Pittsburgh Pirates: First Place Feels Like Christmas in July

Eron NoreContributor IIIJuly 16, 2011

PITTSBURGH - JULY 05: Jeff Karstens #27 of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitches against the Houston Astros during the game on July 5, 2011 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

The actual standings may change by the time some of you read this, but it will not cheapen the passion behind it. To be able to say that the Pittsburgh Pirates are in first place (even if tied) in the middle of July is nearly indescribable.

Christmas in July is about the only way I can describe it as someone who has consistently gone to games and followed the team, especially since the opening of PNC Park.

For those of you that are not Pirates fans, it is okay to chuckle at us. We have come to expect it. When you lose for nearly 20 years, there is no other reaction but to just shrug your shoulders at becoming a laughingstock.

But for me, I am a 32-year-old man. I was in middle school when Sid Bream slid in to home and brought an end to meaningful baseball in Pittsburgh. People talk about the "lost generation" of Pirates fans because of this.

Other fans, may have never even known the joy of an Andy Van Slyke, Barry Bonds, Bobby Bonilla, Jose Lind, Doug Drabek, Stan Belinda, Jay Bell. You grew up rooting for Jermaine Allensworth. Or Tike Redman.

Nobody rooted for Derek Bell, but I just want to type his name because that is how ridiculous it was. Well, "Operation Shutdown" no more!

So while baseball's elite may not understand, I write this article simply to give the fan base a moment to bask in the glow of being in first place in the second half of the MLB season.

Aside from the 1997 "Freak Show" team that nearly pulled off the division crown with something like a $9 million payroll, I do not think any of the Pirates teams have been in first place in the second half of the season since this losing streak began.

If there were some other examples, please excuse me. I am used to the entire city of Pittsburgh turning their attention to the Steelers starting in June, when the Pirates are usually out of contention.

Basically, I realize this article is not much on substance. So, please excuse that. It just feels damned good to have the Buccos mean something again.

It is going to be a long second half, but tonight, for all the fans that have stuck with this team through all the years of losing, you can go to bed with a smile on your face.

This is what we have waited nearly 20 years for. Get some rest Pirates Nation, if this keeps up we are going to have one of those special seasons.

A season that you relive for the rest of your life. The season that baseball was reborn in Pittsburgh.