Pittsburgh Pirates: Pennant Races and PNC Park Premonitions

Andrew PreglerContributor IIIJuly 23, 2011

PITTSBURGH - JULY 18:  The tarp covers the infield at PNC Park during the second rain delay between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Cincinnati Reds on July 18, 2011 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

I have never seen a Pittsburgh Pirates winning season.

I was a mere month old when Sid Bream became a word that would pierce the hearts of Pirates fans for the next 18 seasons. I grew up on the 1979 Pirates highlight video and threw side-armed like Kent 'Teke' Tekulve, because no one on the current team could even dream of matching the joy of championship that old tape gave a seven year old.

I was there when the Pirates got swept out of a Three Rivers Stadium that deserved a better final showing and was at PNC for the next seven seasons of futility, lit up for a brief moment by a Freddy Sanchez batting title and an All-Star game.

However, for the last four seasons, my family's season tickets have gone by the wayside, because the pain of watching a mismanaged team clinging to former glory was simply not worth whichever 80's band came in for Skyblast.

So this past Friday, for the first time in two years, we returned to our upper-deck seats to watch a relevant Pirates team in July.

Needless to say, I felt like I needed to be pinched as I took in the feeling of a sold-out crowd and the feeling that the name McCutchen was actually going to stay on my back and the field for years to come.

But most interesting was that my father pointed out to center field and smiled.

There is a shed next to Manny Sanguillen's barbecue stop that was totally covered in ivy. When the park opened in 2001, he told me that by the time that shed was covered, the Pirates would be .500.

So as the crowd chanted, screamed and followed the game as I have only ever seen at Steelers games, I was just amazed that after 19 long, painful, and lost seasons, this band of 2011 Pirates may not win the Pennant, but they have won back the hearts of so many lost baseball souls such as myself.