There was a time when I was a closet Philadelphia Phillies fan. But I got over it.
Now I can’t help being a closet Pittsburgh Pirate fan.
Quite frankly, the Pirates are the feel-good story of the 2001 Major League Baseball season. If you like underdogs and over-achievers, you can’t help but love the Bucos.
At the time of this writing, Pittsburgh was 51-45 and leading the National League Central Division. This is the first time since 1992 that the Pirates were this many games over .500 this late in the season.
Of course, during recent years Pittsburgh has evolved into baseball’s loveable losers. It’s been 18 years since the Pirates have finished with a winning record, the longest current streak in major North American professional sports.
This year, the Pirates have been getting it done with an incomparable bunch of no-name players and some solid pitching.
And apparently, I’m not the only closet Pirate fan. Despite their success on the field, Pittsburgh has not drawn fans to the stands, despite playing in beautiful PNC Park.
Given the success of NL East powers Philadelphia and Atlanta, it seems unlikely that Pittsburgh will have a shot at securing the National League’s wild-card entry into the playoffs. So if the Pirates are to return to postseason play, it would appear they would have to do it by winning the Central division crown.
Can Pittsburgh pull it off? Probably not.
But perhaps the most important thing is that baseball has returned – sort of – to the Steel City.