After tonight's victory, and after watching the Pens beat the Flyers, I moseyed on down to my local watering hole to grab a few pints. Often, my little dive bar has some interesting characters lurking about, but tonight, the bar was pretty empty because everybody in Philly needed to run home and formulate conspiracy theories on why the NHL favors the Penguins and the Wings over the Flyers and the Stars. Speaking of wings, my bar serves up some pretty mean ones... mmmm, wings.
That said, please feel free to ignore my semi-drunk musings, but I've got to get this out. I'm feeling happy tonight for a variety of reasons, and I don't often have an opportunity to talk about the baseball team that has been a part of my life for as many years as I can remember, with other people who also care about this team.
Anyway, in my Wailing Wench IPA-induced haze, my mind started to wander, and I started thinking about tonight's win. As with many Pirates games, there were a lot of things to be concerned about. Snell had an alarming amount of walks. The offense, for the most part, was anemic. Our bullpen added their special brand of excitement to the latter innings--you know, typical Pirates baseball.
But, in the bottom of the ninth, when Freddy Sanchez knocked in the winning run, the Buccos mobbed Sanchez, jumped around, gave him a playful beating, and actually showed some emotion. I saw something in the team that had been missing for too long in the Pirates dugout--fun. For once, our lowly, typically joyless team looked like they actually had fun!
I know fun doesn't win games. I know fun doesn't improve our shaky starting pitching, lack of depth, and poor base-running. It doesn't change the fact that in order to be better in the future, we're going to have to accept the fact that our present situation may become much, much worse...
...but it sure makes me remember why I watch baseball--specifically Pittsburgh Pirates baseball--and why I'll never stop. Baseball is a game, and games should be fun.
Now, more than ever, it's alarmingly easy to "pull back the curtain." We have more access to the behind-the-scenes operations of sports organizations than at any other point in history. While it certainly makes following every aspect of the club easier and more interesting, it also allows us such a level of scrutiny that it can become difficult to actually enjoy what, really, is nothing more than a game.
As Pirates fans, I realize that we suffer a special brand of hell. We love a team that, all too often, doesn't love us back. In fact, it rarely even returns our calls. You'd think it would at least deliver a manly nod as it walks past in us in the hallway, but apparently that's too much to ask. It's like we're the Meredith Baxter Berney's of the sports world, perpetually stuck in some sort of never-ending Original Lifetime Movie (Not Without My Pine Tar? The Burning Bat?). Yet, we keep coming back.
Why in the world do we subject ourselves to this seemingly never-ending cycle of sports torture? Well, I can't speak for everybody, but for me, it's nights like tonight when the team lets down their guard and looks like they might actually enjoy the fact that they make their livings playing a game--you know, fun.
There is no real external purpose to my rambling. I've just got a few good beers in me, and I'm feeling a little chatty. I suppose I just needed to remember why I ignore work during businessman's specials, why I rush home almost every night and eat dinner in front of my computer screen, and why I follow this terrible, frustrating, inconsistent, wonderful, exciting team... it's fun.