Being a Pirates fan sucks. Before the seasons starts, every year, I tell you that the Pirates will be in the race at the deadline and then will fall off.
EVERY. SINGLE. YEAR.
And EVERY SINGLE YEAR, there they are!
August 28th 2016: 67-61--No playoffs
July 21st 2017: 49-48--No playoffs
July 31st 2018: 56-52--No playoffs
July 7th 2019: 44-45--Come on...no playoffs.
I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t excited about the Pirates going into the all-star break. They were hitting the cover off the ball and had just taken four of six from the Cubs and the Brewers. They were one game under .500 and only 2.5 games back in the division. All it took was four games and now they’re 5.5 back and five games under .500.
They suckered me in. They’ve taken more advantage of the added Wild Card than any team in baseball. They’re artificially in the playoff race every single year until the deadline.
They won one of the two Wild Card spots three times.
Bob Nutting is content. Content to spend just enough money to fool you into this being the real deal.
It’s like when a dude gets his wife flowers on their anniversary. You THINK he’s trying, but really he stopped off at Giant Eagle to buy a Hallmark card and some roses after his daily trip to the bar.
It’s bare minimum.
It's like my senior year of high school. I showed up for home room then my buddy Dan and I would sleuth out and go to Pamela’s diner.
Pirates management does the same thing every year. And if you’re like me, you wind up being happy that the team even has a little bit of a pulse. Forget brain activity. This heaping body of a baseball team is on life support, but it’s still breathing, so hey, it’s better than it used to be.
They’re just good enough to generally NOT SUCK and when summer heats up, we all start flocking to the ballpark enough so that this son of a bitch Bob Nutting makes his NUT.
500ish more people are going through the turnstiles every game than they did last year. And sure, there’s some compelling reasons. Josh Bell had a hell of a first half. Reynolds and Newman are rookies that are hitting. Melky Cabrera is a show by himself.
They count on stuff like that happening EVERY YEAR.
Our friend Mark Madden wrote a piece for the Trib, and we’ve talked about it a lot. The Pirates don’t need to contend until September. They only need to compete until July and then they’ve made their profits.
If they go until late July/early August then they’ve successfully made themselves relevant until Steelers training camp, and if they fade off, you don’t give a rats ass.
I’m tired of predicting the same thing for the Pirates every year, being right, and still getting fooled. It’s like what Red said in Shawshank Redemption: “Hope is a dangerous thing. Hope can drive a man insane.”
Hope is also contagious. And hope, not winning, is what the Pirates sell us every single year. The promise of something better.
They count on that second wild card keeping them artificially in the race, and as long as they don’t suck, they’ll be close enough to dangle that carrot. They dangle the dream every year and then it gets taken away.
We’re the horse that keeps on trekking because there’s a carrot tied around our neck. Every single season we think that we’re going to get a bite of this damn thing.
Every year we go into it saying that this is going to happen. And then when we’re in it, it’s hard to see the forest through the trees. Because year after year that hope sucks you up.
The management team did JUST ENOUGH to make us believe when they went to the postseason for three straight years. Now there’s another force at play: Nostalgia. It wasn’t that long ago, but remember how great 2013, 2014, and 2015 were?
Pennant races, division rivalry, home playoff games. It’s like cocaine…they say. Man, that first blow and you’re feeeeeeeling great. Then you’re chasing that same feeling, never really to experience it again.
We’re all looking for that high that the team provided us a few years ago. We’re all chasing that feeling.
Before the 2013 season, I never gave them the benefit of the doubt. Neither did you. You never believed. All it took was that taste.
It’s like Flowers for Algernon. I was blissfully happy going to Pirates games as a kid and there was never the promise of something more.
There’s something about going to a game and not having expectations. After you make the playoffs though, you never forget what that feels like. You can’t go back to the time that you were blissfully ignorant. Now you’re chasing the feeling.
Every damn year. Carrot in front of face. Team doing the bare minimum. Hope sucks you in.
They got me again this year. I won't let them get me next year. They will have to be IN THE PLAYOFFS for me to get excited.
Hell, who am I kidding? See you next year on July 4th for the start of the pennant race. I'll repost this piece again on July 15th when it’s all over.