Pittsburgh Pirates Return to PNC Park for Home Opener and Bring Hope with Them

Doug Tyburski@@dtyburContributor IIIApril 7, 2011

Neil Walker is one of many who have taking over the role of changing the perception of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Neil Walker is one of many who have taking over the role of changing the perception of the Pittsburgh Pirates.Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The Pirates will be making their 2011 PNC Park debut today at 1:30 pm against the Colorado Rockies.

This is arguably the first opener that has had a buzz since the stadium opened in 2001. The Pirates are bringing a 4-2 record home to Pittsburgh.

This team is still a work in progress.

The baseball season isn't even a week old yet. They have only played six games out of 162. The weather in Pittsburgh hasn't even broke 60 degrees yet. We know that.

Nobody has illusions of a division title or a wild card, and realistically most fans don't believe the current team will end the current streak of 18 seasons without a winning record.  

One thing that may be starting to change is the negative outlook the city has felt towards the Pirates organization.

While we are only six games into the season, those six games have already gave fans a glimpse of what could be. Whether it's a clutch hit from Neil Walker or a much-needed stolen base by Jose Tabata, something feels different.

It could be an Andrew McCutchen homer that gives the Bucs some much-needed insurance or a Pedro Alvarez checked swing that brings in two runs in the ninth that gives the Pirates a lead.

Maybe it's a game-ending double play in Chicago after Ronnie Cedeno muffed a chance at a double play just a batter before.  

Yes, something is very different.

Pittsburgh's baseball team has not had that kind of luck the past 18 years. You have to be a fan or a close follower of this team to feel something has changed.

To a person looking from the outside, these are nothing but the everyday bounces you see in a baseball game—nope, that's not it.

The "lowly Pittsburgh Pirates," a phrase that the Pirates have become accustomed to, may not be so "lowly" anymore.  

Is it the influence of manager Clint Hurdle bringing a positive attitude to the club? Maybe.

Does the fact the young Pirates core of McCutchen, Alvarez, Tabata and Walker are a few years older, wiser and more mature? Yeah, I'm sure that has a lot to do with it.  

Could it be the baseball gods are finally beginning to lift the cloud that has covered this organization? You betcha!

The 2011 Pittsburgh Pirates have talent. That has a lot to do with any turnaround.

That being said, any Pittsburgh Pirates fan who has endured suffering for 18 years, knows that there is a different feeling during the four wins over the past six days.

A cynical observer can laugh this off as wishful thinking, but a true Pirates fan knows better.

Finally, there will still be a large majority of the media who will say the Pirates will find a way to come back to form and be the joke of baseball again.  

Let them make any statement they want; they do have that right.

We'll just watch the Pirates improve with a little help from the baseball fan up above.

Enjoy a great Opening Day, everybody!