Originally posted on The Outside Corner  |  Last updated 1/27/12

What else can baseball fans do in January but dream of October? In You May Say I'm a Dreamer, the Outside Corner staff will imagine the route to a World Series in 2012 title for all 30 teams.

"Same Old Pirates." For a long time, every single glimmer of hope on Pittsburgh's North Shore was followed with that phrase. A good trade followed by an injury. A promising draft pick resulting in a bust. A first place surge in July followed by a historically bad August. Every year, the Same Old Pirates seemed to find a way out, and so you'll forgive me if I need just a minute or two for this to sink in.

In March, we saw the slim Pedro Alvarez for the first time. Early on in the spring, he took three straight pitches to fall behind in the count 1-2, then waved weakly at a curveball in the dirt for strike three. Same Old Pirates. Except that next time up, he expected a curve with the first pitch, stuck with it, and laced it through the left side of the infield for a single. And the next day at McKechnie, he lasered a first pitch fastball 425 feet through the spring breeze to dead center field. I remember then that the thought crept into my head for the first time: "Maybe this year will be different."

That sort of realization doesn't happen all at once, though. It happens bit by bit as the long season wears on. On June 1st, Ryan Braun made his return to the Brewers lineup against the Pirates in Milwaukee and the Brew crew lit the Pirates up 10-1. That dropped the Pirates to the .500 mark for the first time since early April and a lot of Pirate fans started to say it: "Same old Pirates." The Pirates bounced right back from that, though, and took the next two games in Milwaukee and pressed on from there. That wasn't what any Pirate fan expected.

In late June, people started to notice that Charlie Morton's strikeout rate was creeping up towards 7.0 K/9 and he wasn't sacrificing a ton of groundballs to get there. As July started, Jose Tabata had a .300 batting average and a .370 OBP. When the trade deadline came around, Erik Bedard was still healthy. In mid-August, Andrew McCutchen's OPS sat at exactly .900 with no signs of the late-season fade he suffered in 2010 and 2011. On September 1st, the Pirates were in first place and Pedro Alvarez had 28 home runs. That's the strange thing about a season like the one the Pirates just finished: nothing that happened to get them into the playoffs was that surprising by itself, but to have every single thing go right and fall into place is staggeringly improbable and it's hard to even process how crazy this sort of thing is. 

It's always magical when a sports team comes together to make a championship run, even when the team is a talented team people expect to see there. But when that team is the Pittsburgh Pirates? A team everyone thought would be lucky to win 75 games before the season? It was the world's greatest plate-spinning act.  Barmes and Barajas looked ageless. Tabata and Alvarez made the talk about their pre-season status as disappointing prospects seem ludicrous. Think about it this way: Everything had to go right to get the Pirates into first place on September 1st, but even after that everything had to keep on going right to make sure they were there at the end of the season.

And that's not even mentioning the playoffs! If there was ever a fan base just happy to be in the playoffs, it was Pirate fans. Who could blame them after 20 straight losing seasons? But while their fans held playoff keggers through the Division Series, the Pirates went about their business like veterans who'd all been there before. They took care of the Phillies in four games before the initial playoff euphoria had a chance to subside, and from there it all feels like one big dream made up of Andrew McCutchen making diving catches and Neil Walker mashing home runs in front of hometown fans and Jose Tabata legging out doubles and Pedro Alvarez making balls disappear into October nights, all while Charlie Morton made Reds and Phillies and Yankees pound groundouts into cold grass and James McDonald baffling baseball's best hitters. It's all there, right up to the huge dogpile on Joel Hanrahan just behind the PNC Park mound after ending Game 7 with a strikeout of Mark Teixeira.

The 2012 World Series Champion Pittsburgh Pirates. Even having seen it happen, it seems ridiculous to type.

[follow]

GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

DeMar DeRozan: It will be ‘pretty tough’ for me to leave Raptors

Super Bowl referee says Cotchery play could have been a catch

The NBA is one step closer to putting ads on jerseys

Archie Manning defends Cam Newton over press conference

Dwight Howard: ‘I have not asked the Rockets to trade me’

Nazem Kadri fined $5,000 for throat-slashing gesture

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Hassan Whiteside suspended one game for elbowing Boban Marjanovic

Hornets’ Michael Kidd-Gilchrist has torn labrum

Report: Antonio Tarver suspended six months, fined $50,000 for positive test

Texans owner wants team to draft a top quarterback

Subban undergoes larynx surgery, out at least eight weeks

Report: Raiders staying in Oakland for 2016 season

Chris Harris: Von Miller should get paid more than JJ Watt

4 likeliest Dwight Howard trade scenarios

On Kobe Bryant and taking greatness for granted

Penn State the latest to offer generic football jerseys for sale

Gary Bettman praises the NHL’s new website and app (which are currently awful)

Bucks need to choose between wins, development

NBA to weigh adding advertisements to jerseys

ESPN, Stephen A. Smith and Little League International sued by parents of Jackie Robinson West

Kobe Bryant shoots down notion he wants All-Star MVP record

Justin Tuck will sign one-day contract to retire with Giants

Ronda Rousey returns to training

Von Miller likely to get franchise tag from Broncos

Barry J. Sanders transferring to Oklahoma State

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

On Kobe Bryant and taking greatness for granted

Bucks need to choose between wins, development

Fantasy booking WrestleMania 32

Unrestricted free agents each team must consider re-signing

QUIZ: Name the winners of the NBA Slam Dunk Contest

Thank you Daniel Bryan

The timeless greatness of Jaromir Jagr

The NCAAB power rankings

Report: Kings to keep coach George Karl

Was Alain Vigneault right about NHL's lack of punishment towards Wayne Simmonds?

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker