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Wakeup Call: A crowd to remember

Some sporting thoughts before sunrise …

>> I have a feature this morning on the Pirates’ improved defense, particularly as it relates to the players’ delight that they’re no longer doing those ridiculous shifts from last year.

>> The size of the crowd, 22,016, was impressive enough on a rainy Monday night, no promotions, no marquee opponent, just a … you know, baseball game.

But that’s not really what struck me. Rather, it was how intensely involved they were even from the lineup intros to the Anthem to a rare two-strike clap in Pittsburgh. All attention was on the field. It was remarkable.

Here’s a video of my asking Daniel McCutchen about that and the overall pitching. (With special cameo from Alex Presley.)

Anyway, let me ask you, as well: Anyone who attended the game, by all means, speak up about what you saw and heard in the comments below.

>> Let me be blunt about this: I couldn’t care less which national media outlet, broadcast or print, is paying attention to the Pirates. In fact, however little you might think I care, subtract a ton from that.

I swear, nearly half the correspondence I’m getting from readers is about ESPN, USA Today or whoever.

I know we have a general problem in Pittsburgh with wondering whether people like us. I’m guilty of that myself, having read nearly every article on the planet during the G-20 Summit. But really, this is black and white: The Pirates are in first place. All alone. They’re drawing large, enthusiastic crowds.

What on earth will you hear from a cubicle in Bristol, Connecticut, that makes you feel better about that?

>> Tony Watson was terrific in throwing 2 2/3 innings, and that crowd gave him a nice ovation coming off, especially down behind the dugout.

Here’s what you didn’t see: From what Charlie Morton told me afterward, Watson warmed up in the bullpen three times the previous day in Houston. In normal circumstances, you wouldn’t use him at all the next day, let alone three innings.

>> I asked Morton how he came back the long rain delay and, in his distinct way, he looked at me as if I’m nuts and answered, “Did you see our schedule coming up? I had to. I had to do that for the team.”

As he told me that, coach Euclides Rojas interrupted to give Morton a warm embrace, then walked off without saying a word.

That’s what first place looks like.

Comments

  1. Ed says:

    I was at the game tonight in section 329. There were 10,000 people there at the end of the game, and I’d say there was more excitement in the air then than when you’ve had a sellout crowd who were all there to see Skyblast.

  2. pipecock says:

    I keep getting lucky in choosing games to attend this year. 14 innings W against Rockies, 12 inning W against Philly, the McKenry HR game, and now tonite (with a bunch of other Ws sprinkled in with only maybe 2 Ls) which was just wonderful. I’ve sat through long rain delays when we were not good, this one stayed good even after over 2 hours. People just were not interested in going home! Nice energy at PNC these days, weekend or weekday, rain delay or no. It’s really something to behold. I remember one foul weather type game earlier this season during a Pens playoff game, there had to be less than 2000 people in the seats. No lines at the concession stands, empty bathrooms on the main concourse (seriously not a soul aside from me in there the entire time!), etc. What a turnaround!!!

  3. dschomburg says:

    Those ridiculous defensive shifts last season drove me nuts. The Pirates were already a laughingstock last year, without adding that in. Glad to see the shifts gone and our young Buccos playing inspired D.

  4. Normally I have to go to other ballparks to see a crowd solely there to watch the baseball game: Boston, Cleveland, Anaheim… what have you.

    Now I’m seeing it in Pittsburgh. Those 22,000 last night were not there for something to do on a Summer night, they were there to watch the game and cheer a winning ball club. That’s a huge shift from normal PNC Park crowds.

    What stuck out for me was the enthusiasm from the crowd in support of Morton when the Reds had the bases loaded (both before and after the delay). When have you ever seen a PNC Park crowd cheering so loud for their pitcher in the FIRST INNING of a ballgame?

  5. Matt H. says:

    The crowd was like a sold-out crowd in intensity. We all knew that every game matters now. I was sitting close to the Reds dugout where there is mostly Reds fans and after they went down 2-0 they were pretty much dead and Pirates fans just took over even more. It was a great atmosphere overall.

  6. Brendan says:

    And in terms of defensive efficiency the Pirates have improved from 30th to 10th as of the 17th of July:

    http://www.baseballprospectus.com/sortable/index.php?cid=975507

    Two of the biggest single season turnarounds, the 1991 Braves and 2008 Rays, did so in large part because they also jumped from worst to first in that very statistic.

  7. Jared says:

    Sat up in 317 tonight, just under the press box (which served as an excellent shelter from the weather). The crowd was, without mincing words, “raucous” in the first inning, willing Charlie to get through that inning. I personally loved the ovation given to Josh Harrison after his barehanded fielding of a bunt down the third base line. And twice Tony Watson had to make quality plays to effectively “field his position.” Great game by him and the crowd clearly recognized the effort he put out there.

    In the first, while the lightning strikes were going off around the Park, I mentioned to my brother that this must have been what the game was like at the end of The Natural. As a youngin’, I always felt that movie was unrealistic because no one would let a baseball game go one with lightning striking that near to the ball park. But there we were, enjoying the Pirates with thunderclaps in the background and an excited crowd in the stands. My brother humming the soundtrack from The Natural. Eerily, almost cinematically, awesome. Then that bolt struck behind the UPMC building, freaked out Miguel Cairo, sent the players running, and shattered the moment.

  8. Ron J says:

    DK I am the biggest pirate fan since the late 60′s . My best memory in life is listening to pirates games with my grandfather now I love watching games with my grandson . HOW BOUT THOSE BUCCOOOS

  9. DavedigsDKsBlog says:

    El Toro homered for the second straight game on Monday.

    He also went 3-for-4 and is 5-for-8 the past two games.

  10. pghboyinca says:

    If Alvarez hits for 2 more consecutive games bring him up while his confidence is high as long as they are not facing abrutal lefty. We are living on borrowed time with the Wood, Harriosn dynamic duo at third. Morton was magnificent and we really need him to regain his earlier form. I am running out of words for Pressly, he is superman. Watson, Hanrahan? Again how can you describe that performance? Great game and nice start to a home stand.

  11. Jamie says:

    Excellent atmosphere all night. Was down in 107. Warned Dejan on Twitter about the lightning behind the press box and next thing you know boom.. the players go scurrying off the field. You knew the diehards were sticking around all night and the casual fans would be the ones leaving in the 3rd inning and thats exactly what happened.

    Only thing I was disappointed about was the lukewarm reaction to Watson leaving the game. The entire ballpark should have been on their feet for that effort but I only noticed the section immediately above the dugout give him a standing O. Mostly everyone sitting around me was silent as he walked off the mound.

    Also must mention how fun it was watching Aroldis Chapman pitch live. The sound of the ball hitting the catcher’s mitt, the constant looks up to the auxiliary scoreboards after every pitch. Josh Harrison was basically one step away from John Kruk/Randy Johnson in that At-Bat.

    Be back there Wednesday.. curious to see how that crowd will be with a 12:30 start and heat indexes near 100.

    Jamie

  12. EvilSam says:

    I sat in 119 last night in previous years after 2 rain delays the park would have been empty by the end of the ssecond. Not last night. Not this year.

  13. Thundercrack says:

    “That’s what first place looks like.”

    Awesome!

    Going to the game tonight, and using a vacation day to go on Wednesday afternoon.
    Can’t wait!

  14. Thundercrack says:

    Great video with Daniel McCutchen. He may get my vote for most under-rated valuable player of the season.

  15. SkillieMischief says:

    BattinBucs!!!! …. Im having so much fun watchin these guys find different ways to win each night. It’s truly amazing how many different guys have stepped up to make this team a winner. Who cares about national coverage when.. What’s that the Bucs are on ESPN Mon. Night? Woohooo!!!

  16. JAL says:

    Some Fire and rain Morning Links

    GENERAL DAILY UPDATED BASEBALL SITES

    MLB Transactions

    http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/transactions

    MLB Trade Rumors-Pirates

    http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/pittsburgh_pirates/

    Pirates Prospects

    Draft Picks Signing Tracker

    http://players.piratesprospects.com/2011-pittsburgh-pirates-draft-pick-signing-tracker

  17. JAL says:

    Dejan

    Great article on the defense. Remember a lot of posters complaining about the shifts last season but never realized it was happening pitch by pitch at times.

  18. MrB says:

    Ugh…those defensive shifts. I had purged those defensive abominations from my memory until today.

    Those shifts were a clear example of insanity. Repeat something that fails while expecting a different result.

  19. Naje says:

    Nice piece, DK… another bit of inside baseball, PBC style.

    Try getting that from the folks in Bristol.

  20. jefft says:

    Get to go to the game tonight…hopefully, get to see a little more of that magic. Couldn’t care less about any promotion…only item I’ll probably get is a scorecard.

  21. Hooco01 says:

    DK,

    I am a loyal follower. Typically I agree with your opinions, however I can not for the life of me understand why you get so upset about the national attention. I do think it is a big deal. Being on ESPN or FOX baseball is a much bigger deal than just being on ROOT Yinzer Sports. It is nice to see the national media talk positive about our Bucs rather than being the butt of Jay Leno jokes. We always like when our sports teams get the national attention they deserve. We have Steeler Nation, Sidney Crosby and when Pitt hoops appears on ESPN on Monday nights, we love that too. I do not see anything wrong with it. It is a positive thing, not a negative thing. Embrace it. We will still turn to you to get the real state of our Bucs, but I look forward to the day when Buck and McCarver let the rest of the country know how great PNC Park, the Bucs, and our city really are.

  22. Dejan, did you get the code I sent which would allow you to insert YouTube videos directly on the blog?

  23. Rocco says:

    Wow, I was supposed to go last night, but then I got a call saying I had to be in at work @6AM, so I figured I’d just go catch the Battlin’ Buccos next week – I REALLY regret my decision….weak!

  24. SeanE says:

    @Hocco-I couldn’t agree more. I think it is great that the national media…and the rest of the country is recognizing what the Pirates are doing.

    DK. Nothing I hear from a cubicle will make me feel better about what the Pirates are doing. Believe me I would be enjoying this ride if no one else but me even paid attention. But let me ask, why the powerful negative feelings about the National Media? Seems kind of strange to me.

  25. Curt says:

    I got a late start today. Mostly because I sat through two rain delays and got home at 2:15am. I was in section 124 and I say that was the most exciting week day game I have ever been to. Many of us were there to see them grab first place all by themselves! This has been an incredible season. To take Bart Scott’s line “Can’t wait….” for tonight’s game! Let’s Go Bucs!

  26. Silver says:

    Was at the game in Section 29 with my family (wife, son (6) and daughter (4)). I can say that the two-strike-let’s-go-Bucs clap was probably the best I’ve felt about the Pirates in a long, long time. When Morton threw what looked like strike three (turned out to be a foul tip that McHenry dropped), the roar was so loud my daughter covered her ears. Gave me chills.

  27. pattonbb says:

    “no doubles” defense = 105 losses

    good riddance….

  28. Drew71 says:

    “That’s what first place looks like.”

    Yes. Thanks for that. Don’t need YESPN to tell me how to feel about THAT.

  29. Ron says:

    Great crowd. I have been going to games for 30 years, and usually after a second delay the place would have been empty. People stayed. They cheered. Dejan, people have been waiting for this moment. … I also wanted to add something. The Pirates, Steelers and city have done a great job in building up around the two stadiums. They are all living up to their promises. It seems every year we make the trip In from Ohio there is something new.

  30. Bizrow says:

    I just sent a note to the lady that handles my ticket package and turned two rainout tickets into a ducat for August 22 TNDH vs hated Brewcrew.

    We ain’t seen nuttin yet ;-)

    Still looking for new signups for Bucco Nation at the Trib, if you haven’t yet, please just list where you are currently living. We hit the century mark last night, apologies if I missed anyone, will go back and check after work

    Lets Go Bucs (will they announce Your First Place Pittsburgh Pirates when they take the field tonight??) Gives me shivers

  31. JMB says:

    Awesome game last night–great job by you fans that were there!

    _______________________________

    http://msn.foxsports.com/mlb/story/some-GMs-may-wind-up-elsewhere-as-trade-deadline-approaches-071811

    Article on GM’s with NH being mentioned at the end.

  32. Baywatch says:

    Those are some nice, nice thoughts you shared upstairs, DK. You’re a poet, man, you know that?

  33. Naje says:

    @ pattonbb – “no doubles” defense = 105 losses

    I think you may have meant the dreaded “no triples” defense… which led to a ton of doubles (especially to left field and to right-center)… which led to 105 losses.

    An incredibly awful strategy.

  34. pattonbb says:

    @Naje – you are correct buddy. As soon as I submitted, I knew I had it wrong. “no triples” + tons of doubles = 105 losses.

    It used to drive me absolutely nuts to watch balls drop in left field where a standard aligned outfielder should’ve been.

  35. Naje says:

    @pattonbb – It’s as if those coaches latched-on to the computer printouts from the front office that we railed against in 2008 and 2009. And really, that was Kerrigan’s style: pitch certain pitches to certain hitters on certain counts.

    Way, way, way too much thinking. And thinking kills feel/touch, and apparently it kills common sense, too. Ridding the team of that reliance on printouts and the micromanaging that came with it was a Godsend for this current group of pitchers.

  36. Robert says:

    Every team plays no doubles; EVERY TEAM. It has very little to do with the 105 losses. Losing means that all those bloops get scrutinized more.

    Teams have beat the Pirates without hitting a ball onto the outfield grass on the fly this season. Are you going to blame the infielders or chalk it up to the hitters putting the ball where the fielders aren’t? It’s more likely the latter.

    One word tells it all and that word is INCONSISTENCY. They had some great games and some bad games. Like Chase d’Arnaud so far this year; they couldn’t put it all together for an extended period of time last season. And it’s commonplace for young players in MLB.

  37. Robert says:

    I agree with Naje on the micromanaging comment. Let the guys play, challenge themselves, and challenge the opposition.

    It’s the same as this whole reliance on ‘sabremetrics’. In baseball, the sum is more often greater than the parts.

    Proof: Last years World Series Champions weren’t all that good on paper. However, they had stellar pitching and just enough offense to score more than they needed. Sound familiar?

    And NO, I’m not predicting the Pirates win the World Series. Simply giving credit where credit is due.

  38. Naje says:

    @ Robert – problem was that the PBC were playing a “no-triples” defense. Which was absolutely ludicrous. You use the term inconsistent, but losing nearly 2 of every 3 games is terribly CONSISTENT…with the emphasis on terribly.

    Yes, they were young… not criticizing the youth and inexperience of that team and those players (they’re pretty young this year, too, by the way), rather, we’re pointing to how poorly they were managed with the “no-triples” defense being state’s evidence #1 in the court of the asylum known as Pirates’ fans.

  39. Bizrow says:

    IMHO, the problem, or a big one last season, was poor field management in almost every area. Hurdle is the one big difference with the way this club is playing. Not to say that guys like Cutch/PRNW et al aren’t playing well.

    I never realized till this year that a manager could actually walk on the field…. The guy is all in and IMHO that really has energized this team.

  40. Dejan Kovacevic says:

    @Hooco: Not sure how I can say this any more clearly: I’m not upset about the national attention. I just don’t care about it. I don’t have a problem with the national TV or print outlets in the slightest. I just don’t understand the need for validation that so many clearly have. I respect it, but I don’t understand it.

    @Alex: The code won’t work, for reasons that are way, way over my head.

    @Ron, Silver, Curt, others: Thanks so much for sharing your experiences from last night. And yes, Ron, the buildup on the North Shore has been happening for a while, and there’s still a good bit more to come, both there and Downtown.

  41. pattonbb says:

    Robert, Sorry if I wasn’t clear on what I was trying to say. I wasn’t putting blame on any player. I was just making a comment about how many times a ball would get hit to where a left fielder, on most other teams, plays 90% of the time. Those stupid alignments allowed a lot of routine fly balls to be turned into extra base hits.

    I have no problem with the occasional shift against a Ryan Howard, Joey Votto, or Prince Fielder. Every team does it, and should. But those crazy algnments require the pitchers to hit exact locations. As I’m sure you would agree, that wasn’t exactly one of our strong points last year.

  42. Bizrow says:

    Did anyone else catch the discussion on the FAN this am where there was discussion that the FO has somewhat soured on Tony Sanchez and might be willing to trade him in the next few weeks? I don’t know if we have any other depth there, I know Doumit has a two year option that has to be picked up this off season, anyone know of anybody else?

  43. Bob from mt lebo says:

    Taking my son (4) tonight. He’s been excited since I told him the other day. Hope that excitement and attention span allows me watch most of the game. If not, I’ll be cheering loudly from the play area.

    I could care less about the promotions. They can be a pain to lug around, especially when you’re carrying multiple. Let me just tell you, those Clemente busts last year got very heavy. Plus, I’m still jacked about the promotion for the final game at Three Rivers……A ticket holder? come on now. I got a snow globe from the friday before, but on the final game at the stadium, you give a ticket holder that goes around your neck?

  44. Playoffs by 2012 says:

    I’m going to throw out two names and let me know what you think.

    Tyler Clippard and Michael Morse

    Reliever for the 8th inning and right handed bat with power that can play first base. Neither of them are quite as sexy as Hunter Pence, but the Nats are aggressively pursuing a center fielder for the future and that is something that we seem to have a ton of. Just a thought, let me know what you all think.

  45. Naje says:

    @ DK – Last night’s game, 5th inning… Drew Stubbs hits a two-hopper to d’Arnaud… d’Arnaud scoops it, but then taps the ball back into his glove before throwing… looks like he either bobbled it slightly or, because his throwing motion was noticeably shorter and more direct (no long, loop to it), was that something he’s been instructed to do? Reds announcers on tv (Sean Casey) said “That’s not what you want to do with Stubbs running.” I thought, well, you don’t want that throw being rushed, which is d’Arnaud’s tendency because of the long throwing motion, and thrown into the second row of the stands. They working with d’Arnaud on that?

  46. Dejan Kovacevic says:

    Thought Chase was out of the game by then, Naje.

  47. Fat Jimmy says:

    Dejan, you may be tired of all the “validation” by ESPN. I’m getting tired of all the back-slapping “We’re REAL fans” commentary. Much of which coming from posters — not just on this site, but other PGH and Pirates sites — whom I never saw post during the 100 loss seasons.

  48. Fat Jimmy says:

    I’m also PO’d that I’ll be back in Pittsburgh in August for my grandparents’ wedding anniversary, and of course the Saturday night game is a Fireworks night and is sold out.

    Is it wrong for me to wish the Bucs sucked again? :-)

  49. DavedigsDKsBlog says:

    I never thought we’d be saying this but they need a bigger ballpark. They must not have figured on the team ever getting good again.

  50. Dejan Kovacevic says:

    @Jimmy: Yeah, I hear that, too. I understand the basic premise of the real fans who really stuck it out, but the number making such a claim seems awfully high.

  51. Robert says:

    Posting comments on a blog doesn’t make anyone a REAL fan.

  52. Robert says:

    Real fans support the team through good and bad.

  53. Naje says:

    @ DK – top of 5th is when it happened… he got lifted for pinch-hitter in bottom of 5th.

  54. Happy G says:

    The Pirates are in first place!!!

    DK, you talk about them using pegs in the infield for positioning. This is the first I’ve heard of that since Perry Hill was here. Is this something that was left over or did it come with the new infield coach?

    I’m trying to secure tickets to see my Buccos beat the Brewers in Milwaukee on August 12th. I’m so excited to see us play meaningful baseball in that stadium instead of what I’ve had to put up with the last few years.

  55. DavedigsDKsBlog says:

    Pittsburgh is an awesome city. (DK you know this better than anyone)

    The baseball tradition is special, as is the setting at PNC.

    Why not want to see that reach more of a national audience like a Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park, etc?

    In every level of sports, people get up for bigger games. The bigger the stage. The bigger event. It’s just part of the fun of being involved with sports.

  56. Fat Jimmy says:

    Wow, Robert. How far into the Big Book of Cliches did you have to dig to find those gems?

  57. Playoffs by 2012 says:

    I knew it would only be a matter of time before the whole REAL FAN vs. FAKE/BANDWAGON FAN argument started. Honestly people, who cares??!!?? Just because someone “gave up” on the team in 2003 doesn’t mean they can’t cheer now. Let’s just all relax and enjoy a WINNING TEAM. Thank you (steps off soapbox)

  58. Playoffs by 2012 says:

    By the way, check out the front page of ESPN.COM right now. OTL is gonna feature the Bucs at 3pm.

  59. Fat Jimmy says:

    Dave, I agree with you 1000%.

    Playoffs, the more the merrier. I hope everyone in Pittsburgh becomes a Bucs fan. I hope everyone in Wheeling, W.V., becomes a Bucs fan. I hope everyone in Stubenville, Johnstown, Erie, Haggerstown and — hell — most of the Eastern seaboard becomes Bucs fans.

    None of them need to validate themselves, they don’t need to know who Adrian Brown is, they don’t need to have been here for longer than the Clint Hurdle Regime.

    I just don’t want them patting themselves on the back as if they have. (steps off even bigger soapbox)

  60. DavedigsDKsBlog says:

    There were a lot of “real fans” who tried to stay interested for 5-10-12 years, holding out hope as they built PNC Park, but we’re talking about an unprecedented stretch of misery. A generation.

    Many of those fans moved away, took jobs in other areas, raised their kids…maybe watched a game here or there, but not 150 games per season, constantly discussing the team online and checking the minor league reports.

  61. Naje says:

    I don’t think real fans give a hoot, though I do understand your angle, Jimmy.

    DK created a forum for hundreds/thousands of fans. I wish I could go back and find that first piece or read about the genesis of the idea to interact. I know other beat writers were doing this around the league three, four, five years ago, but this was a little different… after all, who was going to comment about 15 years of losing?

    The unmitigated joy that has been and will be released throughout the PBC fan base upon a playoff run will elicit some incredible responses. Can hardly wait for those.

  62. Happy G says:

    @DK, I couldn’t agree more with your sentiments regarding the national media. I understand everyone’s craving for national attention but I’ve learned to care less over the last few years as well.

    Here’s a perfect example why. I was watching MLB network last night when they brought up the end of the first inning after the delay. For those of you that don’t watch MLB network, they have a show in which several announcers sit around and they bring up key moments of different games and discuss them live. When d’Arnaud made the spectacular play to end the inning, Harold and the rest of the crew started making fun of his name. Harold said he thought it was pronounced “don’t know” because he doesn’t know how he is. At least he finished by stating that people are going to start knowing him if he keeps making plays like that.

    Yeah, @DK I too could really care less what the national media says about us.

  63. buckeyehba says:

    I wasn’t at the game, but as it got later and I knew I needed to go to bed….I just couldn’t. Reds most runs scored in NL, Pirates slight crease in pitching last few games…couldn’t do it. As good as Watson was, when DMac came in and threw the first pitch for a strike, I relaxed. That guy has been really good when you need a tough out.

    I was really impressed with the number of people still there at midnight, including all the families with small kids. Little ones can sleep in today,

  64. buckeyehba says:

    I have been to games that run late and seen what it was like with 3000 fans left at the end…this is soooo exciting.

  65. Naje says:

    Thinking about Hurdle and his career arc… I remember this can’t-miss phenom on the cover of SI and always knowing who he was… always hoping in ’79 and ’79 and that he’d be the missing piece for the Royals to beat the Yankees or Orioles or whomever and get KC in Series. But it didn’t turn out that way.

    Wondering about his career arc as a coach, then a manager that had some success and then watching that success crumble around him.

    Then taking a job as an assitant… a hitting coach and maybe getting his coaching juices restored. Because if there’s one thing that older coaches love, it’s coaching young, coachable, talented players who play all out, all the time.

    Hope to read more about Hurdle and his coaching rehabilitation… he’s done one incredible job so far.

  66. buckeyehba says:

    Dave, Robert, Jimmy

    I have only been in Pittsburgh for 10 years. I am the fan of fans as I have been loyal to the Pirates since the day I moved to town. I did not like the Bay trade, McClouth, etc. Was not a fan of Jack, and was sick when Sanchez left. That team could have won with a little money spent on pitching. I love this team, but dearly want to see a bat come in. I just don’a think you can keep it up playing small ball. All I know is, I can’t wait until the next game, then get nervous in the 7-8th inning.

    I know some of you have lived the whole shebang….. I hope this is the year for you guys.

  67. DavedigsDKsBlog says:

    I don’t think for a second that the majority of people wanted to give up being a serious Pirates fan in their normal routine. It would’ve been a difficult choice even faced with a pretty hopeless situation. Nobody who was a real fan back in the 60s, 70s, 80s, early 90s, wanted to stop.

    That’s the way I’m going to look at it anyway. Ok, I know I’ve been a real fan. But I understand what happened. Everyone else can come back and not have to feel bad about it.

  68. pattonbb says:

    This reminds me of the old joke about how there must have been over a million people at game 7 when Maz hit the shot in ’60. Even though there were only 36,500 in attendance, everyone in Pittsburgh claimed to be there.

  69. buckeyehba says:

    I said this a couple times at the beginning of the season. The fans need to quit complaining and embrace a small rise in ticket prices. More fans and more revenue helps to get the pieces needed to build a winner. Ticket prices are reasonable here and that is part of the problem.

  70. JAL says:

    What is real fan? Difficult to know. I live in the DC area and have seen games when the pirates come here every year and have gone to several games in Pittsburgh every year for past two decades. Not sure if that makes me a real fan or not. Some fans suffer in silence. What about those who complain loudly when things are bad and go away when they are good? Are they any different than those whose who stay away when things are bad and come out when things are good. Then there are those who were never fans before but are just discovering the game can be fun.

  71. Dejan Kovacevic says:

    @Happy: What he said.

  72. JoeBucco says:

    Who cares if people are “real” fans or not. I’m just glad we’re having the conversation.

    I’ve watched many bad teams play while alone, either at PNC, on the road, or on TV.

    And it is more fun when there are others there. I don’t really care if they are real fans or not. As long as they have real butts in real seats, and are cheering real good, that is good enough for me.

  73. Parrothead01 says:

    @dk
    Dejan, this is not a criticism, because I enjoy reading you columns very much, but I take exception to your comment about the increased number of posters claiming to be real fans. One doesn’t have to post to be a real fan. I read your your columns every day, but I have only posted a couple times and I am still and have always been a diehard Pirate fan since the first time time I watched Roberto roam right field. Heck, My son just finished his college baseball career and has never lived within nine hundred miles of Pittsburgh and he is a Pirates fan. There are probably more of us out here than you realize.

  74. pipecock says:

    No offense to anyone who “gave up” after “trying” to follow the Bucs through these 18 seasons, but giving up means you don’t get to call yourself a real fan. DavedigsDKsBlog is 100% right that it was an “unprecedented stretch of misery” that lasted a generation. That’s why it means something to those of us who stuck it out for 18 years!!!! I was 12 when we were last a good team. My son is now 9. He’s been a Pirate fan since he was big enough to know what sports were. I did my part to ensure another generation of fans in addition to not giving up myself. Through thick and thin, baseball is my favorite sport and I’d never even consider cheering for another squad!

  75. Fat Jimmy says:

    Patton basically summed up my POV. If everyone who is now claiming to have been there from the beginning really had been, PNC Park would be working on 1,400 consecutive sellouts.

  76. JD says:

    Why the anger towards the national attention by DK and some of the rest. I was in San Fran on Saturday walking around town wearing my Stargell jersey. At least 8 total strangers said “How bout them Pirates”. I doubt they get all their news from Trib or PG. If you clowns want to go back to 10,000 fans a night, so be it. I’m glad the park is filling with new fans.

  77. buckeyehba says:

    The people who call the sports shows and say they are never giving another dollar to the Pirates and are never going to the game again are not real fans. The rest are fans to some degree and are just showing it more now. I have been there with 3000-5000 in the stands. I can tell you being there and even watching on TV is more fun now.

  78. Rocco says:

    @JAL – you’re absolutely right, its very difficult to decide what constitutes a “real fan”.

    Am I a real fan for watching them lose over and over for the past 18 years on TV and in person and still being positive and excited each and every Spring? Maybe. Am I a real fan for wearing my Pirates hat with pride and never wearing another team’s colors, even when it was “cool” to badmouth and disrespect the Buccos? Possibly.

    Honestly, i consider myself a “real fan” because over the last 18 years I’ve witnessed the highs (Alvarez homer at PNC to win last year, obviously this season so far, the combined no-no in 97) and the lows (horrible drafting/free agency decisions, Derek Bell, Raul Mondesi, pretty much everything else) and yet have never DREAMED of rooting for anyone else but the Buccos.

    On a somewhat similar note, I do find it hilarious that some people need to measure their “fandom” against others – I’m at the point in my life where I say everyone should be able to enjoy this, whether you were a sucker like me (and SOOOOO many others on here) who stayed true for almost 2 decades, or whether you just started liking the Pirates this year because of the results. Ultimately, it’s a game, and the more fans we can get who are excited about the Buccos the better off the Pirates, and MLB, are.

    @buckeye – I’m with ya on the tickets, but that’s somethign they’ll have to introduce next year. It’s a good idea too, but this season, even if they could magically raise prices, they shouldn’t – you need to grow your fanbase and get more and more people who want to go to a game before you can start jacking up the prices, even if it is only a few dollars.

  79. Parrothead01 says:

    Guys I don’t care if a person has been a diehard fan like I have been for forty years or attended their first game last week and is now a Pirate fan, they are real fans. Every should just enjoy the ride we are experiencing this season.

  80. buckeyehba says:

    Rocco-agree. My comment on ticket prices was a general comment on all the public outcry that comes if it is even mentioned. I go to Wrigley on a business trip once every year. That revenue stream certainly makes a big difference. I can tell you that there is no way you can get a seat in a great location for 30-35 bucks like you can in PNC.

  81. CDBrewer says:

    As for fans or not…doesn’t matter a whole bunch to me, but I can say two things…

    1.) I have had so much fun discussing the Pirates on DK’s blogs since my discovery of them 4/5 years ago, that I know some of my fun came from the solace in finding other idiots who actually were giving up their summer nights to complain and laugh about the past 14-18 years.

    2.) I have gotten the warmest reception from fans from other teams in SF, Seattle, and from my friends back in NYC. I actually think ALL baseball fans are happy for the Bucs because nobody wants to ever have that happen to their team, much like the Steeler fan trying to console the Browns fans when the franchise was stolen away.

    This is such a good ride BECAUSE of the 18 years, for everybody…not that I ever want to repeat that prolonged debacle.

  82. Dejan Kovacevic says:

    @JD: I did hear that a big portion of the game-day sales yesterday came from the Bay Area, so you might be onto something.

  83. Dejan Kovacevic says:

    @Parrot: Where did I make a reference to posters?

  84. dcpinpgh says:

    I saw around 10+ games last year. This year 4 games and one of them was in Cleveland and the other was the opener. I used to go down park for free walk around then go to the game. Since the City now charges to park till 10pm, i am not going to as many games as I would if I had the option of parking and walking. Does the city trying to squeeze every last dime out of you reduce the number of games you go to, or am I the only cheap skate?

  85. Dejan Kovacevic says:

    @DC: The times during which the city charges haven’t changed. A garage is a garage. You can get into most of them Downtown for a night game for $3-$5.

  86. CDBrewer says:

    @dcp

    That is a great story…While not spending parking meter money, but spending ticket money seems funny, I COMPLETELY get the principle of the idea being the annoying part.

    When the wife and I would travel cross country to stadiums, one of her favorite “chores” was figuring out public transportation to the stadium so we wouldn’t have to pay to park.
    Arizona was the easiest – we parked about 5 blocks away on a residential street – she was thrilled because the light rail wasn’t up yet.

  87. JMB says:

    HAHA –all this “Real” fan talk cracks me up.

    This is what 1st world baseball problems are like?

    This and trade talk on July 19; we have entered a brave new world!

    ____

    NO to C-Jax!

    NO to Koji!

    _____

    Thanks John Kruk for the rant, you captured my feelings completely!

    GO FOR IT NH!!!

  88. Bob from mt lebo says:

    Here’s my condensed 2 cents.

    A real fan is a fan that supports one team for a unspecified amount of time. This could vary due to age, moving to a new location, etc. A band wagon fan is someone that is liking the team for the first time due to their success.

    What you guys are arguing about is actually the obsessiveness level, not if the fans in hiding are real fans or not. And to be honest, the more you guys go on and on, the more pety it sounds.

    It is a long season, 162 games. It is hard for most people to follow every single game, along with what Joe Smoe in State College is doing compared Jim Smith in West Virginia.

    I know that some of you “Die-Hards” are having a hard time with this success, because it’s becoming hard for you to share the success with people that may or may not have invested as much as you have over the years. But you need to let it go and embrace this. The last thing you want to do is scare people away just when it’s getting fun.

  89. pipecock says:

    I’m not trying to scare anyone away. I welcome all the bandwagon fans, it’s much more fun seeing games that are sold out than games with no one there. It’s all good!

  90. ddom says:

    I finally get it.

    I consider myself a die-hard fan going back to a little kid seeing Stargel and Parker. I get to about 3-4 games per year including the home opener which is considerable since I live about 2.5 hours from PNC. I follow each game and read the blogs and articles. My kids are now huge Pirate fans now that they are farm-leaguers themselves.

    But this morning, as I was playing my 5 year old’s favorite song that I have downloaded (A New Pirate Generation – The Buzz Poets) in celebration of the Pirates in sole possession of first place, I realized that the most deserving fans are the ones that came in since ’92. They are that New Pirate generation. I don’t feel so sensitive now when I see comments that don’t consider people like me a die-hard. I enjoy being the fan that I am…and I am really enjoying watching and getting my kids on the New Pirate generation wagon (even though they are not so new anymore).

    By the way, I’ve been having a blast riding around town with the top down on my Jeep blasting that song. Definitely gets you in a good summer mood.

  91. OHH and It is fun! Let’s play two!

  92. Happy G says:

    A “real” fan was brought to goose bumps numerous times while reading @DK’s Introductory column for the Trib “A Golden Quarter Century.”

    http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/s_741401.html

    The comment that you swear your dog was crying too brought me right back to the feelings I had on that day. I also enjoyed hearing about the text you received from Freddie Sanchez. Driving through the Fort Pitt tunnel never gets old.

  93. JD says:

    @DK – I was actually making 2 points.
    1. There’s nothing wrong with the extra attention. I like opening USA Today and seeing stories about the Bucs. I could care less that the 24 year old schmuck from Bristol couldn’t find Pittsburgh on a map, its cool he’s doing a Pirate story.
    2. I’m happy there are new fans at PNC. The more $ they spend, the better.

    Go BUCS!

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