Diary of a long suffering Pirates' Fan: How to Watch the 2024 Pirates: Have a Plan B

Altoona Curve v Portland Sea Dogs
Altoona Curve v Portland Sea Dogs / Zachary Roy/GettyImages

So, in a previous post, I predicted that the Pirates would go to the World Series this year.  And if, by chance, like the past 44 years that prediction does not pan out, then one may need a quick pivot point to maintain one’s interest in the baseball season.

And that’s why I not only follow the Pirates, but I also follow each of their four minor league affiliates:  The Bradenton Marauders, The Greensboro Grasshoppers, The Altoona Curve, and the Indianapolis Indians. 

For while the Pirates have not won a championship these past 44 years, a few of the Pirates' minor league affiliates have.  And in any given year, one or sometimes all four of these affiliate teams are quite competitive in their respective leagues.

Since 2010, Pirates affiliate teams have won five championships—more than even our Pittsburgh Penguins have won in the same period.  I know.  That’s not the same thing.  I’m grasping at straws here.  But still, paying attention to the minor league affiliates can sometimes provide hope when the baseball landscape in the major league city otherwise looks bleak.

So, in case you missed it.  Here’s a recap:

2010: The Altoona Curve with the Eastern League championship.

2015:  The West Virginia Black Bears win the Low A short season New York/Penn League.

2016:  The Bradenton Marauders win the High A Florida State League Championship

2017:  The Altoona Curve win the AA Eastern League Championship.

2021:  The Bradenton Marauders win the Low A Florida State League Championship.

The Pirates are said to have one of the deepest prospect pools in all of baseball, which sets up for excitement.

I mention these teams now because each of these teams may be very competitive this year.    And if that turns out to be true, one and/or several of these teams may find themselves vying for a League Championship.

This is particularly the case at AA Altoona, where the starting rotation is expected to be exceptional.  As I write this, the projected starting rotation at Altoona is 1.  Paul Skenes.  2.  Bubba Chandler.  3.  Anthony Solometo.  4.  Thomas Harrington.  5.  Po-Yu Chen.  Four of these pitchers have found themselves in various top 100 prospect lists in all of baseball.  And, I know, in-season player promotions to the next level make predicting minor league championships rather challenging.  But still, the firepower at Altoona makes for must see baseball. 

But, I’m not here to write prediction pieces on the minor league affiliates.  At least not today. I am simply here to suggest that you might want to follow these affiliate teams in the coming months.  And it is easy to do so nowadays with a subscription to MILB.com.  With such a subscription you will be able to live stream the games of your favorite Pirates affiliated team.

That way, when the Pirates suffer one of those games where it’s over by the 2nd inning, you can quickly pivot to the Altoona Curve live stream and watch one of Skenes, Chandler, Solometo, Harrington or Chen mow down the Harrisburg Senators or the Erie Seawolves and dream of better days ahead for the Pirates.

I would also highly recommend making the trip to Altoona to see the Curve in person.  Blair County Park is one of the more unique and picturesque minor league stadiums in the country.  It is a short two-hour drive from Pittsburgh.  The ticket and concession prices are affordable.  And bonus, if you go on a night where Chandler, Solometo, or Skenes is pitching, you may be seeing starting pitching that is better than what you can see with the major league ballclub.

So, since the season hasn’t started yet, I stand by my World Series prediction.  But if perchance the Pirates season somehow starts to go south, I have a Plan B in place.  Go Marauders.  Go Grasshoppers.  Go Curve.  Go Indians.

Enjoy the upcoming baseball season.