With a little over a month remaining in the season, the Pirates have a 1 game lead in the Central over the Cardinals. I’m excited. This race is going to start heating up. I was even more excited to see that the Pirates would again be hosting the Cards at the end of August.
But with this impending series, it got me thinking: last time these two teams played at PNC, there really wasn’t a winner.
[Insert fading, wavy camera and harp music to indicate a flashback … a flashback … a flashback …]
I never thought I would sit down, watch the Pirates play the Cards and think, “Wow, this is kind of exciting.” But during a Cubs rain delay in late July, I did just that.
The Pirates had played a total of 5 games against the Cardinals late that month, winning 4 of them (they played a doubleheader on a Tuesday). They had an opportunity to complete a 5 game wallop on the Red Birds and just fell short. Still… it was a huge swing (baseball pun!).
You may say, “So?” To that I’d reply, “Shut up, guy that doesn’t care about the NL Central. You probably watch Matlock.” (No disrespect to all you Matlock enthusiasts out there.)
Before this crazy 5-game series, the Cardinals came into Pittsburgh licking their…talons? Claws? Whatever. Having just gotten swept by the Braves, taking this series against the Pirates was going to be crucial to keeping their lead in the Central.
This obviously didn’t happened.
Instead the Cardinals went on a 7-game losing streak, lost their 1st place spot in the standings, AND lost Yadier Molina (who, if I’m being honest, is one of my favorite baseball players alive).
This is obviously how the Cardinals lost that month.
The Bucco’s on the other hand fared a little better. They were 2.5 games up in the Central, they had a 4 game winning streak, and AJ Burnett was trolling umpires which is always fun to watch. AND If the Pirates had won that last game against the Cards, it would’ve made an already huge swing even more better and huger (grammar is fun).
But I still say the Pirates lost.
Throughout game 5 of that series, the cameras would pan over gorgeous PNC Park. I expected to see a sell-out crowd covered in beautiful black and yellow. This didn’t happen.
PNC Park has a capacity of 38,496. For that game in that series, the official attendance number was 31,679. That leaves 6,817 open seats. Roughly 82% full.
Where the hell were the rest of you 6,817 people?? This game should have been sold. The. Eff. Out. This should’ve been the closest thing to a playoff game without actually being a playoff game. Pittsburgh, your team is a in a PLAYOFF race. They aren’t gunning for a Wild Card spot. They’re trying to wrap up a division title here. You had the Central Division leaders coming to your house hoping to gain back some momentum. But instead, your Pirates completely obliterated any hope of that AND they were/are in 1st place.
Let’s compare for a second. This past weekend, the Cardinals were in Chicago. Obviously, this is a huge rivalry that we all love. But it means nothing as far as standings go this year. On Friday August 16th, Wrigley had 35,258 people in attendance (Wrigley has a capacity of 41,159). Roughly 86% full for that day.
Yes, “it’s Wrigley.” Yes, there’s probably a greater atmosphere here in Chicago. But there isn’t a playoff race here. And quite frankly, there isn’t really a lot of good baseball being played here in the Windy City. How is it that a town with the 26th best record in baseball can come closer to selling out than a town with a chance to wrap up a division title? This doesn’t compute with me.
Why aren’t you there to cheer them on? Is everyone in Pittsburgh at Steelers training camp (Ben Roethlisberger is a poop face)? Or maybe you’re all trying to find out where Sidney Crosby is buying his groceries (Penguins suck! Blackhawks rule!)? Or maybe everyone is out catching a Riverhounds game (that’s like the AAA equivalent to the MLS by the way).
Wait, I know what happened. You think that when they filmed The Dark Knight Rises in Pittsburgh that it was real. You guys, it wasn’t real! It was all made up! They didn’t actually blow up that football stadium. And Bain hasn’t taken control of your city. There’s not even a nuclear bomb! Come out of your houses and go to a freaking baseball game!
What gives? I don’t get it. You guys were even on ESPN, you know that sports network that sometimes broadcasts sports? When’s the last time that’s even happened?
Ugh. It’s so frustrating. It’s like when your little brother, who also happens to be a major US city, won’t do what you tell him to do.
I’m not very good at drawing analogies. But you get it.
Let’s get it together, Pittsburgh. You have a chance to do something special. You haven’t won the Central since it was created in 1994. This is your year. Hell, the Brewers even won it once. And guess what, they could pack a stadium. Want me to point you in the direction of the nearest BURN unit, Pittsburgh?
But seriously, go to a freaking baseball game. If you don’t start attending with better numbers, I’m going to petition Bud Selig to give your park to the Riverhounds. They’re in 7th place in the USL Pro League and maybe a new facility will perk them up.
Mark August 30th on your Calendar, Pirates fans. That’s your day to rebound. The Cardinals will again be coming to your PNC Park to take back what they think is theirs. Don’t let a national TV audience see what they saw in July. Pack the house.
And, real talk, I’m pulling for you guys come playoff time. Don’t let me down.