Friday, July 15, 2011

From the ashes of PNC Park, we have a legitimate baseball team

I remember being on the floor in my home as a 16-year-old watching Game 7 of the NLCS. My step-mom allowed me to stay up late that night to catch the end of the Pirates game, which was a very rare allowance.

The Pirates were three outs away from the last relevant debate in the team's history: Stick with Doug Drabek, who had tossed eight shutout innings, or go to a bullpen, to face the Braves' Terry Pendelton. Manager Jim Leyland stuck with the Cy Young Award winner, and Pendelton doubled. Then, less frequent than getting to stay up late, Chico Lind booted a ball that opened the door to infamy. My head just fell to the floor Sid Bream's gallop around third base thwarted a return to the World Series, which was just an out away. And the name Francisco Cabrera became a four-letter word to me and many other Pirates fans.

Before the 2011 Pirates took two of three from both the Phillies and Red Sox, baseball in Pittsburgh hasn't really inspired too many four-letter words. Quite honestly, people didn't care that much.  Sellouts were only due to the blessing of the schedule bringing in baseball's best from other teams, a good bobblehead ball from the 1970's or a fireworks night.

Let's be honest, you only hoped the Pirates would play well enough to stay relevant until Steelers training camp opened.

All of the names that have been sold to us over the years. Jacob Brumfield, Kevin Young, Midre Cummings, Al Martin, John Wehner, Jeff King, Orlando Merced, Pat Meares, Derek Bell, Tike Redmen, Adam Hydzu, Craig Wilson.  And it's not to say these are all bad players. But Pirates fans were to believe these guys could be the foundation of a team.

The pitchers are beyond escape either. The problem with them is most went on success. How awful was it to watch Jason Schmidt and Esteban Loaiza has the starting pitchers in the same All-Star game in 2003?

Time to stop.

I've been pretty excited about this group and decided this is the outlet for it. Whether it's the starting pitching that came out of nowhere. Or the fact that I met two of the current players at the Double-A All-Star Game last year, where I teased Josh Harrison that I saw his only home run of the year at Trenton.  It's not all fan-dom but some of it is. It's nice to have that feeling like when I was a kid that the Bucs actually have a chance. I don't need to hear about terrible the offense is at catcher or Pedro Alvarez is a bust or Ronny Cedeno isn't the long-term answer at shortstop.

My wife doesn't want to hear it anymore. Neither does my friend Ted, the guy across from me at work. And I'm sick and tired of the people I live near (I live in Philadelphia) patting me on the head and thinking it's cute that I'm excited about  little baseball team.  So when I have something to say, I'll say it. Please respond, pass it to your friends and enjoy this excitement while it lasts. My thoughts, like anyone cares, will continue to be passionate and vibrant until.... well... hopefully it wiwll last past the settlement of the NFL Lockout.

Let my Bucco Fever spread. Share with your friends, tell them to join us as we embrace this generation not as cynical haters but as happy to have a team worth cheering for.

Go Bucs!!


  1. Could realignment create the old interstate Bucs-Phils rivalry enjoyed by many in the 70's?
    I recall Dave Cash bringing his " Yes We Can" motto from Western Pa.that helped jump-start one of the red-stripes' greatest eras.Hey,they've gotten noticed!!

  2. As a Rangers fan who suffered for many years before finally making the playoffs for the first time (only to be crushed by the hated Yankees in the first round), then to go through having owner Tom Hicks run the team into the ground (almost literally)'s a great feeling to finally have an ownership group, a management group, and a team on the field to be proud of. Good luck this year!