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It's good to just be a Pirates fan again

March 31, 2014 - Paul Giannamore
It’s been a long time since I felt this way on Opening Day.

My father was a Pirates baseball nut, right up until the strike in the early 1980s. We went from going to seven games a year and listening to every game on the radio or watching the ones that were on TV (they weren’t all on TV when I was a kid) to zero. No talk about baseball. No leaving the game on TV when he walked in the room. He was fed up by drug scandals, strikes and Dave Parker.

So it was that I kind of drifted along the periphery of watching the Bucs at that point, paying attention but without the passion I had when I was a little kid.

By the time The Drummer came along in 1991, the Pirates were about to embark on a long dark night of the baseball soul.

Then the 2013 season came along. My son was enjoying the feeling of winning in baseball. When it comes to baseball, he simply lights up when the game is mentioned or on TV, and he glows in PNC Park to the point where my bosses could save on the light bill for night-time games by simply letting the kid (well, the young man now) sit in the stands.

Combine that joy with an unexpected fall extension for the Bucs, followed by a physically never-ending winter and today is like New Year’s Day, Christmas morning and Thanksgiving all in one.

I hope I’m forgiven for wearing my Cutch shirt to work today (a memory of a great Free Shirt Friday from a couple years ago when my the ATM Guy and I got seats right behind the Bucs dugout, best I ever bought).

I hope the fans stay classy and don’t detract from Cutch’s moment as he receives the MVP by booing Barry Bonds. Let the past be past. Put the asterisk by his name in your head. But please don’t wreck what Mr. McCutchen earned.

Yes, maybe a lot of what my dad went on his one-man fan strike that lasted the last 25 years of his life still exist. Yes, players are still egomaniacs, overpaid and underperforming at times. Yes, ticket costs are up and a hot dog costs more than grilling it yourself in the back yard.

But, as much as I miss my dad, I’m not forgetting the joy of last season, of watching The Drummer actually enjoy the Pirates, not just Major League Baseball. I’m not forgetting sitting in front of the TV chanting “Cueto! Cueto!” until he dropped the ball. I’m not forgetting sitting in the stands with my friend from Chicago watching the Bucs hit back-to-back-to-back homers late in the season (that they lost will probably be forgotten somewhere down the road).

And so, I present my annual quote from James Earl Jones in "Field of Dreams" (minus a few "Rays") about why, even more than football, baseball matters:

"And they'll walk out to the bleachers, and sit in shirt-sleeves on a perfect afternoon. They'll find they have reserved seats somewhere along one of the baselines, where they sat when they were children and cheered their heroes. And they'll watch the game, and it'll be as if they'd dipped themselves in magic waters. The memories will be so thick, they'll have to brush them away from their faces.

"The one constant through all the years has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It's been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt, and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game, is a part of our past. It reminds us of all that once was good, and it could be again."

Or, what I hope other managers say a lot, as Wilford Brimley so aptly put it in "The Natural," "Don't you know how I hate losin' to the Pirates?"



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