Breathe it in Pirates fans. Our Buccos will be on national television for the first time since anyone can remember when they take on the Braves next Monday. The move was announced yesterday before the Pirates vs Reds game and it was later reported by Rob Biertempfel that the Pirates may be on FOX in the near future as well.
It is just one of many perks that come with being a first place team after the All-Star Break. The amount of media attention is doubled by the fact that the Pirates have been abysmal for nearly two decades. This year, however, winning has once again proven that it cures all. As much as we all hate seeing the Red Sox, Yankees, Braves and Cardinals on TV every week, ESPN is only going to televise winners (I mean really, who would ever watch the 2010 Pirates outside of Pittsburgh?) Sitting atop the NL Central, six games over .500, the Pirates have earned this spot.
As stated in the previous post, I believe next week's series against the Braves and Phillies could potentially make or break this season. I also believe ESPN saw that potential and decided to "sell high" on the Pirates and put them on national television while they're hanging around first place. If the Pirates beat the Braves and go on to win the series, the network will look like geniuses for promoting an upstart playoff-caliber team as early as late July. If the Pirates collapse next week, ESPN will still have ratings from the excitement of watching a team who, at the time, was looking well on their way to a division title.
Nevertheless, it's hard to complain if you're a Pirates fan. The team has a charismatic manager, a couple all-star caliber players including one of the most exciting players in the game, and a core of young talent surrounding their all-stars. The excitement around this team overshadows the fact that their most talented prospects are still two to three years away from joining the big league club. Now, the rest of the baseball world will have an opportunity to see why the Pittsburgh Pirates have been so successful this year and if the analysts have done their homework, baseball fans will recognize the Pirates will only improve from this year.
Since the game is in Atlanta, the commentators will have to put away their long list of adjectives to describe the beauty of PNC Park. However, be prepared to watch clips of the 1992 NLCS; Jose Lind's error, Sid Bream's slide into home while Barry Bonds' throw comes in three days late will be replayed on your TV.
Please do your best not to throw the remote.
In the meantime, continue to check the sports sites for Pirates' headlines on the front page. Again, they are there because they are winning and they are there because they deserve it. As the winning continues, so will the attention and hopefully, the Pirates will reach a point where they can be on national TV more than once every few decades.