Reflecting on the Pittsburgh Pirates


The Pittsburgh Pirates have been a big part of life for this writer. As we sulk from losing the division last night to the Cardinals, a team who for years was more superior than us, we need to take a moment to stop, relax and reflect. If you don’t take time to reflect, what does today truly mean? This Off Day for the Pirates makes today the perfect time.

The First of October is a very important date in Pittsburgh Pirates and Pirates Fan history. Two years ago today, on October 1st, 2013, we made that walk across the Clemente Bridge to PNC Park for the very first playoff game in the park’s history. The majority of the fans arriving wearing black as part of the PNC Park Blackout called for by several players. It didn’t matter who you knew or didn’t know, everyone was talking to each other and excited about the Pirates. I remember the entire night well, as do many fans.

It was a night that brings several famous quotes to mind. The first one being from the late great Jimmy Valvano. “If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that’s a full day. That’s a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you’re going to have something special.” As I recall, many fans experienced that full day in the period of just three to four hours during that game. First, we thought please let Francisco Liriano have it tonight and let our offense score some runs. I can remember after the second inning, we realized Franky was on and just filthy that something special was happening. Many fans realized it and the crowd just kept getting louder. Then, the infamous Cueto chant and ball drop occurred, followed by Russell Martin‘s second home run of the night, We realized that we were headed towards a playoff win. Just sitting in the crowd knowing what was happening brought tears to many eyes. Once the final pitch was thrown, many hugs, hand shakes and high-fives were given, laughter and happiness ensued. You could see the relief in many faces. We had done it. We had won a playoff game. For many fans, this allowed us to put 1992, Sid Bream and the Atlanta Braves out of our mind.

The second from Jimmy V is “Don’t Give Up, Don’t Ever Give Up.” Yes, I know he may have meant it at a different level but it applies to everyday life and fits this situation. October 1st, 2013 and October 1st, 2014 both can be related to this quote. In 2013, the fans who remained had endured the years of misery, the battle just to reach .500 and the many organizational failures were still standing beside this team and showing that they didn’t give up. In 2014, we ran into the San Francisco Giants and Madison Bumgarner. Yes, Bumgarner was lights out. He was a big part of the Giants World Series run and eventual title. However, thinking back just one year ago, the majority of the fans stayed the entire night and watched as the Pirates fought to the end and didn’t give up.

While standing and applauding the teams as the game ended in 2014, we knew that players would leave and new players would come but we left that night knowing we would be back to fight for it again in 2015. I, myself, came to the realization that we may have lost a one game Wild Card, BUT technically the season was still a success as we had reached the playoffs two years in a row. Of course, this brings to mind a quote by Hank Aaron. “Failure is a Part of Success.” Another quote that comes to mind by Roberto ClementeWhen I put on my uniform, I feel I am the proudest man on earth” is also fitting. Players are once again proud to wear the Pirates colors, this in itself is a success to keep in mind.

Now that the 2015 season is coming down to the end, I ask you three questions. Are we still the laughingstock of Major League Baseball? No we aren’t!  Should we set the bar high? Yes. As in every season, you start out with one goal, winning the World Series. How many wins did we make the Cardinals get in order to clinch the division? 100.

I will leave you with a few final thoughts. As it was once writtenClint Hurdle has a quote on the wall of his office by John Lennon that says “When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They Told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.” Be happy about where things are going. Don’t let losing the division get you down. The 2015 Pittsburgh Pirates today, October 1st 2015 sit at 96 wins. While we are stuck with a one game wild card game against the Chicago Cubs and Jake Arrieta, take a moment and just be happy! Pittsburgh Steelers Coach Mike Tomlin has a quote that comes to mind when thinking about this year’s Wild Card Game. “We don’t live in our fears. We live in our hopes.” Don’t go into the Wild Card game fearing Arrieta.  As Tommy Lasorda said “The difference between the impossible and the possible lies in a person’s determination.” Don’t even think for one second that the Pirates players and coaches aren’t determined. And finally the great Yogi Berra, May he Rest In Peace, said it best “It ain’t over till it’s over.

So today, I just ask that you take some time to reflect on where we have been and where we are at.

Let’s Go Bucs!

Next: Wake-Up Call: Bracing For Arrieta