Yinzers in the News #6 – Joe Starkey is Putting Us Out of Business

Joe Starkey, of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, has written a great article on what it would be like if fans owned the team as a public entity, much like the Green Bay Packers. While it is against league rules, Joe speculates on what the 40-part mission statement would be.

40. We shall provide free beer at Heinz Field.

39. We shall provide free beer at Heinz Field.

38. We shall provide free beer at Heinz Field.

37. We shall tear down Heinz Field and rebuild Three Rivers Stadium.

36. We shall provide free beer at Three Rivers Stadium.

35. We shall change the name of the Coca-Cola Great Hall to the IC Light Great Hall.

34. We shall hire Chuck Noll as head coach.

33. We shall hire Terry Bradshaw as quarterbacks coach.

32. We shall hire Lynn Swann and John Stallworth as wide receivers coaches.

31. We shall revert to the beloved block numerals on players’ jerseys.

30. We shall petition the NFL to send the Baltimore Ravens back to Cleveland so we can beat the Browns four times a year.

29. We shall hire Greg Lloyd as head of community relations.

28. Donnie Iris shall sing the national anthem.

27. We shall not run scoreboard replays of the game in progress but rather a continuous loop of the Immaculate Reception.

26. We shall hire Franco Harris as running backs coach.

25. We shall overcome.

24. We shall hire Roy Gerela as kicking coach.

23. We shall hire Mean Joe Greene as defensive line coach.

22. We shall petition the NFL to allow us to gamble at the new North Side casino (Hey, they allowed the Rooneys to have gambling interests all these years; why not us?)

21. We shall hire Joey Porter as White House liaison.

20. We shall beat the living snot out of Steely McBeam and bar him from the stadium.

19. We shall invite Cliff Stoudt to a December game and pelt him with snowballs.

18. We shall hire Jack Lambert as linebackers coach (he shall moonlight as the office linebacker and deck unsuspecting slackers all day long).

17. We shall hire James Harrison as director of on-field security.

16. We shall declare the entire Downtown area a parking lot. Tailgate parties shall commence on Tuesday morning at 8:30 a.m. and continue until, um, the following Tuesday morning at 8:30 a.m.

15. Halftime festivities shall periodically include a ceremonial burning of the resident offensive coordinator.

14. We shall petition the NFL to make the New England Patriots give us two of their Super Bowl rings.

13. We shall hire Mel Blount as secondary coach.

12. We shall offer a Sunday morning church service, at which we shall fervently pray to Ben Roethlisberger.

11. We shall not have Bobblehead Dolls but Voodoo Dolls, in the likenesses of Jerry Glanville, John Madden, Al Davis, Kordell Stewart and Neil O’Donnell.

10. We shall petition the NFL to enshrine every member of the ’70′s Steelers — including Jack Deloplaine and Ernest Pough — into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

9. Rocky Bleier shall deliver a motivational speech before every game.

8. We shall not provide sprinklers at training camp but hire Bill Cowher to shower fans with spittle all day.

7. We shall hire Tommy Maddox as trash collector.

6. We shall expunge any record of having drafted Huey Richardson, Troy Edwards, Tim Worley and Jamain Stephens.

5. We shall replace our stadium’s turf with a replica of the Terrible Towel (talk about terrible turf) and dispense transistor radios that play nothing but Myron Cope-isms.

4. We shall hire Bennie Cunningham as tight ends coach.

3. Smoking shall be encouraged in all parts of the stadium.

2. We shall allow fans to reserve parking spots with lawn chairs.

1. Did we mention free beer?

That is about as good as it gets. Way to nail Yinzer nation.

Read it here: http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/mostread/s_578474.html

#13 Rick Sebak TV Specials on WQED

Amongst leading experts, it is widely acknowledged that education must take place both inside and outside of the classroom. The role of the local school system is to teach children critical historical facts, such as the time George Washington lured enemy Frenchmen and Native Americans to an arts festival at the Point on a particularly rainy day during the French and Indian War. However, it is left to Yinzer parents to teach more recent history, including subjects like Pittsburgh’s bridge to “nowhere” and the mysterious sinking and disappearance of a B25 Bomber in the Monogahela River. Fortunately, Yinzer parents have a superior teaching tool for these lessons — Rick Sebak TV Specials on WQED.

The local expert on temporally-displaced things is Rick Sebak, who produces “scrapbook documentaries.”  In these specials, Yinzers are given the opportunity to wax nostalgic about things that are either not there any more, or are very different today. With old photos, film clips, and a player-piano soundtrack, people recall the time that the they met girls during Italian days or ate a very unusual sandwich.

Rick Sebak’s most-beloved special is Kennywood Memories, a 20-year old film that looks back at the local amusement park’s growth from a small park at the end of a commuter rail line to the “Roller Coaster Capital of the World” that filled the park with Yinzers in cut-off shorts and AC/DC t-shirts. The documentary provides Yinzers the opportunity to reflect on the good old days of their childhood and to tell their children just how much better Potato Patch fries were “back in the day.”

Other Rick Sebak blockbusters include the obviously-titled Things that Aren’t There Anymore, the not-what-you-think-it-is The Strip Show, the creepy A Cemetery Special, and the only-Yinzers-need-this-to-be-pointed-out What Makes Pittsburgh Pittsburgh. While it is quite impressive that Rick Sebak has produced twenty-three documentaries through 2008, it might be an even greater Pittsburgh media achievement that none of his films are exclusively focused on the Pittsburgh Steelers teams of the 70s.

The Pittsburgh PBS station, WQED, almost completely relies on Rick Sebak’s work for its funding. A totally fictional analysis of the PBS station’s books shows that sales of his specials alone account for 83% of the station’s budget each year. Further invented analysis shows that Kennywood Memories is responsible for about 46% of that total.

So, if you happen to run across a Yinzer, thank him for helping to finance your child’s obsession with Elmo through his purchase of another Sebak classic, A Program About Unusual Buildings & Other Roadside Stuff. Remember folks, he’s just doing it for the children.

#12 Talking About the Time They Met Franco Harris

For non-Yinzers, Franco Harris is simply a retired football player of some notoriety. For football-as-religion Yinzers, he is the leader of “Franco’s Italian Army” and the man upon whom the football gods bestowed the blessing of the Immaculate Reception, an improbable play that resulted in a walk-off Steelers playoff victory. While he sustained a successful Hall of Fame career, that one play has defined his place in football history.

Despite a brief stint with the Seattle Seahawks in the twilight of his playing days, Franco Harris has remained a presence in Pittsburgh. His legend status and continued involvement in the community has led to a great deal of interaction with Yinzers, and you can guarantee that every Yinzer has a story about the time they met Franco Harris.

Yinzers will not hesitate to tell anyone who will listen that Franco “ain’t a jagoff,” “is good people,” “is dahn to earth,” and “is good to talk at n’at.” Whether it be at a Democratic rally with Barack Obama, an autograph session at the Union hall, or just walking the streets, Yinzers always make it a point to tell Franco how much they love him. While that chance encounter would become a nice anecdote for most people, it becomes a center of conversation for Yinzers. “Yeah, I know Franco,” a Yinzer will say, as if Franco Harris was a neighbor that once fed the dog while the Yinzer was at camp at lake Pymatuning. The Yinzer will then recount every glorious detail of the interaction. He will work himself into an absolute frenzy if Franco happened to be wearing his Super Bowl rings that day as well. “Oh my gosh,” he will say, “those rings were so beautiful it almost made me cry.” Usually, the story ends with, “Franco’s not as big as I thought he was.”

Listen intently to a Yinzer as he speaks of his run-in with football glory. It is impolite to sneer at anyone’s dream come true, especially when it involves meeting a personal hero. And, in the event that you have a chance encounter with Franco Harris, simply shake his hand and say “nice to meet you.” He has heard it all already, and he probably respects anyone that does not wag their tail in his presence.

#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.

#7 WDVE

We all have a soundrack of our lives. Some songs might represent defining moments, others might inspire, or still others might just make us smile as we go about our day-to-day routine. Yinzers also have a soundtrack of their lives, and that soundtrack is played every day on WDVE.

For non-Yinzers, WDVE (or just DVE for those mullet-clad Yinzers in the know) is the Rosetta Stone of their culture. It features:

  • Two morning show hosts who smoke cigars, talk about breasts, do bad voices to invented characters such as “Ralph the Cat,” talk about Pittsburgh sports teams, and make fun of/revel in yinzer culture by producing annual CDs with such local favorites as Go Steelers and The Meaning of Penguins Hockey;
  • Contests such as “Hottest Moms” and the man-boob-featuring “Twisted Wet T-Shirt Contest;”
  • Artists that define Yinzer culture, including as ZZ Top, Rush, Ozzy Osbourne, Lynard Skynyrd, AC/DC, Pink Floyd, Aerosmith and The Doors;
  • Parody songs of Pittsburgh;
  • Frequent tracks by The Clarks, a local band that every Yinzer insists should have been as big, if not bigger, than Donnie Iris;
  • A midday female DJ who does a request show called “The Electric Lunch,” on whom nearly every Yinzer has a crush;
  • A Black-and-Gold web site that includes”Steelers” and “Girls” as its first two menu items, as well as a plethora of stimulating Yinzer activities, such as voting for the hottest mom and checking out the babe of the day; and
  • An hourly playing of Ozzy Osbourne’s Crazy Train. (Note: see screen shot below)

If preparing for an interaction where you need to make small talk with Yinzers, be sure to spend some time listenening to DVE. In addition to making the conversation more palatable, you’re likely to find yourself thinking about the people from whom you could have learned had you not been Born Too Late.

#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.

#3 Equating Poor Steelers Quarterback Play with Being Gay

The Steelers quarterback is the standard-bearer of Yinzer happiness at any point in the year. If the quarterback is playing well, he is the toast of the town. Sandwiches are named after him. Posters declaring him the savior of humanity abound. He’s even made a deputy sheriff. If the quarterback is not playing well, then there is only one logical conclusion to make — he must be gay.

The tradition of assuming struggling Steelers quarterbacks are gay dates back to Terry Bradshaw’s early days as a number one draft pick. When he struggled early in his career, the whisper campaign began.  He had a funny Louisiana accent and had a sense of humor, and did sort of wear some of that gay southern stuff that showed off his chest hair. And, let’s be honest, the whole failed country music career didn’t help.

Then along came Kordell Stewart. Stewart, a mediocre quarterback best known for throwing a ridiculous hail mary pass for his then Colorado Buffaloes, was drafted in the second round, which made Yinzers practically squeal with excitement. In his rookie season, head coach Bill Cowher used Kordell in a quarterback/running back/wide receiver/punting role, earning him the nickname “Slash.” After this, as Yinzers will tell you, Kordell could have had a Hall of Fame career as Slash, but he insisted he was starting NFL quarterback material. Kordell Stewart sucked at being a starting NFL quarterback. Therefore, the logic held, Kordell Stewart must be gay.

Any Yinzer worth his weight in perogies had a cousin’s friend’s uncle’s boyfriend’s sister that had actually SEEN Kordell Stewart cruising for gay sex in Schenley park. Regardless of the lack of actual evidence of Kordell’s homosexuality, Yinzers were convinced that his passes skipping off the Three Rivers Stadium AstroTurf were the result of limp wrists. Teammates were so affected by the rumors that in the 1997 season, Kordell Stewart convened a team meeting declaring his sexuality. “I believe in Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve,” he said. This was such a huge part of his career that Sports Illustrated featured the topic during a short-lived career resurgence.

If you know that you’re about to be with a group group of Yinzers, be sure to study the latest team news, such as the digestive habits of the entire offensive line. If you’re unaware of the latest, the conversation will inevitably lead to talking about Kordell Stewart’s great-player-to-gay conversation. If this occurs, stay calm and immediately align yourself as closely as you possibly can with this idea, declaring that you can’t believe how gay he was. To do otherwise would lead to suspicions of your own gayness, and you will be immediately ostracized from the group. If the conversation doesn’t die quickly, simply look at everyone and ask the following: “Do you remember that growth on Kordell Stewart’s neck? What was that thing, anyway?”