Waking up on this gorgeous Memorial Day morning was mind blowing. When was the last Memorial Holiday Weekend that was this spectacular? I could probably look it up, but I won’t bother as we had better things to focus on.
Our team, the mind blowing Pittsburgh Pirates, were coming off a sweep of the Chicago Cubs. The ballclub was just one game from .500….despite an insane schedule and the worst offense since the Bad News Bears headed to Japan, the Bucs had some momentum.
After shaking off the pain of working yet another holiday, our mind drifted to the first-place Reds. Ugh, the Red Hot Reds.
But as we were driving to pick up fifty more cases of beer to satisy the savvy craft beer lovers of Fayette County, we had a strange feeling. The Pirates offense was showing signs of life. As were scrolled through the lineup and some game notes, we felt so confident that we cranked out a post about the signs of life from the Pirates offense from the beer distributor parking lot.
As we drove back to the bottle shop, the sunshine started to pour into our eyes. What the hell was happening? It’s never this nice on Memorial Day in Pennsylvania. We’ve never felt this good about a Bucco pitcher. It felt like James McDonald was really making the pain of the last 19 years fade away.
After a couple of phone calls from a few buddies heading down from Maryland to PNC Park reinforced what we were thinking. The Reds thrive on the homerun ball. JMac hasn’t given one up all season we thought confidently. It’s pretty easy to see that McDonald’s success at PNC allows Bucs fans to ooze confidence and more importantly, it’s crystal clear that the Pirates finally have a stud pitcher that is having a kick-down-the-door breakout season.
And for the first time in a long time, we actually felt tremendously confident that those Reds didn’t have a chance. Screw you Marty.
And sure enough, McDonald went out and made our thoughts a reality. The right-hander struck out five Reds and arguably could have had his first complete game shutout. Hell, remember when McDonald struggled to even make it out of the seventh inning?
But this Memorial Day wasn’t like those of the past. Not even close. Pirates fans weren’t staring into their hastily opened, dark green swimming pool wondering when the Bucs would ever find a stud pitcher that could set the tone of a series. On this sun basked holiday, Pirates fans were probably cannonballing into that swimming pool—happily smashed by the time Joel Hanrahan shut it down for his 12th save of the season.
It’s true, the Pirates have found something special in McDonald. As we greedily look ahead for JMac, he should pitch against Milwaukee this weekend. If everything goes as planned, he would then pitch against the Royals, Indians, Twins, Phillies, Cardinals and Giants.
McDonald would have four days rest before the Major League All-Star Game.
I can’t remember when a Pirates starter was an actual legit contender for being the National League starting pitcher in an All-Star Game. We could probably look it up, but like today’s baking sun, we choose to just sit back and soak it in.