By: Chris Mueller

Sitting one game under .500 about 1/5 of the way through the season is nothing to shout about for most baseball teams. Heck, given that the Pirates have flirted with .500 later than this in some of their recent seasons, it isn’t really anything for fans to crow about. However, the fact that the Pirates, with only a few exceptions, have been competitive in most every game is cause for positivity.

Last year, this team seemed to get overwhelmed. It became more of a circus sideshow. In the first month of the season, the Pirates lost games by scores of 15-6, 10-2, 10-3, 17-3 and of course, 20-0. Didn’t exactly take a rocket scientist to see that the team was barely competing at times, and it would be hard to fault any fan that said they completely gave up on the team during that time period, or the rest of the ugly losing that followed.

Right now though, the Pirates seem to be in it just about every game. They’re fighting. You might say, “None of that matters, they just have to win baseball games,” but I would argue that for a team that’s been so bad for so long, learning how to stay competitive and find ways to win and simply be in close games is important.

Think of it as closing a gap gradually. If your big brother always beat you at sports, you didn’t just get bigger than him and start winning overnight. You had to get better, little by little, until you were eventually on level ground.

That’s what the Pirates are trying to do right now–get on level ground. They’ll still suffer some ugly losses, and the offense is going to need to produce more than it is now, especially Pedro Alvarez.

But if the Pirates continue to get quality starts from Kevin Correia, Charlie Morton and a sharper James McDonald, they should be able to keep playing highly competitive, if not always winning baseball.

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