First Pitch: Proud to Be Part of an Amazing Pirates Community

Tonight is all about the fans who have followed this team for years. (Photo Credit: David Hague)

Tonight is all about the fans who have followed this team for years. (Photo Credit: David Hague)

When I started this site in 2009, I just wanted a place to keep track of the payroll, option years, and a place to post updates from my trips to Lynchburg to see Pedro Alvarez. Only about 50 people read the site at the time, with a majority of them coming from the Pirates MLB.com message board. Like most people who lived outside of the Pittsburgh area, I took to online forums and blogs to keep in contact with Pirates fans. There’s something about sports where you need that contact. You need to talk to other Pirates fans about what is going on, and to find out how other people felt about the Aramis Ramirez trade, or passing on Matt Wieters, or the rebuild under Huntington.

Everyone has their own Pirates online community, but it wasn’t until I started this site that I saw how many there were and how loyal and invested Pirates fans were, despite all of the losing.

It started a few weeks after I started the site. At the time I was working as a fantasy sports writer, and was participating in a fantasy baseball mock draft at AOL Fanhouse. I don’t remember how the conversation started, but at one point I was chatting with another mock drafter who said he ran a Pirates site. Within minutes the entire draft chat had been dominated by Pirates talk. I had read WHYGAVS before, but that was the first time I had ever “met” Pat Lackey.

Once the season started, I got an e-mail from Brian McElhinny, who runs Raise the Jolly Roger. Brian and a few other blogs were running live game chats (Cory at Three Rivers Burgh Blog, Jim at North Side Notch, Brad and Rich at This is Getting Old, and a few other people who either didn’t run blogs, or no longer run blogs). This was before Twitter really took off, so the live game chats were pretty amazing at the time with all of the instant reactions and conversations during the game.

I don’t exactly remember when I met other Pirates bloggers, such as Charlie from Bucs Dugout, Tom and Cocktails from Rumbunter, or David Todd from ESPN 970 (who I still haven’t met, despite the fact that I’ve been on his shows about 100 times over the years). However, I know that over the last few years every Pirates blogger has put in a ton of time that has been mostly dedicated to following a losing team, with no historical reason for hope that things could be better. The common criticism is that Pirates bloggers have always agreed with the team. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Every Pirates blogger has been critical of the moves the team made, but the overall feeling was that the team was heading in the right direction. That wasn’t a popular opinion to have for a lot of years. Tonight it was proven to be true, and for that I’m glad for all of the other Pirates bloggers who have dedicated years to writing about this team, some much longer than others.

But it doesn’t stop there. I said there were different Pirates communities, and the blogging section is only one of them. There are also the forums. One of my daily activities is to check the incoming links to see how others are responding to articles or topics. By doing this, I usually visit 5-6 Pirates forums per day. It’s amazing how many different places there are, and not only that, but how active people are in each place. I can think of about ten different Pirates forums off the top of my head, including off-topic forums on Steelers and Penguins sites. To have so many people dedicated to a team that had previously lost for 20 straight years is phenomenal. Tonight, I’m glad for all of the people posting on all of the forums because of the dedication they showed in keeping interest with this team. And that especially includes any forum posters who haven’t been my biggest fan over the years.

Then there’s the third group. The anonymous group. You hear the vocal minority, and that’s just what it is. One thing I’ve noticed from the traffic numbers on the site is that very few people speak up. The amount of people who participate in discussions here, or take those discussions to other forums or Twitter is small compared to the amount of daily readers on the site. There are so many people who just read and follow the Pirates, but don’t get involved in the online forums, or Twitter, or comments on the blogs. The fact that you don’t comment is meaningless, because you obviously still have the same dedication as everyone else. I’ve seen that first hand with the site growth each year, even though there was probably no reason for a Pirates site to grow so quickly from 2009-2011. Despite all of the losing, Pirates fans have craved information on the team. So tonight is for all Pirates fans, even if they don’t participate in the online discussions.

Tonight I’m proud to be connected to all of these groups, not to mention all of the people in the media that I’ve met over the years who have provided great coverage of this team. In my old job I used to have to search for information on every MLB team each morning. The Pirates always had the best information, and their information was the easiest to find. I still think that is true. There is no shortage of good Pirates content, whether that’s the mainstream media, blogs, forums, or just commenters or people talking on Twitter. And I feel that all of that is a result of the dedication and the demand from Pirates fans. There are very few teams who could lose for 20 years straight, yet see their fans maintain this level of interest in the day-to-day operations. The Pirates are one of them.

About ten years ago I joined a message board looking to connect with Pirates fans. Five years ago I started this site, hoping to add to the discussion on the team’s rebuilding. That put me in the same category as everyone else: striving to find more information on the Pirates while trying to find others who were talking about the same team. In the process I was connected to an amazing community, with many people who I consider friends. And tonight I’m glad for all of us.

Links and Notes

**A #MartePartay, a Block, #ElectricStuff, But Morneau’s Defense Was the Key

**Playoff Race Update: Pirates Clinch the Playoffs

**The Pirates Want to Keep Burnett, and They Have the Money For It

Tim Williams

Author: Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with AccuScore.com, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

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  • Lino Donoso

    “there was probably no reason for a Pirates site to grow so quickly from 2009-2011.” Uh, yes there was, and you’re the reason this particular site has done so. It’s been a pleasure watching PP develop. I’ve come to rely on your judgment about all things Pirates, and hope to be reading you for many years to come.

    • jaygray007

      You’re the man, Tim! without you and the other pirates bloggers, pnc mightve gotten burned down a few times… especially last offseason thanks to the 2012/2013 Triblive Militia… and we woundn’t've gotten to see all this happen.Thanks!

      #BuccoFans.com4Lyfe

      • http://www.piratesprospects.com/author/admin Tim Williams

        LOL

    • http://www.facebook.com/lee.young.161 leefoo

      I have to agree with Lino and jaygray.

      You are the AMac of Pittsburgh Blogs.

      Foo

    • http://www.finner.smugmug.com finner68

      Love this site! Great job Tim! As a sports fan, you need hope. This site gave me that. The books are phenomenal too. Great explanations of sabermetrics.

      • http://www.piratesprospects.com/author/admin Tim Williams

        Thanks for reading, and for buying the books!

    • panthrowe

      Found this site about four years ago off a rondam search of pirate drafts. Havent needed a reason to look for another site to keep informed. Im now able to talk pirates from draft till the pros. Great job! any information you are looking for you can find it here.

      • http://www.piratesprospects.com/author/admin Tim Williams

        Thanks for reading!

    • http://www.piratesprospects.com/author/admin Tim Williams

      Well, I was talking more about the interest with the fanbase and the fact that there were so many Pirates fans available to reach. But thank you for this!

    • Ron Zorn

      Tim, I concur with Lino. There is a lot of Pirate content out there. I only read PP religiously due to your writing. I find it balanced, not overtly positive, but not ridiculously negative either. And I love the fact that you re-visit some of your “predictions” and review why right or wrong. Prognastication is not an exact science, and reviewing is fun and informational. Keep up the great work.

  • mmorrislv18

    It’s COMPLETELY ridiculous to be this excited about the rebirth of this franchise! I live in Atlanta and am a huge Braves fan, grew up in Arkansas listening to the Cardinals on KMOX, but the first time I saw the Pirates on the Game of the Week, I was hooked!
    Congrats to the entire franchise because it takes an entire franchise.
    ESPECIALLY, congrats to the loyal, crazy, fantastic, long suffering fans.
    Thanks, Tim, for your work.
    IT’S GOOD TO BE BACK!

    • http://www.piratesprospects.com/author/admin Tim Williams

      Thanks for reading! Braves fan and a Pirates fan? Don’t find that often.

  • tripleplay24

    Love reading u do a great job!
    now lets hope we get to see a couple playoff home games

    • http://www.piratesprospects.com/author/admin Tim Williams

      Thanks for reading! Closer to the home playoff game after tonight’s win.

  • rsborelli

    Tim, I don’t always comment.. I am one of those that reads much, much, much, much more than comments. I will just say I love this site. My interest in Pirates minor league system was really spawned by all the losing. When you are drowning in losing seasons, you have to hold on to some hope. I used to use MILB.com daily to keep up with box scores until someone recommended this site to me on a forum. I check this site daily and have done so for some time. Thanks for all the work you and the contributors have put into it!

    • http://www.piratesprospects.com/author/admin Tim Williams

      It’s been fun this year with the prospect coverage changing. In the past it was entirely about players who would help the team in a few years. This year it has been a lot of guys who were making the jump to the majors, or there as depth. Still a lot of guys to help a few years down the line, but the bigger focus has been the immediate help from prospects. Definitely a nice change.

  • leadoff

    Thank you Tim for thanking us, but the reality is this is your site and it is the best site I know of to discuss Pirate baseball from A to Z, you should be proud of it as we are. We can tell people, if want to know inside Pirate baseball go to Pirate Prospects.

    • kendallsankle

      this is the DEFINITIVE pirates site for everything about the franchise…i love it and have been reading for the past 4 years. Both myself and my numerous craig wilson bobbleheads, UPMC hats, kevin polkovich photo day memories, along with all adam hyzdu fans thank you for all your hard work and effort.

      • http://www.piratesprospects.com/author/admin Tim Williams

        Thanks for reading! Somewhere I’ve got my Craig Wilson bobblehead packed up with all of my other Pirates stuff.

    • http://www.piratesprospects.com/author/admin Tim Williams

      Thanks leadoff, and thanks for commenting everyday. Always know I’m going to read your input on a topic when I wake up in the morning.

  • BamaBucco

    Tim, as a Pittsburgh Pirates fan living in Alabama the last 7 years, sites like yours and the other blogs you mentioned above have been a godsend. This is the first time I have commented here, but I have been a daily reader for at least the last 3 seasons. I remember being at Three Rivers Stadium when my brother took some friends to a Pirates game for his 6th birthday party. That day they beat the Mets and clinched a playoff birth. My brother is turning 27 this week and that feat had not happened again until last night. I believe that because the big league team was so depressing to watch, that made your site the go-to source of information to keep hope alive that maybe, with a little luck, we might see this day come to pass. As a Pirates follower, in some ways this seems like a complete shock, and somehow that it happened too soon and too easy, in spite of the 20 years of losing. This year was supposed to be the year Cole got his feet wet and Marte established himself, while Taillon, Polanco, Hanson, Kingham, Glasnow etc. would form the core of any true contender. In this instance, it is so good to be surprised, and thanks to PP it is good to know that the cavalry is on the way to hopefully sustain this success for years to come. Thanks for all your hard work, it has been a blast.

    • http://www.piratesprospects.com/author/admin Tim Williams

      There were definitely years where the focus was more on the farm system than the MLB team. However, I’ve never believed that they needed to have all of the prospects up before they could compete (EX: the waiting for Taillon, Polanco and company to form a core). We’re seeing that now, and the good thing is that they have all of those other prospects to sustain this success.

  • rohabi

    You are right. Many great sites out there but I think this one is the best. Lots of data driven research that I so enjoy. I live in South Dakota and have been a Pirates fan since I can remember. The only info available was the box score in the daily paper the next morning, maybe. Sometimes I wouldn’t be able to find out until two days later if they won on the west coast unless I heard a score on the radio. That was “only” 20 years ago. It’s amazing to think how far we’ve come. Keep up the great work and thank you.

    • http://www.piratesprospects.com/author/admin Tim Williams

      Definitely amazing. Now you can watch the actual game on your phone live no matter where you are.

      Thanks for reading!

  • La Pirate

    Tim, I have been a Pirate fan all my life(59 years) despite being from Louisisana. Your site is truly informative all of your readers/commenters appreciate your dedication and hardwork. I really dont read the papers anymore because your site is so much more interesting about the current Pirates and the youngsters coming up. Congratulations.
    All of Pirate nation is rejoicing today but lets hope we have some success in the playoffs. Even if we dont this year has been amazing and will long be cherished.

    • http://www.piratesprospects.com/author/admin Tim Williams

      Thanks for reading and for making it your main place for Pirates info!

  • https://www.facebook.com/andyrshaw Andy Shaw

    Tim, your WAR is at least 4. Keep it up.

    • http://www.piratesprospects.com/author/admin Tim Williams

      So basically I’m a good player, maybe an All-Star, but not a Superstar (5-6) or MVP (6+). Is it because I’m not clutch?

  • piratemike

    Pirate Prospects…… the most important site in Pirate Nation.

    • buster09

      PLUS 1 ! Like most of you one here,I hit most of the sites regularly ,but when you are watching the Minor League system constantly,you find out Tim’s is just pretty hard to beat.

      • http://www.piratesprospects.com/author/admin Tim Williams

        And just think, we used to disagree about a ton of things. Now it seems we’re on the same page with a lot, starting with the love for Gregory Polanco.

    • http://www.piratesprospects.com/author/admin Tim Williams

      Thanks Mike. I feel like I owe this title to the demise of the “Pirates Fan Advisors” site.

  • http://www.facebook.com/lee.young.161 leefoo

    For those who think, like I do, that this is a great site, hit that Paypal contribute button.

    And, no, Tim W doesn’t pay me, although he better buy me lunch at you know where if I ever get to ST before I die.
    :)
    Foo

    .

    • http://www.piratesprospects.com/author/admin Tim Williams

      If you come down I’ll take you to Jose’s Real Cuban. One of my favorite places down here.