Times are changing in the Steel City. What once was labeled “The city of champions … and the Pirates” has now turned into a baseball town with the recent success of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Let’s face it, though, Pittsburgh has always been a baseball town, but there has not been much baseball to celebrate over the last 20 years.
Look no further than manager Clint Hurdle for the Pirates’ resurgence. John Russell was relieved of his duties from 2008-10. Russell was a manager who filled out the lineup card and whatever happened, so be it. Rarely, would anyone see any life or emotion from him. Russell has a job that is suited for him as the Baltimore Orioles bench coach.
Hurdle is the exact opposite of Russell. Hurdle, from day one, demanded much more of his players and preached accountability. Hurdle has brought a winning mentality back to the city of Pittsburgh. The Pirates no longer talk about the future, they talk about how the future is now. Hurdle is known for his witty quotes and having his players’ backs.
Last season, the Pirates sparked interest for half a season before collapsing down the stretch. However, that half a season was good enough to ignite a city into thinking maybe the Pirates are back. The Pirates saw a spike in attendance and interest.
Flip forward a year, and Hurdle has a team many thought would be lucky to be .500 in contention for a playoff spot.
Hurdle’s contract runs out after the 2013 season. It is time for the Pirates front office to offer an extension to the man who has helped make the Pirates relevant again. Hurdle’s game tactics may come under question sometimes, but there is no questioning his ability to get the most of his players and keep them motivated.