Following play on Sunday, the Pittsburgh Pirates headed to the All-Break with a 47-43 record. They find themselves just one game back of the Milwakuee Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals, both at the top of the National League Central Division with 49-43 records. This is the first time since 1992 the Pirates have been above .500 at the break. What has followed since 1992 has been, well… a hard to pill to swallow for Pirates fans everywhere.
In September 2007 Pirates Owner, Bob Nutting, made two critical hires with hopes of bringing this once great franchise back to life. Mr. Nutting hired Frank Coonelly as President and Neal Huntington as the General Manager. Since Coonelly and Huntington have taken over, fans have seen a complete over-haul of the Pittsburgh Pirates, from the farm system all the way up to the major league team. Some not so popular trades were made in order for their plan to come together.
Fast forward to 2011…
Clint Hurdle took over as manager during this past off-season and hit the ground running right away. All of a sudden a team that now expects to win, is winning. A team, not many paid attention too, is getting attention, and many of the players brought in by Neal Huntington and his staff are producing, and producing big! Once again, baseball is back in Pittsburgh and it’s back with a vengeance!
For the first time since 1990, the Pirates sent three players to the Mid-Summer Classic – Joel Hanranhan, Andrew McCutchen, and Kevin Correia. Final word came on Sunday during the Pirates home-game that the team would have three representatives and PNC Park went crazy as fans cheered for their All-Stars. It was a site that has not often been seen at PNC Park since it opened in 2001. PNC Park, one of the crown jewels of baseball, has fans coming out in high numbers to see their beloved Pirates. The Pirates have already gone over the one million mark in attendance and have sold out ten times. The fans attending games aren’t all from Pittsburgh either… I know of fans who have made special trips this year to see the Pirates at PNC Park from Idaho, Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Ohio! That tells me there are a number of people who have “Bucco Fever” for the first time in years!
The second half of the season gets underway shortly and fans have high hopes for the Pirates to continue winning. Eyes from fans and even the national media will be on them, many with hopes of a NL Central Division Title. Fans – buckle up because it will be an exciting few months of baseball as the Pirates continue their journey to October baseball and winning over hearts of many who get “Bucco Fever”.