Man, it still doesn't even feel real. As I sit here not getting anything done but think about how intensely amazing tonight is going to be I can't help but look toward the future. How can I get all the work I need to get done on Thursday to make sure I don't miss the NLDS Game 1 preview show? How can basically do no work on Friday when MLB decided that 1 p.m. was a great start time for NLDS Game 2? When I am on the road on Sunday driving back from being on the road (with work) how am I going to get the radio broadcast of NLDS Game 3?
All of these things are running through my mind today and the Pirates aren't even in the NLDS. You know what though, that's OK. I am a fan and while it would have been seen as a fantasy that the Pirates would even be close to the playoffs and the Wild Card but here we are. So why can't I fantasize about the Pirates playing in the NLDS? That is a must more realistic now than the playoffs were before the season.
I am not sure that I have still really let it sink in what has been going on. I was talking with my mom a little while ago and while she doesn't talk a bunch of sports with me she has been swept up in the Pirates. Text messages during every game and talking about how awesome it is. She was telling me that when I was little and would watch Pirate games I would draw pictures of the team and I would always have Jay Bell in the pictures. Jay Bell is probably my favorite Pirates player ever. I idolized him as a kid. All of this stuff is happening and for some reason I have still not really had a chance to put it all together into a reasonable understanding.
Don't get me wrong, I understand what is going on and my excitement level is through the roof. Still, when you are beaten down as a fan as much as Pirates fan have been I don't think it's out of the realm of reason to say that things like this, as a situation that was pretty far fetched at the beginning of the season, could take a while to rationalize. I think that is where I am at now.
It will sink in. When I have the TV on TBS probably watching some awful rerun of Meet The Browns an hour before the pregame show in hopes that the game might start sooner than advertised it will kick in. The first view of the field with the Postseason paint down the first and third base line will help. The first show of the field back from commercial break when the Pirates take the field will probably do it. Pitch one will do it. The first roar of the crowd when Andrew McCutchen goes shopping in one of the gaps at PNC Park will most certainly do it. All of these things will culminate in what the playoffs are like. I was seven the last time this stuff happened last and while I do remember some of it, I was seven years old.
I have grown up with the success of the Steelers and Penguins and it hasn't really made these types of feelings necessary. I was at Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals in Detroit and watching the Penguins win their third Cup. I was at Heinz Field when Troy Polamalu picked off Joe Flacco and took it to the house on the way to a Super Bowl. I have never even come close to experiencing something like this with the Pirates. That time is now.
Baseball has always been my top sport. Sure, I love football and hockey and they are great in their own respect but there is nothing like going to the ballpark to watch a baseball game. That's maybe what makes this so surreal for me. I started this blog a long time ago and my first real post (outside of the welcome post) was talking about the Nate McLouth trade. Thinking about times back then and then thinking about now makes me appreciate the journey. It wasn't always pretty and it wasn't always fun (actually it was rarely fun) but right now it is fun. No, it's awesome. It's amazingly awesome.
I have been trying to keep things in perspective a little bit and really enjoy this. As I have aged (much more than my real age would say) I have been a lot less invested in the wins and losses. They used to ruin my day and upset me but there is a lot more in life. The Pirates are different. They are my team and the playoffs, after 21 years, are what baseball should be about. It has been increasingly difficult today to focus on anything else but being excited for the Pirates. People have come up to me, called me, texted me, to say how awesome it must be right now with the Pirates. I tell everyone the same thing. It is. I have more of a vested interested in the Pirates than many other things and while it might not ruin the rest of the given week if they lost tonight, or in the NLDS, or in the NLCS, or in the World Series it would still suck a lot. The Pirates have had a great season regardless of what happens from here on out but once you get into the playoffs you are one of the best teams in the league so why not win it all?
Coming down off all that, here is some stuff about the game tonight, because, THE PIRATES ARE PLAYING IN THE PLAYOFFS TONIGHT!!!!
The Pirates named their Wild Card playoff roster. Nothing too exciting here:
Here is the schedule for the rest of the playoffs.
This game is really going to come down to the starting pitchers. Johnny Cueto and Francisco Liriano are both really, really good. I assume this is going to be a low scoring game and this one is a game you can easily envision this game being decided by the bullpen. If you have the idea that one team might come out slugging then you might be in for a rude awakening. I mean either team could but I assume that most of us are going to be on the edge of our seats and holding our breath on every pitch. I hope my heart and sanity holds out.
Remember if you are going to the game tonight wear black. You should already know this but if you don't know, now ya know.