Inhale this. All of it.
Stop all the worry, halt the projections and cease all forms of the what-if game.
Honestly, you will feel better if you just live in the now for the remainder of this Pirates season. If not, you will drive yourself loony.
See, the Pittsburgh Pirates, on this 24th day of July, are 20 games above .500 in games they have played this season, holding down a 59-39 record and second place in the National League Central. As these words jump from the keyboard to the screen, the Pirates trail the Cardinals in the division race by a game-and-a-half and are firmly atop the Wild Card standings with Cincinnati (57-44) and Arizona (52-48) scratching to keep up.
The club is also on a three-game winning streak since dropping two games out of the All-Star Break and one into the intermission.
However, as a talk show host —- and nonchalantly striking up conversations with people around town —- the main points I’m confronted with from Pirates fans involve a sense of worry. Or, at the very least, a trepidation what happens next.
That is to say:
Are they going to improve in right field?
Are they going to trade for a first baseman?
Some guy hugged some other guy in the dugout in another city, are they trading for him?
What’s going to happen to the rotation when Wandy gets healthy?
Who is going to be the starter when the Pirates play in that one-game Wild Card?
How about Grilli, huh? How long is he out for?
Can Melancon really be the closer?
Now that Brandon Inge is gone, is the clubhouse going to collapse?
Who is going to be the leader in the clubhouse?
Who now wears those weird contact lenses Inge used to wear?
Is Jameson Taillon untouchable? Oh yeah, same with Alen Hanson, him too?
How is the eighth inning going to play out now that Melancon is the closer?
Why does Thom Brennaman hate Pittsburgh?
Why does Sportscenter hate Pittsburgh?
Is someone who hates Pittsburgh going to be the announcer for playoff games?
Is Thom Brennaman going to announce the playoff games?
Are they going to show the playoff highlights on Sportscenter?
What if there is a Pirates playoff game and a Steelers game on the same day? Where do I park? Do I have to pay twice?
What if Russell Martin gets hurt?
Does Tony Sanchez have the yips?
If Russell Martin gets hurt and Tony Sanchez has the yips, does that mean Michael McKenry has to play?
Why is McKenry still on this team?
What if Pedro Alvarez falls into another slump, but this time in September?
Don’tcha think Alex Presley is better than Travis Snider?
Should Neil Walker just quit hitting right-handed?
Jeff Locke’s innings are piling up, is he going to fade?
You think Hurdle still bunts too much?
What uniforms do you think they will wear in the playoffs?
If they win the World Series, will the kids get off school for the parade?
All these questions have varying degrees of validity — from absolutely none to a reasonable level, with most falling somewhere in between.
But it’s my belief that not enough people are truly living in the now, not enough Pittsburghers are stopping to smell those proverbial roses. No one needs to have it pointed out — but I will anyway — that this is a franchise that hasn’t won more games than it has lost since 1992.
That, in and of itself, is a tremendous achievement of failure.
But now that we are here as a city, now that we are in the vortex of the ultra-positive occurrence happening with the Pirates, it feels to me that far too many denizens of our grand city occupy themselves with too many thoughts about what will happen next, good or bad.
Cut it out.
Here’s some unsolicited advice from a nitwit who talks into a microphone on the radio late at night: Watch the Pirates game and root like hell that they win. No matter the outcome, do the same thing tomorrow and then the next day, and the day after that until the 162-game schedule has run through.
Conversely, don’t preoccupy your mind with all that might, maybe, should, possibly, conceivably, imaginably or feasibly could happen.
Instead, just live in a sense of Pirates now.
Know why? It might be another 20 years before it happens again.
Colin Dunlap is the featured columnist at CBSPittsburgh.com. He can also be heard weeknights from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Sports Radio 93-7 “The Fan.” You can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out his bio here.