Thankfully we're entering the home stretch with the wedding, finally think we found an apartment that has everything we are looking for at a great price point, and of course the cardboard itch is coming back.
Ironically, this all happens while the Pirates are in the middle of the best season in far, far too long. In all honesty, I'm still adjusting to the idea of competitive baseball. And with the Steelers looking to be rebuilding and the Pens coming off a disappointing, but successful, season, it seems all the casual sports fans are once again flocking back to the Pirates. Sadly the stadium hasn't been filled with a new fleet of McCutchen and Burnett jerseys, but rather an array of girls in Victoria Secret Pirate tshirts that appear to be about the same thickness as Hulk Hogan's tear away tshirts and frat guys in backwards baseball caps. So is the price of winning, I suppose. But I must say that for all the misery, errant throws into the stands, and botched baserunning over the past two decades, it was glorious to never have to deal with fair weather fans. The seas were consistently stormy through those years.
But this season has also brought up some interesting connections. For the team to be historically bad for such an extended period, it will be interesting if the "streak" will be bookended by playoff appearances. Of course I can't imagine any playoff loss being more heartbreaking than Sid Bream's death blow to the Bucs.
And the team is not without some connection to that '92 team. Jay Bell joined the team as hitting coach this season, and though I am hesitant to ever put too much blame or praise on a coach or managed, he was a well regarded candidate before getting the job. Bob Walk was a starter in '92. Now he's a broadcaster whose Ban the DH campaign has won a piece of my heart. Even during the worst years, Walk was always good for a laugh with his honest, hilarious analysis. Watching mlb.tv earlier in the season made my appreciate his style, since most broadcast booths are dedicated to the continuous praise of the parent club, regardless of performance.
Really, the only thing missing is the voice of the team. Longtime broadcaster Lanny Frattare left the team unceremoniously after the 2008 season. For most of my life, Lanny was the Bucs. His voice was the only constant as a revolving cast of characters put on the black and gold.
This season is only a reminder that "there was nooooo doubt about it."