Saturday, September 29, 2012

I've Seen the Pirates Become the Victims of a No-hitter for the First Time in My Life, and it Wasn't So Bad

I've always been petrified of bees or any sort of stinging insects. For the first twenty years of my life, I managed to avoid getting stung, but the day before my 21st birthday, my late grandmother asked me to go out in the shed and pull out a patio chair. As soon as I opened the door, a wasp came flying out and went down my shirt. It stung me right in the chest and stayed in my shirt for a few seconds while I jumped around and swore loud enough for the entire neighborhood to hear. As it turned out, it wasn't the end of the world. Despite all the movies about "killer bees" that I watched as a very young boy in the 70's, I didn't actually die from my wasp attack.

I introduced this piece with that little anecdote because, for all of the 40 years that I've been on this planet, my favorite baseball team, the Pittsburgh Pirates, had avoided being no-hit in a baseball game. They came close numerous times throughout the years, but something or someone (Josh Harrison) prevented the dubious moment from taking place.

Last night, as I kept checking the online box score of the Pirates/Reds game, I noticed the it was getting pretty late and the Pirates hadn't had a hit against the Reds' Homer Bailey. I just shrugged my shoulders and said, "Someone (Josh Harrison) will come through with a hit.

However, at approximately 9:35pm, what I had feared all of my baseball fan life had finally happened: Homer Bailey had thrown a no-hitter against the Pittsburgh Pirates in a 1-0 victory at PNC Park.

After Alex Presley popped out to end it, Bailey's Reds' teammates converged on him for the "cliched but ever so wonderful when it's your team doing it" celebration in the middle of PNC's beautiful diamond. It was a historic moment to see even if it sucked for Pirates fans. And you know what? I survived.

I always thought that being on the losing end of a no-hitter/perfect game was a sign of weakness, but that's not the case at all (although there are plenty of other signs of weakness for these 2012 Pirates).

Even good teams are the victims of no-hitters every once in a while. The Reds' Tom Browning threw a perfect game against the Los Angeles Dodgers about a month before they won the 1988 World Series. Heck, the Tampa Rays have been on the receiving end of  like 14,000 no-hitters/perfect games since 2009, and they've been a pretty competitive baseball team for the past few years. The last time the Pirates were the victims of a no-hitter, it was in 1971 against Bob Gibson at Three Rivers Stadium, and Pittsburgh would go on to win the World Series later that year.

The Pirates have been around for 125 years, and they've only been no-hit eight times. That's pretty amazing. I guess after 40plus years, the team was due, and with Pedro, Clint, Alex and Rod flailing away night-after-so many nights, it was just a matter of time before it happened in this era.

So, much like that wasp, Bailey's no-hitter stung a little as it was something I was trying to avoid witnessing, but I'm still alive today, and the Pirates actually have a couple of hits.

I will now concentrate on my fear of never seeing the Pirates in the World Series again in my lifetime.

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