Jose Bautista is swarmed by his teammates - AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar
For a brief moment, everything was perfect. There were no protests to plan, no fan disgust, no dumbfounding draft picks. There was no contemplation about a below average Major League roster, no fears about a barren farm system. At that moment, all I could do was take in the scene around me. Down on the field, grown men celebrated gleefully like innocent children. PNC Park, nearly filled, was electric. One row in front of me, a young boy waved his foam finger and threw his arms in the air in happiness. It was the first baseball game he had ever attended. I slapped hands with friends. I slapped hands with strangers. The Pirates had just completed a come-from-behind walk-off victory.* The noise was deafening as the Pirates finally began filtering towards the dugout. The crowd became quiet as the scoreboard began showing highlights of the game we had just witnessed. We cheered each play as if it had just happened. All was right in the world.Slowly, the moment passed. People began sitting down, catching their breath, allowing the adrenaline to slowly drift out of them. Suddenly the lights went out, and the crowd prepared for a fireworks show. I looked around the park, studying 32,000 people in a light just strong enough to make them out. I was filled with joy, but I was also dreaming of what was possible. What if the Pirates found themselves in the playoffs some day? What if they were in contention in September? What if they were above .500 in July? What if the PNC Park atmosphere was like this every night? I glanced at my friends' faces. They were covered by smiles. I scanned the faces of strangers. Smiles everywhere.
*This is why I will never boycott the Pirates. I will always attend games. I would not be able to leave a game early, even for a noble cause. I will not attend the game tonight, because I am not sure I would be able to walk away, even for one inning. If I turn my back, I might miss the greatest thing ever to happen in a baseball game. This team is too much a part of me, and no greedy owner or incompetent GM will ever take that away from me. They can have my nine dollars, but they will never keep me away from my team. I will do all I can to help raise awareness. But I will not turn my back on the Pirates. So for those of you that are protesting tonight, I wish you good luck. I appreciate and fully support your efforts. You are doing something that I could not possibly do. Thank you.
UPDATE (3:24 PM): Here are links to some of the top Pirate blogs and their take on the walkout:
Pittsburgh Lumber Co.
Where Have You Gone, Andy Van Slyke?