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Raise The Jolly Roger: Record Crowd For Pirates Wildcard Win Over Reds

Fans gather on the Roberto Clemente bridge before the game. Fans gather on the Roberto Clemente bridge before the game.

For most Pittsburgh Pirates fans it probably feels like a lifetime ago since the team’s last postseason appearance. Then again, given that it’s been over 20 years, for many Buccos fans it literally was a lifetime ago.

If you were born after October 1992, the Pirates Wildcard playoff game against the Cincinnati Reds tonight was a long overdue first. And there’s no question the 40,487 on hand at PNC Park, the largest in park history, are hoping this becomes a slightly more regular occurrence in the future.

Of course, right now the future is anything but a pressing concern. For this Pirates team and these fans there is, quite simply, no time like the present.

Image courtesy of @jessespector Image courtesy of @jessespector

The home team got off to a lead early against their division rivals in this one-and-done playoff, with home runs from Marlon Byrd and Russell Martin in the bottom of the second, putting the Buccos up 2-0. Martin added another homer in the bottom of the seventh, which put them up 6-1.

Aside from what seemed to be a flukey Reds home run—if only because of the non-consequential fan interference—by Shin-Soo Choo in the top of the eighth, which obviously went Cincinnati’s way, the rest of the way it was all Pittsburgh.

Down four runs after their second-to-last time at bat, there was pained resignation visible on most of the Reds’ faces. The game wasn’t over, but it was evident the visiting team was already thinking about the somber commute home.

Image courtesy of @MLB Image courtesy of @MLB

Not long before the start of the game, ESPN analyst Curt Schilling said he felt like things had been lining up—recently and over the course of the season—in such a way that it seemed as though the Pirates were meant to win the game.

It seemed silly (to me) in the moment, but maybe he was right after all. Baseball players do seem to have a weird sixth sense about this sort of thing.

Not that it matters at this point. What matters is that they won.

Raise it! Raise it! Image courtesy of @961Kiss

The Pirates were not only the better team tonight, they were the better team when facing the Reds through most of the season. So any divine intervention working on their behalf was just an added bonus—they won on merit.

Their 6-2 victory officially marked the end of over two decades of baseball misery and futility in Pittsburgh. The magnitude of the achievement was certainly not lost on the fans in attendance, many of whom were moved to tears after the Reds final out.

Images courtesy of @916Kiss Images courtesy of @916Kiss

Next up, the Pirates will face another division rival in the St. Louis Cardinals, a team they had less regular season success against. But that’s something to talk about tomorrow and over the next week.

Let’s just let this Buccos team and one of the most tortured fanbases in professional sports enjoy and savor this win—they’ve earned it. And they know better than anyone not to take success for granted.

While it’s extremely unlikely that 21 years will pass before the Pirates see the playoffs again, everyone in Pittsburgh is gonna be celebrating like it is. Ya know…just in case.

Soak it in, Pittsburgh. Soak it in, Pittsburgh.

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