I’ll admit it, I’m happy for Pittsburgh’s baseball fans ….

July 20, 2011 |

Admittedly, I am one of the most vigilant instigators when it comes to picking on Pittsburgh’s fans – especially of the Steelers variety. Part of it is envy, another part is disdain and well …. it’s just easy to do.

Yet, as we’re hopefully just a week away from the start of NFL training camps and the preliminary buildup of the season opener against Roethlisberger and company, I’m finding it very easy to be happy for Pittsburgh’s fans this morning.

Make that Pittsburgh Pirates fans …..

When it comes to long suffering supporters of baseball franchises, Pirates loyalists are absolutely the most tortured and resilient of the bunch. And, yes, this includes those of us who’ve suffered through 14 years of losing by the Orioles.

To see what’s happening in Pittsburgh, highlighted by these most recent successive shutouts of the Cincinnati Reds, is pretty uplifting. A crowd of 26,058 witnessed last night’s 1-0 win, at PNC Park. I wonder how often the Pirates have drawn 25,000+ for games in July, since PNC opened its gates a decade ago.

With a record of 51-44, the Pirates sit atop the NL Central by a half game over the Milwaukee Brewers. Will they win the division? I doubt it …..

But, it’s a great story for baseball and more importantly a fitting reward for a fan base that has endured an ownership group that merits an established track record of pinching pennies, auctioning young stars and pocketing luxury tax monies.

Indeed, the situation in Pittsburgh differs greatly to what we experience …..

I’m not understating, nor diminishing the plight of anyone who loves or supports the Baltimore Orioles. We, too, are an aggrieved collection of victims. But, if both franchises operated to maximum capability, the birds would be in a far better set of circumstances.

Am I rooting for the Pirates? Nope.

But, I am rooting for their fans.

And, don’t give me the whole “79 World Series blah, blah, blah ….” either. I lived through all 7 games and distinctly recall how a world championship slipped outta Memorial Stadium, due to losing the most important games.

Many things have changed in the 32 years following that dreadful choke job. To this day, I hate hats with stars and the Sister Sledge – thanks to that damn song !!!!

Baseball has changed greatly and Pirates fans have undoubtedly been neglected, exploited and abused. And, what they’ve experienced is not fair, nor justifiable.

The last time the Pirates mattered, Jim Leyland was puffing on cigarettes in the dugout, Marylander Denny Neagle was a rookie on the staff and Barry Bonds weighed about 175 pounds – soaking wet.

So, I can sit here and be happy for Pirates fans. I don’t like their teams and without any reservation, I will continue to loathe the Steelers.

But, Pittsburgh’s baseball fans deserve what they’re seeing …..