What Pirates' Fans Have to be Thankful For
If we were to rank Pittsburgh Pirates seasons in order from best to worst, 2019 may be at the bottom of the list. I could rattle of the host of issues on and off the diamond that plagued the Pirates this season, but that wouldn't be in the spirit of the day. Instead, think of this as a reminder of all the things that we, specifically as Pirates' fans, have to give thanks for today.
The Pittsburgh Pirates have a history unlike any other team in baseball, and it's important to hold on to that history. As we get further away from 1960, the memories of Bill Mazeroski's game seven, walk-off home run become less vivid. It's important that stories like this continue to be the legends they are in Pittsburgh because, sometimes, they're all we have. So, with that said, here it is. Soak it in.
The Pirates are the only team to ever win a World Series with a game seven walk-off home run. We're also the only team that can claim Roberto Clemente as ours. I wrote a piece a couple months back on Clemente Day about the Great One and how I had the benefit of learning about him from my father and uncles. The sentiment rings true today. These legends, like Clemente and Mazeroski, need to be told and retold because years like 2019 are going to happen.
Living by the Pirate Code
I don't think the term "pirate code" is used much in relation to the Pittsburgh Pirates, but I'll use it here to describe Pirates who are making us proud off the field.
There's plenty to touch on, but I will highlight only a couple. The first isn't even actually a Pirate anymore, but he will always be one of us and that is Andrew McCutchen. Cutch recently completed Cutch Charity Week in which he spent an entire week giving back to the city of Pittsburgh. Here's a quote from McCutchen on why he wanted to hold this event:
"They gave me a lot here. It’s only right to give back anytime I get the opportunity. I’ve built a lot of relationships through the years with the people here. This is something I’m going to continue to keep doing because this is the place I call home."
If that doesn't make you burst with pride and gratitude, I don't know what will.
Another Pirate I'd like to highlight in this section is our most recent Roberto Clemente Award nominee - Trevor Williams. Williams started a non-profit called Project 34 after his close friend, Cory Hahn, suffered a spinal cord injury that completely altered his life. Cory wore the number 34 and is the reason Williams does as well. Through Project 34, Trevor is able to raise money so that people with spinal cord injuries can have access to devices, supplies, and equipment that can get them closer to independent living. The Project 34 website has shirts available for purchase in the colors of the different MLB teams (of course Pittsburgh's is the coolest).
A Young Core
We've talked about the Pirates' young players quite a bit on this site and they are certainly a reason to give thanks as they provide us with hope for the future.
The young core of Kevin Newman, Bryan Reynolds, Josh Bell, Cole Tucker, and Mitch Keller, along with prospects such as Ke'Bryan Hayes and Will Craig give us reasons to believe that we won't have to endure too many seasons like 2019 before things turn around.
A New Direction
This one has come to fruition just in time for Thanksgiving as the Pirates announced yesterday that they hired Derek Shelton to be the next manager.
There are still some spots to fill on the team, but, for the most part, the leadership team has been completely revamped with the hiring of Shelton, Travis Williams, and Ben Cherington. We don't yet know what direction the team will go, or even if it will be a good one, but that uncertainty by itself is something to be thankful for. We've known for too long where the team was headed and it hasn't been good.
At least now we have the luxury of seeing where new leadership will take this team, and hoping for something better.
I'm sure there are many more that I haven't listed.
One thing that I, in particular, am thankful for today is stuffing balls. Yes, balls of stuffing. Not bowels, balls. My grandmother always made stuffing from scratch and carefully molded the results into baseball-sized balls of goodness. It may sound odd but, as far as I'm concerned, if your stuffing isn't round, it's not quite right. So, that's a little something extra. I can't think about Thanksgiving without picturing her making her signature dish.
So, from my family to yours, have the happiest of Thanksgivings!
Follow Jared on Twitter: @a_piratelife