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October 15, 2013 7:24 am

The ecstasy and agony of a Pirates’ fan

Written by Doug Blough

Tuesday, Oct. 1: Lifelong Pirates fan suffers coronary watching “sudden-death” playoff game.

“Middle-aged curmudgeon Doug Blough waited 20 long-suffering  years for his beloved Pittsburgh Pirates to reach the playoffs. One game removed, they merely had to beat the Reds in a one-game playoff to continue into the playoffs.

“In the eighth inning when Pittsburgh catcher Russell Martin hit his second home run, Blough began clutching his chest, moaning ‘Not NOW, God!’ and collapsed on top of one of his cats. He was pronounced dead on the scene; the cat was seriously injured, but survived.”

That could conceivably be tomorrow’s headline and story as I begin this column. I feel my dangerously high blood pressure rising minute-by-minute as game-time nears. If there is a God in heaven, my Pirates and I will survive this day.

Wednesday, Oct. 2: We not only survived, but dominated in a 6-2 victory. Feeling light and free, I hit the ground pirouetting at noon, an ecstatic, integral component of “Pirate Nation.” We shall chew up and spit out those unsuspecting Cardinals in the upcoming best-of-five series, stomping on their un-digested entrails!

Thursday, Oct. 3: Sadly, we were exploited to a 9-1 tune. But the opera is far from over before the fat gal is barely warmed up, and I entertain no doubts about the ultimate outcome.

We didn’t want to show our best right away anyhoo. Give ’em a false sense of superiority and then put the hurting of their life on ’em; that’s our style.

Sunday, Oct. 4: As anticipated, we won Game 2 in a cakewalk. I predictably overslept for Game 3’s 11 a.m. starting time, but had the skillful presence-of-mind to DVR the beginning. After the resulting 5-3 victory, I’ve never felt more alive.

The artificial flowers on my end table have never smelled sweeter. Food has never tasted better, even though the chicken livers I just ate were four days past the expiration date and I gingerly anticipate food poisoning. Big deal; bring it on!

One more win, that’s all we need, and with Game 4 at Pittsburgh, huge advantage for Blough’s Bucs. Pretty much a done deal!

Wednesday, Oct. 7: I return with a heavy heart. A little part of me died tonight, (I think it may have been my gall bladder, but everything hurts) with the 2-1 loss. I hate to second-guess manager Clint Hurdle’s suspect wisdom, but after a Pedro Alvarez blast brought us to within a run and Martin being walked, Hurdle replaced him for a pinchrunner.

As God is my witness (and there’s no one I’d rather subpoena), I immediately text-messaged my nephew Jay, “NO! Leave him in! We need his defense & I do not trust Harrison’s base running.”

With a 2-1 count on pinch-hitter Jose Tabata, there goes Josh Harrison trying to steal second. He went into his slide about five steps too soon, and by the time he finally arrived, a fielder was waiting with his glove at the ready and a cup of coffee in his free hand. Potential game-winning rally ended with deflated Tabata striking out and superstar McCutcheon popping up meekly to end the game an inning later.

Wednesday, Oct. 9, 3 p.m: Two hours before the first pitch of the final game, you might ask: “So after this roller coaster of emotions, how are you feeling now with the series tied 2-2 and the loser finished for the year? Excited?”

A fair question, to which I’d respond: “I’m overwhelmingly excited, yet with a disturbing sense of dread and a yellowish, jaundiced tint. (Again, I attribute that more to the gall bladder).”

Make no mistake: my pre-playoff wagers on continued success — risking $40 for a $200 payday — has little to do with my giddy anticipation and heart palpitations. Monetary profit pales in importance to the simplistic, child-like joy of a lifelong love affair with a hometown team claiming victory.

Sure, the odds are stacked against us — a rookie pitcher versus a seasoned veteran, a 20-year playoff drought versus a relaxed team 7-1 in elimination games. BUT these kind of odds are what Cinderella stories are built upon!

My Bucs and I not only have heart and grit, but we’ve got God, who loves an underdog (see Job) ending. He would never allow this Goliath to slay the young David. As a formality, I’ll be checking in one final time before sending this column to my editor, (who is rooting for the Pirates almost as vehemently as I). I’m a mere cog in this pre-ordained machine, so let the un-bridled celebration begin.

9 p.m.: I don’t feel so good. Color me pale and disillusioned. Maybe we can’t believe everything we read; maybe Goliath actually put a whuppin’ on David after all.

My faith is weak, my tomorrow is bleak! It’s not so much the loss, but the dang $200 I didn’t win!

1 Comment

  • Comment Link October 19, 2013 8:38 am posted by Phoebe

    So sorry your Buccos didn't help your game funds grow. On he brighter side it was so good to see your great column and feel your pain as I read it! Phoebe

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