Pittsburgh Pirates Fans: Don't Fret Yet

Monica WitzigCorrespondent ISeptember 18, 2008

If you still care about the Buccos, we know you’re not a fair-weather or bandwagon fan.  Everyone knows the story. This is their 16th year in the hole, but, every spring, there’s that “We can do it!” enthusiasm. You might even miss Barry Bonds a little bit. We know your pain, your misery, and your loyalty. We still have reasons to love Pittsburgh.

How about those 15 runs we scored on the Dodgers last night? It may be September, which usually means a more laid back style of play, but the Pirates still played hard. If you need an immediate pick-me-up, there it is.

The Yankees, an eternal powerhouse of not just the A.L. East but of all MLB, dropped two to the Pirates this season during interleague play. We’re not picky about what’s in our W-column. Thanks, Yanks.

Let’s recall the Ripken family in Baltimore. Cal Jr. and Billy flanked second base while father Cal Sr. coached them in the ‘80s. In the ‘50s, Pittsburgh had twins Johnny and Eddie O’Brien. The Bucs now have Adam and Andy LaRoche on opposite sides of the diamond. It’s like an ideal game of catch for these guys. Pittsburgh is a family affair.

Jeff Karstens, a pitcher we acquired as part of the trade that sent Xavier Nady and Damaso Marte to the Yankees, made quite an impression in August when he served up a nearly perfect game to the D-backs. Granted, down the stretch, he could use more development, but you can’t argue with a two-hitter from this kid.

Our boys have undeniable skills and personalities. We know from our trades that we’ve groomed exceptional players—players who went to the competitive A.L. East and are thriving (i.e. Jason Bay, Nady, and Marte).

Doug Mientkiewicz is a firecracker as always—in how many scuffles has this man been?  Mientkiewicz is a fighter. His passion for the game is not containable and should be inspiring to his teammates.

The young Ryan Doumit, one of our fearless leaders, would be in contention for the batting title if he’d had more plate appearances. His performance is on par with Joe Mauer. Doumit is easily the future of the Pirates, assuming he’s not out with too many injuries.

Jack Wilson is the most tenured member of the team. He not only contributes his talents on the field but is also very active in the community, leading “Bowling with the Bucs” and other charity events. Wilson has been nominated for the Clemente Award four years in a row now.

Nate McLouth proved himself as he made it to the 2008 All-Star Game as a reserve and threw out Dioner Navarro at home from center field in the 10th inning.

The 10th inning? That’s right. The Pirates have excelled this year in extra innings (12-5).  The key is playing hard enough to push the game that far. Once there, the Buccos can generally pull out the win.

Think back to 2006, even: May 27, 18 innings against the Astros, ending around 1:00 the next morning with a victory.

Even if our star-studded roster (Ha ha!) doesn’t grab you, there’s always PNC Park itself.  Consistently voted one of the best parks in the country (if not the best park), PNC Park has pleased players and visitors since 2001, with a 21-foot, right-field wall to honor Roberto Clemente, and the city’s skyline is easily visible beyond the outfield.

As always, Pirates fans, wait 'til next year.