I Had A Dream that the Bucs Were in First Place at the...Wait, You Mean to Tell Me It's NOT A Dream?!
This year, however, they've seemed...different. As a matter of fact, I had a dream last night. I dreamt that my Battlin' Buccos were in first place all alone at the All-Star break, but then I woke up. I came to the realization that it's the Pirates, that's not happening. This team will never win, they...wait, did you just tell me I'm NOT dreaming? Let me check the standings in this morning's sports section, be right back. HOLY S*** IT'S TRUE! Stop the press!
Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus...and yes, Pittsburgh, the Pirates really ARE in first place all by themselves at the All-Star break! No, this isn't 1992. Root root root for our home team, this is a NEW Pirates generation, everybody shout LET'S GO BUCS!
I remember it well, I was in second grade. I heard the voice of former Bucs broadcaster Lanny Frattere exclaim "and the Pirates have won their third straight division title!" That was the last time anything good happened. There was 1997, but they fell apart in September. They were above .500 in August of 1999, but fell apart that year too. There was the year of the rent-a-players in 2003, but they blew up that entire team in a trade deadline firesale that included the absolute worst salary dump in Pirates history, the trade that sent Aramis Ramirez to the Cubbies for guys that never amounted to a damn thing, while A-Ram went to Wrigley and consistently belted 30 homers a year.
There was the Kevin McClatchy era, but some may not know the man I have religiously thrown under the bus, Bob Nutting, had a share of the team about 4 years before actually buying out McClatchy. Nutting has more money than McClatchy will ever have. I began demanding that he spend the money everyone knows he has. He claimed he'd spend when the time was right, and that he was committed to winning..."yeah right" I said, prove it!
Enter Neil Huntington, the replacement for Dave Littlefield, whose final F-U trade for washed-up Matt Morris told you all you needed to know about the type of guy he was. He knew he was getting canned, so he made a Ramirez-esque trade for a guy who was good 5 years before the Pirates got him. I began noticing that Neil had a bit of a brain. Sure, I was pissed when he traded Xavier Nady to the Yankees on my birthday when I was at the game, but a Bronx cheer to all you Yankees fans out there, because that trade turned out better for the Pirates than it did for the Yanks. Then there was the draft, in which they had the #1 pick, and welcome aboard Gerrit Cole, they picked the best player available and he hasn't disappointed so far. Then there was the firing of John Russell, who had the personality of a bag of chips left open for a few days...stale.
Enter Clint Hurdle, a jolly, mild-mannered guy who has made these young Buccaneers believe in themselves. He brought an enthusiasm to the dugout that this city hasn't seen since Jim Leyland left town. He brought in his coaching staff, and what a job Ray Searrage has done for this pitching staff, one of the best in baseball from top to bottom! His hitting coach, who I ridiculed the first 2 months of the season, is a man I feel I now own an apology to, because this lineup has consistently produced. I've enjoyed seeing him steer the ship, and it does appear to finally be turning around.