“This is the year we do it!”
If you live around, or are friends with, a fan of the Pittsburgh Pirates, this is a phrase that you undoubtedly hear every spring. Unfortunately, their hope is not to reach the World Series when saying this. Their hope is for something more mediocre: to finish about .500. For 20 years this goal has seemed so close, yet so far away. It’s been taunting fans ever since Sid Bream (SID BREAM!!!!!!!!!) beat the throw to home, stealing a chance at a World Series right out from under these beloved fans.
This year, however, the air is a little different in the Steel City. Hope seems like a legitimate feeling to have. No longer does the notion of 82 wins seem out of the realm of possibility. With a pitching staff lead by A.J. Burnett and an offense lead by all-stars Andrew McCutchen and Russell Martin, this year’s team fields some of the best major league talent this team has seen in years. The question areas lie within the youth of the organization.
The AAA Indianapolis Indians look to be loaded with young talent that helped to win a Eastern League AA title with the Altoona Curve several years ago. And with young talent such as Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon getting invited to spring training, the ceiling isn’t looking as low for this team as it has in years past. Let’s not underestimate the leadership of Clint Hurdle. Though he can be highly criticized for some of his in-game decision making, his leadership is what is needed in a town where upper management is not always in tune with what it takes to win games (i.e. spend money on quality players).
So, will this be the year that shatters two decades worth of heart attack, frustration, and apathy? Ask a Pirates fan and the answer will be “Absolutely!” Ask anyone else and the answer will be, “Don’t hold your breath.” The real answer lies somewhere in the middle.