AlliedNews.com - Grove City, Pennsylvania

April 19, 2011

Random Thoughts: Feel-good start has fans in a fever

By Corey J. Corbin
Allied News



— I'm fighting a sickness that seems to be sweeping the entire Pittsburgh area.

It’s not the Swine Flu, the Chicken Pox or some other ‘trendy’ illness that gains national prominence. It’s Bucco Fever.

The Pirates started the 2011 season 4-2 with back-to-back road series wins over the Chicago Cubs and the St. Louis Cardinals. The series wins were even more astounding considering the Bucs have accomplished that feat in four years and even more amazing considering the Pirates won just 17 games on the road a year ago.

That early season success has many Pirate fans’ hearts all atwitter with Bucco Fever, but I’m not sure I want to get sick just yet.

I watched a big chunk of the team’s second and third victories (5-4 wins over the Cubs and Cardinals) and found myself remembering the days of the ‘Killer Bees.’

Remember those days?

Barry Bonds, Bobby Bonilla and Andy Van Slyke leading the Pirates to three-straight National League East pennants (Well Bobby Bo didn’t help that final year but you know what I mean)?

I remember those days all too well.

I spent many a Sunday afternoon with a glove on my left hand sitting in Three Rivers Stadium’s upper deck or left field seats hoping and praying to catch a home run or foul ball. Also included in those days were heckling the opposing team’s left fielder.

I had Bucco Fever back in the day and the Pirates’ early season successes have it heating up again all over Western Pennsylvania

Many of the Pittsburgh area sports talkers are gushing about the Baby Bucs and all the excitement they’re instilling in their success starved fan base.

Chief among the excitement is the play of Pittsburgh’s own Neil Walker, who’s continued his rookie successes into his sophomore year by leading the NL in RBIs with eight through  six games.

Walker’s game-winning run in the top of the ninth Sunday against Cubs’ closer Carlos Marmol has many talking about how that may be the play of the season for the guys in Black and Gold.

Like many of you Pirate fans out there, I’m sick and tired of all this losing. Year after year for 18 years, I’m tired of watching an undermanned team go out and not have enough. People ask me if I’m a Pirate fan and while I’m ashamed to admit it, I eventually do say I root for the Pirates.

I admit it with one caveat: I watch them on TV and read about them in the newspaper or online, but I steadfastly refuse to line Bob Nutting’s pockets.

I’ve only been to one Pirate game in like 12 years - and that was just too good of a deal to pass up (a $16 ticket and transportation for $20) -- but outside of that, I’ve never been inside of PNC Park.

I wanna go back real bad, but like I said, I’m not gonna line the pockets of tight wad Nutting. I’d rather go watch minor leaguers or head down to Slippery Rock to see the Sliders.

Yes, I’m starting to feel the affects of Bucco Fever, but I’m fighting tooth and nail because I know that early summer swoon is coming.

It’s inevitable. It’s like the sun rising and then eventually setting.

The Pirates start out OK and get everyone excited that maybe this is the year the losing streak ends and then unfailingly, they start losing over and over and over and over and over again.

I just can’t see Andrew McCutchen hitting like 30 homers or Walker continuing his torrid pace. I don’t see Charlie Morton getting himself out of jam after jam like he did Monday. There’s no way Kevin Correia and his fellow starters keep them in games.

It just can’t happen. It won’t happen.

But if it does, I suppose I’ll have to man up, take some medicine and head down to the North Shore for some Major League Baseball.

It’s been way too long.

Eighteen years too long.

Agree or disagree? Contact Corey at gcsportsguy@yahoo.com.