Even knowing the Pirates history as it’s been for the last 18 years and particularly as it’s been for the last five or so, I’ve been kind of taken off guard by what a huge reaction the club getting to .500 in early May has produced. I mean, obviously it’s great to see the club play well for an extended stretch and it’s great that they have their heads above water without Tabata, Alvarez, or even McCutchen producing much offense of late, but we’re not even to the quarter pole of the season. It’s true that the Pirates are 9-6 in their last 15 games and with a few bounces or better bullpen performances they could be 12-3 over the same stretch, but it’s also true that there’s not much that divides wins like yesterday’s from losses and they could easily be 6-9, too, and then they’d be 14-20 right now without having played much different and people would barely notice them.
Maybe I’m just the wrong person to judge this sort of thing. I understand the appeal that finishing a season .500 holds for Pirate fans. If I had to choose, of course I’d rather see the team go 82-80 instead of 80-82, if only to avoid having to endure another offseason full of jokes and lazily written pieces about how bad the Pirates have been for so long. Ultimately, though, it just doesn’t make that much of a difference. If this Pirate team, one year removed from the one of the worst Pirate performances in recent history can win 80 or even 75 games in 2011, I’m going to be psyched about 2012. I’ll be every bit as psyched as I would be if they win 81 games.
Clint Hurdle said it best to reporters after yesterday’s game: “I want people to feel what they need to feel [about .500]. Because I can’t control what everybody else feels. And if there are good feelings out there, so be it.”
I get why people are excited, it’s just way too early in the year for me personally to start considering the Pirates’ final record. It’s too early especially because in the grand scheme of things, I don’t know if it matters how many games they win, so long as they don’t tank like they did last year. How are the Pirates playing? Are they better than last year? Are they better than I (or anyone else, for that matter) expected? Why are they better? Is that sustainable? That’s mainly what I’m worried about right now and it’s why I haven’t put a whole lot of thought into what the club’s record is through 34 games. Personally, I’m going to enjoy the way the team is playing right now and try figure out what this team is capable of and what that means down the road and worry about the record much, much later in the season.