When the Pirates collapsed in 2012, I started to wonder if the First Pirate Winning Season in a Generation could ever possibly live up to the expectations that we'd all built for it. Everyone thought it was going to be a little bit different: joyous, cathartic, validating, burden-relieving, etc., and I had this creeping fear that 82 was going to come and go and the streak would be dead, but mostly everything else would remain.
I've never been happier to be wrong. The whole of the 2013 season was fun, but the last month was a constant, joyous, group exorcism, jumping from 81 to 82 to 90 and a playoff berth to a Wild Card Game win to the verge of the NLCS. This season didn't just live up to my expectations for what the First Pirate Winning Season in a Generation would be, it sandblasted them into oblivion. The Pirate bandwagon was a joyride into the unknown, packed with long-suffering Pirate fans and lapsed Pirate fans and fans from every other baseball city without a team in the playoffs and people that barely even care about baseball standing shoulder to shoulder, heckling Johnny Cueto at the top of their lungs into his worst nightmare. It was glorious.
When the game ended on Wednesday night, I was mostly OK with the outcome. I mean, I was hugely disappointed and contemplative and concerned that it might not be terribly easy for the Pirates to get to that point again, but I can also accept that the Pirates lost to a team that was a little bit better than them, both throughout the season and in the NLDS. There is no shame in that. Then, I checked my phone and saw all of the Twitter messages and e-mails that had come in, thanking me and other Pirate bloggers, writers, reporters, tweeters, etc. for the work that we've done this season. That's something that's so meaningful to me that I really have a hard time expressing it.
I know that I risk sounding disingenuously earnest here, but the reason that it's so meaningful is that it feels backwards to me. Without readers, without commenters, without Pirate fans that stay up until weird hours of the night to understand my nerdy-fringe-pop-culture jokes on Twitter, without unsolicited e-mails of joy or rage or anything in between, without all of that, there's no WHYGAVS, because I would've stopped doing it a very long time ago. The true joy in sports doesn't come from what happens on a baseball field, it comes from being able to share those moments, whatever they may be, with family and friends and complete strangers in Pirate hats, hundreds of miles from Pittsburgh.
I always say that I don't ever want people to think that I'm talking for other Pirate fans, just to them. I very much mean that. If there wasn't anyone for me to talk to, I wouldn't be doing it. I thought about closing WHYGAVS down a few times last winter, but I couldn't do it. I couldn't do it, because I knew that there were other Pirate fans out there, waiting for the same things that I was waiting for and I couldn't imagine risking not being able to revel in this with everyone. Let me say this simply and directly: If you are reading this, I could not have kept WHYGAVS going without you. Thank you, so, so much.
I'm going to be very busy this fall and this winter. I'm currently working as a TA in addition to all of the experiments that need done in the near-to-immediate future so that I can start interpreting data, planning whatever the last few things I need to finish up my thesis project, and writing. I can't promise that I'll write every day, or even that I'll write most days. That's not to say that I won't be writing at all; I have an off-season primer planned and partially formed that will run next week, I want to do some writing about the prospects in system and the "window" that the Pirates have to contend, and I'll obviously be ready for free agency and the winter meetings and whatever it is that happens then. When the news is slow, though, posting will probably be slow, too. That's just the way that it has to be for the next few months. If you aren't already, I'd recommend that you either subscribe to the site's RSS feed, or follow WHYGAVS on Twitter/Facebook. Everything that gets written on the site shows up in those places almost immediately after its posted.
It's October 11th. The Pirates won 94 games, the Wild Card Game, and pushed the Cardinals almost to a breaking point in the NLDS, but their season is over with baseball left to be played. Thank you for sharing it with me. Pitchers and catchers report in just about four months. There's work left to be done.