I started watching the Pittsburgh Pirates on a daily basis back in the spring of 1984--the first of three straight losing seasons for the team. In '84, the Bucs were still utilizing their many combinations of uniforms--gold pants/black shirts, black pants/gold shirts, all gold, all white, pinstripes, etc--but instead of legends like Willie Stargell and Dave Parker wearing those uniforms, players named Jason Thompson and Dale Berra were donning them, and their clown-like play in the field was a fitting tribute to their out-of-date attire.
The magic was gone. Instead of witnessing glory days similar to the "We Are Family" ERA of just a half a decade earlier, I lived and died for a team that had no chance of winning. I kind of knew that deep-down, but I was a kid. Hope still sprang eternal.
By 1985, the uniform look was more traditional, but the Pirates still looked like court jesters, losing over 100 games. And to make matters worse, the Pirates clubhouse was the epicenter of the infamous drug scandal that rocked Major League Baseball.
Also, there was talk of the team leaving town in '85 before it was rescued by a public/private consortium led by Richard S. Caligiuri, the late and great Mayor of the City of Pittsburgh and a champion of the Pirates.
They were tough times to be a fan, but damn it, I stuck by the Bucs, and I watched them rise from the ashes of the mid-80's to become one of the best teams in baseball by the early 90's. Jim Leyland was the skipper then, and he captained a ship that included Barry Bonds, Andy Van Slyke and Doug Drabek.
The Pirates never won the World Series despite making the NLCS three years in a row. Each loss was more painful than the one before, but each loss made me stronger as a fan. I was with those boys through thick and thin.
And I remained with them once the tough times resumed in '93. After the departures of Bonds, Bonilla, Drabek, Lind, Lavalliere and Smiley, the Pirates were back to square one. Little did I know that they would stay in that same position for the next 19 years. Still, though, I never wavered. I stuck with my boys the entire time. I endured the losing seasons and the last-place finishes. Much like '85, I stayed up late at night worrying if the team would be sold to a buyer who would move it out of town.
I stayed loyal after every "Five Year Plan," and I never lost hope. I was there during the sparse crowds, and I thumbed my nose at the occasional fan who would show up with a brown bag over his head.
I simply never gave up, and after enduring nearly two-decades of despair, my Buccos are on the verge of their first winning season since The Real World's first season.
This is the true story of 25 players picked to play at PNC Park and make my dreams come true!
Things have certainly been magical in 2012, and it's a season I will never forget.
However, I do have one problem with the 2012 Pittsburgh Pirates, and that's their no-good bandwagon fans. How dare you guys tread on my turf? Especially you punk kids who weren't even alive when Dave Littlefield drafted Daniel Moskos instead of Matt Wieters. You weren't even old enough to appreciate what it was like to attend a Pirates' game with 8,000 of your closest friends--announced, anyway--and witness Adam Laroche bat .187.
And what about you fans who were old enough to know what baseball was all about back in the 90's and 00's? You should have been there right along with me, weeping and crying over the horrible Jason Bay trade. Instead, all of you Johnny Come Latelys waited until the team became good before you started coming out to PNC Park. Where were you during the 19 years of losing? Where were you when the band Train was the biggest attraction instead of the actual team?
"Oh, I like good baseball. I can't watch a team that sucks."
"I like Andrew McCutchen because he's good, and he's cute!"
If there's one thing worse than a bandwagon fan, it's a female bandwagon fan.
There is no place for bandwagon fans in sports. If you can't like a team when it's absolutely atrocious, you can't call yourself a fan when it finally starts to be successful.
I was there, baby. I was there when the team sucked! And I was happy to watch that crappy baseball. I liked it! I loved it!
Stay away from PNC Park. We die-hard fans who witnessed all the down years despise the fact that you casual fans might actually become die-hard Pirates fans based on division titles and World Series appearances. Yuck!
You don't even know anything about baseball. How many MVPs did Barry Bonds win while in Pittsburgh? What is Erik Bedard's WHIP? Who are the Pirates' top 20 prospects?
You don't know the answer to any of those questions, do you?
You all make me sick!
You're no better than the Penguins fans who came on board when Mario was drafted, or came back on board when Sid came to town. You weren't one of the 5000 or so die-hard hockey fans who attended Pens games at the old Civic Arena in the 70's, back when the team totally sucked. You have no right to call yourselves fans!
You're no better than the Steelers fans who hopped on that bandwagon in the early 70's when the team actually started to win. "Oh, I hate 40 straight years of not winning a playoff game, but I love four Super Bowls in six years."
Bandwagon fans make my stomach turn. Years from now, I don't want to hear any of you talk about the magical 2012 Pirates campaign.
You're not worthy!
Let's Go Bucs! But only the die-hard fans who can appreciate crappy baseball are allowed to chant along with me.