Wednesday, June 25, 2008

finding meaning from pirates 12, yankees 5

I've clearly been making a big deal out of the Pinstripes' long-awaited return to Pittsburgh, and last night's game provided the reason why. Consider the take of Where Have You Gone, Andy Van Slyke?, which clearly gleaned more from this game than an otherwise routine victory in late June:
Tonight, as the Pirates cruised with a 12-3 lead in the ninth inning and Franquellis Osoria on the mound, mopping up the last three outs, the fans stood on their feet and chanted, "LET'S GO BUCS! LET'S GO BUCS!" And maybe this game was on the North Side of Pittsburgh with an awful reliever on the mound as a bad Pirate team closed out a win over a struggling Yankee team in mid-June, but for one night everyone in the stands might as well have been in Oakland at Forbes Field in October of 1960, watching Roy Face close out a surprising Game 1 win over the vaunted Yankees, and singing, "The Bucs are going all the way!" That's what baseball can do to you sometimes, and that's why sometimes stupid interleague games in June that have no real bearing on the standings can mean the world to a bunch of fans.
I was at the All-Star Game at PNC Park in 2006, and what struck me most was how good it felt to observe people in Pittsburgh taking an interest in baseball again. Indeed, the buzz that filled the ballpark that night was palpable -- a reminder that there's still no sports feeling like a playoff baseball feeling, which is something Pirates fans certainly haven't felt for a loooong time. True, a lot of folks were at PNC last night to see the Yankees, but it was still a sellout crowd on a Tuesday night when there were no giveaways or gimmicks to attract people who simply had nothing better to do. And as Dejan's story in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette notes, this wasn't a crowd mainly made up of Yankees fans. It also wasn't a crowd that had some half-assed interest in what transpired on the field: They stayed til the end, and they were chanting for the Buccos right up until the last out. Baseball in Pittsburgh has been on life support for a long time, and while the current Pirates still have a long way to go, we are seeing signs of life, even if it's little more than just enough life to hold our interest until the Steelers get to St. Vincent. And last night, we can hope, was a great start.

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