It’s time to turn the page. It’s time to get back our honor and respect in Pittsburgh. If I asked you “What is Pirates Baseball?” what would you say? It probably depends on the generation you are from. If you lived through the 60s and 70s, you’ll probably tell me that the Pirates are a team of great tradition and great history that has been lost somewhere along the last 20 years. Which is true. The history of the Pirates is unreal. A team that housed hall of famers Roberto Clemente, Willie Stargell, and Honus Wagner. But does the younger generation understand the significance of those names, or even know who they are for that matter? Maybe not. If I asked a baseball fan from a younger generation that question, would I get laughed at? Probably. The team is a joke to the younger sports fans. That’s sad. Unless you are a Pirate fan that understands the great history, you will tell me that the Pirates suck and nobody cares about them. Even an individual who doesn’t watch sports can probably tell you about the Yankees. But the Pirates? As a die-hard Pirate fan, it hurts me that outside of Pittsburgh, nobody knows or understands Pirate baseball. But things are going to change, and I expect that within the next few years, this will not be the case.
From 1960 to even the early 90s, the Pirates were a popular, loved, baseball team. The Buccos won World Series titles in 1960, 1971, and again in 1979, to go along with two other pre-40s era titles. Throughout the 80s, the team was terrible. But in that span of time, the pride and popularity was not lost. Pittsburgh was very successful to start the 90s as well, winning 3 straight division titles, and 3 straight NLCS appearances. After losing 3 straight NLCS’s, it is as if there was a spell cast down on the Pirates. It is now 2013, and the Pirates haven’t had a winning season in 20 years. The young generations of fans weren’t even alive the last time they had a winning season, myself being included in that. The Pirates lost a couple generations of fans, and that is a tragedy. A city with such a rich sports history, struggling like the Pirates did after the 1992 season.
From 1993 all the way through last season, the Pirates had 20 straight seasons in which they finished under .500. Throughout the 2000s, people lost interest in the Pirates. They were the laughing stock of the MLB. There wasn’t an excitement about the Pirates. Even in Pittsburgh, a lot of fans had no interest in watching and cheering on the Buccos. It was a hard time to be a Pirates fan. I don’t know personally, but I can imagine just from watching them in the last few years. Eventually something’s gotta give though. And that something started with the 2011 season.
Something sparked the Pirates in 2011. They started the season playing outstanding baseball. They were fiery, they were exciting. The Pirates had swagger in there walk. There was something special going on in Pittsburgh that year. The success continued all the way into July, led by stars Andrew McCutchen, Neil Walker, and Garrett Jones. Attendance was high, and people in Pittsburgh were excited that summer. There was a special energy in the air. Everywhere you went you saw black and gold and it wasn’t Steelers or Penguins. It was the mighty Buccos! The Buccos were back! You started seeing kids at PNC every night rooting like hell for the Pirates, and a lost generation of fans getting excited about baseball. This is something that the Pirates needed and have aspired to do for years. If not for a late night debacle in Atlanta, in the 19th inning, who knows. The Pirates were on pace to finish over .500, something that hadn’t been accomplished in 18 years. But the season ended up being a huge letdown, and the streak continued. August and September was embarrassing. The wheels finally fell off the train, and the mighty Buccos weren’t so mighty anymore. But was the season a complete failure? Not by any means. This season got people excited about baseball in Pittsburgh for the first time in 2 decades! People believe again.
When 2012 rolled around finally, people had high expectations. The season started out by the Pirates exceeding those expectations. They were one of the hottest teams in baseball. They were flying high, people were Bucco crazy. People outside of Pittsburgh started to take notice of the first place Pirates. They were starting to get more national media attention and even a game on ESPN, a true rarity. Andrew McCutchen even made an appearance in the home run derby, and the all-star game, along with CP Joel Hanrahan. It was a great time to be a Pirates fan. Then would you imagine, the magic ran out. There have been over 500 teams in MLB history to be at the All-Star break 16 games over .500. The Pirates managed to be the first team of those 500 to finish the season under .500. During the first half of the season, Andrew McCutchen was a hitting machine! During the second half, mediocre at best. Some people point fingers and Clint Hurdle, Neil Hunnington. Fans always look for somewhere to blame. The blame is on the team as a whole. It was an embarrassment, and for two years in a row at that. Two heartbreak seasons in a row. But here I am, writing about it. Why? Because I am excited about the direction of the team.
The Pirates of 2013 have extreme talent, electricity, and youth. They have up and coming stars. Players that everyone knows about, and every baseball fan in America has learned to love. This is why I believe in my Buccos, the fans, and the organization. A new door has been opened. It’s the dawn of a new era. People are going to know about the Pirates, and they’re going to know about it now. The tradition of Bucco baseball is back. Baseball is just around the corner. The 2013 season is almost upon us. Pirate fans across America, are you ready? I am.
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