Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Playoff Baseball a Far Cry From What Pirates Delivered in 2017

Instead of Buc-tober, they left us with a reminder of how fast and how far they had fallen.



Embed from Getty Images

Postseason baseball is back in all its glory, making a triumphant return on Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium for the AL Wild Card Game and reminding us in the process why October is magical.

The only more appropriate venue would have been the old Yankee Stadium, but this was close enough.

A Bronx crowd in full throat. Emotion so intense it permeated the TV screen. The intensity of a Game 7 –– Wild Card Games are a captivating, cut-to-the-chase impersonation of the same –– and the prerequisite hanging on every pitch, every swing, every routine grounder, every rocket shot and every long foul ball as if, in that particular instant, nothing else mattered.

Here in Pittsburgh, it’s getting harder to remember what that looked like, what that smelled like, what that felt like.

As recently as October of 2015, the Pirates were knee deep in it. It was Mardi Gras on Federal Street. The establishments around PNC Park were overflowing. The Pirates were in the postseason for the third straight season and this time they’d arrived after having made a six-month argument that they were perhaps the best team in baseball.

Then Jake Arrieta happened.

The Pirates still haven’t recovered.

They never made it to Buc-tober this time.

They didn’t last year, either.

What they left us with instead in 2017 was a reminder of how fast and how far they had fallen.

The Pirates followed up 2016’s 78-win disappointment by winning three fewer games.

And their fall from grace was on full display in their final PNC Park appearance this season, an otherwise meaningless hosting of the Orioles on Sept. 27.

It included the announced crowd of 24,779 rising, not as one but eventually, section by section, to afford Andrew McCutchen a standing ovation prior to his first at-bat. The announced crowd appeared to credibly assess the number of people actually in attendance (bucking a recent trend). The attraction this time was presumably the distinct possibility that it might have been McCutchen’s last appearance at PNC Park in a Pirates uniform.

It included Starling Marte throwing the ball where he shouldn’t have again (ironically, to the cutoff man) and allowing an extra base to be taken (second base, where the throw should have gone in the first place).

It included Gregory Polanco dragging a .251 average and 34 RBI to the plate for his first at-bat (in a way-too-little, way-to-late gesture, Polanco homered; make that 35 RBI as of Sept. 27).

It included Marte appearing in the batter’s box in the third with a .246 average and 28 RBI.

The Pirates’ PNC farewell even included Clint Hurdle replacing Chad Kuhl with Jack Leathersich in the top of the sixth and then replacing Leathersich with Edgar Santa after just one batter. Hurdle was managing like it was a Game 7, apparently grasping that this was as close as he was going to get.

It ended with a fly out to McCutchen, a 5-3 victory that was appreciated and yet still left everyone wanting.

And wondering if there was any reason to legitimately expect much more from the Pirates next season.

The Minnesota Twins’ presence in the AL Wild Card Game on Tuesday night offered some hope, if not any tangible evidence that the Pirates’ playoff hiatus might yet be temporary.

The Twins won 59 games last season.

And the Twins traded their closer at the trade deadline this season.

And yet there they were, hanging in there for a while against the mighty Yankees on the type of October night that made it easier to appreciate that in baseball, anything truly is possible.

The Pirates have that, at least, to cling to while watching the rest of the postseason from afar.
 

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow TagsEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The Latest

5 Great Ways to Enjoy Picklesburgh

The city’s fourth annual pickle festival will feature more food, more music and even pickle-inspired beers.

Wow Factor: Empty Nest Inspires Timeless Makeover

When her last child graduated from college, Ingrid Meenen did something she had been wanting to do for 20 years — renovate the first floor of her Upper St. Clair home.

Perfect Proposals that Flashed Back to First Dates

Return to your roots before your relationship blooms into a beautiful marriage.

Three of Pittsburgh’s Green Spaces Nominated for National List

Some of the city’s parks could earn a spot on the National Register of Historic Places by 2020. So why should you care?

Watch: Mister Rogers' Wonderful Sense of Humor

We stumbled upon this old clip of Fred Rogers' appearance on “The Late Show with David Letterman” in February of 1982. It includes an amusing clip in which Mister Rogers loses a wrestling match with a tent.

Stop Using Uber and Lyft, Renting a Bike is Better

You'll save money and have an easier time hopping between neighborhoods on a Healthy Ride bicycle.

America’s “Gratest” Celebration of Cheese is Coming to Pittsburgh

Sample cheese of every rind during the American Cheese Society’s annual Festival of Cheese.

The 400-Word Review: Skyscraper

If you want "Die Hard" with half the brains but three times the building, the new Dwayne Johnson flick will do a passing job.

A Pop-Up Bar in Pittsburgh that Serves a Sober Alternative

Empath provides the vibe and social space of a bar, as well as stepped up beverage service ... without the alcohol.

Watch: 12 Questions with WTAE's Sally Wiggin

The WTAE anchor was voted Best Journalist by readers of Pittsburgh Magazine. She answers 12 random questions ranging from her most memorable vacation to who should portray her in a movie.

Tax Credit Brought Mister Rogers Flick to Pittsburgh

The granting of the credit means the majority, if not most of the movie starring Tom Hanks, will indeed be shot in the Pittsburgh area.

Compelling World Cup Worth a Periodic Embrace

The competition is as fierce as the fans are passionate and both can be appreciated without a firm grasp of the details.

Jeff Goldblum Day is Causing a Stir in the ’Burgh

Local venues will be celebrating the native actor Friday with Goldblum-themed merchandise and events.

Willow Restaurant in the North Hills Lands a New Chef

Aaron Allen comes to Willow by way of 2-star Daniel in New York City. Plus, Greta Harmon joins the staff of the Ohio Township hideaway as the restaurant's new bar manager.

Pittsburgh Developer Offers Location for Riverfront Swings

A developer in the South Side may fulfill KDKA anchor Ken Rice’s wish for shaded benches along the city’s riverfronts.