Pirates-Curve bond strong, but fans shouldn’t be at workouts

Over the years, I’ve often wondered what everyone around here did during the summer prior to the Curve’s arrival in 1999. Unfortunately, we are finding out this year, with the minor league baseball season wiped out because of the coronavirus.

I’ve read social media posts from countless sports fans talking about how they miss going to Curve games.


There was some very good news on the Curve front this week, though, as the Pirates announced they’ll be sending their taxi-squad players to work out at Peoples Natural Gas Field.

The move further exemplifies just how good we have it here in terms of the local minor league baseball club.

Make no mistake, the Curve are an elite franchise. One of the many examples to prove that: I have yet to find another minor league ballpark that’s ever been featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated, the way PNG Field and Curve mascot Loco were earlier this month.

The Pirates know what a gem of an affiliate and ballpark they have less than 100 miles away in Altoona. That made it a natural for the parent club to pick PNG Field for these unprecedented training workouts as Major League Baseball tries to navigate its way through the coronavirus pandemic.

The working relationship between the Pirates and Curve has been rock solid for more than two decades, and this latest development during such trying times only solidifies that.

OK, so about 15-20 Pirates minor leaguers will be working out daily at PNG Field for the rest of the summer. What does that actually mean for local baseball fans?

Probably not much, in reality, because the likelihood that many — if any — fans will get to see those players actually play ball this summer would seem to be small.

Curve GM Derek Martin mentioned the possibility to the Mirror of selling tickets to fans who want to attend the workouts or daily training activities. Martin said the ballpark could bring in 250 fans with social distancing and would hope for more, but he noted that allowing fans to attend would be up to Major League Baseball and the Department of Health.

I view all of that as a bad idea.

The virus is still out there. I don’t know why so many people still need to be reminded of it, but that’s where we are in this country.

Gathering in crowds of any size is dangerous.

The Curve are a business and want to make money by selling tickets to the workouts. I get that. But it would be such a bad look — when minor league baseball is shut down and the country is still dealing with serious coronavirus issues — for any franchise to be seen selling tickets to something that amounts to nothing more than minor league practices.

It all would amount to yet another PR problem and hassle that MLB won’t want to deal with.

Maybe I’ll be wrong about this and the Curve will be allowed to sell tickets to the workouts. We’ll see.

If so, and you do go out to the ballpark for any of it, please, please, please be safe.

Practice social distancing. Wear a mask when you can’t stay distanced.

For the record, I am in no way singling out the Curve for being interested in trying to sell tickets.

I am against sports teams everywhere selling tickets to events and putting more lives in danger.

That includes Major League Baseball.

It also includes Penn State and other college football.

I am fully aware that many Nittany Lion fans want to go to Beaver Stadium and see their team. You want life back to normal as much as possible, and going through your Saturday routine in the fall is a big part of your life.

But if we have learned anything in the past couple of weeks, it’s that this virus absolutely will take advantage of our society if we continue to ignore what scientific experts insist we need to do to stay safe because we’re too stubbornly focused on pursuing our own personal freedoms.

Cory Giger can be reached at cgiger@altoonamirror.com.


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