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National attention continues to grow surrounding Pirates hot start

The Pirates own the National League’s best record (16-7)

MLB: Cincinnati Reds at Pittsburgh Pirates Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Bucco bandwagon is growing. The Pittsburgh Pirates are playing their best baseball in 31 years. At 16-7, the Pirates are a game and a half up on the Milwaukee Brewers for first place in the National League Central and own the second-most wins of any team in baseball, trailing the 20-3 Tampa Bay Rays.

The Pirates are off to their best start since 1992, the last time the team was crowned division champions. There are still 139 games left in the 2023 season, but after back-to-back 100-loss seasons, any reason for optimism is welcomed with open arms. Now the national media is beginning to pay attention.

Pittsburgh was featured to start MLB Central Monday morning after winning seven in a row. Mark DeRosa broke out the treasure map to detail how the Bucs have put the wind back in their sails.

Plum native and NFL media star Pat McAfee is also feeling Bucco Fever.

The Pirates own the highest starting pitching ERA of any club through their past 13 games (2.15). Derek Shelton’s rotation recorded 11-consecutive quality starts during the span.

Despite oddly omitting the 1909 Pirates as World Series Champions, Chris “Mad Dog” Russo reflected on the Bucs’ past championships and his favorite moments surrounding the franchise.

Recently recalled infielder Drew Maggi has also brought a buzz to the organization, waiting since 2010 for his chance to appear in a Major League game. At 33 years old, Maggi was promoted Sunday after over 3,800 minor league at-bats. After being drafted by Pittsburgh in the 15th round, he bounced around from various organizations and has the chance to bring his journey full circle at PNC Park. The last time he was at the park was the day he signed; the next may bring the moment he’s been dreaming of.

Following years of pain and poor baseball, the Pirates are building something. This feels different. Comparisons were made to the 2011 team before the club departed from Bradenton, but this group of players made me believe from the start they’re closer to the 2012 Bucs. This means a few things, but especially that they might be closer than anyone could have thought.

The question remains, how long can it last? Instead of grasping to that, enjoy the ride in the present. Who knows how far this team could go? It’s only April, but to lead the NL in wins without their star shortstop (Oneil Cruz), No. 3 starter (JT Brubaker), top free-agent bullpen signing (Jarlin Garcia), and first base power threat (Ji Man Choi) is an accomplishment in its own right. Sit back and relax, or stand up and continue to cheer. The national landscape, though, is taking notice, something that should is not easy for a small market club with four winning seasons over the past 30 years.

Enjoy good Bucco baseball regardless of the circumstances and perceived notions. This group has a chance to be the true beginning of good Pirates baseball back on the North Shore. Something we all can get behind.