I use the word "Defeo" because that's my name, but really, I could represent any number of fans who have posted on Bucsdugout. I've been ripped for being a "gloom and doomer" because of the things I say after a very difficult loss, like the one on Friday night, when the Pirates were winning 5-2 against Cincinnati and lost thanks to a Jordy Mercer throwing error with two outs in the top of the ninth inning.
I was crushed, devastated and thought it could be a psychological disaster and hard to bounce back from. Turns out, I was wrong, at least in terms of how Pittsburgh responded the very next night with a 4-2 win.
It was an awesome response, and the fourth time the Pirates have followed up a tough come-from-ahead, ninth inning loss with a business-like victory the next day. Some of you who have said this are right: These are professional athletes, and they know how to "shower it off."
However, what couldn't be showered away was the effect Friday night's gut-wrenching loss had on the NL Central standings. It's nice to bounce back the next day, but thanks to a fairly standard 11-3 shellacking in the rubber game of the weekend series on Sunday afternoon, the Pirates and Reds are tied atop the wild card standings with only six games left. Further more, the Cardinals are in first place in the NL Central and two games up.
I was worried about a collapse and a bit panicked about things after Friday, but thanks to that above-mentioned victory coupled with a rare (as of late) Nationals loss, the magic number for Pittsburgh clinching a playoff spot of any kind is two and looking like a 99.9 percent certainty, so it looks like I'll get what I want in terms of seeing my boys play some meaningful October baseball.
But my real reason for writing this is simply to ask some readers and contributors on here to put the "Defeo" factor aside for one moment and just ask yourselves if a loss like the one on Friday night was "just another game out of 162."
People like me are always going to come on message boards or blogs and react to the moment and perhaps act like the sky is falling after a tough loss. And a lot of people, like the regulars who frequent BD, will have knock down, drag out flame wars with them about being "doom and gloomers," but let's just say there was some sort of law enacted to prevent the so called "doomers" from posting on here after tough losses, and the only type of dialogue allowed was of the positive variety, would that really change the fact that Friday's defeat was pretty damaging to the standings?
I mean, if you're going to chalk up the loss as just another game that is easy to bounce back from, fine, but isn't it then a bit contradictory to scoreboard watch and worry about what the Reds and Cardinals are doing? After all, when a fielder lets a game get away, it kind of damages the "scoreboard" element.
Another visceral fan reaction occurred in August, following an extra inning loss by the Pirates that came after Starling Marte dropped a fairly easy fly ball with one out and nobody on in the bottom of the ninth inning, with Pittsburgh clinging to a one-run lead in St. Louis.
There are people who say that things such as a dropped fly ball happen, same holds true with what happened on Friday at PNC Park. Yes, that's true. Things like that do happen, but there's a reason why even the 20th rated shortstop in the majors has a fielding percentage at almost .970. And when the routine becomes the opposite of that, and it happens at a crucial part of the game between two teams so close in the standings, people are going to notice, and a loss (or win) becomes more than just another over the course of 162.
You take those two games and put them in the Pirates win column, St. Louis and the Reds each have one more loss, and Pittsburgh is one game ahead of the Cardinals and in first place in the division, instead of facing the current uphill battle.
No, not every win or loss over the course of 162 is just like all the others. Some hold more significance, and the later they happen in the season, the more memorable they tend to become.
There's a reason we remember Jose "Chico" Lind's error in the bottom of the ninth inning of Game 7 of the 1992 NLCS, or the fact that the umpire was squeezing Doug Drabek something fierce, and that's because they played a huge hand in the Pirates heartbreaking defeat.
There's also a reason why we all know about the bad hop that smacked Yankees shortstop Tony Kubek in the throat in the bottom of the eighth inning of Game 7 of the 1960 World Series that opened the doors for a huge Pirates inning, an inning that ultimately paved the way for Pittsburgh's version of the "Shot Heard Round the World."
Like it or not, win or lose, when the story of the 2013 Pirates season is told, there will be a chapter or two devoted to August 13th and September 20th. If Pittsburgh has a deep playoff run, people will talk of the team resiliency and how the players were able to bounce back from what could have been crushing losses. But, for example, if the Pirates lose in the wild card round, people will talk about those two defeats and how things could have been different sans the crucial errors.
Will they also talk about May 17th, and the dropped ball by an Astros player that led to the winning run in the bottom of the ninth inning, and June 23rd when the Pirates rallied from three down in the top of the ninth inning against the Angels and ultimately won in extra innings?
Absolutely, but that's kind of my point. There are victories and then there are VICTORIES. Same holds true for defeats.
Those people who bought playoff tickets with the hopes of seeing the Pirates play a home playoff game or two at PNC Park, if Pittsburgh has to play the Reds on the road in the NL Wild Card game and winds up losing, I'll bet they'll always remember Jordy Mercer.