A fast start means nothing: Pirates fans get a grip

I’ve been a Pirates fan for over 18 years now. I’ve endured some of the most boneheaded trades in franchise history and have witnessed more “our minor league system will save us” press conferences than any fan should have to.

The Pirates claim right, I believe, to the most brutal streak of losing and incompetence in sporting history – and, yes, this goes beyond simply referencing 18-straight losing seasons. The Curse of the Great Bambino? Forget about it! The Red Sox had their chances at winning through the years. The Pirates? They’ve been sabotaged by the owners through the years. As a fan, it is a desperate and hopeless feeling.

However, there is a slight and very dim ray of hope thus far in the season. Pittsburgh currently rests one game above .500 (5-4) and have fared surprisingly well in the pitching department. Obviously, some of the more naïve Pittsburgh faithful are starting to get up in arms about this. I never really put much stock or credence into this until I ran across an article today written by one of those naïve Pittsburgh fans stating that: “If the Pirates can have a winning record going into May maybe, just maybe, I will finally get to see what real playoff baseball is about.”

Are you kidding me? A winning record into May? I hope this person realizes that the baseball season stretches much farther into the year after the month of May concludes. Even if the Pirates are well above .500 at the end of May, the still-questionable rotation still begs for a collapse of epic proportions.

The rotation is a who’s who of baseball pitching. The lineup is full of yet to be proven young (but hopefully rising stars). And the Pirates have a first-year manager. The pieces may certainly be in place, but they are yet to be connected. Is this the year that it happens? Well, I can certainly hope. But, I am by no means taking a playoff appearance to the bank. I am still not even sold on a winning season.

Simply put, one easily turns into a cynic after 18 miserable and ugly years of so-called professional baseball. A respectable start (I refuse to call it “good”) only a week or so into the season absolutely does not unwind 18 years of anguish, anger, pessimism and confusion.

However, if the Pirates find themselves above the .500 mark at the All-Star break, I may start to change my tune. Why? Because, simply, that would mean the rotation has what it takes to carry the team. I’m certainly not seeing any 15-to-20 game winners on the staff but, as a unit, there is a glimmer of optimism. By staying intact and being competitive through the All-Star break, the rotation will have done more than enough to prove its worth.

So, no, I don’t buy into the “this is our year” line that many other bloggers, fans, dreamers and wishers are throwing around. There is a lot of baseball left to be played, which means there is a lot of room for failure and crushing defeats.

Get back to me at the All-Star break and we’ll talk.

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