Living in Boston and being a die hard Pirates fan low these many years only allows me to get to 1-2 series per year. I have pretty much been able to do this most of the last 10 years. This year MsBostonBuc and I came in this weekend for the Fri and Sat games. The last series I was at was the St. Louis "beginning of the end" series in 2011 (Fri and Sat), the Ms hasn't been to a series since late 2010. There isn't much I can add in terms of game coverage, but I thought I would add some thoughts on our experience as a visitor.
First, from her perspective. On Friday we sat in 114K (Low). Just amazing seats, some of the best I've ever had at any game at any stadium. The last game the MS and I were at together we had a few rows to ourselves in section 120. She couldn't get over the change with a packed stadium and SRO. The whole environment was better from before the game until the end. For her, she is a former partial season Sox ticket owner but not a Pirates fan she had a great time the whole weekend. On Sat. we had General Admission seats and spent most of the time wandering around getting different vantage points of the game and scenery to keep her happy. :) She loved the fireworks and the win, and really enjoyed the game. Her only complaint and it's minor is that she doesn't drink beer and for her options are few.
From my perspective, I felt a big difference in excitement at the stadium and around town vs. the Cards series last year. Maybe because that series was essentially over the in 1st when Maholm blew up. However, that series was the one of the best I'd been to at PNC in terms of energy but this was much better. I felt the difference was palpable especially in the 9th on Friday. I think the crowd generally believes in this team and is there expecting to see the team win. A great example of the change in attitude was during the fireworks on Sat when someone said "now I know where all of Nutting's money goes" and someone shot back "and to signing Cutch" followed by someone saying "and the draft". A few years ago (maybe even last year) this would never have happened. He shut up quick.
Finally, the biggest change I noticed was around town outside of the stadium. At the Strip District on Sat AM I saw tons of Pirate gear on attendees as well as for sale by vendors. Let's face it, the vendor stock what they can sell. I saw far more sings at bars and beer specials on Carson street then I have seen in the past. A few years ago, I was at a bar on downtown and had to ask for Pirates game to be put on TV instead of the ESPN game of the week. How sad is that? I didn't have that problem at all this time. People were talking about the Pirates almost everywhere I went.
I don't want to sugar coat, I still see more Steelers gear and for good reason. But from my perspective baseball has come a long way with the fans in Pittsburgh and I'm glad to see it. IMO Pittsburgh needs baseball and baseball needs Pittsburgh.