It’s bittersweet, like the way the Pirates celebrated their berth into the playoffs… A couple glasses of champagne and a few beers (on-camera, that is). All the amenities and exhilarating emotions of a celebration, without the actual celebration.
Yes, as I’m sure you heard, the Pirates are in the playoffs which thankfully is becoming the standard in Pittsburgh. As of today (September 24th), the Pittsburgh Pirates are 92-60…. 92-60!!!!!!!!! That’s unreal given where they were just a few short years ago.
But what’s it all mean when you have the top three teams in baseball in your division? What’s it mean when you are sub .500 (29-38) in games against that division? It means a meager wild-card spot. Exciting, yes, but not where they need to be. I’m not counting them out of the NL Central chase, especially with two, three-game, series versus the Cubs and Cardinals where anything can happen; baseball is a funny game. Granted, the only benefits the Pirates would gain in winning the division is certainty of a full playoff series and home-field advantage, but those could be major factors in determining a win or a loss especially in front of a packed PNC Park… Just ask Johnny Cueto.
What I am saying is baseball is a 6 month and some change sport, not 4 or 5 like the Pirates seem to make it. You need to take care of business night in and night out. As of right now the pirates are:
6-10 vs Reds 6-9 vs Cubs 9-10 vs Brewers 8-8 vs Cardinals
Above .500 in any of those four categories makes the NL Central title look a little bit more accessible, but I fear – even with the late surge – the late injuries this team has suffered makes it too little too late.
The Pittsburgh Pirates will be the first team to go to three-straight wild card games, and very likely could be the first to host all three. It has to be frustrating knowing that if the Pirates were in any other division in baseball this record wouldn’t even be in question; they would be division winners as of today anywhere else with four more wins than any other division leader in baseball.
The 60-22 record vs all non-NL Central teams is impressive, but it doesn’t mean much when they’re more than likely going to face two NL Central teams in which they are currently 14-17 against (+ another 6 W’s/L’s by the end of the year).
With injuries to Jung-Ho Kang, Aramis Ramirez and the possibility of an aggravated Gregory Polanco knee, it’ll be fun to see what the Pirates can muster up. They have a very deep lineup of utility players that have proven they can soften the blow, replacing Mercer, Harrison, Marte and Polanco prior to September, but you just can’t replace these guys.
Everything being said, if you play good baseball from April to August, and play great baseball from September through October you’ll be set up for great things. I believe the Pirates are set up to do just that. A rocky sub .500 start where the Yinzers of the world wanted Mark Melancon and Pedro Alvarez out, the Bucco’s rebounded and proved to the world that they’re one of the best teams in baseball.
The next step is to prove that they ARE the best team in baseball.