As I sat in the left-field bleachers at Milwaukee’s Miller Park on Monday afternoon, soaking in the early-September sun and a comfortable three-run lead for the Pittsburgh Pirates, I heard a voice in my right ear.
It was a boy, maybe 10 years old, sitting across the aisle from me. It was jarring, especially coming from a little kid, but not something I haven’t heard before.
However, for the first time in my life, my reaction to a Pirates-related insult wasn’t anger or spite. I said to myself, “Well, that’s not even accurate.”
Things have changed, my friends. The Pirates are winners, and it’s time for more of their followers to start acting like it. If you’re not on board with the Bucs as legitimate World Series contenders by now, get off the bandwagon.
I’ve waited patiently for the losing mentality to melt away from Pirates fans, but it’s time for some tough love. Just this morning, I saw someone comment on a prominent Pittsburgh sports website that he had to acknowledge the “possibility” the Bucs would all their remaining games and miss out on a .500 record.
I mean, really, that’s just sick. If you are truly thinking along similar lines, maybe it’s time to visit a psychologist; you have issues far deeper than anything I can address here.
I understand how diseased the Pirates’ fanbase has become after 20 straight losing seasons. I’m not sure who’s had it worse: people like me who have never experienced rooting for a winning baseball team, or the longer-tenured folks who know exactly what we’ve all been missing out on since 1992.
Either way, it’s bad. But if you can’t enjoy this pennant chase – and this team – for what it is by now, I don’t know what to tell you. No, wait, I know exactly what to tell you: this bandwagon’s full, but I know football season is starting soon. Maybe you can better handle a 16-game sprint as opposed to the mental marathon of 162.
Consider this: entering Tuesday night’s game in Milwaukee, the 80-67 Pirates have 25 games left in the regular season, assuming there’s no one-game playoff for the National League Central division. If the Bucs goes 15-10 the rest of the way – which would essentially mirror their .584 winning percentage to date – they would likely win the Central.
In case you’re wondering, the Pirates went 19-9 in May and 17-9 in June, so it’s definitely more than realistic for this group. Heck, their worst month was August, and they were 14-14. Looking at various months is as relevant as analyzing any random four-week period, but the point is that prior performance is the best predictor of future results.
So celebrate wins Nos. 81 and 82, if you feel moved to do so; I know I will definitely enjoy it. Going back to Labor Day, though, I was convinced the Pirates were going to win the entire afternoon. It’s a new feeling to be that confident, but I’ve adjusted my mentality to fit what I’ve seen.
It’s beyond time for more Bucco fans to join me in this new reality. Take the advice of Brad Pitt in his portrayal of Oakland GM Billy Beane in the recent film Moneyball.
Adapt or die.