ST. LOUIS -- With the Pirates season on the line Wednesday night at Busch Stadium, manager Clint Hurdle wanted to keep everything as simple as possible.
His team's ability to treat playoff games the way they did regular-season games was one thing that impressed Hurdle about his young group of players, most of whom had never played in the postseason.
"The dugout chatter is there," Hurdle said. "The same nuances that we've gone through this season -- there is laughter, there is fun."
He was thankful Wednesday to wake up with an opportunity to play a Game 5 elimination game at Busch Stadium. And, at every opportunity, he reminded his team to be thankful and to play without fear.
"Find a way just to play your heart," Hurdle said. "Play the size of your heart, not the size of the audience. That's it, man. Go get in the backyard and get after it. Play to win."
Manager has support team
For 162 games -- or in this season, 168 -- dozens of men turn to Hurdle for advice and wisdom to have long and successful careers in the major leagues.
In turn, Hurdle leans on four people for support: his dad, Clint, his wife, Karla, and friends Scott Whittaker and Rod Olson, a leadership coach who has worked with the Pirates.
"I like to call what I have as a Mount Rushmore," Hurdle said. "I've got four people in my life I can rely upon, 24/7, that will speak the truth to me and let me know if they think I'm out of line."
Hurdle had his dad stay with him at his North Hills home this past week -- "and he's my go-to guy," Hurdle said. And he appreciates his wife's perspective because it doesn't carry all that testosterone.
"I'll just throw some things out and get some insight," he said. "It's not technical. It's not tactical. But I share everything with her."
Brenly on Pirates ...
TBS analyst Bob Brenly has to remain objective in his job as a TV commentator.
But he said Wednesday he always will have a special spot in his heart for the Pirates and has many fond memories of Pittsburgh and its baseball team from growing up in east-central Ohio.
"My father was a huge Pirates fan," Brenly said. "He used to bring me to games all the time as a kid. I can still remember the first time I came through the Fort Pitt Tunnel and saw the city there. It was just mind-boggling as a kid from a small farm town."
Before one of the Pirates-Atlanta Braves playoff games in the early 1990s, he remembered taking his son, now a minor league catcher in the Arizona Diamondbacks' organization, to Point State Park, where they played whiffle ball before heading to Three Rivers Stadium.
"I think it's great to see the Pirates, with the history that this organization has, return to form," he said.
Regardless of how the season ends, the Pirates and their fans should relish this year, Brenly said.
"It wasn't like they went on a spending spree or traded away their entire minor league system to get a couple of key pieces -- they were very smart about the way they went about their season," he said. "That's how you maintain success."
McCutchen pitches in
Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen will equip a youth softball team in Florida with jerseys, pants, socks and cleats after the team fell victim to a business scam late in 2012.
A team of 12-year-old girls in Mulberry, Fla., raised about $2,000 last year and placed an order in December for new uniforms, but the uniforms never arrived, according to a report from an ABC News affiliate in Tampa. After reading a news story about the scam, McCutchen partnered with Nike and used $2,000 that the company gave him to buy equipment to outfit the team.
McCutchen grew up in Fort Meade, Fla., about 30 minutes from Mulberry.
He worked with Nike to lower the cost of the apparel, which would have cost $3,000-$4,000 retail.
Michael Sanserino: email@example.com, 412-263-1722 and Twitter @msanserino. First Published October 9, 2013 10:19 PM