For Openers … New verse, same as the first.
Neil Walker said “it kinda felt like a rollover from last year.”
He was talking about the 1-0, 10-inning Opening Day win over the Cubs — and he wasn’t kidding.
Never mind the full house, the excitement, Francisco Liriano’s biting slider and the Shark Tank baring its teeth.
But … 1-0?
The ’13 Bucs put themselves on the map in a late-May stretch of four 1-0 victories within 11 days. That told them they’ve got the pitching and the nerve to compete with, and slay, the tough teams, confidence they never lost.
They got an early reminder that they’ve still got all of that.
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Jack Wilson shared an interesting recollection about Andrew McCutchen prior to participating in the pre-game ceremonies honoring Pirates awards winners.
“I remember Freddy Sanchez and I walking out after a Sunday day game (in 2005), and he was doing his pre-Draft workout,” Wilson said, “and we stuck around a little to see what he can do. I think he was like 165 pounds then and he was putting ’em father in BP than any of our guys at the time. So we were pretty much in awe.
“One of best things you can have in your career is watching young players go from the start to an established point of their careers. I’m honored to be here to hand him that (Silver Slugger) award.”
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The Pirates heralded Opening Day with a set picture that was quite revealing.
Depicting uniformed Pirates players posed in front of PNC Park. the picture clearly had been taken at the end of last season — since it appeared late Sunday night, before the Bucs had made their official return to the park.
The photo includes players who were certain to be back on the ’14 team — Pedro Alvarez, Russell Martin, Starling Marte, Gerrit Cole, Walker, McCutchen and Liriano.
No first baseman or right fielder (Garrett Jones would be non-tendered) or shortstop (Clint Barmes’ return was unknown, and Jordy Mercer’s status may also been up in the air).
Then again, with Liriano the only starter pictured, I could just be full of hot air — there is this thing called Photoshop, I’m told.
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How can you tell it is a special occasion, like Opening Day?
Easy: The Pirate Parrot wears his black tails (as in, tuxedo) to the park.
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“We’re still chasing,” Clint Hurdle said, a reference to the fact last season ended for his Pirates in the Division Series.
The glib manager has his own unique way of describing what the team strives for:
“We’re looking for excellence, not success. Success is comparing yourself to somebody else. Excellence is being the best you can be.”
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Jim Leyland, taking another field-level look around PNC Park:
“This is the most beautiful, best ballpark in America. And I’ve been to all of them.”