There is no second place in sports and in life, but that doesn’t mean that there wasn’t success.
The Pirates achieved something this year that most of us have been waiting our entire childhood and into our adult lives for. Most people I know do not remember a Pirates team that played in a post-season. In a city spoiled with the success of their football and hockey franchises, baseball fans have been left wanting for far too long.
It is because of the success of the other teams, that Pittsburgh has long joked “City of Champions…and the Pirates.” And we rightfully did so as we watched ownership turn over our talent time and time again with no return and no plans for the future. They weren’t building a team as much as they were building their bank accounts. And it hurt.
But to say that people shouldn’t be satisfied with the achievements of the Pirates this year is nonsense. We tasted something long forgotten to some, and completely unknown to the rest of us. The most beautiful ballpark in America thundered with the screams and joy of a new generation of baseball fans and the resurrgence of fans of years gone by, once jaded by years of misery and defeat at the hands of a mediocre team and even worse management.
This year was special. I’ve waited 21 years to feel exhiliration about the sport I grew up most closely to. I know, you all think hockey. Yes, I grew up on hockey. But baseball is in my blood. This was the sport my family immersed itself in as my brothers and I played and my parents put all of their time and energy into coaching, traveling, running the local league, and off-season clinics and conditioning. Baseball is the sport I watched with my father. Baseball is where my heart was as my friends and I flooded into Three Rivers Stadium, night after consecutive night for chump change, hoping to nab a Mark McGwire homerun ball. Three Rivers Stadium is where I learned to heckle “Daaaaaaarryyyylllllllll! Daaaaaaarryyyyyyllllllll!” with my mom.
Tonight was the most nervous I have ever felt watching a sporting event. People asked me, “What about game 7 in Detroit in 09?” No. No. I’ve experienced the victory of a Stanley Cup now 3 times in my life. I vividly remember 1991 and 1992.
This though…this is new. This is something I have never known before. This is what baseball is supposed to feel like.
The best of the Pirates is ahead. For the first time ever, I do not dread the next season. I do not feel an imminent collapse after the All Star Break. I feel like the organization knows what it has to do to build a World Series worthy team, and they are in the process of doing so. They made the right moves this year. Everything is coming together.
I’ve finally tasted glory, if even for a moment, as I sat among over 40,000 other fans beating as one. I’ve finally tasted fear, sickness, elation, joy, and excitement instead of apathy and indifference toward a team I know in my heart that I should love.
We are always wanting more, but we cannot always have more. As a fanbase and city, Pittsburgh feels entitled to championships. We cannot be champions every year. People were saying “this is the year.” It was the year. Look at all that has transpired and all that the Pirates have achieved- and smile.
Do not be sad because it is over. It isn’t over. It’s just beginning.
Let’s Go Bucs.