Dunlap: A Dangerous Feeling Has Set In With Pirates Fans


Colin Dunlap
September 30, 2019 - 2:43 pm

(Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)

Related: Hurdle fired, Reds beat Pirates 3-1 in season finale

(93.7 The Fan) - Guess we’re here, right? 


They always said this is when you are supposed to get really scared. You know, when people stop being mad and start turning away; when they start ignoring things and meeting most occurrences with indifference. When they just shrug their shoulders and say, “I’m not surprised,” turn away and continue about their business. 

I think we are here with the Pirates. And that’s scary. That’s scary beyond belief. 

To put it bluntly, most people aren’t invested enough to get mad anymore. It feels like --- to me at least --- people don’t have any anger left. That’s all been disposed of long ago. 

They are too mad to get mad anymore. 

Now it is an acceptance and a small lament. And, again, apathy and dispiritedness are such dangerous feelings. 

But we are here and here we are. 

Go Bucs, I guess. Or something.  

The last straw (if they weren’t already there) for people in the once-proud fan base was a move made by the Pirates to fire manager Clint Hurdle, a man who should have been fired. But people are steamed chiefly that general manager Neal Huntington kept his job, then that owner Bob Nutting didn’t show for the news conference firing Hurdle and, lastly, that the personnel move couldn’t wait until Monday so as not to overshadow one final send off for broadcaster and former player Steve Blass. 

I get all that and I’m on board with it. 

All of it. 

Especially the part about Hurdle being the only man terminated. He should have been sent packing, but Huntington should have been made to split the Uber with him. Hurdle was a terrible cook the past few seasons, but the groceries he was supplied with went stale before they even got to the refrigerator. 

All this and Hurdle will be remembered for the high times. To be fair, he should. Also to be fair, it’s a total marvel at how those high times evaporated so quickly. 

The part that's scary for me is the connection --- and the connection lost. For a few seasons (2013-15) there was a real link and bond; there was a real and true tie that fastened the sports fans of Pittsburgh and the Pirates together. 

We went to the games -- a lot of us. 

We watched at 7:05 p.m. each night --- a lot of us. 

We stopped all we were doing just about every day during those three summers. 

We had hope, we had a team we believed in, we had something to be proud of. The baseball world, to some degree, transfixed on not just the beautiful ballpark but actually on the team. 

Clint Hurdle was a big part of that. Guys like McCutchen and Walker and Harrison and Burnett and Alvarez and Martin --- you know all the names. They had us spellbound. 

We didn’t think it would last forever, but we sure as heck didn’t feel like it would dissolve so quickly. 

I don't know what it will take. But it feels like a lifetime ago that it was ‘13, ‘14 and ‘15 and people were jamming the ballpark and baseball buzzed through this town. I don't know what it will take to get that all back, but it feels like we are so far removed from it. 

Sunday, when Hurdle was removed but Huntington wasn’t, felt like we did the impossible --- it felt like we went from an already rock-bottom to moving even farther away from those high times. 

It's all a whirlwind how we got here. It really all comes back to not seizing momentum and refusing to build off the 2015 team that won 98 games. But to look at this situation right now is almost-unfathomable. 

I have seen the lows and understood the doldrums. 

Before Hurdle got here and when John Russell was manager --- and before him a few others --- I have gone down to the ballpark when I knew there wouldn't be many people. I knew it would be sparsely populated and fans were there to grab a bobblehead or watch Zambelli's cleverness. 

I also knew the Pirates didn't have much of a chance of winning that night; that they'd probably get clobbered. 

Does it feel like that again? Yeah, it definitely does. 

It feels like the bottom. It feels like rock bottom. It feels like even worse, to be honest.

The worst part of all of it to me is this: It feels like we might be to the point where people are done being mad. Where they’ve simply thrown up their hands and walked away. They have just tuned out and moved on. 

That’s apathy, I guess. 

And that’s the very worst thing a sports franchise can be mired in. 


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