Go ahead. Speak the words out loud, even if no one else is around, even if you feel a little foolish.
The Pittsburgh Pirates are in first place.
Nah, come on, that was lousy. Try it again, this time with the energy of Andrew McCutchen rounding second on his way to a triple.
The Pittsburgh Pirates are in first place!
Well now, how does that feel?
You know, I remember writing last August, while the Pirates were pathetically pushing their way to 105 losses, that I had run out of adjectives. I had used just about every abysmal, awful, wretched, wickedly horrific adjective by that point, and my thesaurus was running on empty.
I’m that way now, too, but it’s for a wholly different reason.
With his 83-pitch gem tonight in Houston, Jeff Karstens just passed Roy Halladay for third on the National League ERA list. McCutchen is a legitimate rising star. Joel Hanrahan is baseball’s best closer. The fresh-faced top of the order in Alex Presley and Chase d’Arnaud has finally given the offense its needed spark. Ten guys are on the disabled list making $15 million, but someone named Mike McKenry, who looks like he should be bagging your groceries, hits the biggest home run in PNC Park history.
Honestly, I’m not interested in projections anymore. Mine were wrong. Yours were wrong. Everyone’s were wrong. I’ve given up trying to figure out when Karstens is going to tire, when Hanrahan is going to go Washington wild again, when Neil Walker will stop coming up with big hits, when the Pirates are going to look in the mirror and see the glass crack again.
I’m just taking it in. I’m taking in the team’s enthusiasm, its pitching, its overall improvement in other areas, and I’m taking in that kid walking down Sixth Street this afternoon Downtown with a T-shirt that read: “I was a PIRATES fan before it was cool.”
Say it out loud, Pittsburgh. And enjoy it.