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Wednesday, October 2, 2013

In Which A City Gets Its Wish

I don't even know where to begin.

Last night the 2013 Pittsburgh Pirates accomplished what many (most) of us only dared to dream. They beat the Cincinnati Reds in a one-and-done, wild card playoff to advance to the REAL playoffs against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Again, I say, Holy HELL!

With home field advantage, word got out via Twitter from pitcher, AJ Burnett and Andrew McCutchen for the fans to stage a black aht ("out" to non-Burghers), asking everyone in attendance to wear black in the stands. All 40,000+, including the 2,000 SRO complied.

There were even hundreds, side-by-side on the Clemente Bridge listening to the game on radios-- you can't see the field from there-- just so they could be a part of Bucco baseball history.

We tuned in at 8 nervous for the outcome, but not expecting what was to come next. Geo and I knew the team would be pumped hosting PNC Park's first ever post season play, but the crowd... Holy SHIT, the crowd was ALL IN. From the first pitch to the final out, they stayed, they cheered, they rocked the HOUSE!

They were a presence not to be denied. Whoever believes the intensity of the fans isn't a factor on a game is speaking out of their ass, because these beautiful MoFos were loud and they took control from the start. I don't just mean loud... I mean shaking the TV from it's bracket LOUD. Thunderous. I realize there are extra mics set out for post season games, but this was cacophonous and constant.

It was electric.

Even in our living room we could feel it.

A deafening chant of CuuuEEEEEEtoooeeeee rattled the Cincy pitcher to his core, making him drop the ball right before he served up a beauty which Martin hit straight out of the park.

Not a factor, my ass.

My favorite comment in the entire broadcast came after that moment. The announcer said, "This is what 20 years of frustration dressed in black looks like."


There were tears. Tears all around... in our house, the field, the interwebs. Tears of pride shed at the start of game. Tears of indescribable joy at the final out--or in my case, at the highlights played over and over during the morning news.

As preeminent Pittsburgh blogger, Jane Pitt said so eloquently, "there is SO crying in baseball, Tom Hanks". Do yourself a favor and read her post. She sums up all the feelings surrounding this game better than I ever could. Plus she's funny as hell.

Back an entire generation ago in 1992, Geo and I went to game five of the playoffs against Cincinnati at Three Rivers Stadium. Van Slyke, Lavalliere, Drebek and company played their hearts out. I remember the electricity, the camaraderie, the community. We were all in it together. High-fiving, embracing each other, celebrating as one cohesive unit. One heartbeat.

That was our first, and ultimately last, playoff game. There is a sweetness to firsts. You never forget them. Your first kiss, your first love, your first post season victory. Last night's win was an entire generation's first taste of the unifying glory of baseball. Hell, most of them were zygotes or barely cognizant the last time the Pirates had a winning season.

I hope the fans present last night remember this feeling, tuck it away in their hearts to tap into during the lean years, because there really is nothing as special as the first time.

That goes for the players, too.

Congratulations, Buccos! You did it for the city, you did it for the fans and I believe you did it for Roberto. It's been a magical run. Even if you don't advance to the next round, you've done us proud. Thank you.

champagne goggle throw down
(courtesy of ian smith)

P.S.: In February, when asked how many games he expected his team to win in 2013, Clint Hurdle replied, 95. The wild card game is considered part of the regular season. That win made the Bucs final win tally... 95.


There's raw video of the locker room party/interviews and photos from the Trib (I know, ICK Richard Scaiffe) here.

And because there isn't enough of a cheese factor in this post, here's a highlights video found by my b-ball lovin' friend, Lizzie:

And one last mash-up of an old-school, mullet-maned 90s singer and your 2013 Pittsburgh Pirates. You Gotta Believe!!


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