Over the past few weeks and certainly in the next few days there will be many projections and predictions made how about players and teams will perform during the upcoming 2013 season. These prognosticators will try to include every bit of pertinent information they can into those guesses they make. I myself have done it when discussing my expectations for individual players and will do it tomorrow as I wrap up that series with a final look at the team as a whole and give my official record prediction. So many things can happen in the course of a season, players can digress, players can break out, teams cans struggle with injuries, etc but in the end all forecasters worth a grain of salt try to account for these things in various ways. The methods are usually not very accurate but its the attempt that is important.
Baseball however is not just about what we can predict (or at least try to predict) but rather it is about so much more. Chances are if you are reading this blog you are a Pirates fan like myself and if you are you are certainly not a fan because of what the forecasts say. No fan could survive being a Pirates fan if it was just about the numbers and the ebb and flow of the game. There is a certain magic about baseball that many can feel but only a few appreciate and which fewer yet understand. As for myself I feel it, appreciate it and as the years pass feel as if I am beginning to understand it more and more and yet my original point of this article was to explain it and that is an even taller mountain to climb as I know no one who can do so and give it justice.
It is a strange mystical force which causes all this. It goes by man names, some call it luck, some call it karma, some call it destiny, some call it hope but none of those words truly captures it. This mystical force causes luck, decides who is need of good and bad karma, picks outs the teams of destiny and keeps fans of even the Pirates hoping that this could be their year. This presence can’t be evaluated nor predicted nor accounted for in any sort of real tangible way. It is there but then again it isn’t. Some people including myself have gone to explaining this as an act from the baseball gods and in a way that truly is what it is. I’m not much of a religious person and don’t care to get into a religious argument with anyone but I feel this needs to be said. The God or God(s) or lack there of, you believe in or not, if they exist, do not care one iota about baseball but the something not of the world truly must and that force whatever it may be is what the baseball gods truly are. Unfortunately they are not a merciful judge and they act in strange some times incomprehensible ways, I mean they have punished the Cubs for over 100 years for not leaving a goat into a stadium. What us Pirates fans have been through for the last two decades, highlighted by the last two years is most certainly not fair. And yet here I am and here you are back thinking about the 2013 Pirates team and what it might just have in store.
Talent alone will only get a team so far. The Pirates true talent level as you will see on this and may other sites is usually said to be somewhere in between 75 to 85 wins. That is a large and rather important range of outcomes and where the Pirates fall on it or possible even off of it will ultimately be determined by the force I know as the baseball gods. On paper this Pirates season doesn’t look good but it looks better than a lot of the ones in the recent past but in reality this is a team that possibly more so than any other will rely on what is thrown at them or given to them by this mystical force.
For those of you who reached this point in my article I thank you. What I wrote above is most likely a bunch of malarkey and doesn’t really say too much or add much to the Pirates conversation but once every year I like to write out a piece more for myself than anything and try to figure out just what it is that makes baseball just so … so … baseball. Alas I have no other words to describe it.
Overcome with frustration I head out to make the trip to the top of Mount Doubleday and plead with the baseball gods. I search for an answer to as why us Pirates fans are tortured so much. Its a long difficult journey that takes me through the Fehr desert and through the always dangerous Selig pass; many have attempted the journey and all but a few have failed. On several occasions I too nearly end up as just another victim but the tales of what I seen and my near death experiences are for another day. For the story I want to tell here is what happened when I finally reached the summit of Mount Doubleday.
As I reached the top of the mountain I see nothing so I cry out pleading with the baseball gods to show themselves. I yell I out that I wish to speak to them and talk about the plight of the Pirates fans. I stop to listen and silence, I get no response. My pleadin continues and still silence so eventually I decide to just say my piece anyway. My emotions were running high so I’m not sure exactly what I said but I’ll do my best to summarize.
Look, If you aren’t going to respond that is fine but I’m going to say my piece anyway. I am a member of the most downtrodded fan base you oversee and I’m not speaking about the Cubs. I am a Pirates fan and for two decades you have beaten us down repetitively, punished us for some misdeed and I just can’t take it anymore. This season you allowed us to have some real hope only to beat us down once more. We had become numb to emotions such as anger and frustration but you allowed them to creep back in and now that is all we feel. You have given us nothing, not even a clue as to what we have done to anger you. At least Cubs fans know why they are being punished. I mean what could we have done to not only deserve this collapse but to see our castoffs like Jose Bautista, Nate McLouth, Paul Maholm, Brandon Moss, Jeff Keppinger and even Lyle Overbay contributing with other clubs? Meanwhile you give us Erik Bedard, Clint Barmes and Rod Barajas three very capable vetran free agents and yet none of them play anywhere near their career norms. The punishment you have handed out has been enough to make most of us give up. Surely you can not want that we are one group of your dedicated followers; we do what we can to appease you as does our team. It is true you have given us moments to be proud of but that was a generation ago the current group carrying the torch has no or little memory of that time. The few of us left solider on but its getting harder and harder to do so. I mean we thought that maybe our time in baseball hell on Earth aka Littlefield was the last of pur punishment but no it rages on. I mean even when things were looking goo this season you still gave us Burnett bunting a ball into his eye, Pedro Alvarez doing nothing the month of April, no offense to speak of and the terrible performances by the free agent signings and this makes no mention of Josh Bell’s pro debut. We aren’t asking for special treatment just for fair treatment. It has been a long time since we Pirates fans had something to truly get excited about so this season seemed special and magical like anything was possible. This season had brought new life to this fan base it had rejuvinated us and made us proud once more but alas you pulled the rug out from under us and have taken it all way. I’m not here for an apology or to cry to you about how its unfair all I really want is an explanation for the way you have been treating us and maybe some advice on what we as a fan base can do better. Come on oh great baseball gods I know you’re there what should I and people just like me do to appease you and make you treat us fairly that is all I ask.
The above paragragh is the essence of what I said to them and then I waited and waited and silence. The baseball gods still wouldn’t respond. At this point I went into a tirade mentioning many of the ways they have wronged us over the years. Yelling about them and cursing them for treating so poorly and demanding that theyb show themselves to me but once again I was met with silence. So there I was on the top of Mount Doubleday screaming at the baseball gods demanding they answer me and yet nothing. It was a long journey back so to leave empty handed couldn’t be accepted so I waited occasionally yelling off into the distance hoping to hear or see anything but I was met with silence. The baseball gods would have none of my pleading and reasoning. I had come so far but alas I had nothing to show for it. Finally after what seemed like an entirity I decided it was time to had back home. Just then I could have sworn I heard some murmors so I turned around but still there was nothing so I head down the mountain and the whole way down through the whipping wind I could swear I heard the words hope, passion, pride, excitement. The words sounded as if they were coming from some ghostly figure but I could see nothing and to be honest I wasn’t even sure of what I heard.
After descending down the mountain I saw figure in the distance who was just barely visible. Even with my sight impaired I knew it must be one of the baseball gods. I entered a near trance like state and once again were repeated the words hope, passion, pride, exctiement for that is what we gave you. After coming out fo the trance I was shaken but I knew what had happened but the figure was gone, desperately I began racing up the hill looking for him yelling that my question hadn’t be answered that I still had no idea why we had to suffer so but I never saw that ghostly figure again.
It was around this time that something snapped me back into reality and my day dream ended. I asked myself what am I to think after that should I give up this notion of the baseball gods and accept the fact theat the Pirates are just unlucky or simply not talented enough or should I continue trying to reason with them at every turn wondering why they hate us so. My day dream made me realize that while the baseball gods have dished me out a lot of punishment they have also given me some of the best memories of my young life. Not just this season and not just the Pirates but as a whole baseball has been one of the best htings in my life for a long as I can remember. Yes it has been torturous to sit by and watch this team lose so many games over the years and yes in its own way this season has even beem harder. But you know what when I look at the rest of my life which admittedly I am fairly happy with and then look at baseball I find it hard to complain too much about the net of what baseball has given me. Still I am not satidfied with no response. SO what am I to believe. Are the baseball gods punishing us because of some past misdead, are the having us go through these trails because something grand is waiting for us on the other side, have they simply decided they don’t like us or an even worse scenario do they simply not care about us. I honestly am no closer to that answer than when I started out on my journey to Mount Doubleday. However I have found out that demanding things from the baseball gods and even pleading with them to explain their ways won’t work all we can do is take the punishment and rewards they hand out and realize that maybe it isn’t such a bad deal after all. Maybe some day in the future I’ll return to Mount Doubleday (maybe I’ll even ask them to chancge the name since you know Doubleday wasn’t the actual inventor) and actually have a chance to talk with the baseball gods but until then I guess I’ll just have to accept the baseball experience they give me and to be honest that is a pretty good deal.