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

The Latest

Pittsburgh Couples with Perfect New York City Proposals

Another city of bridges provided the perfect backdrop for these romantic engagements.

Millie’s Is on the Move, and Kevin Sousa Will Make Ice Cream for Dinner

Millie’s finds a new home in Homestead, and Kevin Sousa will host an ice cream dinner with OddFellows' Sam Mason at Superior Motors in Braddock.

See Crosby Delight Kenyan Hockey Team in Surprise Appearance

When you see the look on the Kenyan players' faces –– you can't help but smile.

Watch: Remembering Roberto in the 1971 World Series

Clemente was the series M.V.P. Enjoy highlights from Game 7 –– played on Oct. 17, 1971 –– complete with comments from Bob Prince in the broadcast booth.

Le Creuset Gets Cooking with First Pittsburgh Store

Located on the lower level of The Block Northway shopping mall in Ross Township, the store will host a weeklong grand opening celebration.

Return of the Ogee: Phipps Restores Historic Glass Architecture

For the first time since 1937 — and just in time for its 125th birthday — Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens is bringing back the curved glass peak, known as an ogee, that sits atop the heart of the conservatory.

Last to Buy a Ticket and She Gets Best Seat in the House

A lifelong fan buys a last minute, front-row seat to see Elton John in Pittsburgh, no scalpers needed.

Find the Devil in Gallery D at the Carnegie International

The 57th Carnegie International is now open, and with it the premiere of Alex Da Corte's "Rubber Pencil Devil."

Tango in the Taproom on Tuesdays

North Side pub will offer Tango Tuesdays where you can move to the music and take some dance lessons.

A Comedy about Coming Out: CMU Grad's New Film, “Lez Bomb”

Jenna Laurenzo's new film about a woman who brings her girlfriend home for Thanksgiving in an attempt to come out to her family will be featured at the Reel Q LGBT Film Festival on Saturday.

Leslie Odom Jr. Bringing “Hamilton” to the People

The “Hamilton” star will perform with Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra at Heinz Hall for a one-night-only concert perfect for those who may miss the musical in January.

6 Things You Need for a Successful Fundraiser

We asked local nonprofits to give us their best tricks and tips.

Sweet Spot: The Bakery that Serves Dessert with a Purpose

Wes Lyons and Amber Greene's Cakery Square serves its cupcakes with a side of youth empowerment.

Healing with Music in The Key of Community

A Mt. Lebanon resident and her friend create a nonprofit that aims to transform lives by sharing the arts through piano donations, community projects and educational programs.

Single Black Mothers: How One Woman Changed the Narrative

The traveling photo essay and video series created by Heather Hopson aims to change the narrative surrounding the negative stereotypes.