First Pitch: Back to the Playoffs

I’m heading to Chicago early in the morning, where I’ll be covering the big series between the Pirates and Cubs this weekend. Sean McCool had live coverage from tonight’s playoff clinching game, and I suggest you read that to get your fill of tonight’s action, and to get a further breakdown of the adversity the Pirates faced to get back to the playoffs. A quick note on that: They’re now one of three teams to make the playoffs every year for the last three years, joining the Dodgers and Cardinals. This was no easy accomplishment.

I’ll also link my article from the other day about taking a break from baseball’s grind to enjoy clinching the playoffs, despite this process starting to become routine. It was only a few years ago when people would dream about actually going to the playoffs once, and that dream seemed impossible. Now, the Pirates are going for the third year in a row. And if you think that’s a fluke, then Sean had the perfect quote from the MVP tonight: “It’s not a fluke,” Andrew McCutchen said. “This is what it’s all about. This isn’t a one-time thing. We’re not a one hit wonder.”

Of course, the Pirates didn’t celebrate hard tonight. They went with a simple, and classy celebration, which was a big 180 from last year when Andrew McCutchen was walking around smoking a cigar with massive goggles, while Tony Sanchez double fisted beers in the background of every interview. Basically, the 2014 season was the equivalent to the Pirates in their 20’s, while this year they’re moving into their 30’s — have a glass of champagne, but don’t go too crazy because we’ve got a big day tomorrow picking out shelves at IKEA.

The crazy thing about the clinch is that the Pirates have now clinched on September 23rd for the third straight season. All of those have been on the road so far. Fortunately, they’re at home on September 23rd, 2016.

And now, let’s get to the notes. Because as of the time of this posting, I’ve got about one and a half hours until I need to leave for the airport.

**Pirates Overcame Plenty of Adversity For Their Third Straight Playoff Appearance. Sean’s live recap from Denver tonight, with an interesting look at how this wasn’t exactly an easy journey for the Pirates.

**The Bristol Pirates Top 10 Prospects Led By High Upside Pitchers. Our season recaps continue with a look at the top 10 prospects in Bristol this season. They were led by some high upside starting pitching prospects, and also featured a big breakout performance from Carlos Munoz.

**Carlos Munoz Makes Appalachian League Top 20 Prospects List. Speaking of Munoz, Baseball America named him the 20th best prospect in the Appalachian League. He was the only Pirate on the list, although Mitch Keller and Trey Supak missed due to a lack of innings.

**Some Upcoming Roster Predictions, Based on September Trends. Taking a look at some of the interesting roster decisions the Pirates will have, using the information we’ve learned so far in September.


First Pitch

  • Verrrrry happy to see the muted celebration. That’s what I was hoping for when Tim wrote the article about not forgetting to celebrate in the moment. The last two years, I’d have been right next to Tony chugging. Now that we’ve been there, lets focus on bigger and better things. But still take a moment to acknowledge what’s happened. 😉

  • I can’t help but think that this is only the beginning of a long string of sustained success that’ll rival the Braves of the 90’s and early aughts. I just hope they have more championships to show for it.

    • I only have one small wish: That the Pirates learn how to play winning baseball in April and May.

      • While I don’t disagree, I’d rather them be hot in the later months rather than April. It’s been pretty well documented on this site that, despite the slow start, the Pirates would be celebrating a division crown in most years. It’s just that the Cards are having a historic year.

        • Last year the Cardinals got off to a slow start but it didn’t hurt them since the Pirates got off to a horrible start. April mattered a great deal both years.

          • Except bucs comment is really that he wishes the Pirates learned how to play winning baseball in April and May, it’s that he wishes the Pirates played winning baseball every single month of the year.

            It’s *incredibly* rare for a club to go 162 games without any low periods. Almost never happens.

        • To me, it’s not so much their play in April or any particular month, it’s their play in the division, especially vs. the basement dwellers.

          PIT vs MIL : 9-10
          PIT vs CHC: 6-10
          PIT vs CIN: 6-10
          STL vs MIL: 11-4
          STL vs CHC: 11-8
          STL vs CIN: 12-7

          There’s your division.

      • My only wish is that they had won the second game of the DHer against the Cubs, and had won two earlier games against the Cardinals where they had plenty of opportunities.

  • So happy for everyone who played a part in this from Bob Nutting on down to the people who prepare the stadium for play. It’s quite an accomplishment and deserves to be celebrated.

    As a fan I have enjoyed watching this team mature and become one of the best teams in the history of the franchise. Who knows before this season is over, they may be thought of as the best team in franchise history.

    Go make history, boys!