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Thoughts of a once sane fan – The blown lead


I had a pretty full schedule on Saturday night, so I didn’t expect to catch much of the Pirates’ game in Philadelphia. At one point during a brief stop at home, I clicked on the television to check the game’s status. Ross Ohlendorf was cruising with a 5-0 lead in the sixth. Within minutes, the Phillies had scored three runs to claw back into the game. I pondered Ohlendorf’s future for a moment, then powered off my TV set and headed out the door.

A short time later, I arrived at a local pub and grabbed a table. With a few solo minutes to kill, I glanced at the game on the television. The Pirates had extended their lead to 7-3. My jaw dropped as Jack Wilson made a spectacular play to snag a pop fly and double up Jimmy Rollins at first. Satisfied with the direction of the game, I focused my attention on things far more interesting than a last-place Pirate game in mid-July.

Some time passed. Maybe 45 minutes. Maybe an hour. It’s not important. I happened to glance up at the one television that was not showing the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Somehow, I picked the exact moment that Raul Ibanez was crossing home plate and celebrating with his teammates. Pirate players were walking off the field, sporting familiar dejected looks. The Phillies had just come back to win in the ninth inning.

I didn’t react. I simply turned my attention away from the TV again, unfazed by the loss. Such is the life of a Pirate fan. It wasn’t unexpected. It wasn’t surprising. In fact, I had seen it on numerous occasions. In 1998, the Pirates took a 7-1 lead into the ninth against these same Phillies. Mike Lieberthal’s three-run home run capped an 8-7 Philadelphia win. I can still see that ball clearing the left-field fence. I can still see many horrible images of past baseball failure.

Going back a few years, I can remember the point in which I realized that the Penguins had turned the corner as an NHL team. Suddenly, it once again hurt to lose a game. It was surprising and upsetting when the team failed. When the Pens lost, it somewhat ruined my day. That is not the case with the Pirates. When they lose a game, even in a horrific manner like Saturday’s game, I just take a sip of my drink and move on. Let’s face it; there will be another game to lose tomorrow.

One day, I want to feel that disappointment again. I want to be angry about a loss. Until then, I will just shrug.

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