Wednesday, July 20, 2011

On bandwagons

I must admit I feel some initial animosity toward the people suddenly talking, tweeting and writing about the Pirates and their unexpected success so far this season.

"Where were all these 'fans' before this season?" I've been asking myself that question and many more like it in the past few weeks especially.

Of course, I know where these bandwagon jumpers came from. They were the same folks making corny, ill-informed jokes about the Bucs for the last decade or more. The Pirates certainly deserved some dismissive treatment under the vision-deprived guidance of former general managers Cam Bonifay and Dave Littlefield.

But since current GM Neal Huntington was hired in late 2007 by majority owner Bob Nutting (who seized control of the Pirates' board earlier that year), the yinzer ignorance became a little too self-satisfied for my liking. It was as if Pittsburghers would rather cling to their bad humor than admit the new regime was actually going about its business in a sound manner.

Now the Pirates are in first place in the National League Central, predictably the crowds at PNC Park are increasing and everyone's Facebook status suddenly proclaims their Bucco pride. Certainly not all of these people were hunkered down in the diehard foxhole for the last 18 years.

In the end, though, the energy and enthusiasm currently surrounding this club outweighs any disingenuous members of the good ship Jolly Roger, at least in my mind. Certainly most of the newcomers cared about the team enough to make fun of it in years previous.

To me, the gratuitous bandwagoning that accompanied the U.S. Women's National Team's exhilarating run to last weekend's World Cup final is much more questionable than the sudden growth of the Pirates' fan base.

Americans understandably love to rally around the Red, White & Blue no matter the sport (see the neverending success of the Olympics), but to hear even non-sports followers wax rhapsodic about Abby Wambach and Hope Solo carries more than a faint whiff of fraudulence.

To be clear, there's nothing wrong with having some ebb and flow to your interest in a particular sport, but frankly I feel for the hardworking women of the USWNT when the nation's attention seemingly goes from five to 100 percent in the span of minutes.

So, to all the Twitterati who were full of candor during the World Cup, I sincerely hope we hear from you at some point prior to 2015.

Speaking of 2015, if the Pirates have a struggling season or two between now and then, I fully expect the groan-inducing quips to return even after this renaissance summer.

To quote Jerry Seinfeld, "Not that there's anything wrong with that." At least they'll still be talking about the Bucs, which is more than Wambach, Solo and company will likely be able to say.


jrs405 said...

How can you even call this bandwagoning? What have the fans had to cheer about in the last 18 years? Did you go to 81 Pirate games last year? I seriously doubt it. Not for a team that lost 100 games you didnt. The fact that Pittsburgh has come out to see an actual team take the field at PNC is not a sign of bandwagon jumping, its a sign of a good team. Pittsburgh is a great baseball town that has been patiently waiting for something, anything to happen. So just shut your mouth and watch the game.

Matt Gajtka said...

Not the best reading comprehension from you. I just stated I'd rather have this type of bandwagoning, where the hatred turns to love, than the opposite that the soccer example demonstrates.

Also, I bought a 20-game ticket plan last year because I liked the direction the organization was headed in. So take that and shove it, jerk. :-)