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Morning Java: Thank you, Pirates fans

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

Morning, Lunatics …

>> The Friday column will be the last one on baseball for a good while, so I tried to collect a whole lot of concepts and thoughts into one place.

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>> Here on the blog, I’d like to take the morning to thank readers who are fans of the Pittsburgh Baseball Club, and I’d like to do with the deepest sincerity.

It’s been a wild ride, but part of the wildness is that it began amid the dubiousness of two Epic Collapses, the owner investigating his management team, a couple of free-agent signings that were risks from either the financial or health standpoint and, of course, all the ancillary stuff from last fall.

All of that turned into the sport’s story of the summer, as well as that of our city.

It was stupendous.

And along the way, I heard from countless — and I genuinely mean countless — readers who poured out their hearts. The correspondence was as powerful, as passionate as what I’d heard or seen from fans of any team anywhere. One fan wrote just a couple days ago that she had a “headline you just have to use” in the event that Gerrit Cole won Game 5. Said it came from her 9-year-old daughter. Never mind that it was some 15-worder that involved Cole crushing the ball into a diamond or something to that effect. It was the thought that the reader wanted to send it this way.

What a summer it was in that regard.

Right here on the blog, we’ve got our own collection of baseball fans, of course, and their input and feedback are the lifeblood of our discussion here. But we also saw a rate through the summer of 26.7 visitors to the blog being total newbies on a daily basis.

Between that and all the new followers on social media that came for baseball, I’m grateful.

So thank you.

Thank you for that trust, for that understanding that the critical coverage of last fall comes with the same hand as that which couldn’t find a syllable of complaint the other night in St. Louis. The principles behind them are one and the same. When the subject matter stinks, you write that it stinks and try to find out why. When the subject matter excels, you try just as hard at both.

Some understood that, and the unfortunate few that rely primarily on a small but especially noisy group either didn’t understand it or didn’t want to because the narrative made for greater entertainment.

Infinitely more meaningful and lasting will be all the emails, all the connections made through this blog or other social media and … hey, did you know people still write by hand?

Check this out …

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That’s from Mrs. Emily Spadaro of Mt. Lebanon, and it came on a card with a Rockwell painting on the front, a cupcake recipe on the back.

That matters.

It matters to me that I’d heard in recent weeks from people inside the Pirates who thanked me for the critical coverage last fall. No one got specific about why, and I didn’t ask.

It also matters to me that, all through the years of losing, I’d written repeatedly that Pittsburgh was a sleeping giant in the baseball context, ready to explode — if you’ll recall the phrasing — if the Pirates would only not suck. Well, they went beyond that, and so did the city. I saw support coming. I didn’t envision anything like this.

But most of all, it matters to me that so many became so invested. And how it happened. That matters, too. I heard so, so, so many stories of father-son bonding over these past few months. Dad always loved the Pirates, the boy always loved the Penguins, and it wasn’t until this year that the boy could figure out what dad’s problem was. Loved this stuff.

So again, thank you.

>> Also, one last time, thank you to Bob Nutting. He gets it.

>> More season-ending stuff in today’s Trib …

Doormats no more, by beat man Rob Biertempfel.

Gerrit Cole aces every test, by Travis Sawchik.

Late-season additions would be happy to return. Karen Price has that.

Here’s our full Pirates coverage.

>> The Steelers are becoming like a Saturday Night Live skit. Alan Robinson reports on — I kid you not — Mike Tomlin taking away the players’ toys.

Skit or not, it won’t top this “Obviously” mash-up from the geniuses at Benstonium …

Here’s our full Steelers coverage, including the return of Will Allen.

Here’s Jets news from the Newark Star-Ledger.

Here are official game highlights from NFL.com.

>> We’ll finally get a look at Jeff Zatkoff on the Penguins’ two-game Florida swing that begins tonight in Sunrise. Josh Yohe sheds a little light on Marc-Andre Fleury’s backup.

Here’s our full Penguins coverage.

Here’s Panthers news from the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel.

Here are official game highlights from NHL.com.

>> Pitt braces for a whole lot of Logan Thomas at QB. Jerry DiPaola examines.

>> Penn State braces for a whole lot of Devin Gardner at QB. Chris Adamski examines.

>> In a change of plan, I will not be going to State College for the Michigan game, but I still will be in East Rutherford for Steelers-Jets.

>> I’ll check in with TribLIVE Radio at 11:30 a.m. and, shortly thereafter, we’ll open up the weekly chat at noon right here on the blog.

Author: Dejan Kovacevic

Dejan Kovacevic, a lifelong Pittsburgher, is an award-winning sports columnist for Trib Total Media covering the Steelers, Penguins, Pirates, Pitt and, recently, his fourth Olympics in Sochi, Russia. He also appears on WPXI-TV's 'Subway Final Word’ and hosts a weekly show on TribLIVE Radio. For 2011, he was named one of the country's top four columnists by the AP Sports Editors. For 2012, he was named one of the country's top three columnists by the National Headliners. For 2013, he was named the state's top columnist by the Keystone Press Awards and top columnist in Western Pennsylvania by the Golden Quills.

 
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