#11 Mark Cuban

The Yinzer\'s Sports Team Messiah. Seriously.Every culture needs myths, the stories shared among its people to reinforce group norms and carry traditions. While Yinzers have their share of legends — the night Jack Lambert tore through 20 tons of steel with his bare hands, for instance — Yinzers have one particular myth onto which they continue to hold. It’s about a boy, born and raised in the cradle of the Pittsburgh region (Mount Lebanon), educated at a world-renowned, Pittsburgh-based university (University of Pittsburgh for one year, then transferred to Indiana University in Bloomington), and grew to become a very wealthy (selling Broadcast.com at the height of the dot-com boom). He is rabid sports fan, wearing his team’s colors and capable of buying any share of Pittsburgh’s three major professional sports teams at any time. As the story is told, the man comes to Pittsburgh and spends vasts amounts of his wealth to guarantee a Super Bowl, World Series and Stanley Cup in each year he owns the team. Like a shepherd leads his flock, he will lead Pittsburgh to its rightful place as the City of Champions once again. The man, the myth, the legend is Mark Cuban.

Yinzers truly see Mark Cuban as the savior of the franchise, regardless of which franchise(s) he might choose. The Pirates are on their way to their 16th-straight losing season? Mark Cuban should buy them! The Penguins are on the brink of being sold and moved to Kansas City? Cuban and another Pittsburgh legend, Dan Marino, explored the possibility, later saying that not buying the team was a mistake. The venerable Steelers, on the block for the first time in a very, very long time? Mark Cuban has to reject the rumor.

It is easy to see why Yinzers would gravitate to this hometown boy. Mr. Cuban has demonstrated a considerable commitment to the Pittsburgh region by: owning a minority stake in an abandoned building on Fort Duquesne Boulevard; choosing to live in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex; and purchasing the NBA Dallas Mavericks. In addition, his sports team ownership style only slightly contrasts with the typical Yinzer love for understated owners, mostly demonstrated through behaviors like: getting in verbal confrontations with fans and referees; knowing little about running a sports team; acting like an idiot at his team’s games; and writing a blog about issues that no league would ever want discussed publicly. “Hey,” Yinzers say to each other at the corner bar, “he’s rich, he loves sports and he’s from Pittsburgh! He’s a perfect owner for all three of our teams!”

Yinzers see absolutely no irony in their breathless reaction to Stanley Druckenmiller, a billionare who has emerged as a possible buyer of a majority stake in the Steelers and has never shied away from telling people how much he “loves Pittsburgh.” In fact, according to a recent article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

Stanley Druckenmiller is also a diehard Steelers fan who rarely misses a game at Heinz Field, typically hosts a tailgate party in the “A” lot and has been known to paint his face black and gold.

With an owner like that, it’s easy to see how the man could be perceived as interested in ruining the franchise and moving the team to another city.

It is best to leave well enough alone when the subject of Mark Cuban comes up in Yinzer sports conversations. As with the most pervasive of myths, Yinzers never let the facts get in the way of a good legend.

#5 Fireworks – Special Fourth of July Edition

For most people, watching fireworks is sort of like Egg Nog at Christmas; they enter the consciousness around the Fourth of July and then pretty much forget about them otherwise. Most people buy a few sparklers, or a pack of roman candles, or a few little boxes of those snap things you use to scare your grandmother. A family might even decide to have a picnic and enjoy the wonders of a particularly good fireworks display (i.e. The Sandlot). No matter what, most people see fireworks as one of the small joys of the general American experience.

Not Yinzers. There is really no other way of saying this — Yinzers just freakin’ love fireworks.

Yinzers are willing to brave nearly anything to see a fireworks display. Three hours of bad baseball and $7 beers? Hasn’t stopped the Buccos from selling out every SkyBlast since they’ve started the promotion. Cross two bridges, and go through a tunnel? Sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do. Stop and park the car in the middle of a major U.S. Interstate to watch? As long as there’s a place for the cooler full of Iron City Beer.

In the mind of Yinzers, Pittsburgh practically invented fireworks. The region is home to Zambelli Fireworks Internationale, known as the “First Family of Fireworks,”¬†one of the oldest and largest American fireworks companies. While Zambelli lists an impressive array of clients around the world ( the Odyssey Network, the Discovery Channel, The Learning Channel and the British Broadcasting Company), Yinzers believe that God Himself hired them for His lightning/thunder/fire/brimstone appearances over the past six millennia. It makes sense, He would only want the best.

While Steelers Monday Night Football games, St. Patrick’s Day, New Year’s Day, the beginning of the Christmas shopping season, outdoor concerts, and Pirates home runs are all still considered rare enough occurrances to warrant fireworks, the Fourth of July is what really brings out the glimmer in a Yinzer’s eye. According to a local TV News station, there are 15 separate fireworks displays slated for July 4th celebrations within a 20-mile radius of downtown Pittsburgh, all scheduled at the same time. And, if Yinzers don’t feel like their local municipality’s displays are up to snuff — Zambelli can’t be everywhere, people — they are welcome to travel to the Golden Triangle, where 500,000 people are expected to watch the City of Pittsburgh display.

Unfortunately, this fireworks saturation has created an insatiable audience, and Yinzers always want more. Colors, lights, graphics, music, timing, shooting them from the river… Zambelli has already reached the pinnacle of fireworks perfection. Intelligence officers for the city of Cleveland have secretly expressed concern that Yinzers might be willing to launch a pre-emptive strike against the city just to see the show.

If you’re invited to a Yinzer’s house for the fourth of July, be ready for anything. Review the instructions on the fire extinguisher, do a little research on first aid tips, and always be on the lookout for a kid with a sparkler trying to poke you in the ass. In the end, a hour’s worth of oohs, ahhs, wows and that-was-the-best-grand-finale-they’ve-ever-hads are worth both personal safety and Yinzer harmony. Most importantly, have a great time. Sometimes the things Yinzers like are things everyone else likes, too.