The Pittsburgh Pirates are 37-37. This is a fact. We can argue whether Pirate fans should be excited about being 37-37. We can argue whether the Pirates will be 74-74 and whether or not 74-74 is good enough when the division leaders are 79-69. We can argue about a lot of things, but the no matter what form the argument takes it doesn’t change the fact that the Pirates are 37-37. The Pirates are 37-37, within three games of first in the NL Central, and Pirate fans are excited.
Here’s the truth: I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t excited, too. If you’ve been a reader here for any significant amount of time, you know that I like to be analytical, that I like to break down games and at-bats and pitches and find meaning behind meaning. When Matt Bandi wrote his post yesterday about the Pirates winning games but not necessarily making progress in the right places, I nodded my head in agreement the whole way through it. Neil Walker’s offensive performance this year terrifies me. I can’t help but worry that what looks like a lost season for Pedro Alvarez is a very bad thing for him. The struggles of Rudy Owens and Bryan Morris and Tony Sanchez and Andrew Lambo in Double and Triple-A are not good things for the Pirates’ long-term outlook.
When I see how excited people are about this Pirate team, part of me wants to run with arms waving yelling, “DANGER! DANGER! DON’T GET YOUR HOPES UP! REGRESSION TO THE MEEEAAAAAAAN!” What happens to this club when Garrett Jones is at first every day and Chase D’Arnaud is at short and they score some more runs but the defense is no longer helping the pitching staff out? I don’t know. What the hell is Charlie Morton? I don’t know. What’s going to happen with Maholm? I don’t know. Will the Pirates trade Joel Hanrahan and risk the huge backlash from the fans? I don’t know.
I don’t the answer to any of these things and really, so long as the Pirates are playing well, it’s hard to worry about them. I’m so sick and tired of spending every September and October saying things like, “Well, Brian Sabean is a dolt who stands for everything I abhor in a general manager, but I hope the Giants win because Freddy Sanchez sure is a swell guy,” or, “Yeah, Red Sox fans annoy the ever-loving crap out of me, but it would be awesome for Jason Bay to win a World Series ring,” or, “Hey! The AL West kinda sucks this year, maybe Jack Wilson will make the playoffs! Good for him!” I hate having to tune Pirate baseball in August and September out just for my own mental health.
Every year opens with every team at 0-0, but the odds are never the same. The Pirates are always a long-shot to finish .500 or better. They’re always an even longer shot to contend for anything worthwhile at all. It’s hard to root for a baseball team like that. So yeah, the Pirates are still longshots to contend this year and they’re still longshots to finish .500, but you know what? It’s a lot easier to do both of those things from 37-37 than it is from 0-0.
All of the logic circuits in my brain tell me that there’s a reckoning coming with this Pirate team. But really, I don’t care. What fun is being a sports fan if you can’t root for the illogical, the improbable, the impossible? What fun is being a Pirate fan? I don’t really think the Pirates are better than the Red Sox or Brewers or Cardinals or Reds, but that doesn’t mean I can’t root for them to win more games than those teams. So you know what? Screw it. Let’s get two of three from the Red Sox this weekend and see where that takes things. Why not?