Dear Pittsburgh Pirates,
My old man likes to tell this story about my first baseball game. Picture the scene: A youngish father leading his wide-eyed three-year-old son into that glorious erstwhile edifice know as Three Rivers Stadium. The child is led to his seat, and is mesmerized by what unfolds in front of him. It lasts nine innings. No sleeping, no crying, no seven trips to the restroom. More important things are happening in the child's world. Baseball is happening. Then the game ends, and the fireworks begin, and the father must bodily remove the screaming child from the stadium as quickly as possible.... Three years old, and without knowing it, the child's life will never be the same. Three years old, his fate has been sealed.
So what do you, the 2010 Pittsburgh Ball Club have to do with that momentous night? Very little. Bob Nutting, you were earning your degree. Neal Huntington, you were fighting acne and counting the days till you could finally drive. Andrew McCutchen, your mighty presence was still waiting to grace this plane of existence. The only real connection you have with that team and that time is that you wear black hats emblazoned with a yellow "P".
Baseball has been my obsession for as long as I can remember. I loved playing it. I love listening to it. I love talking about it. And I love spending a summer's evening sipping a beer watching professionals ply their trade for my viewing pleasure. And you, PBC, have been my main obsession for nearly all that time. The Dark Ages that were the late 80s, I was there. (I didn't know any better.) The Killer B's of the early 90's, I was there. Somewhere in my parents attic, there is an autographed picture of Sid Bream. The same Sid Bream that played a solid 1B, and who inexplicably became my favorite player when I was 6. Yes, the same Sid Bream who ripped my heart of my chest, threw it on the floor and ground it under his heel on October 14, 1992.
Okay, so maybe after my family moved to northeast Ohio, I wandered a bit in my allegiance. Maybe I succumbed to the allure of Carlos Baerga, Jim Thome, Manny Ramirez, Charles Nagy, and Omar Vizquel. But let's not make this about assigning blame. Let's let bygones be bygones. I'm here now, and that's all that matters.
I convinced my dad to buy a Ten Game Plan last year. We got most of our games after the Trades. We had a great time. Sure, we'd have loved to have won a couple more games, but all things considered, it was a pretty damn fine way to spend a handful of late-summer evenings. One in particular, stands out - September 25.
You might remember it. Jeff Karstens started. Only my dad and I could go that night,( the rest of the family couldn't make it) and we spent the hour drive to the park talking about how bad you were going to lose. We had the best seats we'd had all season: ten, twelve rows up on the first base line right on the bag, but that was about the only thing we were looking forward to that night. But then something strange happened. Karstens pitched well. Then Donnie Veal came in, and we rolled our eyes and said "This is it. Midnight. Pumpkin time." But then he pitched well. Somehow, you managed to push a few runs across the plate. Some other scrubs came in to pitch, but no matter how hard you tried to lose that game, you were foiled at every turn. Somehow, against all odds, even though Matt Capps pitched the ninth and nearly gave me a coronary, you won. And it was great.. Just me and my old man, very much like a certain night almost three decades before.
So I know that this year probably won't be your year. I know it could be a long summer. But I don't care. I'm still going to be here. My dad, he upped the ante, bought a 20 game partial Season Ticket plan. So I'll be there in my Pirates hat 2 rows behind Cutch in Centerfield. And I'll be here for every game after that - in spirit if not in body. I don't care about 17 years. I don't care about Jason Bay. I don't care about Miguel Sano, Aroldis Chapman, Bryce Harper, Scott Boras or Bob Nutting's purse strings. I care about Andrew McCutchen, Pedro Alvarez, Andy LaRoche, Charlie Morton, Tony Sanchez and some guys that I haven't even heard of yet. I care about the Future, not the Past. And from where I'm sitting, the Future, for the first time in a long time, is looking bright.
A Lifelong Pirate Fan
P.S. And if Garrett Jones feels like dropping the game-winning HR into my glove in the ninth, I'll be okay with that.