I was at Roland’s Iron Landing in the Strip District Saturday afternoon devouring some broiled scallops and other seafood delicacies when I struck up a conversation with a very lovely family from “Joisey” adorned in all of the latest fire engine red Philadelphia Phillies gear. They were also armed and dangerous because they had in their possession tickets to the Pirates/Phillies game to be held later on that evening at PNC Park.


As we got a little deeper into the conversation, they told me that they had built a minor family vacation around this particular game, coming all the way in from the garden state to sightsee and take in a contest that featured their favorite team against their cross state rivals. Plus, if the game were held in Philly the field box seats that they had attained more than likely would not have been available and if they were, the price for four field box seats may have rivaled the entire budget for their Pittsburgh excursion including game tickets.

Since 1980 the Pirates have played three seasons of over .500 ball, the Phillies over 15. But do not fret Pirates fans, according to Phillies manager Charlie Manuel there is more to the 2011 Pirates than meets the eye. He said with an expression of respect; “They come to play [and] the crowds last night (Saturday) and today (Sunday) showed that, if they start winning, they’ll definitely draw here. I think Pittsburgh is ready for a winning baseball team.” Manuel also had a good review of Pirates manager Clint Hurdle. “Hurdle, he’s a very positive guy, I’ve always found him to be that way. I’m sure with just him alone; they’re getting very positive feedback. There’s definitely a different feel. “

There was a friendly banter going back and forth between our tables. I really was smiling on the inside at this new found pride exhibited by our new friends rehashing the tales of victory by the team from the city of brotherly love. We ended up discussing the successes of Phillies baseball and the not so lucky NFL exploits of the Eagles.

“As long as Michael Vick walks a straight line, I definitely think that the Eagles have a legitimate shot at winning the NFC,” said the matriarch of the family. At that point, I began to silently question the sanity of this Philly “fanatic.” The father had his own opinion, of course. “Andy Reid was too patient with Donovan McNabb,” he said. “The guy always wilted under pressure. When it came to the big game you could always count on McNabb to be the “big shame.” When it came to T.O, what were they all thinking? Owens has never, at least not lately even remotely been a team player.”

The “wing clipped” Eagles have been to two Super Bowls, XV in 1981 (led by Dick Vermeil and Ron Jaworski) and XXXIX in 2005 (led by Reid and McNabb), losing both. However, prior to the first “Superbowl” in 1967, the Eagles won three NFL titles- 1948, 1949 and 1960. The last NFL championship that the Eagles won was 51 years ago.

Now Pittsburgh fans ask yourself this question? Who would you rather be? A Philadelphia fan with a couple of World Series championships (1980, 2008) and no Super Bowl titles under your belts? Or would you rather be a Pittsburgh fan with a baseball team that has won three championships since 1971 and six Lombardi trophies during that same time period?

Unless Eagles Head Coach Andy Reid finds a way to get around the defensive schemes of the Eagles chief NFC rival, the Green Bay Packers and finds a way to stop the Packers QB Aaron Rodgers, the ‘birds’ will fall short again in 2011 (if there is a 2011 NFL season).

As far as Vick walking a straight line, what if Reid and the Eagles take on another restoration project say in the person of one Plaxico Burress, the beleaguered, self-shooting ex-wide receiver of the New York Giants? This work stoppage gives the Eagles a perfect opportunity to work out Plaxico and perform a thorough analysis of him both physically and mentally. Now if Reid is bold, brash and brave enough to pull that off, everyone in the NFC as well as the NFC East will be crying, genuine, certifiable crocodile tears.

The Pirates have been lovable losers for 18 straight seasons now. But I can “garontee” that it will not take them another 43 years to win a championship. I have a direct question to ask you Pittsburghers’. Why do you continue to look a gift horse in the mouth? With the size and attitude of this market, it is a miracle that the Steel City has any championship trophies at all. From five year olds to 95-year-olds the main complaint is that these “milk fed” spoiled athletes make far more money than they should. All would be well if they earned something along the line of $15-$25 dollars per hour, you know normal wages. That sounds good on the “Lawrence Welk hour” and looks good on paper but as the old folks used to say, “You get what you pay for and you have to pay the cost to be the boss.”

(Aubrey Bruce can be reached at: abruce@new­pittsburghcourier.com or 412-583-6741.)

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