NO ONE at Appalachian Power Park cared on Thursday that the West Virginia Power entered its home opening day at 1-6.
"Really?" one fan said walking into the park. "They're 1-6?"
On this day, we pretended the Power was unbeaten. Or just starting. It didn't matter. It was Opening Day here. Capital O. Capital D. All was OK.
The bags were out. The mitt was popped. The bats cracked.
"We're excited," said Andy Milovich, executive vice-president of the club. "The eighth season [of the APP] is here. The park looks great. The community response, from a sponsorship and ticket sales standpoint, has been fantastic. And the weather, at least to this standpoint, is cooperating much better than it did all last year."
You come to this space, though, for the scoop. So let's get to it.
The ticket this season, at least early in the season, can be summed up thusly: Josh Bell, Josh Bell, Josh Bell, Josh Bell.
"Josh Bell is obviously the guy everyone wants to watch," Milovich said. "He's as exciting as you can get. He's a guy everyone projected as a top-15 pick before he told everyone he was going to college and not to draft him."
Then the Pirates drafted him - and backed up the Brink's truck.
Forget peanuts. Get yer Josh Bell while he's hot. Or, at least, in town.
Partly because of him, the Pirate organization got its, well, bell rung by Bud Selig in the owners' meetings - for exceeding bonus "recommendations." The Buccos gave $8 million to No. 1 pick Gerrit Cole and $5 million to second-round pick Bell. Since Neal Huntington took over the Pirates, the team has spent $47.6 million in the draft, including a major league record $17 million last year. (Apparently he wishes to end the franchise's North American record of consecutive losing seasons. It is at 19.)
Bell got off to a good start in his temporary home on Thursday with a single to right in his first at-bat and an RBI double in the ninth of the Power's 5-1 win.
Others to watch? Here's a short list, aside from Bell: