PITTSBURGH – From the Pirates shirts that outnumbered the Steelers shirts on the streets Saturday, to the signs around offices and PNC branches (see Breitbart Sports photo above), Pittsburgh is ready to host their first playoff game since 1992. During the last playoff game here, Barry Bonds and the Pirates staved off elimination by slamming four first-inning doubles in a Game 5 win over the Braves. And after AJ Burnett’s win on Friday they simply need to win one of two at Cincinnati this weekend to make the Reds travel back to PNC Park Tuesday for the one-game wild-card playoff.
After winning the last playoff game ever played at Three Rivers Stadium, the Pirates traveled to Atlanta and destroyed the Braves in Game 6, only to lose on Sid Bream’s slide in Game 7. From there, Bonds left and the Pirates started their all-time major sports record 20 consecutive losing seasons until this year.
In this town everyone is loyal to all of the home teams, and they deserve to see the playoffs. I came to a Marquette-Pitt game and never found another Marquette shirt in the building. On the way out a fan wearing a Pitt shirt told me he had graduated in 1982. I said, “From Marquette?” he said, “Yes, I love Marquette – of course I could never root for them against Pitt.”
Two years later the Pitt mascot walked half way up the arena to get to my seat, pointed at my Marquette shirt then started making the “shame on you” sign to my friend who had brought me.
Treatment is even harsher for anyone who allows a Steelers ticket to get in the hands of an opposing fan, and Penguins fans are so faithful that the Washington Capitols had to start blocking Pittsburgh area zip codes from purchasing tickets for their games in Washington.
Even in the midst of two decades of losing records, a visit from the Cleveland Indians has turned PNC Park into a playoff like atmosphere.
So the fans of the Pirates, who bonded to their team more than 100 years ago when Honus Wagner took them to the World Series title, deserve playoff baseball. If they lose Saturday and Sunday in Cincinnati, then they will stay there for the wild-card game, but if they win either they will head back to give the fans their first playoff game in 21 years. Another win would get them a series against either the Divisional foe St. Louis Cardinals or a chance to finally settle the score with the Atlanta Braves 21 years after Bream beat Bonds throw to the plate.