Tonight, the Pittsburgh Pirates biggest star will step onto the field with big expectations. He’s been carrying the Pirates since he made his debut on June 4, 2009.
Pittsburgh is a strange town at the moment. It’s been a very long time since the Bucs have been the talk of the ‘Burgh. The big team in town, the Steelers are playing with the precision of ten nails dragging down a chalkboard. The Stillers are 0-4. The Penguins are still recovering from an early exit in the NHL playoffs.
So yeah, Pittsburgh is ‘all Pirates–all the time.’ But of course that could suddenly end tonight if their stars don’t shine.
Everyone knows the spotlights will be shining brightly on the The Pittsburgh Pirates as their fans black out PNC Park. It’s been a spotlight the Bucs have been comfortable being in during the 2013 season. But as the lights shine brightly, it’s hard to forget the sins of the most recent postseasons and how when the lights shined brightest, the Pirates stars exited stage left.
The Bucs rolled through the regular season back in the 90′s. But oh, those playoffs. Yeah, those didn’t turn out so well, and often times the fingers would point directly at the stars. The Bucs big stars were men named Barry Bonds and Andy Van Slyke.
Neither player did much when the team made it to the postseason.
In 1990, Bonds had a WAR of 9.9 and then batted .167 and slugged .167 in the postseason. In 18 at-bats, Bonds hit three singles.
In 1991, Bonds had a WAR of 7.8 and then batted .148 and slugged .185. In 27 at-bats, once again he had three singles and a double.
In 1992, Bonds had a WAR of 9.6 then hit .261. In 23 at-bats, he had six hits with a double and a homer.
In 1990, Van Slyke had a WAR of 4.4 and then batted .091 in the postseason.
In 1991, Van Slyke had a WAR of 3.7 and then batted .208.
In 1992, Van Slyke had his finest season with a WAR of 6.5 and then batted .160.
The 1992 Bucs had won 96 games. Bonds won his second MVP by crushing 34 bombs and driving in 103 runs. The Pirates had a seven-game lead in late June, sucked ass in July by winning just 11 games, then pulled away when it mattered most with an 11 game winning streak in August.
In the postseason, the Pirates faltered early. After the first two games the Bucs had been outscored 18-6, and were down two games to none. The Pirates battled back with a 3-2 win behind a complete game by Tim Wakefield in the first home game at Three Rivers.
But the team fell 6-4 the next day as Doug Drabek took his second loss of the series. The Braves were up three games to one.
After winning 7-1 in Pittsburgh thanks to a complete game three-hitter from Bob Walk, the Bucs had two games left and they had to win them both.
Oh yeah, they were both in the God-forsaken, tomahawk-choppin’ home of the Braves. Atlanta, Georgia.
And on October 13, the Bucs did the unthinkable, crushing the Braves 13-4. Bonds hit the first career postseason bomb of his career. It was the second complete game of the series by Tim Wakefield , which helped set up the fateful final game seven with the series tied at three.
You all know how that ended including all 129 pitches from Doug Drabek who was tagged with his third loss of the series. The Bucs took a 2-0 lead into the ninth and it felt like it was a ten run lead, the Braves hitters had done little over the last 26 innings.
But then it all was over. From shutting down the Braves to a ninth inning that had so many things happen it should have been a Hollywood script.
It reminds us of the Reds coming into Pittsburgh. The Reds have sucked for the past week, while the Bucs play solid game after solid game despite pissing away the NL Central crown to the suddenly blue hot St. Louis Cardinals.
Tonight on the North Shore, the lights will shine brightly on Andrew McCutchen. The player who most feel will be league MVP.
McCutchen takes an 8.2 WAR into the postseason. A number that was better than Bonds brought into October in 91. Cutch isn’t on fire, but his production is still so damn solid.
McCutchen has seven total bases in past 7 days. 15 total bases in last 14 days. And then the bigger picture–42 in last 28 days.
The Pirates will go as far as the MVP takes them. The World Series, The National League Championship Series and The National League Division Series are waiting for a hero.
It would be damned nice if it were Cutch.
|October 6||Pittsburgh Pirates – 1, Atlanta Braves – 5||Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium||3:20||51,971|
|2||October 7||Pittsburgh Pirates – 5, Atlanta Braves – 13||Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium||3:20||51,975|
|3||October 9||Atlanta Braves – 2, Pittsburgh Pirates – 3||Three Rivers Stadium||2:37||56,610|
|4||October 10||Atlanta Braves – 6, Pittsburgh Pirates – 4||Three Rivers Stadium||3:10||57,164|
|5||October 11||Atlanta Braves – 1, Pittsburgh Pirates – 7||Three Rivers Stadium||2:52||52,929|
|6||October 13||Pittsburgh Pirates – 13, Atlanta Braves – 4||Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium||2:50||51,975|
|7||October 14||Pittsburgh Pirates – 2, Atlanta Braves – 3|