As Game 5 of the NLDS approaches, my advice is: ENJOY THE MOMENT.
Full disclosure: I don't care.
The Pirates killed my passion over the past two decades, and I can't recapture it. At least I'm honest. Half of PNC Park are bandwagon jumpers. Most of the media is pretending to care. It would be better for my show if they lost. End-game discussion is awesome, and the Penguins are my bread and butter.
But, as a supporter, I've been in this situation with the Penguins and Liverpool FC. Stanley Cup finals. European Cup finals. Lots of big games.
Consider last spring, when the Penguins lost to Boston in the Eastern Conference final. Like so many, I let disappointment overwhelm my appreciation.
That series was winnable, and the Penguins got slaughtered. That sucked.
But only two teams did better. Sidney Crosby is healthy, and has reclaimed his post as hockey's top player. The Penguins are always exciting, and should contend for the next decade. Nothing beats game night at Consol Energy Center.
As a talk host, I'm going to go ballistic if they don’t win another Stanley Cup soon. Their pedigree justifies nothing less.
But I was there pre-Mario. I was there post-Mario, and pre-Sid. I've been there since the beginning. I've been there ALL THE TIME.
You want that Stanley Cup, obviously. But the Penguins, on a daily basis, deliver.
If you're a true Pirates fan, your support never wavered these past two decades. Maybe that made you loyal. Maybe that made you stupid.
But now, it's your time. ENJOY THE MOMENT.
The Pirates have rebuilt Pittsburgh as a baseball town overnight and become a legit contender. It's an amazing story. The future offers no guarantees, not even .500. Small-market teams almost always find themselves in a liquid situation. I still don't trust Bob Nutting.
But you got tonight.
Tonight's a coin flip. Moneyball doesn't matter. Bill James doesn't matter. What's already happened doesn't matter. Games like this are random.
Who would have predicted Bill Mazeroski? Bobby Thomson? Bucky Dent? Francisco Cabrera and Sid Bream? In games like this, heroes come out of nowhere.
It would not shock me to see Neil Walker come through.
Walker is 0-for-16 in the NLDS, but he's having decent at-bats and does well against St. Louis starter Adam Wainwright: 6-for-19 on his career with one home run, six RBIs and three walks. Walker is a smart, collected hitter.
The one thing I don't want to see is a Pirates loss that can be pinned on one person. No one on the Pirates deserves that. Not after this season.