By: Paul Alexander

It is still very early in the season and the Pirates are still under the ever-elusive .500 mark but doesn’t it feel different? It does for me.

I’m still concerned that there’s no way the Bucs can match their longest losing streaks, which so far this year is six, with an equally as long winning streak. The Pirates did win four straight this past week. That new math, which I’m not very proficient at, suggests that if your losing streaks always dwarf the winning streaks, .500 just isn’t going to happen.

That being said, it does feel different. Much of that is the presence of Clint Hurdle. He is upbeat, engaging and extremely infectious. The players know where they stand. They are having fun and he is setting them up to succeed.

I am not about to go overboard here because of the harsh reality that is the last 18 seasons, but I am more than willing to be cautiously optimistic. The offense is still not where I think it can be, but the pitching so far is well beyond our meager expectations. Will the Bucs flirt with .500 until the All-Star break? August? Dare to dream, September? I doubt that, but I do believe 70-75 wins is realistic and that represents a momentous upgrade. Baby steps, but a step in the right direction is exactly what the Pirates need to take.