In thinking about what to write my second post about, I’ve decided to take an approach slightly different than the family dynamic theme in the first and talk about another prominent feature of my life- sports. I love sports. All sports. Any sport. The sport where they sweep off the ice with the brooms in the Winter Olympics is awesome to me, as well as the more obscure practice of Ferret Legging. I have favorites though, none more so than Baseball.
The sport of baseball has not been good to me, at all- playing wise(I once endured an 0-22 little league season) or fan wise. Being born and raised in North Central West Virginia, the only Major League team with any proximity to my home is the Pittsburgh Pirates. If you’ve watched literally any of the Senior Circuit at any time between now and say, 1992(!!!), you know the Pittsburgh Pirates are the definition of futility. For the past two seasons the Bucs have been in contention for both the playoffs and a winning tally deep into the season, only to absolutely decimate those chances with no roster changes from the winning baseball formula in the dawn of the season. How can this happen, you say? It’s because they’re the Pirates. They have now set the record for most consecutive losing seasons in the history of American professional sports, which is considerably surprising after watching THIS team. I have been in a very one sided relationship with the Pirates for as long as I can remember (it’s constantly take-take-take my emotional stability with them,) with few bright spots.
The brightest spot of my time with the Pirates was on a dark, gloomy weeknight game in the midst of a 67-95 season in 2006. I had won tickets at my local pharmacy, so my father and I hit the road and trekked the 90 minute drive to PNC park to watch Jack Wilson, Jason Bay, and the rest of the Pirate “stars” (in my young mind) with a crowd of about 5,000. It was late in the game and fittingly, the hometown team was getting destroyed. My spirits dampened by the rain and score, a foul ball was struck down the line. Freddy Sanchez, (eventual batting title winner!) made eye contact with me as he fielded the ball. A few seconds later, it was sitting in my glove. I had just achieved the true American dream, acquiring a ball at a Major League game.
I tell that story for one simple reason- if that ball would have gone to any other person, my love for the Pirates would have been lost. I just couldn’t put up with the mediocrity any longer without a “spark” in the relationship. Heartbreak after heartbreak, the Pirates are finally putting out in this complicated relationship.
A feeling only comparable to the most satisfying sexual satisfaction, the Pirates are leading their division. They also have the most wins in all of baseball. You heard me- all of baseball. History tells us that no team 51-31 through the half-way point in the season has finished under .500. History will be written, no matter the outcome. If failing to come out on top, 21 straight losing seasons will once again enhance the already formidable record of 20 and they will be the first team to do so with such a great first half record. If the team comes out on top, a different story will be told. The record will be broken, fans will be out in droves, and I will witness the first winning season in my lifetime. The “foul” ball I caught was a symbol of the baseball that had been played for 20 years, and maybe- just maybe, it will finally be fair again.