The Pirate difference: All over town, Pittsburghers cheer a winner

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Don't take our word for it. Just listen to the buzz all over Pittsburgh.

This is the year the Pirates will finally lay to rest two decades of baseball futility and claim their first winning season since 1992.

Sure, the naysayers still warn of a second-half collapse, like the ones that deflated the team in the past two years. Is it mathematically possible? Of course. Is it likely? Nuh-uh -- not with the kind of play fans have seen since the All-Star Game (where the Pirates were represented by five players, the most for Pittsburgh since 1972).

This morning the Pirates find themselves 23 games over .500, with only 51 games left to play. The team needs only 15 more victories to clinch a winning record -- and a meager .294 performance between now and the end of the season would deliver that.

But the Pirates are not about to settle only for burying 20 years of losing baseball. They want a division title, and so do the fans packing PNC Park. Ace pitcher A.J. Burnett said as much Sunday about the Pirate faithful.

"They know what's at stake. They know what kind of team we have. They know it's different."

This year is different. The Pirates have turned the Steelers into the day's No. 2 sports story. Nothing against our favorite football team, but let's hope it stays that way into October.

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