When a Philadelphian Becomes a Pittsburgher…

It happens a lot.

Kids who grew up just a train ride or a subway stop or maybe even a cab ride away from Philadelphia end up moving. The smells and the sights and the normalcy of Southeastern Pennsylvania and the city they called home for 10 or 20 years becomes a thing of the past. But ironically, a lot of these movers aren’t headed for another country or even another state – they’re just headed five hours west to start a new chapter on the other end of the Keystone. Can’t be that tough, right?


Wawa Withdrawal – Allegheny County has never experienced the deliciously smooth taste of a Wawa machine-made Mint Chocolate Chip milkshake, or eaten a warm cheese-stuffed soft pretzel coated in salt. Western Pennsylvania hasn’t had the luxury of sipping of a Wawa French Vanilla cappuccino before work – they’re too busy standing in line at GetGo or driving 20 miles to the nearest Sheetz. Living without Wawa sounds like a seriously shallow first-world problem when you put it on paper, but knowing that gas-station perfection is just a few hours away can be hard to handle some days.

Yinz guys? – When you live somewhere (anywhere) for an extended period of time you’re bound to pick-up a bit of the lingo. The tricky part is when you run into a conflicting phrase that everyone around you says, but you’ve never heard of or understood. Do you start using their phrase so you fit in? No one understands you when you use the one you’ve been using all your life. So hey, you guys – I mean, yinz?

Intrastate RivalryPhilly PITT The way that Pittsburgh natives speak about Philadelphia natives and vice versa, you’d think the two were on opposite sides during all three World Wars. Heaven forbid you have any ties to one of the places and live in the other – you might find yourself in this conversation:

“You visited Pittsburgh last week? So that means you’re a diehard Steelers fan yinzer loving creep now – that’s gross.”

“How was Philly? Did you get mugged in Center City or run into anyone wearing Flyers gear? Claude Giroux is the worst human being ever.”

Cheesesteak Envy – It’s real. I’m convinced that us Southeastern Pennsylvanian’s will declare any steak sandwich made outside of an old hole-in-the-wall Geno’s or Pat’s or Jim’s is not a ‘real’ Philly Cheesesteak, but a good one is especially hard to find out in the 412 area code. I’ll cut The Burgh some slack here though – the focus has been so well constrained on Primanti’s and their mounds of sandwiches that they haven’t had time to really master the cheesesteak.

I can deal with this one. Leave it to Tony Luke.

Mixing Signals

I’ve been watching the recorded seasons of “My Boys” lately and it has quickly reminded me how much I relate real life to the sport of Baseball.

The show revolves around the main character, PJ Franklin, who is a sportswriter for the Chicago Cubs and is your everyday tomboy turned woman who is trying to make it in a man’s world. She lives in an upscale but homey apartment in the downtown Chicago area and has six very close friends in her life. Five of them are men, including her big brother Andy, and the sixth is her extremely feminine and hopelessly romantic best friend Stephanie.

In three seasons, the show takes you through PJ’s struggles as a female sportswriter in a male-dominant profession while she looks for job security, good beer and (of course) love.

I’ve been bashed on all levels for actually owning up to the fact that I watch this show, let alone enjoy it, but I don’t mind too much. Behind the corny jokes and mediocre punch-lines there is a story of a young woman that I relate very well with. And at the end of the day, the entire show is one big reminder of how baseball and sports aren’t just a part of life, they’re a way of life too.

Here’s what I’ve learned:

The strategic move isn’t always the best move. Fantasy Outlooks aren’t always correct. Statistics charts don’t have the answer to life’s biggest mysteries. And numbers – they actually do lie. Sometimes the answer to your problems isn’t mapped out from one plan to the next. Sometimes, going by the book is the worst option you can choose. When in doubt, relying on your instincts will most likely get you to a comfortable position rather than a possibly tragic one.

Your friends are your teammates. They see you in your biggest moments of success and at your lowest points of failure. They see you when you’re being carried off the field and clap for you when you receive an award. The people you surround yourself with and call your friends should be there to cheer you up, cheer you on and always keep you focused on what’s most important. I mean let’s be honest, the game really is only as fun as the people who take the field with you.

There really is no crying in baseball. Because what in the world is crying about something going to do to actually fix it? Whenever PJ has a problem or gets upset, she does what most healthy people do and reaches out. Whether it’s to ask for relationship advice from her best friend, jet-set across the country to spend a week with her favorite aunt, or sit the guys down around her poker table and ask them the tough questions, she resolves her issues rather than complains about them. Talk about a grown-up.

The unexpected is always the best. You can’t prepare for it, nor can you predict how you’ll react to it – it just happens. Whether it’s an unexpected 16-inning game or an unfamiliar cute someone who leaves you their number, a timely promotion at work or a postseason run at the Wild Card, there’s something to be said for the spontaneity of this world. These are the small moments in our live that build us up, tear us down and make us stronger all in the same process. Let life happen.

Oh, and never stop watching baseball.

When the Trade Deadline Hits..

Journalists start tweeting. Fans start speculating. And General Manager’s start calculating whether or not their current salaries will secure them through the rest of their lives, because they understand that their jobs are seriously riding on their every move.

Baseball enthusiasts all over the country make their predictions, cross their fingers and pray to some higher being that the GM of their MLB Team will make some kind of miraculous moves that will indefinitely change the course of a season for the better.

buyersAnd the more and more I think about it, the Trade Deadline of major league baseball, with all of its implications and consequences and rewards, is the exact same as every major ‘deadline’ we face on a regular basis.

Hear me out.

Part 1. The Phillies are in desperate need of fresh leadership – a guy who will become a starting position player and affect the outcome of a series through both his offensive and defensive efforts as well as show up with a take-charge attitude. But the Phightins’ Clubhouse truly isn’t ready to phase-out the old leaders (Rollins, Utley & Ruiz) in order to sign-on a new one. They see it best fit to milk as much talent out of those iconic players as they can before they make the big jump. They’re waiting for the right time. For this any many other reasons, the Phillies didn’t acquire any new team leaders.

Part 2. I have been looking at new apartments in the downtown Pittsburgh area for the past few months. After living in a three-bedroom, single-bath apartment with two other roommates and mediocre amenities for a year, I’m in the market for some new space. But the more and more I looked around I realized how expensive single-bedroom apartments or studios within five miles of the downtown area are, I started to outweigh the negatives with the positives. I pay cheap rent, I have a spacious room to myself and I live with two girls that constantly make me laugh. I’m not ready for a new place. For this and many other reasons, I re-signed a lease and I am staying put.

Okay, so maybe they aren’t the exact same, but you get the idea.

The Trade Deadline isn’t the end of the season. Whether it’s baseball or your very own daily routine, in time, there will be plenty of time to make that decision. You might have to process a few lofty waivers and put a little bit more effort into strategic money-managing before your trade is settled, but the possibility of signing that game-changer and making a postseason run is still very much possible after Thursday, July 31st.

Forget about people telling you that you need to seize the moment and pull the trigger. Sometimes it’s okay to be comfortable where you are. And if you’re not ready to make the move and ‘go for the big win’, that’s okay too.

Who knows – you might already have the winning combination in your dugout.