The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom. - Wm. Blake

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

It’s Easy If You Try

Imagine, if you will, that it’s the morning after the Penguins victory parade. A still-giddy Steel City picks up the paper and looks at the baseball standings for the first time since April, and spies the Pirates 3 games over .500, 2.5 games out of first place.

Not much of a fantasy? Well, it doesn’t have to be because, statistically, that’s about what should have happened. This Pirates team – the team of Ian Knucklehead, Brandon “Replacement Player” Moss, Adam “Icemay” LaRoche, and 20 sad games with Ramon Bixler at SS – has outscored its opponents thus far in 2009. On that day, the real life Pirates were 31-34, but they had outscored opponents 288-280, a rate that should correspond to an 82-80 final record, and, on June 17, could just as well have made the Pirates, say, 34-31.

Its not much of a stretch to think that that alternate reality – statistically more likely than ours – would have seen a surge of Bucs Fever in Pittsburgh. This town is desperate to see winning baseball, as the buzz over the Pirates’ 31-31 record a few years back will attest. They’re selling shirts in the Strip right now in the form of a Championship Checklist, with the Steelers’ and Penguins’ boxes duly checked in. What’s amazing to me is that there’s no snark attached to the next team on the list. It’s the Pirates, with an empty box – as if anyone in his right mind could hope to see it checked. But there it is, an emblem of a city that wants to believe.

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