October 14th, 1992. 21 years ago.
The last Pittsburgh Pirates playoff game before the 2013 season.
October 1st, 2013. Tonight.
The Pittsburgh Pirates first playoff game since Game 7 of 1992 NLCS when Sid Bream of the Atlanta Braves made his iconic slide into home plate scoring the game winning run and beating the throw of left fielder Barry Bonds and subsequently the Pirates in the process.
The minds of Pirates fans permanently scarred ever since.
Tonight could wash all that away though. Tonight will be the first time in most of our lives that the Pittsburgh Pirates, THE Pittsburgh Pirates, will play in the postseason and complete the task that had been failed ever since the Braves and the Pirates walked off the field all those years ago. Tonight is the night that the Pittsburgh Pirates are officially reconnected with their city and change the perception about the organization for this generation.
The Steelers and the Penguins have become so integrated with the culture of our community due to the winning and the recognition nationally for the city that comes with it. All the hype and insanity around those organizations however have put the Pirates and baseball itself on the back burner and forgotten over the course of the last two decades.
It all ends tonight though.
The third time was the charm for manager Clint Hurdle as his team finished the job after late season collapses in 2011 and 2012. Perhaps it was experienced gain by the younger players after a few attempts, maybe it was the right acquisitions for veteran players at the deadline by General Manager Neal Huntington to put them over the top, or maybe it was just our time after 20 consecutive sub .500 seasons. But we’re here now and all that emotion, frustration, and now elation will spill out tonight in the Wild Card Game against the Cincinnati Reds ay 8:07.
Duquesne University is made up of thousands of students from all across the country who root for completely different teams for completely different reasons. Some of which for the Pirates and the others not so much, some of which might not even like baseball all together. All that is irrelevant though. The point of this blog entry is not to try and convert those who cheer other teams into diehard Bucs fans, or self-promote the euphoric feeling nearly every Pittsburgh has right now, or even bore non-baseball fans which a mushy sentimental piece. The point of this blog entry is to recognize a historical event. A historical event that touches the Pirates, baseball, sports in general, and even the city of Pittsburgh. This is a historical event that will occur for the first time in our lives for most and in memory for the rest.
We’ve never seen in before and we may never see it again.
It’s important to recognize how critical and how special the first pitch of tonight’s game in PNC Park will be amongst the sellout crowd and the blackout apparel. Seeing baseball being played in October under the lights and for something that lasts for all of eternity. Regardless of who you root for remember where you are when it happens, this is the kind of stuff that appears in history textbook and becomes the stories of legend long after we’re all gone.