The Lament of a Pittsburgh Pirates Fan

I felt some movement around me, and was only partially aware that there was a voice.
"I see there is a new member here today. Would you like to share?"
It took me a moment to realize she was talking to me.
I slowing came out of my thousand yard stare and began to rise.
"Hi, I'm Eric. And I'm a Pittsburgh Pirates Fan", I started in monotone.
"Hello, Eric" came the robotic reply from the rest of group.
"It's been three years since I last saw a post season.". I looked up to see some sympathetic nods around the circle.
"Last year we did break 500", I made a weak smile and straighten a bit, and then, remembering, I slumped. "But, the last few games were really rough on me."
I heard a snicker and then a loud, "What did you expect?!"
I felt the heat of anger rise up in me and turned to meet his eyes.
They were tired, sad and full of pain. My anger quickly faded, and I gave him a look of understanding.
He was the oldest here. One of the Originals. A founding member.
He had been present in the Good Ole' Days of the 70's when the Pirates book-ended the decade with World Series wins in '71 and '79.
He had also witnessed the lost generation, when the Pirates never got above 72 wins. Losing 100 games in 2001 and 105 in 2010.
I couldn't be angry, I understood. I was the new guy, he had suffered longer.

All eyes were on me now as I glanced around. Slowly I continued:
Monday night was tough, after the other guys hit that grand slam to go up 4 runs in the 10th, I was the only Pirate fan left in my section.
I was completely surrounded by the enemy in my own ball park. I felt abandoned by the team and my friends.
Then the Buccos made a strong comeback. Scoring 3 quick runs. I thought there was a chance we could pull off a late victory, only to lose by 1 with a man in scoring position.
I was back for more the next game. And we found ourselves down by one run again.
But this time we had the bases loaded with no outs!
Only it was the same outcome.

I have told myself over and over again that this is just a game and the team's win or loss does not personally affect me.|
And the sun has always risen the next day.
So for now on I will treat each day at the ballpark as a good day.

I'll celebrate the wins and lament the losses, always looking for the next opportunity to improve.

I will continue to shout Let's Go Bucs! even if I am the only one.

I will continue to suffer the slings and arrows of not only misfortune, but name calling and threats.
Not just from fans of other teams; but, surprisingly, from my own compatriots.

I am a season ticket holder, and will go to as many games as possible.
This continues to take up a good percentage of our recreation budget and incurs the cost of travel, parking, concessions and even tips.
And since I actually attend games, I am a "Sheeple", "Nutting Apologist/Lover", "Unrealistic" or simply "Part of the problem".

I will make observations and form opinions.
I am an engineer and consultant by trade, and that's what we do.
And because of that I "am Not a True Fan", "am Uninformed", "Don't Pay Attention" or, again, "Part of the problem".

To me, these seem to be logical things to do as a fan.
We should attend the games we can, watch whenever possible and support the players.
We should second guess (complete with the benefit of hindsight) when things go wrong:
'I would have played X in that spot, because of Y.'
We should congratulate ourselves when things go according to plan:
'He made the right move, because that is what I would have done.'

These can make us feel like we are part of the team, even though we have never taken the field.
Look at how often we say, We Won or We Lost.

What is annoying to me is when I hear, "Your Pirates Lost" from someone who has stated that this is their team.
That is something I need to work on, because I have, in all honesty, questioned their loyalty/fandom in my head.

There is a lot of baseball left, and in the coming weeks (and months) we will see great wins and heart-breaking losses.
Together we will ride this emotional roller-coaster, and all I ask is if you would consider the other Pirate Fan's expression/opinion as simply that, and not an affront against you or your personal assessment.

I will never engage in name calling, threats or ad-hominem attacks against anyone.
And I will endeavor to do better at treating fans (at all levels) as they would like to be treated.
I'll thank everyone for doing the same.

Posted in Home Life.

8 Comments

    • I do too. I hope they take the game as serious as the fans, and I believe they do, but it can at times be difficult to understand their motivations.

  1. There are only a few (thousand) true fans who watch daily and root the Pirates to the last out. I just wish i lived closer so i could be one of those problems fans that attend more games.

  2. You’re brilliant. You’re creative and your lament was heart-reaching and mood-changing. I feel protective of “people of all levels” and want to encourage them to never disrespect anything Pittsburgh and above all, never give up. You see, I’m one of the old-timers you mentioned. My friends and I were in the transistor radio era and would entertain ourselves in our small town along the Allegheny where we would listen to Bob Prince keep us informed and shared up to the second plays. Beat ‘me Bucs , The Bucs are going all the way and How sweet it is! Envy me. This is how I spent many hours in my hometown of Aspinwall. It really happened, as a Pirates fan, I know it will happen again. Thank you for taking the time to write this. And remember, PNC ballpark is the best and the hot dogs can’t be beat and neither can the fans.

    • You are very kind, thank you.
      And thank you for your inspiration and sharing your memories.
      Encouragement and a Never give up attitude is what is needed, and I appreciate your efforts.
      I certainly agree that PNC is the best ballpark with some incredible fans!

  3. OUTSTANDING piece of journalism. Years ago, before 2016, I wrote a piece about a Cub’s fan trying to explain to her young nephew that, “no, post season and world series aren’t for us. We are Cub fans. It doesn’t happen for us.” My Cub fan readers empathized, the Cardinal fans loved it.” I have always had trouble putting down the Cubs, even though I am from southern Illinois. I am a Pirate fan, we are worse than the Cubs. I am older than your oldest member. I used to listen to the 1950s Pirates on KDKA Radio, (We lived in Clairton for a year.) After 1960, things went down hill util 1970, but I still would sit by my bedroom window trying to coax KDKA into my parent’s clock radio. I didn’t care about the pennant race, I just wanted the Pirates to win TONIGHT. I was crushed when they didn’t and I was jubilant when they did. I live over 100 miles from St. Louis and Chicago. It is a major time and financial operation to see the Bucs play. Four years ago they beat Lester at Wrigley Field! The same year I made my first trip to PNC Park. Seventeen innings against the Diamond Backs and the Bucs won. It was like I was being rewarded for all of my years of faithful suffering. I don’t know why I am so disgusted with the post All-Star implosion. I am 72 years old, the games don’t help my blood pressure, but if I thought there was a chance they would win, but right now, I don’t want to even get my hopes up. They take a lead, they lose a lead. The opening pitcher does a good job, if he survives the first inning, and then the bull pen falls apart, walking the lead off hitter, giving up a hit, and/or a home run. If they rally, it falls short. Baseball used to be three hour escape from an all too crazy world. I wish I could just not care, but since 1956, I haven’t been able to. Great column though. Thanks for sharing.

    • Thank you for your reply and high praise. I really needed it today.
      I know it has been a rough go for the Cubs in the past. Recent years have been kinder.
      I understand your not wanting to put down the Cubs. I don’t like to disparage any team, and I certainly wouldn’t want to belittle or insult another teams fan.
      Although I do believe in a little rivalry. Just because I may respect the other team, doesn’t mean I don’t want my team to win 😁
      Thank you so much for sharing. I love to reminisce, and I can hear/feel your enthusiasm. I was at the Diamondbacks game on August 18, 2015 if that is the game you are referring to. What a night!
      Love to see that passion again.
      Stay strong, and thank you so much for reading my little missive and for your kind reply.

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