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The Strange Life of a Pirate Fan

Aug 7, 2008 – 11:42 AM
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Pat Lackey

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Being a fan of the Pittsburgh Pirates has never been easy. My earliest memories of the team generally involve losing in the NLCS three straight years from 1990-1992 and things have been all downhill from there. With the team trudging towards tying the record for most consecutive losing seasons by an American sports franchise, it probably seems to most outsiders that being a Pirate fan can be boring. That's actually far from the case. The last two weeks have been incredibly strange for Pirate fans.

On July 26th, Xavier Nady was pulled out of that night's Pirates/Padres game and traded to the Yankees. He won the AL Player of the Week Award in his first full week in pinstripes. At the trade deadline, Jason Bay was traded to the Boston Red Sox and immediately went to work proving that Theo Epstein wasn't crazy to think he could replace Manny Ramirez in left field.

It's a really bizarre feeling seeing two guys watching play in black and gold suddenly light up the national stage with the two biggest franchises in all of baseball. In some ways, it's a weird form of validation of being a Pirate fan. For years, people have asked me why I keep watching, now there are two guys I can point to and say, "SEE! It's not all bad at PNC Park!" But of course, they're not there any more. It's easy to see that the team is rebuilding and I'm fully behind that because I think that it's finally being done right. That doesn't make it any easier to watch the national media rave over Jason Bay and wonder what it would be like if we could've put a team around him.

As if things weren't weird enough already, yesterday this Jeff Karstens guy takes the mound and throws 7 and 2/3 perfect innings in Arizona. I'm all about moderating my expectations when it comes to the Pirates and I didn't expect much from Karstens at all, but how do you ignore a guy that came within four outs of a perfect game? I've spent sixteen years trying to not be excited about things the Pirates do. Am I supposed to get my hopes up now?

And that's the position that Pirate fans are in right now. I've been watching Yankees and Red Sox games for two weeks, hoping that Xavier Nady and Jason Bay do well for themselves on the big stage. And I've been rooting for the young guys on our own team, regardless of whether the Pirates win or not. Last Saturday Andy LaRoche and Brandon Moss both hit home runs in an 8-5 Pirate loss and it felt like a step forward. It's been a very weird two weeks. I think we all need help.
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