A daily accumulation of history and present as I follow the 2011 year through the baseball season and reflect on the glories and disappointments of the greatest game on Earth.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Joel Hanrahan

Ok. I get it. You don't live in western Pennslyvania. You don't live remotely close to western Pennsylvania so that you can watch ROOT, a network on television that carries the Pirates. You don't remember when the Pirates were good (hint - Barry Bonds still played for them) and thus, you still might root for them just because. You don't think of Sister Sledge and wonder if Andrew McCutchen could make this team family, too. You don't root for the Washington Nationals and follow their former players, no matter what way the wind takes them. You don't scan the highlights and stats of those obscure teams that time and better sense seem to have forgotten. You only think of Pittsburgh when Bud Selig threatens to contract another team and you hope that your team can get Andrew McCutchen because MLBTV and your fantasy magazines talk about how good he is supposed to be.
You're just clueless because Joel Hanrahan has 22 saves and a sub 2.00 closer ERA (1.24 and 0.94) for the season. Sure, he only has 1/3 of an inning over the minimal 1 inning per outing thing that makes most closers today so.... lame, but yeah... he's doing it for Pittsburgh!
And sure, Pittsburgh lost today, but they're still 39 and 38 after a weekend series with the Red Sox. And sure, it was at PNC Park, but folks... they had the biggest crowd ever on Saturday night to watch Hanrahan come in and shut the show down for the first 2 batters. Barring a missed opportunity to catch the 3rd out at the wall by Xavier Paul (something any other red blooded web gems seeking outfielder - to include Manny Ramirez - would have done) and thus, a runner on 2nd, he brought out the real fireworks - not the ones that came when the control booth let a few loose too soon hoping and believing that the end was real. And after Adrian Gonzalez (he who is currently tops in batting average in the majors) was eliminated, it was pandemonium. People were literally screaming for their Bucs like in the days of Andy Van Slyke... like in the days of Kent Tekulve and Dave Parker and Willie Stargell... like in the days of Manny Sanguillen... like in the days of Bill Mazeroski... like in the days of Honus frickin' Wagner.
And I'm not a Pirates fan, but I do appreciate the good things in baseball (even enough to eat crow on how I said the Red Sox would mow through them and the Padres - neither happened, I might add). Seeing a city that has been dead since 1993 return and rejoice. Man... that was nice.
And what does this mean? Sure, there are over 80 games left, and a team can go to seed, but a team can also believe in itself. They're 4 games out with the loss on Sunday, but this is the Pirates and it's June 26th and they're only 4 games out and they're above .500 and St. Louis is stick a fork in it done and Milwaukee is up front, but a few key series, a lot of hanging on, a lot of wins against underachievers like the Astros...
This is a team with a closer who looks like Eric Gagne without the glasses and the Canadian who might be getting some fist pumps of energy ready for the Three Rivers area.
And wouldn't that be nice?
Like Cleveland's turn around season (1 game out in 2 less games than Detroit - 40 and 36), we have to feel good about lots of teams in this (and few teams out - the Marlins, Astros, Cubs, Dodgers, and Padres - AND thanks to the Minnesota turn around (at least for a while) no teams that dead in the water in a non-respectable way YET in the American League (even though we all know who the pretenders are - Kansas City, Baltimore..).
So please... .forgive us our happiness and excitement if we get carried away, but methinks that my cousin's kids might actually be having a year worth remembering when it comes to baseball!

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