It’s finally here. After two decades of waiting, “Buctober” has arrived for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Not only are the Pirates back in the MLB postseason, the Bucs are flung into an instant elimination scenario as they take on the Cincinnati Reds for the right to face the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Division Series.
For how hard the franchise worked to climb out of its self-dug hole, it feels unfair that the Pirates’ postseason fun could all be over by 11:30 Tuesday night. Previous to last year, Pittsburgh’s 94-68 record would’ve been more than enough to guarantee a spot in the best-of-five NLDS.
But this is the reality we are faced with. None of the four major North American professional sports emphasize the regular season like baseball, so the Pirates and their fans can revel in how they survived the 162-game crucible. The Bucs are one of the best teams in MLB, and nothing that happens in the wild card game at PNC Park can change that.
As Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane was famously quoted in the bestseller Moneyball, the playoffs are [bleeping] luck. That might sound like sour grapes from a team that’s been unable to break through in October over the past decade-plus, but it’s also the truth. One bad bounce, especially in a one-game situation, can easily end your season.
For as painfully as the wild card game could end, winning it isn’t going to lead to a land of milk and honey, either. There will be a raucous celebration deep into the Pittsburgh night if the Pirates top the Reds, but all that does is get the Bucs deeper into the kind of pressure cooker the MLB postseason is known for.
So drink it in, Pirates fans. If you thought the second half of the season was stressful, just wait for the minute-by-minute slow adrenaline drip about to occur at 8:07 p.m. Eastern time. It could be excruciating, exhilarating or – most likely – a lot of both.
Welcome to the baseball playoffs. Hope you brought your medication.