PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates and the Reds have had some heated battles in recent years, but they had a lighthearted -- albeit fierce -- showdown before Monday’s series opener at PNC Park: An old-fashioned pledge-off.
Long after the national anthem had been sung, Pirates reliever Luis Oviedo and Reds utilityman Alex Blandino remained stationed outside of their respective dugouts, hand over heart, unwilling to budge. Oviedo cracked a smile from time to time, while Blandino seem undeterred by anything going on around him.
“I cannot tell you how much they support the United States of America,” Pirates play-by-play commentator Greg Brown said on AT&T SportsNet, watching the event unfold.
The pledge-off lasted past Pirates starter Mitch Keller’s warmup pitches, and even continued as Reds second baseman Nick Senzel stepped to the plate. By that time, home-plate umpire Chris Conroy had caught on, waving his hands and saying, “Let’s go! The game’s got to start, let’s go!”
Oviedo, a Rule 5 Draft pick, took his five fingers from his heart first after giving a look back to the Pirates’ dugout with another parting grin. He then departed, leaving Blandino with the victory. And the Reds went on to win in a rout, 14-1.
The Reds are beginning to build a short history of winning pregame pledge showdowns. Hernan Iribarren overcame Manny Piña in a long standoff before a game at Great American Ball Park in 2016.