My thoughts on the “bandwagon”

With the Pittsburgh Pirates’ success in 2011 coming out of nowhere, the inevitable fact of so called “bandwagon” baseball fans coming out of the woodwork came true. Crowds of 10,000 or so in the opening months of the season turned into capacity crowds that have the Pirates pushing 2,000,000 fans in attendance for the fourth time in team history.

With all of the bucco fever that has come about this summer, I get asked frequently: “Hey Steve, you’ve been a Pirate fan forever. How do you feel about all of these bandwagon fans?”

Well, at first I was quite upset. I liked coming to a a quarter-filled ballpark without having to worry about crowds, lines, and traffic. I think the turning point of how I felt came on July 8, a game against the Chicago Cubs.

We all know that the Bucs pulled out a resilient victory thanks to a clutch home run from Michael McKenry. But what I did take out of the game as much of that emotional win was the crotchety older gentleman seated next to me who spent most of the game complaining about all of these “bandwagon hoppers”.

After saying aloud his displeasure for seeing all of these people “who have never been to a game in their lives nor care what goes on” for the fifth time, it finally hit me. It’s absolutely stupid to not like more fans discovering a team, and even more stupid to let it affect your enjoyment of your team’s first pennant race in your lifetime.

Yes, I might have to wait in line for food a bit longer or spend some extra time in a garage when the game is over, but do you hear the crowds and the enthusiasm they have for the team? Heck, on a Monday night, fans were on their feet in the first inning trying to give their support to Charlie Morton as he tried to get out of a jam (after over two hours of rain delays no less!). Games have become exponentially more fun to go to since fans started turning out in droves. It certainly is much better than the sea of blue empty seats that became commonplace over the past decade. It can use some work (here’s looking at you Saturday night drunks and wave starters) but in time, PNC Park could be a very tough place for opposing teams to play. Just ask anyone at the game this past Friday against the Cardinals how loud it got before the bottom of the 9th.

With that said, it is quite amazing how many young people I see around the park now. This so called “lost generation” is turning out in force and showing that the past 18 years haven’t completely turned off Pittsburghers to the game of baseball. Not all have been going to games since they were three years old like me, but they aren’t stupid. They have played baseball and softball and know the game. Here’s hoping this “new generation” can keep the momentum going.

The old folks that said they would never be back, now are starting to return. Many realized the errors of their ways and admitted it. After all, like religion, there are always opportunities for redemption and coming back to the light.

So next time you scowl at the lines to get your Primanti’s sandwich or get a ticket, just remember the options: Crappy, irrelevant baseball that is more convenient or a pennant race with fans flocking to see the Buccos.

I’ll take the latter every time.






About suhlmann12
journalism student at Ohio University. Huge fan of Pittsburgh sports teams

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