Three nights ago for the first time in over 20 years the Pittsburgh Pirates won an MLB playoff game. And three nights ago, for the first time since I moved to San Diego last summer, I was desperately jealous of everyone back in the Steel City, celebrating on the South Side where the beers are a third of the price they are here in LA and the city pride 3x as serious too. Black and gold everything. And don’t even get me started on Yuengling and/or Primanti’s!
Sports are a huge deal in Pittsburgh whether you watch them religiously or not. The culture in Pittsburgh is an effect of generations of turnover within the city and generations more to come, each passing on a love for the black and gold down to the next, challenging ’em to out-fan them.
20 years of losing, man
So the other night when the Pirates faced off against the Cincinnati Reds for their first postseason appearance in over two decades, and as I watched with a fellow Pittsburgher from the emptiness of a divey Santa Monica bar with $1 tacos and overpriced draft brews of the non-Yeungling variety, I realized that I was over 2,000 miles away from the biggest thing to happen to Pittsburgh since my family moved south of the city in ’94. Sure, the Steelers have won two Super Bowls in my time there but out of my 20 years in western PA, a single Pirates’ playoff victory feels a bit more significant than a handful of Steelers’ Super Bowl rings.
When the Pittsburgh Steelers won their first Super Bowl in this new era of Pittsburghedness, it was February 5th, 2005 and coincidentally my 15th birthday. The Steelers had just worked their way through the NFL playoffs, an overlooked wild card berth (much like the Buccos) and won the biggest American sporting event… with a rookie quarterback. Getting close to the girl in 9th grade that night was a plus too though admittedly, it garnered much less national attention.
The second Big Win for this new generation’s black and gold came when Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin led the Penguins to a Game 7 Stanley Cup victory against the Detroit Red Wings in 2009. This win was big for me personally just because of how avid of a fan I had become at the start of the Crosby-Malkin era, constantly surrounded by people talking hockey from winter to spring even though few of us had ever played.
Not to mention that just one year prior in 2008, our senior year of high school and really our last year with so much in common, the Pens season culminated in their defeat at the hands of those same damned Red Wings. We used to all head to one of our parents’ houses and watch the game in the basement, probably sneaking beers and definitely throwing in massive tobacco dips. Real James Bonding shit.
pirates in LA?
Now it’s the Pirates turn, and fuck me running, it’s about time! And if there was any time, why shouldn’t it be now? Out here in LA, finally settled, and if the Buccos pull out the impossible (and the Dodgers win too), I’ll be seeing the black and gold here in Los Angeles against the Dodgers. Granted, the Buccos go best with a cold Yuengling, but we’ll make do.
The best part about moving to a new city is certainly what lies ahead, though it’s always nice when those things you used to love make their way back out to you and with a refreshing vigor too! Only thing missing is the high school homies.
Thankfully it’s easier than ever to stay connected.