Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Being a Pirate fan

If you've been a reader here for a long time, you've probably noticed that I don't spend a whole lot of time criticizing the local media for the things they write about the Pirates (unless you count gentle pot-shots at, even when they're incredibly bone-headed. The reason for that is pretty simple- I'm not trying to do their job and I don't particularly want their job. You probably notice that I link to the Post-Gazette a lot and the Trib hardly ever. There's a reason for that, and you probably even know what that reason is and we don't need to spend a whole lot of time wallowing in stuff like that. There are rare occasions however, when someone actually writes something that offends me. Mike Seate's (who?) column about how lame Pirate fans are is one of those rare occasions. Charlie has already ripped the column apart in wonderful fashion for its lame reasoning and I don't want to step on his toes (I strongly recommend you read his post if you've got the time), but I really just can't let drivel like this pass without posting about it.

The thing that kills me about Seate's column is that it rips baseball fans without ever understanding why someone would be a baseball fan. It actually bothers him that people are baseball fans. I have no idea why someone would be a superbike fan, but it doesn't keep me awake at night and I certainly don't ever plan on wasting 500 words on why I think superbike racing is stupid.

It's really hard to describe why I'm a Pirates' fan. I suppose, if I had guess, it would be because when I was six years old, I was sure of about two things in life:

  1. I was going to be a baseball player, an astronaut, or the President of the United States.
  2. I really liked the Pittsburgh Pirates.
It's suddenly 16 years later and I'm not ever going to be a baseball player or an astronaut and President looks less and less likely every day, but man, I still like the Pirates and I think that I kind of like the fact that the six year old that played T-Ball for the Cookery and bee-swarm soccer on the weekends and liked big yellow slides, giant pits of mud, hitting fireflies with tennis rackets, and watching and reading anything he could find about baseball isn't entirely gone. I like that the fact that as long as the Pirates are around, there can be a part of me that never really has to grow up.

The thing is, if you follow anything for as long as most people end up being baseball fans, you tend to develop a connection to it. Towards the end of June, I was in a pretty crappy place. I was in the middle of breaking up with my girlfriend and simultaneously facing moving 500 miles away from the only place I ever really wanted to call home. Understandably, I was pretty down about life in general for a couple weeks. One night, smack in the middle of that ugly run, Xavier Nady and Ryan Doumit hit back-to-back homers in the tenth inning of a game I had already given up on and the Pirates beat the Marlins 7-5. It was an inconsequential baseball game between two terrible teams, won by two marginal players that I don't have any sort of emotional attachment to. And yet, the Pirates winning a game I thought they were going to lose made me smile for the first time in like a week. Those homers didn't bring my girlfriend back and they didn't make moving any less terrifying, but they did make me smile for a minute and forget about how crappy life can be.

I can't speak for everyone else, nor will I pretend that I am, but that's why I'm a baseball fan. There aren't many things in life that are there when we're 6 and there when we're 86, but barring unforeseen circumstances, the Pirates are always going to be there to provide a little bit of an escape from the day-to-day routine. And so if I want to boo a little, walk out of a game to express my displeasure with ownership, or spend too many hours every week writing a blog bemoaning the hand fate has dealt us Pirate fans, I hope that's not too much of a problem for anyone. And I'd really appreciate it if Mike Seate stopped insinuating that I was a bad fan because of it.