It’s as Pittsburgh as Primanti Brothers. Maybe even more. So consider it a compliment if you’re in the ‘Burgh and someone shouts a hearty “Ya jagoff” in your general direction.
That’s what I did during a recent whirlwind tour of that other city in Pennsylvania. I was there to cover the Phillies on Opening Day at PNC Park. The crowd — the largest ever assembled at PNC Park to see a baseball game — was pretty close to a 50-50 split of Pirates and Phillies fans. They were also very polite to the out-of-towners, pretty hard not to be when you haven’t owned a winning record in 19 seasons, right?
Anyway, the locals instructed me that they didn’t really pay too much attention to the Buccos — that’s what natives call the Pirates, cheers to my bartender at TJ's for that nugget — and, hey, let’s be honest, the Phillies are really, really good. Why would they start trash-talking?
“With that pitching staff, you should every game," as one fan told me.
However, bring the Penguins into the mix and it’s game on. Like Cole Hamels, game on. I guess it’s kind of like someone coming into Philly and poking fun at the Sixers. Would we really care?
Anyway, multiple Pittsburghers warned me not to wear any Flyers gear out. What kind of social experiment would it be, though, if I didn’t? I proudly donned an orange Wayne Simmonds T-shirt for a fun-filled night on the town. Pens fans really hate Wayne Simmonds, by the way.
Yes, I was heckled. Yes, I was given death stares by high school kids. Yes, I think I paid a little extra for my drinks … and yes, I was shot down by a very attractive female as soon as she spied by orange allegiance. I’m pretty sure “ya jagoff” was uttered before her friend came over and apologized to me.
All in all, the Pittsburghers I encountered were pleasant. The sports fans — at least the Steelers and Penguins ones — are as passionate as any I’ve seen in my travels. The ballpark, surrounded by those three rivers and the majestic Clemente Bridge, is a crown jewel. Maybe the second-nicest in the majors behind San Francisco.
Pittsburgh is also one of the cheapest cities, in terms of nightlife, and beers ranged from $2-$4 a pop. (Iron City overrated; Yuengling was everywhere.) And Primanti Brothers is legit — just make sure you stroll down to the original location so you can watch the super-pimp (owner?) work the line stretching down the block.
“How many? Ten? C’mon I can get you in. Hurry up.”
Done and done — ya jagoff.