Bucco bandwagon: Get on board -- the fun has just begun
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There's a new black-and-gold bandwagon rolling through town, and this one's been a long time coming. After 19 straight losing seasons, could the winning Pittsburgh Pirates be back?
Fans are of two minds. Some bullishly say yes; others pretend not to hear the question, for fear of a jinx. The team's breathtaking 48-37 record puts it atop the National League's Central Division, one game ahead of the Cincinnati Reds at the All-Star break.
But everybody remembers last year's winning tally at this point, too -- 47-43, one game out of first -- and the team's precipitous collapse in the second half. So much for those playoff dreams.
Regardless of where today's Pirate faithful stand, their number is growing. Through 42 home dates, attendance at PNC Park is up by 12 percent over last season. As to those who prefer their Bucs on a screen, viewership of televised games is up by 18 percent over 2011 -- and last year's numbers were 50 percent higher than 2010's, said an executive with Root Sports Pittsburgh.
Tonight's All-Star Game in Kansas City will have two Pirates on the roster: centerfielder Andrew McCutchen, the majors' top hitter, and pitching closer Joel Hanrahan, the National League's No. 2 leader in saves. Starting pitchers A.J. Burnett (10-2) and James McDonald (9-3) arguably deserved All-Star attention, too.
What has gotten into these surging Pirates is a sight to behold. As July's temperatures rose, their bats sizzled. As the humidity became smothering, so, too, was the pitching.
No one knows how this season will end, but it's been a fun ride so far. And all without a Terrible Towel.
First Published July 10, 2012 12:00 am