Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Game 77: Pirates 12 Yankees 5

There is a strong desire on my part to say something along the lines of, "Whatever, this is just another win for the Pirates. When the season ends a win tonight looks the same as a win on any other night of the year," for this recap. It is, after all, at least one version of the truth about tonight's win over the Yankees. Still, this win feels like something more. Not in the "this is a turning point to the season," just not in the "turning point of the season" kind of way.

There is a reason that this game means more to a lot of fans, myself include. The reason is history. When I was a kid that was first discovering baseball I devoured baseball history. I once read a giant baseball almanac-type book from cover to cover and according to family legend, I was able to put a World Series winner to any year that people cared to name (I'm not certain this is true and even if it is it's not really that hard, I mean if you guess Yankees you've got a 25% chance of nailing it). As a kid, I quite often challenged my local library's rule of taking out three or less books on one subect. One book that I devoured several times that still stands out in my mind was the biography of Lou Gehrig. Say what you want about the Yankees, but Lou Gehrig will always be one of my favorite all-time non-Pittsburgh athletes.

And that's the reason that this series matters to fans. The history. In some ways, there are a lot of people that couldn't care less what the Pirates record is in 2008 so long as they beat the Yankees. The 1960 World Series, capped off by Mazeroski's home run, is a series for the ages. That Pirate team beating that Yankee team is the reason they play the games. The 1927 World Series saw a mostly forgotten Pirate team get smoked by one of the best lineups of all-time. Every franchise is tied to the Yankees. Every baseball fan knows their history almost as much as they their own team's.

Tonight, as the Pirates cruised with a 12-3 lead in the ninth inning and Franquellis Osoria on the mound, mopping up the last three outs, the fans stood on their feet and chanted, "LET'S GO BUCS! LET'S GO BUCS!" And maybe this game was on the North Side of Pittsburgh with an awful reliever on the mound as a bad Pirate team closed out a win over a struggling Yankee team in mid-June, but for one night everyone in the stands might as well have been in Oakland at Forbes Field in October of 1960, watching Roy Face close out a surprising Game 1 win over the vaunted Yankees, and singing, "The Bucs are going all the way!" That's what baseball can do to you sometimes, and that's why sometimes stupid interleague games in June that have no real bearing on the standings can mean the world to a bunch of fans.