The Red Sox come into Pittsburgh this weekend for a three-game set, and to many people’s surprise, it’s actually lining up to be a competitive series. As I’ve chronicled all year, the Pirates are staying competitive in the NL race at 37-37. The Red Sox, as most baseball fans likely know, are the hottest team in the league right now. After a slow start, they’re playing to the tune of 44-30 this season, best in the AL, and are averaging over five runs a game. They have turned into the juggernaut that everyone though they would be, with Adrian Gonzalez leading the way and making a lot of fans’ dreams come true with an MVP-esque performance. Neal Huntington, make sure you save a nice, cozy seat for Boston GM Theo Epstein, and listen to every … little … thing he has to say.
It’s going to be a series where we’ll see what the Pirates are really made of. Can they keep pace with the class of the league, one of the most storied franchises in baseball? The AL is undoubtedly the more dominant of the two leagues, and the Sox are the class of it. Traditionally, the Pirates perform poorly in interleague play, but that doesn’t say a whole lot — over the last 18 years, they’ve performed poorly against everyone. But this season is different; aside from an ugly sweep in Cleveland last weekend, the Bucco’s are holding their own against the other side of the force. They made quick work of Baltimore earlier this week, and took two of three from Detroit back in May. Those series help to build the current story — these aren’t your father’s Pirates, the not-so-lovable losers.
The Red Sox clout is going to overtake Pittsburgh this weekend in a crazy way. Remember the scene in Independence Day where Jeff Goldblum’s character finds his way to the roof of his NYC office building and discovers an alien ship towering over the city, consuming everything it flies over? That’ll be PNC Park this weekend. Red Sox fever is going to overtake the city in a way not seen since the Yankees came to town a few years back, and its understandable. The Sox are winners, they always have been, and they likely always will be. They know how to build a team, and they know how to scout amateur talent. Sure one might argue that they pay for their players, but it’s not entirely true. Jonathan Papelbon, Clay Buchholz, Jon Lester, Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis, and Jacoby Ellsbury are all home-grown players. Those players help to build the core of the Red Sox in the same way that Andrew McCutchen, Neil Walker, Paul Maholm, and Pedro Alvarez do for the Pirates.
But a lot of these fans that’ll come out to the game are the same ones that annoy me to no avail. They’re the ones that are going because it’s trendy to go see the Red Sox. A girl who works as a bartender for me (at my full time job with Ruby Tuesday) mentioned that she was going to one of the games this weekend. Obviously I grew intrigued; what’s more attractive than a pretty girl that loves baseball? But then she kept talking, “…Yeah I have this awesome shirt from Victoria’s Secret that’s all glittery and has the Red Sox logo on it, and it says ‘Pink’ on the sleeve!” Really? I wasn’t aware Victoria’s Secret overtook New Era as the go-to brand for baseball attire … Smh (that’s “shaking my head” for all of you non-text savvy folks).
Either way, and no matter the type of fan that comes out, it’ll be a fun weekend along the Allegheny River at PNC Park. We’ll get to see if the Pirates are for real, or if they’ll just be another blur in the Red Sox march. And again I stress Neal, keep a warm seat and a cold beer for Mr. Epstein, and take some pointers. Just don’t listen when he tries to sell you another minor league catcher with upside; Dusty Brown and Mike McKenry are more than enough.