Back on May 25th, when the Pirates hitters were really, really bad, I wrote a blog post on the Zoltan Phenomenon that had just started to slowly take off. My post was somewhat mocking because, at that time, the Pirates' offense was the worst in the National League in runs scored and batting average. Zoltan was a rallying cry used more by the hitters than the pitchers. And because the team still had a sub-.500 record (20-24) despite the pitching staff having the third best ERA in the NL, I joked that the pitchers had developed their own hand-gesture: The FU. I was implying that the Pirates pitchers were so frustrated with the hitters that they were going to start giving them the middle finger.
Well, my haven't things changed A LOT over the past five or six weeks. Since I wrote my little piece, the Pirates are on a 27-13 tear. And since about mid-June, the offense has been red hot. Led by Andrew McCutchen, an MVP candidate if there ever was one, the Bucco hitters have resembled the Pirates Lumber Company of the 1970's.
Things really seemed to take off for the offense in mid-June when the much-maligned Pedro Alvarez started to heat up in the Indians series, and he has yet to cool down. Along with Alvarez, guys like Garrett Jones, Casey McGehee, Neil Walker and Michael McKenry have also been white-hot.
The Pirates hitters led the Majors in home runs in June, and even though the pitchers have slowed down just a bit, the team now sits in first place in the NL Central division.
Because of that, the Zoltan sign has become the biggest rallying cry since the days of "We Are Family."
Now you see people walking around with the "Z" t-shirt, and little kids flashing the "Zoltan" sign any chance they get.
It's just a matter of time before Sally Wiggin does a piece on the phenomenon, and you see grandmas wearing the Z-shirts and flashing the sign--maybe she already has, and maybe they already have.
Who would have thought that a little sub-plot from the movie, "Dude, Where's My Car?" would be the basis for a Pirates rally symbol?
But then again, when you really think about it, how strange was it that the 1979 World Series Champion Pirates adopted the Sister Sledge disco hit "We Are Family!" as their song? Look at the main lyric: "We are Family. I got all my SISTERS with me."
And, if you really want to go there, who would have thought that a yellow dish towel would someday become the universal symbol of excellence for the six-time Super Bowl Champion Pittsburgh Steelers?
You just never know what a team and a fan base will latch onto, but when they do, it's best to just get the heck out of the way.
It might not make sense now, but it will someday in the future if "Zoltan" is forever attached to the World Series Champion Pittsburgh Pirates.
Ashton Kutcher could throw out the first pitch for the twenty year anniversary celebration.