Dear Pirates,

Look, I can’t really say I’m speaking on behalf of an entire city or an entire fan base — I’m not THAT egotistical –but for the past eight years I’ve heard a common refrain and that is this: “You wrote exactly what I was thinking, but couldn’t put into words.”

So, I’m going to try to put into words what I think the fans of the Pittsburgh Pirates are thinking as they wake up to the first morning of the 2013 offseason …

You didn’t do enough.

You did more than enough.

But before I get into that, you first have to understand what Pittsburgh’s passion for baseball was like back in March. It was a tiny, barely smoldering piece of tinder resting on the wet floor of a massive damp forest of disappointment that hadn’t seen a lick of flames in decades. Those were the odds stacked against you … lighting a fire in a monsoon. Good luck. You have a better chance of leashing the Kraken and taking it for a walk in the park.  

What you managed to do as a team — a brotherhood — was to take that little piece of smoking tinder, and to slowly nurture it. Pick it up, blow on it gently, give it sun and warmth and oxygen. And when it grew ever so slightly, you didn’t let it get trampled or snuffed out. You protected it and fed it until that tiny flicker of light became a fire big enough to warm our hands on.

You didn’t stop there. When it died down ever so slightly, you went Bear Grylls on it — stoked it with wins until come September that once barely flickering tinder became a raging fire of baseball passion burning a path to the postseason and Smoky the Bear was all, “HAVE I TAUGHT YOU PEOPLE NOTHING?! LOOK AT THIS MESS, DAMN IT.”

You, not the team before you — not any of the teams before them — brought baseball back to Pittsburgh.

Who cares, right?

It’s just a sport. 

Let’s get some perspective here, people. What about world peace, amirite?

Sure, it’s just a sport, but I haven’t found a single scripture in the Bible or the Brocode that says we can’t care about world peace while also caring about the fortunes of our baseball team. There’s nothing wrong with baseball mattering.

And you reminded us that, here in Pittsburgh, baseball … matters.

The sport of Roberto, of Maz, of kids in dirt fields. The sport of peanuts and Cracker Jacks and Jolly Rogers and Pierogie races (What’s in your purse, HANNAH?!), and high-fiving strangers, and the crack of the bat, and the glorious double play, and the slide into home with one finger gliding across the base, and living and dying by one single pitch in the bright late summer sun. It matters to us again, as it has mattered to America for centuries. You did that. You gave us that gift that will ripple on for years, and there’s no way for us to repay that gift to you.

You out-gifted us. You gave us a Mercedes with a big red bow on top; we are holding an engraved pen from Things Remembered behind our backs.  Hope you like it. It says, “You’re #1.”

And that brings me back to my original point.

You did more than enough. 

As a fan base, 2013 was like taking part in the Showcase Showdown on the Price is Right. “What would you say about this … FIRST NON-LOSING SEASON IN 21 YEARS?!”

priceisright4

“But wait, there’s more! Enjoy your non-losing season for a few days, but then we’re going to put you into this … GORGEOUS WINNING SEASON!”

priceisright

“And that’s not all! After you’re done celebrating your winning season, why not step into this brand … new … WILDCARD GAME!”
priceisright3

“But before you bid on all that, step away from that Wildcard Game and make your way over to  … your very own NATIONAL LEAGUE DIVISION SERIES!?”

priceisright2

We would have been happy to go home with the winning season. And maybe one of the Showcase Showdown models.

But you gave us more than that — more than enough for 2013.

You gave us our pastime back. You gave us baseball that was more than bobbleheads and Free Shirt Fridays and Fireworks Spectaculars.

You made it okay to love the Pirates —  the baseball team — again. You negated two decades of losing. You gave us the blackouts and fist pumps and a Strip District once barely dotted with Pirates merchandise, now bursting at the seams with thousands of unlicensed Bucs shirts. You gave us incredible defense, a home-run king, the Shark Tank, and a Sid Bream palate cleanse. You gave us that grizzly bear lumberjack werewolf Gerrit Cole (grrrrrrrrmmmmrowrrrrr).

Sure it sucks that you didn’t win last night and it probably feels like the end of a road. But before you start blaring Boyz II Men in the clubhouse, I’ll remind you of the 2008 Pittsburgh Penguins who lost in the Stanley Cup Finals … only to win it the very next year.

This road ended last night, but come March, you’re going to step on another road, and for the first time in a long time, you’re going to walk that road with postseason experience, with the respect of the MLB, and with an entire city walking behind you. And I’m almost positive that road will lead us to an even better destination than this one did.

The bandwagon will not be burned and rolled into the Mon. It’s being cared for all winter. Upgraded. Bigger oxen. More margarita options. Extra taco topping choices. Additional seating not paid for with public dollars. And we’ll pull it out in March and we’ll climb in and we’ll raucously show America that indeed … baseball is back in Pittsburgh because the 2013 Pittsburgh Pirates gave it back to us.

Much love and sports butt slaps to every single damn one of you,

Me and all of Pittsburgh

 





47 Comments

  1. Anne
    October 10, 2013 9:04 am

    Yes. Just 100% yes.



  2. Cheryl
    October 10, 2013 9:06 am

    I agree! Looking forward to an AWESOME 2014 PIRATE season.



  3. AngryMongo
    October 10, 2013 9:07 am

    Now That’s Church in the house that Maz and Roberto built.



  4. Rich D
    October 10, 2013 9:09 am

    That’s Church.



  5. mizzpenz
    October 10, 2013 9:11 am

    Nailed it



  6. Aimee
    October 10, 2013 9:12 am

    Abso-BUCN-lutely.

    I cried when Sid slid, I cried at the end of the wild card game because OH MY GOD so much happy, but I did not cry last night because we all got WAY more than we ever thought possible.

    Thanks, Buccos. You’re the greatest.



  7. j
    October 10, 2013 9:13 am

    I think the Bible contains hints that maybe loving sport is permissible

    Like Psalm 13

    How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?
    How long will you hide your face from me?
    How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
    and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
    How long will my enemy triumph over me?

    If this doesn’t speak to a sports fan’s heart, I don’t know what does. :-)



  8. Sam
    October 10, 2013 9:18 am

    Thank you Ginny, I could not have said it better myself!!! THANK YOU 2013 PITTSBURGH PIRATES for an AMAZING SEASON!!! I love you guys!!!!



  9. Butcher's dog
    October 10, 2013 9:19 am

    For the first time in 21 years, “wait till next year” has something actually worth waiting for. Thanks!



  10. LeeInIrwin
    October 10, 2013 9:20 am

    Testify! Now let’s have a parade!



  11. Magnus Patris
    October 10, 2013 9:25 am

    What a great year! I’m looking forward to 2014, ’15 and ’16!



  12. Jim
    October 10, 2013 9:36 am

    Great job Bucs! But, now that you’re done with the Steeler’s mojo, can you please give it back so they can win a damn game this season?



  13. Burgh_in_DC
    October 10, 2013 9:46 am

    That. Is. Church.



  14. Tracie Magoc
    October 10, 2013 9:55 am

    Once again ~ I love the way you put words together ~ Spring training is a few months away



  15. rickh
    October 10, 2013 10:01 am

    Well said G, it’s been a great ride.

    Next year you can bring back the PittGirl bandwagon with some shiny new rims.



  16. Arika
    October 10, 2013 10:06 am

    To say you are a master of words would not do it justice. I laughed. I cried. It was just a magical ride reading this! Amen and Hallelujah. You are right – you perfectly put into words what many could not. Thank you!

    PS- The Price is Right references were the rainbows on this magical unicorn ride!



  17. SteelCityMagnolia
    October 10, 2013 10:08 am

    Dang, Ginny… I read this at work and now I’m sitting here all sniffly and teary!!! Can I still blame it on allergy season???

    I’m calling shotgun when you take the bandwagon out of the garage next spring.



  18. HokieRider
    October 10, 2013 10:20 am

    Save me a seat Ginny!



  19. Bram R
    October 10, 2013 10:33 am

    Yeah, I wasn’t hanging with this until TPIR gif #4.

    Then came the waterworks.



  20. Miles Reader
    October 10, 2013 10:40 am

    Great write up. Can’t wait to raise the Jolly Roger again 90+ times in 2014! Can we get a new graphic of the embiggened Band Wagon next spring? That would be great.



  21. Judi
    October 10, 2013 10:44 am

    Well said, Ginny! I’ve been clinging to the splinters of that bandwagon for over 20 years and have no plans to jump ship, now. Thank you, Pirates, for a Buc-tabulous season!!!



  22. Sean
    October 10, 2013 11:01 am

    It got real dusty in here while I was reading that. Might have gotten some in my eye.



  23. bucdaddy
    October 10, 2013 11:04 am

    So say we all.



  24. nofaves
    October 10, 2013 11:28 am

    (before clicking) “I shouldn’t. I’ll just end up crying…”

    (after) “Worth the tears.”

    This Buccos team pulled me up into the wagon last season, and the fail at the end didn’t knock me out. “They’ll learn from it,” I said, “and next season that won’t happen.” Saying the same thing now, and I can’t wait to see the results of this season’s lessons.

    172 days and counting.



  25. Joe O
    October 10, 2013 11:30 am

    Thank you Ginny. Perfect!



  26. Angela
    October 10, 2013 12:29 pm

    I cried…not last night, but at reading this.

    And Gerrit, well, that’s church, sister! *GRRRROWL* indeed. But I still love GI Jones and have crushes on Grilli and AJ.



    • la Reina
      October 16, 2013 3:59 pm

      We do have the most handsomest baseball players, don’t we? Every darn last one of them.



  27. Pa-pop
    October 10, 2013 12:37 pm

    Beautiful job of expressing what everyone feels today. BTW, only 124 days til pitchers and catchers report in Bradenton.



  28. bluzdude
    October 10, 2013 2:11 pm

    Thank you,BandwagonMistress, may I have another?



  29. Dolly
    October 10, 2013 2:19 pm

    AMEN!!!



  30. YinzerInExile
    October 10, 2013 2:53 pm

    Can I just . . . Awesome write up–and I do feel this way. To an extent. Except here’s the thing.

    They didn’t do enough.

    Enough would have been winning last night, when Wainright appeared to be a bit off his game and allowing some contact. Enough would have been taking advantage of it. Enough would have been finding a way, like they did countless times to even get them to last night.

    Enough would have been going on to *keep winning*

    Enough would have been winning the World Series.

    Because that’s what good baseball teams do. And this was a Good Baseball Team.

    Saying that they did enough by getting to the NLDS rankles me because, no matter how happy I am to have (finally!) had this amazing season, saying that it was good enough to get where we got just totally justifies all the haters and the ESPN-ers who basically had the attitude “awww–Pirates in the post season! So cute!”

    This season wasn’t cute, and it wasn’t a gift that someone handed to the team. They EARNED IT. And to fill the web up with platitudes about how they are just happy to have made it as far as they did–how we, as a fan base, are just happy to have had what we had, no matter the ending, takes just a little bit of that away.

    To me, saying this was “enough” says that hey, we didn’t expect anything of you, not really, and it was mostly magic and not anything to do with your hard work that got us there and so, if the rides over and the magic has run out well, I’m a-ok with it!

    I’m not ok with it.

    Our baseball club lost for 20 years. THIS TEAM, while unfortunately having to bear that stigma, did not.

    They’re a bunch of really good ball players and they lost last night and I don’t think they get a free pass just because nobody had any expectations.

    I love them, and I’m stoked about the next several years. But I wish everyone would stop being so damn pleased with a loss.



    • la Reina
      October 16, 2013 4:01 pm

      We’re not pleased with a loss. We would love to have seen the Buccos in the World Series.
      But we’re pleased that they played their guts out in 2013 and reminded us of our beloved Pirates of old.



  31. the big shine
    October 10, 2013 2:56 pm

    AMEN BROTHER. YOU GOT THAT RIGHT. WE WILL BE THERE NEXT YEAR



  32. Ginny's Dad
    October 10, 2013 5:08 pm

    The Steelers had 8 straight losing seasons before reaching the playoffs in 1972 and 1973 only to lose. Of course we all know the rest of the story, 4 Lombardi trophies during the next 6 years. There is hardship and disappointment on the road to paradise. This team has heart as well as talent so I am expecting big things in the next few years. Go Bucs and thanks for an awesome season!



  33. MattDC
    October 10, 2013 10:49 pm

    Well said, as always. An excellent wrap up to an excellent season.



  34. Becca
    October 10, 2013 10:52 pm

    My friend won’t see next season. Because he’s dying they made him smile thank you from my heart!



  35. MattDC
    October 10, 2013 11:25 pm

    Okay, I can’t just leave it at that. As I was watching Jordy Mercer get robbed on that double play in the fifth, and was screaming at the TV, I happened to peak at my cell phone and noticed the date and time. I can say that neither I, nor any one of you, have been that personally invested in a baseball game on October 8 since, well, for most of you, never.

    That play, which was ultimately decisive, also reminded me of the Karmic reality of major league baseball. Only a chosen few are blessed year after year. They are from New York, St. Louis, Los Angeles, and recently, Boston. The rest can break though on occasion — Tampa, Colorado, Miami, Detroit — but must overcome the inexplicable David Freeses and Bucky Dents of the world to do so. Add to that the recent need for at least six superlative starters and five relievers, and the current formula for success is almost impossible to build.

    Which simply reiterates what I have said before. Enjoy now what is right in front of you. I can feel the pain of YinzerinExile, but as a 35 year exile in Washington DC (35 years without a team, 7 without a playoff contender), I can confirm that an elimination game spanking by the Cardinals (Nationals 2012) teaches the unfairness of MLB outside of a few chosen cities, and the fact that success is not guaranteed for the next year. I am simply grateful that the season no longer ends for me at the trading deadline on July 31. Bradenton is all that counts.

    Go Bucs.



  36. Pat
    October 11, 2013 8:26 am

    Beautifully said, Dan. Thanks.



  37. Sue
    October 11, 2013 11:49 am

    That’s Church x 100!!!!



  38. Sooska
    October 11, 2013 11:51 am

    Nice, Ginny. I might just have to get a Pirates decal on my car to go along with my Pens license plate holder and a small Steelers decal. I can complete the trifecta, proudly, and finally.



  39. Patty Boyd
    October 15, 2013 8:27 am

    It was a tiny, barely smoldering piece of tinder resting on the wet floor of a massive damp forest of disappointment.
    If that ain’t the most poetic thing I’ve read by a living American writer in a long time, I don’t know what is. Lovely piece of writing, Virginia!