At some point around the eighth or ninth inning tonight, it became apparent that the Pirates were going to win 1-0 for the fourth time in 11 games. The details needed to be filled out (Russell Martin with a walkoff single that was maybe a foot away from being a walkoff grand slam, Mark Melancon and Bryan Morris needing seven pitches combined to shut down the Tigers in the tenth and 11th), but the ending seemed like a fait accompli.
And why not? Dave Cameron wrote about the Pirates at FanGraphs today, talking quite a bit about how they've played thus far and what that means going forward. You should read the whole thing, but Cameron's main conclusion is that even if the Pirates have the True Talent of a slightly-better-than-.500 team and that's how they play for the rest of the season, they're still probably going to end up with a playoff spot because of all these wins they've banked during this ridiculous stretch of baseball. I don't know how long Jeff Locke can keep going like this or when the bullpen will start to come back in the general direction of the planet Earth, but every single game that passes where they don't is one more win. The Pirates are 34-20 right now. In 2010, their 34th win came on July 21st.
I guess my point is this: it's natural to spend daylight hours fretting about sustainability and running through scenarios trying to figure out what will or won't happen to this Pirate team in the next 108 games. Even fans used to watching winning baseball do that when their favorite team is on a 100+ win pace after 54 games. It's hard to care about any of that when this Pirate team is on the field right now, though. This is a talented and well-constructed baseball team that is playing baseball as well as it possibly can play baseball right now, and for this Pirate team that means lots and lots of wins. The games are fun to watch. The players are easy to root for. This is what we all watch baseball for. This is it! These stretches where watching baseball makes you smile and pump your fist and feel a little bit invincible no matter what else is happening -- this is what we've been missing out on for years. It's fine to wonder how long it'll last, but it's dumb to waste it entirely fretting over all of the ways that the Pirates might torture us again somewhere in an indeterminant future.
For as long as I can remember, being a Pirate fan meant thinking exclusively about the future. Let's me and you spend a little bit of time in the present, because right now it's wonderful.
Good call. I've been wrestling with this same back-and-forth. I keep thinking in terms of regression, but then, sometimes it doesn't happen. Sometimes it happens next year. When you put a decent team together, sometimes they're good AND a little lucky, and the luck is contained within a single season. And you make the playoffs. And then you pinch yourself.
@TWNDAI I thought at the beginning of the season that the Pirates were a 75-win kind of club; if they played at that kind of pace for the rest of the year, that's still somewhere in the neighborhood of 84-88 wins, which puts you in the hunt. And, yes, a whole lotta pinching indeed.
"These stretches where watching baseball makes you smile and pump your fist and feel a little bit invincible no matter what else is happening -- this is what we've been missing out on for years."
man, just right on, Pat. There's just something special about a Pirates win, and when you put a whole lot of them together, you get something really, really special.