The Bucs are back: Every season has to end, but this one was a thrill

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The Pirates season that ended Wednesday night was a cause for cheers, not tears.

Like a good roller coaster, it had enough peaks, plunges and twists to keep fans riveted from the start. It was vintage Thunderbolt, but even the rides at Kennywood come to a stop. Better to remember the rush than to have not had one at all.

Back in April, even the most hopeful Pirates partisan could not have predicted this outcome -- not just escaping the 20-year desert of losing seasons, but finishing with 94 wins, beating the Reds in the wild-card playoff and pushing the division series with the Cardinals to a Game 5 showdown. Add to that a year when the team sent five players to the All-Star Game, the attendance at PNC Park was the highest since its first season in 2001, televised playoff games were shown on the big screen in the middle of Federal Street and the skull-and-crossbones flapped all over Pirates Nation.

Who could hang their heads over that?

It was another feel-good sports moment for Pittsburgh, this time from the team with the longest past and now perhaps the richest future.

What lies ahead will turn on what the owners do in the off-season -- whether they will pay to keep this deep talent pool of pitchers and hitters, or treat 2013 as a flash in the pan followed by a return to mediocrity.

They saw how the fans voted, with their tickets at the turnstiles in PNC Park. They came out to cheer a winner and packed the house built mostly with public dollars. They bought standing-room-only for some games and wore baseball's brand of black-and-gold at home, at work and even in church.

This town belongs to the Pirates again, and for the team's front office that's an achievement to celebrate and a responsibility to maintain.

As for the fans, it's time to roll up the Jolly Roger and send it to the cleaner's. Before you know it, pitchers and catchers will be reporting to Bradenton.


First Published October 10, 2013 8:00 PM


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