Wednesday, September 24, 2014

And now a brief pause for shameless rooting

Excuse me here while I trade bipartisanship for partisanship (which makes me fun at parties inside the Beltway), and sober analysis for a little here's-some-bubbly-in-yer-eye.

My baseball team is in the playoffs. Again.

My baseball team, aka, the Pittsburgh Pirates is a proud organization of intermittent standing that gave the world Honus Wagner, to reach way back, and also Ralph Kiner and Pops Stargell and Manny Sanguillen. And let's not forget the greatest Pirate of all, Roberto Clemente -- the closest thing to Baryshnikov baseball will ever see, and also the finest rightfielder I ever saw.

  The Bucs went through 20 years of hell, and also distinct mortals such as Tim Laker, Abraham Nunez and Kevin Polcovich, before finding their mojo (and also their Andrew McCutchen) and reaching the playoffs last year. Now they've done it again, beating Atlanta last night to clinch at least a wild card.

I say "at least" because now they're just 1 1/2 games behind St. Louis in the NL Central, and coming like a freight train. This does not displease me, being no particular fan of the Cardinals' smug self-assurance. Of course, it would be more fun if their manager was still Mr. Smug Self-Assurance himself, Tony LaRussa, but we Pirates fans will take what pleasures we can after two decades in the Wilderness of The Missed Cutoff Man.

It was, to undercook it, a long dry run. And now that it's over, there is, yes, elation, but also a curious nostalgia for bad baseball past. It's a nostalgia which makes making the playoffs two years in a row seem a trifle mystic, an uncertain reality which I keep expecting to blow away at the slightest puff of wind.

But I checked the boxscore this morning, and Tim Laker wasn't in it. Neither were Abraham Nunez, Kevin Polcovich, Chance Sanford or Doug Strange. And, no, that wasn't Ricardo Rincon trotting in from the bullpen, gasoline can in hand.

So I guess this is real. Pass the bubbly.


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