I watched the game last night with two other Pirates fans. In this part of the country, three Pirates fans in one room is unheard of. One guy is my defection partner; the other a lifelong fan, a longtime dyed-in-the-wool sufferer. He’s got Bream lines like I’ve got Bucky Dent lines. (And why do all the villains’ names start with B? Babe, Bucky, Buckner, Boone, Bream…) We hunkered down with some pizza and chips (and giardiniera and kimchi – we’re classy fans, you know) and watched it unfold.
There’s nothing quite like playoff baseball. Every (and I mean every) pitch matters. Sure there can be stretches of distracted attention (it is baseball, after all) that we used to explore the vocal stylings of Cowboy Joe West (view here), but the ebbs and flows of a nine inning winner-takes-all bout is the playground of legends. And Russell Martin and Francisco Liriano took that opportunity to etch their names into Pirates lore.
I have many, many playoff baseball memories – radio voices, TV images, and in-the-stands emotion. You haven’t lived until you’ve been in a bouncing concrete stadium.
The obvious has been stated on a hundred blogs and columns already, but the win last night was direct evidence of the magic that Neal Huntington, Clint Hurdle, and the rest have put on the field this year. The four-five hitters on a playoff team acquired on waiver deals? Two home-runs and flawless catching stolen from the mighty Yankees last winter? Seven innings of dominant pitching from a scrap heap arm on a 2-year contract? And four times safely on-base from the (likely) MVP signed to a hometown, long-term deal that came up through the system. Unreal.
Now this show is headed to St. Louis – home of the corporate trons in red. The vanilla capital of baseball with the cordial fanbase and lifeless efficiency on the field. At least La Russa’s gone…