“Cueto! Cueto! Cueto!”
That thunderous chant coming through my cheap TV from almost 40,000 fans dressed in all black followed by a blast to left field by Russell Martin changed my connection with the Pittsburgh Pirates forever.
I was always a Pirates fan. My dad fell in love with the team growing up thanks to Roberto Clemente, Willie Stargell, and other Pittsburgh greats, and he passed the passion on to me at a really young age. He also helped me realize how amazing the game of baseball was. I played tee ball, little league, and on through high school. I played other sports too, but I never loved them as much as baseball.
I watched baseball growing up, of course. But while my friends in upstate New York walked the school hallways with Yankees and Red Sox shirts, jerseys, and backpacks, I was left with an annual sour taste in my mouth. We always had the MLB package, and we made sure to watch as many Pirates games as possible once April came around. Unfortunately, especially as young kids, my brother and I lost our motivation to follow the team once the dog days of August started winding down. Then we’d get to watch our favorite players leave the Bucs without a taste of playoff baseball: Jason Kendall. Freddy Sanchez. Jason Bay. Nate McLouth. Zach Duke.
I went off to college in 2011 and continued to follow my beloved PIrates, and my family and I would still try to make it to the 412 for a series at least once a year. St. Bonaventure University was only a few hours from Pittsburgh (in fact, the Allegheny River runs behind our campus), so I met a few fellow fans along the way. Then, 2013 happened.
The whole season was exhilarating to say the least. We experienced the emergence of MVP Andrew McCutchen, clinching the first winning season since 1992 (the year before I was born), and finally a playoff birth in the Wild Card Game. I will never forget that Tuesday night. I ran out of class and sped off campus to my 8-person college house to throw on my black and gold and take over the living room TV for a few hours. The feeling after that win was like nothing else. With some help from my mom, my brother and I were able to buy tickets for my dad’s birthday to Game 3 of the NLDS against the Cardinals. The atmosphere after winning that game and going up 2-1 in the series was unlike anything I had ever been a part of. I was officially hooked.
The results have been up and down since that year, but my requisite love for the PIrates turned into an unwavering passion. I do everything in my power to watch or listen to every game, and we plan summers around our trips to PNC Park. Through the pain and suffering of a blown ninth inning lead or the glory that comes with a “Battlin’ Buccos” comeback, nothing in my sports world quite matches the connection I have with the Pittsburgh Pirates… And I wouldn’t want it any other way.
So, now that I got that out of the way, I’m extremely excited to be part of Bucs Dugout. I have had an interest in sports writing since college. I was a Journalism/Mass Communications major for a year and a half before switching it up to Education. The majority of my writing background comes from fantasy sports analysis and research. Most of my previous work was on a site called RotoBaller, but I did some work with a few other organizations too, including an NBA Draft piece for the USA Today. I’ve toned it down over the past couple of years, but season-long and daily fantasy sports were a huge part of my life for a while. Now, I’m happy to combine those research skills and writing experiences with a topic I’m so passionate and knowledgeable about. Of course I’ve followed along with the Pirates Twitter world in recent years, so I’m also pumped to be able to contribute to that community.
Currently I live in Connecticut with my fiancee, and by day I work in higher education advising college students and instructing some courses. I’m thrilled to get back into the writing game. I hope you all will gain something from what I have to say and give me continuous feedback, good or bad. Feel free to connect with me on Twitter (@BellRoto) and start Pirates or general baseball conversation anytime. The close connection with readers and fellow baseball fans via Twitter is definitely one of the coolest parts of providing online content. I’m looking forward to getting to know you all virtually one Pirates game at a time, and maybe I’ll even see some of you on the North Shore one of these days.
Let’s go Bucs!