Last night was a rough one to be a Pirates fan. I've written a lot about the odd, awkward experience of playoff baseball, or playoff implications, being so incredibly foreign to my fandom.
Well last night it finally hit home. As I sat in PNC Park and watched the team fall apart in the 9th, things quickly reverted back to those feelings that became all too familiar over the past thirteen seasons. Billy Hamilton pinch running? He's going to steal second and there's nothing we can do. Next pitch - there he went. And then I knew it. This game was over. I had seen it dozens of times before, year after year. This is how, in the most unlikely of fashions, we could find some way to lose.
When Pedro Alvarez misplayed a hard grounder and both runners scored, the more casual fans around me groaned. Or swore. Or just stared silently at field. But I knew it was coming. I felt it coming. New, novel ways to lose winnable baseball games. That is what the last twenty years has been about for me. Except this time...it was different.
See, I've always been able to brush off those losses. "Shit, at least they're creative." It's not that I'm a naturally laid back guy. I'm not. But when something like that happens, what can you do but laugh. Except last night. Last night, it felt like every year, every game before. The losing the unlosable? Been there, done that. Except last night, for the first time I can really recall, it hurt. I couldn't laugh. I couldn't make some wisecrack. I just...sat there and stared at the field. Until it was time to go home.
If that is what watching a contender feels like, I feel like there should be some kind of warning label involved.