Friday, June 27, 2008

Poor Pirates

As someone who was born and raised in Western Pennsylvania (about 80 miles north of Pittsburgh) I have a unique perspective into the next series on the schedule, so being the humanitarian that I am, I'll lay out that perspective for you:

First and foremost, for those of you who commiserate that the Rays don't have a following outside of Tampa/St. Pete I can assure you that you should feel fortunate for the fans we do have, we're not alone in wondering aloud, "where's the love?".

For 24 years I lived a stones-throw from Steeltown, met thousands of people, watched tons of sports (and of course was born a Steelers fan), but of all those people and over all those years that I spent in such close proximity of Pittsburgh, I only knew 1 (just 1) actual Pirates fan. That's it! ONE!

The Devil Rays always had the excuse that there are just too many Boston/New York transplants in Tampa/St Pete to convert them all into Rays fans, but the poor, lowly Pirates have no such excuse.
The day(s) Bonds and Bonilla walked away so did the fans, and as the years have flown by the ownership has never given them (the fans) a single reason to come back.

If there is one team in the league that can relate to the Devil Rays/Rays or one group of fans (albeit a small group) that can relate to Devil Ray/Rays' fans its the poor bastards in Pittsburgh. The Pirates are the one team that has been as consistantly bad as the D. Rays over the years, so we, as Rays fans, should show a little sympathy toward the unlucky souls who've chosen to follow the ol Buc-o's- we can relate.

We know the pain that's involved with routing for a loser year after year after year... we know the heartbreak that occurs every year after we foolishly convince ourselves during spring training that "this is the year"- just to come to the realization by mid-June that we're once again going to be looking up at all the legitimate major league clubs... and a little piece of our heart disappears, never to be seen again.

It has been a staggering 15 years since the Pirates have sniffed a winning season. Sad, but true. I honestly don't know how Pirates' fans don't throw themselves from bridges every September (God knows there's enough bridges to choose from).
I admire their true, faithful fans. The ones who sit in an empty park when its 45 degrees in April and route for a team that they know can't win.
We are kindred spirits we fans of The Rays and the Pirates, we share a dubious, self-destructive, masochistic bond.

Its a sad story when a city/state that is sooo ridiculously faithful to the Steelers can be so cold and uninterested in the Pirates, but I can't blame them, and neither can you.
Too many years and too many lies have callused the hearts of the Pittsburgh baseball fan, and it should be a constant reminder to Rays fans of how incredibly close we came to the same fate had current ownership not come riding in on their white horses dressed in navy blue and sunshine yellow, writing checks, and carrying victory on their backs.

The Pirates, in turn, should draw some solace from the Rays in seeing that it is possible to right a sinking ship, even if that ship has been sinking for a very, very long time.

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