At the height of the team's struggles following a second consecutive 2-1 loss to Oakland last Tuesday, Pirates' manager Clint Hurdle basically told reporters that anyone would be crazy to think a baseball team isn't going to face a bit of adversity during the course of a season. I don't know about you, but I could listen to Hurdle talk all day long. He brings a calming presence and a matter of fact attitude to Pittsburgh's clubhouse that I haven't seen since the days of Jim Leyland.
Even after the Pirates dropped their fourth game in a row to fall to 53-36, they still had one of the top three records in the major leagues, and despite falling a game and a half behind St. Louis in the National League Central division, they still had a very healthy seven and a half game lead in the wild card standings.
Today, Pittsburgh has caught the slightly scuffling Cardinals in the division and has an even healthier nine and a half game lead in the wild card standings. The Pirates are also tied with St. Louis for the second most wins in baseball, along with the highest winning percentage.
As far as I'm concerned, the Pirates can leap-frog with St. Louis all summer long, but I'm keeping a closer eye on the wild card race because I think, this late in the season, if they fail to make the postseason at all, that would be a tragedy.
I realize getting to 82 wins would be paramount, but right at this very moment, in order for Pittsburgh to finish with its first winning record in 21 seasons, it would have to go 26-44 down the stretch. I'm sure there would be a celebration and some t-shirts printed up for the occasion, but an 82-80 final record would seem like an even bigger collapse and a bigger disappointment than the last two seasons combined.
No, the Pirates have even bigger fish to fry. They're too good; they're too talented; and they're not going anywhere.
Please disperse, no collapse to see here. Please, people, disperse.