Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Extended Playoff Thoughts

I've had a full 24 hours to reflect on the Pirates clinching a playoff spot yesterday, but my feelings haven't evolved all that much.

This is something that I have waited for all of my life, quite literally.  I'm 25.  When the Sid Bream crossed the plate, though I was a living breathing thing...my ability to process any kind of sports was pretty limited at best.  I've been a season ticket holder since 2001, and during that time I have been to more games than I can count.  If I wasn't at the game, I was unquestionably watching the game on tv, the radio, or checking box score updates online.  That isn't to qualify my fandom, or try to one up other Pirate fans (well, maybe the bandwagon ones).  But most people who casually know me, but aren't particularly close to me know two things about me: I'm sarcastic, and I love the Pirates.  When your fandom becomes a defining aspect of your personality, it either means you've totally lost it, or it's really important to you.  Personally, I hope I can walk a fine line between those two.

But what does playoff baseball really mean.  I don't think we can really answer that until the regular season ends, and perhaps even after the post-season.  There is a lot to analyze about this team, and a lot of questions moving into the coming seasons.  Much of the rotation is made up of veteran acquisitions - can they be replaced internally or externally when the time comes?  Will Pedro Alvarez age gracefully in what should be his coming prime years, or will his contact issues make him unserviceable?  Will Jeff Locke bounce back from this end of season collapse?  Can some of the other young pieces continue to develop?

What I'm saying is that this could be the first step towards a run of division titles.  Or it could be a glorious season that ends up being the high water mark of the club.  Or somewhere in between.

But that doesn't matter right now.  For the first time in a long time, this isn't about what next season can look like.  It's about each and every game for the next week, and hopefully for a while after that.  Each pitch, each at bat matters.  And it's that sense of purpose, of no longer "waiting til next year" that make this experience magical.  This is a good team doing great things.  And no matter how the ride ends, it's been a great one.

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