Passion for the Pittsburgh Pirates is expressed in countless ways and each and every day whether you like the direction of the club, have reservations or straight out angry at the team and the players, you have it, Pittsburgh.
For those of you who read beyond the headline, thank you. There isn’t any falsehood or misleading statement up there, but chances are if you dislike the owner you stopped short of clicking and are currently calling me an idiot on social media. If you are at least open to letting the new management team have some room to operate, I’m betting you felt “hey, I’m a passionate fan, let me see this."
People in Pittsburgh, my hometown, this beautiful city at the convergence of three powerful rivers, built by some of the hardest working men and women America had to offer, love their baseball team. Yeah, even the guy at the bar who says Josh Bell is a bum because he struck out that time he had free tickets from work. Even the guy who thinks every pitcher on the staff is an unsalvageable heap of trash.
Your opinions may not always be backed by fact, nor do they need to be. No, to show passion for this club, actual love, all you really need is to care. The fact is that even if you stand on the Clemente Bridge with a sign saying "Sell Nutting," you cared enough about your baseball team, not the owner, not the players, the baseball team, to stand there trying to toss attention toward what you deem holds them back. Earlier this summer, fans were reminded that the Pirates aren’t just a cost-effective collection of players, but a civic institution. One that changes hands fiscally speaking from time to time but always belongs to one group, Pittsburghers.
Our pride causes many of us to lash out or overreact to the point where nothing positive can even be heard. Last season we witnessed two, not one, two young players in the running for the NL Rookie of the Year, and even that can be met with cat calls of all the players being below average or flashes in a pan.
If you’ve bought season tickets since 1980 and you’ll never give up on the team no matter what, first of all, God bless you, secondly keep in mind that doesn’t make you a “better” fan than anyone else. If you’d love to go to all the games but instead watch them TV, that’s great, but you too don’t get to look down your nose. Because if you really want to be a Famalee again, it starts with realizing we ourselves have been fractured too. Who among us hasn’t turned on a radio station in recent years and heard someone being shamed for buying tickets or being labelled a fair-weather fan when you don’t want to support the owner?
Your passions tell me one thing, you’re all fans, and one thing unites like nothing else, winning. If you think about it, isn’t that what this really all boils down to? We all want them to win, and we have different visions for how we think best to get there.
Some of us want to draft and develop our way to victory and are willing to wait for it, some more patiently than others.
Others would prefer the owner just give his GM 100 million and send him out shopping in an effort to win, and right now.
Another faction thinks there is an in between where you can maximize talent and strategically trade while increasing payroll slowly.
I could go on for days and still not cover all the different ways WE want to win. None of them will have a goal stated short of WIN. Even the folks who simply are “done” until Nutting is gone think that the result of Bob selling the team will be winning.
So, go out and talk with other fans. Have discussions online about your feelings and how you believe the team should move forward but do realize you’re probably addressing someone who wants the same thing you do. Keep in mind that this person who just said we should trade Marte for a bag of balls because he doesn’t hustle all the time at least in their head thinks that will somehow result in winning. You can argue, and disagree, hell even get animated, but do keep in mind, they have the same hopes and dreams for this team that you do.
Also remember Bob doesn’t make one dime off you just because you checked a box score or dared to read about a player. You don’t have to support Mr. Nutting to want to support the players and genuinely even like some of them. If you choose to dislike people because they underperformed, I’d suggest your anger is misplaced, but it’s still well within your rights. Chances are though, you still want the team to win.
I’ve written before that the owner, Bob Nutting, must own this too. He helped create it after all, and the onus is and will remain on him to fix it. When and if he does, passion is something that won’t need a nudge. You’ve already got that Pirates fans.
Follow Gary on Twitter: @garymo2007