. On top of that, we’ve benefited from nearly eight decades of mayoral rule by a single party — proof positive that democracy is as healthy in Pittsburgh as it is anywhere in the free world. After all, if voters really had problems with the Democratic Party, wouldn’t they have voted its representatives out of office a long time ago?

Another wonderful part of the Pittsburgh experience is its top-notch weather. Covered in excruciating detail by a host of up-to-the-minute local news sources, the weather’s unpredictable quality adds a dash of valuable drama to our lives. Instead of having to endure an interminable string of mild, sunny days, we have the chance to plan our commutes around the possibility of all those ferocious blizzards that almost happened and still might. Such planning can turn one’s otherwise humdrum existence into an endless replay of the Y2K panic — and really, who could say no to something that turns the simple act of purchasing toilet paper, ball-point pens and canned corn into a race against time?

In addition to the glorious weather, our own independent research has revealed that the Pittsburgh accent is the sexiest accent of all. The Scots, Irish and Scots-Irish might have reasonable cases, but the mellifluous sound of measured Pittsburgh cadences can bring any out-of-town bar or nightclub to a standstill. It’s little wonder, then, that our nation’s greatest sports orators — men like “Iron” Mike Ditka, “Broadway” Joe Namath and “Dapper” Dan Marino — hail from this region. And we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention legendary chanteuse and Pittsburgh native Christina “Xtina” Aguilera, whose daring reinterpretation of the national anthem at the Super Bowl wowed the critics even as it won her legions of adoring new fans.

But we Pittsburghers do more than talk the talk — we also eat and drink like kings. Even people from as far away as Tours, France, can attest to the high quality of our sandwiches, french fries and sandwiches with french fries on them. Also, almost everything served at our fast-food restaurants is buried under a pile of cheese and mayonnaise, an avalanche of deliciousness that can’t be denied. If that’s not enough, ketchup was perfected here, too — and according to some story we think we remember hearing on the news, a tablespoon of that delicious condiment counts as two servings of vegetables. After partaking of these culinary delights, one can quench his or her thirst with an Iron City Beer — every rugged steelworker’s brew of choice, even if it, like steel, is no longer made here in the Steel City.

Great weather, great politicians, great accents, great food — what more could a person want? Well, how about a Major League Baseball team with the longest streak of losing seasons in the history of North American professional sports? Yep, our Pittsburgh Pirates — the “Buccos” to those of us who catch a nasty case of “Bucs fever” right after Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow — are a team that not only can be beat but almost always are. Hard-working, mediocre franchise players like Kevin Young, Jeff King, Doug Mientkiewicz, Ryan Doumit and (one can only hope) Matt Diaz have embodied our city’s unpretentious, proletarian demeanor while scraping together 55 to 70 wins per season. Unlike those glitzy, high-paid Canadians who ply their trade over in the state-of-the-art Consol Energy Center, the Pirates are a team of lovable losers whose lackluster efforts are canceled out by colorful firework shows and a ballpark that appears to have been custom-built for napping.

What we’re trying to tell you, folks, is that we have the privilege of living in the best place not only on earth but in the entire multiverse. This is a blue-collar town where people get the job done, even if that job is ugly or capable of being done for less money if it were outsourced. We haul our lunch pails to work filled with french fries, ketchup, extra ketchup and a can-do spirit that hasn’t been equaled by any other people in history. While “Big” Ben Roethlisberger might not have led us up the “stairway to seven,” we’ve still got a lot going for us. Let’s put on our hard hats and make it happen!

Oliver Bateman is one of the Moustache Club of America’s many hometown heroes. Founded in Kalispell, Mont., in 2002, the Club is now headquartered in Pittsburgh. Peruse its many spellbinding tales of urban renewal at moustacheclubofamerica.com.

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Bateman: After Steelers’ loss, still reason to maintain Yinzer pride