The 2011 Pirates are bringing back the type of excitement to Pittsburgh not seen since the 1997 club, which spent roughly 32 days in first place before finishing with a second place 79-83 record. Each club was expected to be among the worst in all MLB, and were led by first year managers. Unfortunately, the 1997 team fell back after that surprising season, as some of the young talent like Guillen, Allensworth, Loaiza, etc. did not develop, and the front office did not develop minor league talent, along with questionable trades in the years ahead.
We don't know how this season will turn out, but this 2011 club seems to have a brighter future. Andrew McCutchen is clearly superior to any player on that '97 club, and Joel Hanrahan is better than Rich Losielle, among other differences.