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Author Topic: Game 7 tests loyalties  (Read 388 times)
VaBchSteelersfan
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« on: Jun 12, 2009 at 07:42 »

Great article, makes me wish (just for tonight) I was there!  LET'S GO PENS!!


Fans with wedding receptions, rehearsal dinners, jobs look to find happy medium


The show(s) must go on.

The Pirates are still playing that other Detroit team -- the Tigers -- at PNC Park tonight. "Legally Blonde" is still on at the Benedum. The Mattress Factory is proceeding with plans to hold its biggest fundraiser of the year. And English horn player and rabid Pittsburgh Penguins fan Harold Smoliar will be playing Mahler's "Resurrection" at Heinz Hall -- before bolting to a bar across the street to catch the Pens' finale.

Still, a Friday night in June is an awfully inconvenient time for a seventh game in the Stanley Cup final, whether you're a cultural venue or a ball club -- or, for that matter, if you're a bride, a rabbi, or just a guy celebrating your anniversary.

"I was kind of hoping the Red Wings would win Game 6 so people wouldn't leave my wedding reception," noted Jenine Smith, 22, who is getting married tonight in the North Hills.

"Everyone is telling me to stay calm, and we're going to have the VJ updating us on the scores, but I want the music to be on," said Ms. Smith, whose own mother has threatened to listen to the game on the radio. "Obviously, I'm a brat and I want this wedding to be all about me."

She's not alone in her fear. Michelle McIsaac, 31, whose rehearsal dinner at Le Mont Restaurant on Mount Washington starts at 7 tonight, happens to be marrying Joe Berret, a man with a Penguins tattoo ("66") on his right arm.

Does that mean he'll be running back and forth from the dining room to the bar to check the TV, just around the time when his future father-in-law stands to toast him?

"Joe has reassured me that will not happen," the future Mrs. Berret said, whose wedding reception tomorrow will have a hockey theme, with tables named after players -- the "Malkin Table" the "Crosby Table" -- and, for wedding favors, hockey pucks.

"Both of these events are very important to Joe, and I'm trying to accommodate him and accommodate my dreams."

Indeed, accommodation and compromise seem to be the best strategy in these matters. Rabbi Alex Greenbaum has asked his congregants at Beth El Synagogue to please attend tonight's "Jersey Night" Shabbat -- in Penguins gear.

"I've always believed you need to have religion and society working together," he said. "So you can go to services from 6 to 7 and see the game at 8 p.m. and really do both."

One problem: Mr. Greenbaum is from Detroit.

And, yes, he is a Red Wings fan, "although I try to keep it quiet. But Pens fans are really similar to Wings fans. We're actually really respectful to each other. This is not like Philadelphia."

Still, there's no question that while the city's sports bars will be jammed tonight, the city's cultural and sports venues will suffer from the competition. But how much?

"Tonight is a great night to see 'Legally Blonde,' " added Jeremy Church, spokesman for the Pittsburgh CLO, who said that more tickets than usual are available for tonight's show.

That's not the case at the symphony, though. "We're looking for a sellout for tonight and Sunday because it's such a popular symphony," said its spokesman Jim Barthen, of Mahler's Symphony No. 2.

Mr. Smoliar, of the PSO's fabled horn section, says he will give his all to Mahler, but says he plans to "race out the door to Bravo Franco with my wife" as soon as the 85-minute piece ends.

"Hockey can turn your guts inside out," he said, noting that the noise at Game 4 was "incredibly loud. I sit behind trumpets at work, but I was hanging on to my feet there. The Penguins give an incredibly great performance. The more I watch and listen to them, I think, 'My God, this is near impossible.' It's just like going to a great concert."

Then there's the Mattress Factory's annual "Urban Garden" fundraiser -- which has been known to attract nearly 1,000 people in past years. Will turnout be affected?

"I hope not," said spokesman Jeffrey Inscho. "This is a very important fundraiser for the museum. We earn approximately 10 percent of our annual budget through this one evening."

Legally, the Mattress Factory is prohibited from broadcasting the game, but could some subversive televising occur? Mr. Inscho isn't saying, but noted that "it would be extremely sad if legal verbiage on the television network side of things has an effect on the financial success of this event."

There are those, though, who have decided that culture trumps sports. Steve Parsons, 47, of Jeannette, decided to attend jam guitarist Robert Randolph's concert at the Three Rivers Arts Festival tonight instead of watching the Pens.

"It was a very hard decision, but I've been waiting a year to see him, and live Robert Randolph is better than the Pens on TV."

Neil Donato, a former Pittsburgh resident now living in Canton, Mich., would beg to differ. He'd planned to drive here to watch the Detroit Tigers play the Pirates at PNC Park tonight, but he's opted for the TV at his brother's house in Mt. Lebanon instead.

"I'd like to come home Sunday with several Pittsburgh victories in tow, otherwise, it could be rough going with all of the smack talk that's been flying around here recently," he said in a phone interview from his home in Michigan.

Robert Martin faced the same dilemma. He had planned on celebrating a wedding anniversary at a $280-a-night room at the Marriott next to PNC Park -- so he could go to the Pirates game.

Even though the Pirates will broadcast the Penguins game in lounges throughout the stadium and post scores periodically on their giant video screen throughout the game, "Our loyalty to the Penguins is being seriously tested," he said in an e-mail, only to call later with an updated report: He's going with Pens on TV in the hotel room.

Pittsburgh fans aren't the only ones struggling with conflicting schedules. Ron Raimondi, of Scottsdale, Ariz., is a diehard Penguins, Steelers and Pirates fan -- so much so that he sold his Arizona Cardinals NFC Championship tickets last year to pay for his flight and two AFC Championship tickets at Heinz Field for him and his wife.

With a 16-year-old son playing baseball at a tournament 100 miles away in Prescott, he's renting a room in a hotel, hoping to schlep his son to games and race back to the hotel to check on the Pens. In addition, he has asked his wife to record the game.

"She is not real happy about this," he said.

Faith Milazzo isn't happy either. She'd planned to volunteer at the annual festival at St. Maurice Catholic Church in Forest Hills, but made the difficult decision to back out, even though televisions will be present at the festival.

"I hate to say it," said Ms. Milazzo, "but I wasn't home when they lost Game 5, and I'm convinced that's why they didn't win. There is no way I would be anywhere other than home watching the game in my 18-year-old Mark Recchi jersey. That combination has produced three Pens victories this series, so there is no reason to toy with it."

"The Pens," she added, "are like a religion to me."
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"Now that I'm here, I don't want to just be here, I want to be here for a long time." Hines Ward, 1998 4th round draft pick.
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