Pirates fever catching on at the Tribune

I grew up in a baseball house. Not just a baseball house – a Cleveland Indians house.

One of my earliest memories is every Father’s Day going to Cleveland’s Municipal Stadium. I remember almost catching a foul ball at The Jake (then it was called The Jake) and somehow getting a chance to go meet and greet Herb Score and Tom Hamilton in the radio booth. Through and through, I love the Indians.

However – and it’s hard to admit this – it would be very easy to get swept up in the 2013 Pittsburgh Pirates. Or as the Twitter campaign calls it, #Buctober.

Two weeks ago, the Tribune Sports Department took a field trip to PNC Park to catch the Pirates against the Padres during a day game. I had been to a few games at PNC – which by far is one of the nicest baseball stadiums in the league – but there was something different during this trip to the ‘Burgh.

It was a Thursday day game and still there were 26,242 fans in attendance. During the Indians’ final Saturday night game, in which Nick Swisher and his family provided an additional fireworks show, the attendance topped at 26,611.

Each one of those 26,000 fans had Pirates’ fever. The atmosphere was electric. Being an outsider, it was great to be in a park and actually be able to feed off of the fans and their excitement. However, that also was helped by the Pirates’ 14 hits and 10 runs during that game.

Never will I call myself a Pittsburgh fan, but on that day, it was very easy to root for the Buccos. Being at a beautiful stadium with a gorgeous view of the Roberto Clemente bridge, eating the most unhealthy thing ever created by a human being (Google “brunch burger Pittsburgh” to see what I’m talking about), and getting to see a ball game with a team and fan base that is excited about winning – it’s something that is hard to top.

I think Cleveland fans can relate to Pirates’ fans. Though they are from the “hated” city of Pittsburgh, Cleveland fans of any sport can certainly relate to the woes of the Pirates over the last 20 years. Every Indians, Browns or Cavaliers fan in one way or another can empathize with cheering for a team that year after year under achieves and brings heartache.

So, knowing the pain Pirates’ fans have felt, most Cleveland fans can be happy for them and the success the team is having this season. There are two Pirates’ fans on the Tribune staff, and getting to see them root for a team that achieved a winning record (both have said they would have been just happy with 82 wins), has been a fun part of this baseball season. After every win, there is a Jolly Roger flag in the office that is waived proudly – and subsequently tossed across the room on the nights of losses.

With the Indians about to clinch a spot in the wild-card game, as well as the Pirates having already punched their ticket to the postseason, there is a chance the two could meet in the World Series. Stranger things have happened.

If that were to occur, I’m pretty sure the Mahoning Valley wouldn’t work or sleep for that week. But man, it would be fun.

Here’s to October – in my opinion as a lifelong baseball fan, the best month of the year.

Go Indians. And after my Pittsburgh experience, go Pirates.