If Pittsburgh Steelers fans are at all paying attention to what is going on with the Pittsburgh Pirates, they may be getting a feeling of déjà vu. Of course, that could be because the Pirates season to this point somewhat mirrors their 2011 campaign, but it could be something else as well.NFL and MLB), this group of major leaguers play their brand of baseball much like the Steelers play football.
Yes, some may call us at Steelers 101 crazy for this comparison, and that is fine. However, if fans look close they will see what we are saying. One quick look at the recently completed series with the Houston Astros will provide a clear sample of this. Yes, the Pirates were the better team and should have swept them, but it is more the way the games were played.
During the first three games of the series, the team battled with the Astros, falling behind early and eventually the offense came to life and led the team to victory. How many times have Steelers fans watched that across the parking lot at Heinz Field? Incredibly, all three games were almost the same, nothing done in the first three innings besides giving up a run or two and no offense, similar to opening the first quarter with a couple three-and-outs and giving up a field goal. Even when the Pirates offense got in gear, it was a lot like the modern day Steelers, featuring runs in bunches with home runs, much like the splash plays between Ben Roethlisberger and Mike Wallace.
Even with all that in hand, it was the last game of the series that cried vintage Steelers football. In the finale of the series, the Pirates shutout the Astros 2-0 behind a stifling pitching effort and a couple of timely hits. Honestly, this game should have gave Steelers fans flashbacks to the 2011 game against the Kansas City Chiefs, where they scored early, squandered chances, and held on late for an uncomfortable victory; exactly how the game played out last night.
If this is not enough evidence of the similarities of play, maybe a look at how the teams are constructed. The core of the Steelers is built by the draft, with a couple of lower tiered free agents to round out a few rough edges on the roster and in the line-up. The same can be said for these Pirates, as their core was constructed by the draft, and they have more homegrown talent on the way, and guess what, much of that talent is in pitching (or defense). The way they play the end of games, with a bend but don’t break defense to close the game, is the same. Come on Steelers fans, you have to cringe when you see a prevent defense, much the way Pirates fans do when it becomes Hammertime.
Sure the recent past has not been kind to the Pirates and the last two decades of losing has created a lost generation of Pirates fans. This season, and this franchise seem different than in years past. Maybe it is the way this Pirates team plays the game, maybe it is just the local baseball fans are dying for a winner. Yes, we could be off base by this comparison, but we do not believe we are. These Pirates are definitely cut from a similar cloth to the Steelers.
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