A year ago, the Pittsburgh Pirates reached the playoffs for the first time since 1992. Exactly one year later, they clinched again. This time around, they sit 1.5 games out of first place, with an outside shot of taking the NL Central and skipping over the one-game play-in. The more likely scenario is that they would end up with home field in the Wild Card game, especially since the Giants have to make up two games just to take home field back, and have a rough schedule coming up, featuring Clayton Kershaw and Andrew Cashner in their next two games.
It’s a great feeling for Pirates fans, especially after everything that has happened in the 20 years leading up to the last two seasons. Last year, because of the streak, and because of two collapses in a row, there was skepticism on whether the Pirates could make the playoffs, at least up until they had almost locked it down. This time around, it seemed like playoffs were expected. If the Pirates finished with anything less — even if they had a winning record — it would have been seen as a disappointment. And that’s really how it should be.
Here’s another thing that should happen. The Pirates should remain contenders for years. I’m saying “should” in the sense that Pirates fans deserve for this to happen. After the long, crushing drought, it would be nice to see a streak of winning seasons and playoff appearances. You could also use the word “should” by pointing out that the Pirates have a great, young core, along with a top farm system that is ready to produce a lot of potential impact talent. Not only do Pirates fans deserve a string of winning seasons, but the talent is there to make this the expectation.
Of course, none of that is guaranteed, even if it does seem likely to happen. Which means this is the time to celebrate another winning season, and another playoff appearance, while hoping the Pirates can make some type of long playoff run this season.
A long playoff run doesn’t seem out of the question. This is a team that has taken 15 of their last 18 games. They’ve got one of the best offenses in baseball, led by a trio of players that have been better than any other trio of players for any other team in the NL this season. Their pitching staff is coming around in the last month, with a revamped bullpen, and a rotation that is healthy and featuring two pitchers looking like top of the rotation guys.
Everything seems to be coming together at the right time for the Pirates. A month ago, it looked like they could make the playoffs, but see a quick exit. Then, something clicked, and now this team looks like they could make things very interesting in October. And hopefully that will be the case, because Pirates fans have been waiting for a long time for such a run, and would deserve every minute of it.
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