If you’re reading this, you’re probably one of two kinds of people.
You’re either a Cardinals fan, completely taken aback and appalled by even the slightest mention of someone hoping the Red Birds lose.
Or you’re like me: for this night and hopefully the rest of October, you are one big Cinderella-cheering, bandwagoning, “high on black and yellow” Pittsburgh Pirates fan.
Tonight, the two National League Central foes will face off for the fifth and final game of the divisional round of the Major League Baseball playoffs, in what I believe we should deem a historic matchup. The winner advances a step closer to baseball glory. The loser? Advances a step closer to the river shore with a fishing rod.
And I think I speak for all of us non-St. Louisians when I say, “Please. For the sake of all of our sanity, don’t let it be the Cardinals.”
Oh yes, there are two reasons for my new-found allegiance.
Let’s start with the most obvious. We’re just going to rip off the Band-Aid really fast here, kids.
I’m tired of the Cardinals.
Something’s gotta give. It’s time for this team to lose in the first round. It’s time for this team’s luck to run out. They’re a World Series away from becoming the Yankees of this generation. And no one wants that,right?
Now before you get all bent out of shape, I will say this. I respect your franchise, and you have probably the best fan base in baseball. I truly believe that.
But I’m one of maybe two people in Columbia that sat and hung my head while taking a beer bath at Campus Bar and Grill in 2011, after watching my Rangers blow game six. It felt just like it sounds. It was like being at Fog Allen Fieldhouse for an MU-KU basketball game, except it was for a world championship. Twice the salt in the wounds. Twice the sting.
Some of you are probably think I’m biased. Damn right. Wouldn’t you be?
But there’s an even bigger reason that I’m an all out Pirates fan tonight. And it’s that way regardless of whom they’re playing.
It’s because they’re the gosh-darn Pittsburgh Pirates.
Seriously. Who thought the Pathetic Pirates would ever make it to the playoffs again? I was two years old the last time they did, and they had Barry Bonds.
This team had a Major League record 20 straight seasons with a losing record before they finally overcame it this year. Two decades of dread. No team in the history of the four major professional sports (MLB, NFL, NHL, NBA) has ever come close to having 20 straight losing seasons. That almost makes the Montreal Expos look like a good idea.
Talk about the dark ages.
Since I started paying attention to sports — which I think I did before I could walk — the Pirates always seemed like the least relevant team in baseball. I think I first noticed them in 1998 when they finished with one of the league’s worst records. I thought they were an expansion team.
But people forget that the Pirates are actually one of the league’s most historic teams, one of those classic franchises filled with tradition that helped shaped the sport. In case you’re shaking your head, consider this: The New York Yankees played in their 112th season of existence this year. This is the Pirates’ 131st.
But it’s also the Cardinals’ 131st year and whether you’re a member of “Cardinals Nation” or a member of the “Bucs’ Bandwagon” like I am, you have to be loving every minute of this series.
The Pirates played a huge role, along with the Cardinals, as one of the “classic eight” franchises that built baseball into its identity as “America’s Pastime.” True, these two teams have a monumental place in baseball lore. And I think it’s important we fully appreciate the greatness that has unfolded in this series.
But on a different note, I can’t — and won’t — be pulling for the Cardinals in any sense for this game five. I hate to burst your bubble, but I’m a Pirates fan tonight. And hopefully they will finally vanquish a team that could desperately use some vanquishing, for all of our sake.
Go Bucs. And may the best team win.