sad piratesWith 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.

  • Jp3

    Umps are like rookies, they should be seen and not heard. That was super bush league and I hope he gets reprimanded for that. If he wants to warn Burnett about not arguing strike zone fine, if he wants to throw him out, good but don’t look like a clown trying to show a pitcher up.

  • Cubbie Blues


    • Myles


  • Curt

    Are you forgetting where the pirates play , that’s a steelers town the pirates are 2nd fiddle and always have been not fair to them but thts how it works there I hope it changes for them but don’t bet on it.

    • Wester

      The Blackhawks are like, what, fourth fiddle in Chicago?

    • Noah

      But it’s not like the Steelers had a directly competing game with the Pirates. If it was a Sunday in September and the Steelers were at home, I could understand it. But it was July!

      Also, while Wrigley and Wrigleyville may have the better history and ambiance, PNC Park is widely regarded as one of the few ballparks that are in competition for best in the game.

    • Ian Afterbirth

      Not to mention the fact that the Pirates have quite a history. This is not the Florida/Miami/Wherever Marlins. Roberto Clemente played on this team. Willie Stargell plated on this team. Honus Wagner played on this team! They have great colors, uniforms, hats. They have a great ballpark. I don’t get it.

  • Larry

    Was just there, and it’s a great city. The ballpark is as cool as everyone says. But the Pirates are the third team there, far behind the Steelers, and relatively far behind the Pengunis. Any Yinzer (code for a local) will admit as much. If they sustain some success, who knows — maybe they’ll catch up. But it will probably take several good years. Then again, Braves fans are crappy and fair weather no matter what. They’ve never sold out early round playoff games (can you imagine that happening in STL?). So ultimately, maybe every city just has it’s own sports DNA, inexplicable to the rest of us …

  • miggy80

    I was trying to catch the 8/15 extra inning game and could only get the Cardinal broadcast. The Pirate broadcast was blacked out! In Des Moines, IA! Come on Pirate fans pack the house!

  • FastBall

    You have to consider that the Pirates haven’t had a winning record in 20+ years. People are coming back around in Pittsburgh a little at a time. Baltimore had this same problem last year. They were winning but couldn’t fill Camden Yards. I listened to talk radio in Baltimore for a week last summer on this very subject. (There on business) These fans were basically driven away by ownership not putting a good team on the field for many many years. Now all the sudden they are relevant and the fans aren’t there. Well families stop planning their vacations and mini-vacations around their baseball team and they go off and do many other things with their precious time off. They don’t want to go watch a loser all the time. The little kids don’t have a favorite player and they don’t beg their parents to take them to see a game. Now in Baltimore it’s changing, the fans are coming back. Winning brings back loyalty of the fan base. Remember, Pittsburgh had flashes of greatness for the two previous seasons only to tank by mid July. This year they are holding on a lot longer. Those fans are not going to come back to that franchise until they see proof. You can argue that they have proof right in front of them. Pennsylvanians are stubborn. They expect Pittsburgh Steelers type seasons every year. The fans are their in Pittsburgh but they won’t spend their hard earned money until they are convinced. If the Cubs were in any other city than Chicago it would be the same for them. The Cubs attendance is way down the past few years because of the product on the field. Attendance remains a higher level because Wrigley and Chicago are a mini-family vacation during the summer. Pittsburgh is not where people go to take mini-vacations. I for one hope the Pirates can take it to the Birds and hold on to 1st. I bet that even the Pirates themselves are awaiting the Cardinals push late in the season which always seems to come at the right time for them. They have to remember they aren’t playing the Cardinals everyday. They beat the crap out of whomever is in front of them.
    IF the Pirates win the NL Central I will take a mini-vacation to Pittsburgh and watch them in playoffs. Then there attendance will go up. :)

    • Ian Afterbirth

      Yeah, WE should all go down there and watch some playoff baseball.
      If those Pittsburghers don’t want to cheer in person for their team I sure will. Especially against the Cardinals if the stars so align.

  • ssckelley

    Pittsburgh has never been a baseball town, they have even had teams that have won the pennant barely draw over a million fans and this was back when they had fan favorites Willie Stargell, Dave Parker, and even Roberto Clemente. When you are a small market team with 20 years of losing baseball one winning season will not turn it around.

  • FastBall

    The Pirates are 3rd Fiddle in Pittsburgh. They currently are well below the Steelers and Penguins.

  • cubzforlife

    This is nothing new. When the Buc’s had Bonilla and Bonds and made the playoffs a few of those years the place had at least 5000 empty seats for playoff games. And I paid 400 for standing room in 2003 at Wrigley.

  • FastBall

    It’s just too damned hot to go watch the Braves play in the summer. That stadium is not a good place to drive too. No locals walking up to that place and the traffic to get there sucks.

  • Curt

    yr right the steelers don’t always directly take fans away from the pirates point is its a football town not. a baseball one

  • Tommy

    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.

    Chicago population: ~2,714,856
    Pittsburgh population: ~306,211

    Not sticking up for Pitt here. I’m sure the size of the cities has quite a bit to do with attendance, though.

    • Jason P

      Exactly. Not really fair to compare the two.

      However there are plenty of cities with a population like Pittsburgh’s that manage to support their teams just fine. Look at St. Louis and Milwaukee.

  • cubsin

    St. Louis city population (2011) : 318,069
    St. Louis metropolitan area population (2012): 2,795,784

    Pittsburgh city population (2011): 307, 484
    Pittsburgh metropolitan area population (2012): 2,662,822

    While baseball is #1 in St; Louis and #3 in Pittsburgh (it’s hard to attract fair-weather fans when you haven’t had a winning season for quite a while), there aren’t any football or hockey games in July.

    • Danny Ballgame

      Also remember that St. Louis is ONLY a baseball town. They do not care for the Blues or Rams unless they are doing great. Which is rare

      • mjhurdle

        this is very true.
        In STL, interest in sports ranks something like this:

        1. Cardinals
        3. Cardinals
        101. Blues hockey (if they are good)
        102. Cardinals
        130. Rams (if they are good or Kurt Warner is at the game)

  • cubsin

    NL Central Standings by attendance at home games:

    Cards, Cubs, Reds, Brewers, Pirates

    NL Central Standings by percent of capacity at home games:

    Cards, Cubs, Brewers. Reds. Pirates

  • wvcubsfan

    This is as good of place as any, but there’s been a Felix Pie sighting. Called up today for the Pirates. Lead off the game with an infield single and promptly thrown out trying to steal second.