March 28, 2011

Pirates Break Camp

Even though it's 38 degrees outside, it is warm and sunny in Pittsburgh today.

Sixty-two men left their offseason homes six weeks ago, traveling from Iowa and Montreal and Washington and Venezuela to a seemingly random Florida city along U.S. 41. While we continued our quotidian obligations of bitching about weather and the economy and referees, these men were busy bunting, taking grounders, breaking in gloves, playing meaningless games in places like Fort Myers or Kissimmee - and most importantly forming a team: the 2011 World Champion Pittsburgh Pirates.

The Grapefruit League results have long since ceased to interest much of anyone. Today's 4-3 loss to the Twins, the winning runs given up by a veteran of 3.2 major league innings, is no different. Spring training is for Anthony Claggetts and Starling Martes and fans who leave early to catch the early bird special at Shoney's. The Pirates closed the book today on that 100-level graduation requirement.

Twenty-five men broke camp today and headed north. This is the group that we will see 81 times this year from the upper deck above first base. This team will play nearly every day as cold April nights yield blazing hot summer days yield cold late September nights. On Friday all the impure sports, games decided by a flop in the lane or a flop at the blue line, careers and brains ruined for the sake of senseless violence, can take their rightful place in the order behind Baseball.

For the first time in six months, all the Pittsburgh Pirates will be in Pennsylvania tonight. There are two more meaningless games in South Philly, a flight to Chicago, then a real day game in Wrigley Friday. It's not a home opener, but it's a day game at the oldest park in the oldest league in baseball. Probable pitchers have been announced. It's on.

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