When I was in middle school, I knew two baseball fans. Josh and David were the only kids who regularly donned Pirates gear. In fact, I’m pretty sure David even went to Opening Day during one of those three years.
The Pirates were awful back then. Everyone knew that. We were a football town with a baseball team, not to mention a hockey team stuck in a perpetual state of ‘what next?’
Fast forward ten years and Pittsburgh Pirates baseball has found its renaissance. From Andrew McCutchen down to Francisco Cervelli, Steel City baseball is back. Hockey is too. Football is actually our town’s least successful sport of the last few seasons and the Pirates would be leading pretty much any MLB division but their own. Talk about a flipped script!
Plenty of people are apologizing now for neglecting the Pirates before. They’re sorry they ignored the town’s ugly duckling and turned around to see a swan swimming in the Allegheny next to the Clemente Bridge. I may be alone here, but I just don’t think that’s necessary.
I grew up here. I watched Consol Energy Center, Heinz Field and PNC Park all open. I’ve seen two Super Bowl wins, lived through three Stanley Cup Championships and watched two black outs.
I have nothing to be sorry for.
Because in Pittsburgh, you’re a part of our soul. If you’re from here, whether you’re Brandon Saad, Megan Klingenberg or Neil Walker…we don’t care. We will always love you.
Our sports teams are the same. It doesn’t matter when it happens. When it happens we will be there, lawn chairs and pierogies in tow.
When the Penguins make the playoffs, there will be people carrying couches.
When the Pirates ask for a blackout, they’re going to get a blackout of 38,000+ fans with black jerseys.
And when the Bus made his last stop in Canton, Terrible Towels waved from all seven continents.
Because we don’t forget, no matter where we roam, even if it feels like it.
We don’t just forget a team during its lean years. Maybe that’s the biggest perk of every team wearing the same colors here. We are united. Like the Pirates used to say “We are family,” and even if you haven’t seen Auntie Muriel in five years you still love her because she’s family.
The Pirates hadn’t made the playoffs since I was two months old…but I still liked them because they were my city’s baseball team. If you’re a black and gold fan, you’re a black and gold fan, plain and simple. When one of your teams does well, you’re happy.
Really, being a Steel City sports fan is a lot like watching a baseball game. Sometimes there’s traffic, life and other things that keep you from seeing the first pitch. Sometimes, you’re forced to leave before the last out. Sometimes, you follow on Twitter, TV or the radio with the signal dipping in and out. But if you experience, in whatever way is right for you, the plays that come before you, you’re not doing it wrong. You have nothing to apologize for.