On Monday at 4:10 p.m. in Cincinnati, the 2015 Pirates season is set to begin.
It most likely won’t happen.
Games never start on time anymore.
Nonetheless, it will get going soon enough, at 4:11 p.m. or a minute after — or some time just before 4:15 p.m.
And when that first pitch is flung toward the plate, it will mark the beginning of a season drenched with the anticipation of great things. So much so, some national pundits have even tabbed this team one that could win a World Series.
Here’s a bit of caution from someone who has consumed this team — and been a proud Pittsburgher — all my life: Enjoy this ride, don’t get obsessive about the destination, but rather, relish the voyage.
In short, it won’t last forever; these are high times. So enjoy the hell out of what this is.
Soak up every time Andrew McCutchen charges in at full speed and then slides across that meticulously-shaved PNC Park grass to grab what looked like a surefire single. Soak up Cutch’s gazillion-dollar smile and our city having an athlete who carries himself with the dignity, grace and elegance that every father should be proud to allow his ballplaying son to point to that man and tag him as his role model.
Soak up McCutchen’s outfield flanks to either side —- Starling Marte and Gregory Polanco — growing with each pitch, inning and game as they hope to live up to a hyping at (or at least near) the best outfield in the game.
It won’t last forever; these are high times. So soak it all in.
Soak up our hometown guy Neil Walker at second base, pulling on that jersey of his childhood idols each evening and never giving less than a full-on, 100 percent effort in a city where it feels like everyone is a close friend of his.
In Walker’s situation, with contracts and all, it won’t last forever; these are high times. So soak it all in.
Soak up every time Josh Harrison steps into that batters box or shuffles his way out to third base and understand he’s a microcosm of our city, in a way. For so long, Harrison was told he was too small, or too-this or too-that. But all he did was work hard, never complain and end up proving the doubters wrong, rising triumphantly.
Harrison knew he could be great all along; he just needed his chance.
In a lot of ways, Harrison feels like a perfect parallel to the revitalization of our proud Downtown area — many say it couldn’t happen, but with a bunch of can-do and never-quit, it did; and now it’s among the best there is.
So soak up Josh Harrison. These are high times. They won’t last forever.
Soak up Pedro Alvarez’s acceptance of a new position and, with it, the hope that he can find his bat again — a booming piece of lumber that has the potential to push this club to great heights. Soak up, too, Jordy Mercer’s continued growth as the everyday shortstop and Francisco Cervelli’s efforts to be the best Francisco Cervelli he can be and resist the urge to compare him at every turn to Russell Martin.
Remember, these are high times. Soak them all in.
Soak up what Jung-ho Kang stands for, no matter how he fares. He stands for a franchise that not too long ago wouldn’t have fathomed being able to dip into the international market for such a talent, but ponied up the cash to secure such a player. That’s a huge step in a game with success so predicated on how much you’re willing to spend.
These are high times, soak them all in.
Soak up, too, every start by Gerrit Cole who should go on — here or elsewhere — to be a great right-hander. We are seeing now that robust and stout pitcher who we yearned for during the lean times of the franchise not just learn on the job, but grow into an ace before our eyes.
It won’t last forever, soak in these times. They are definitely high times.
Soak in Francisco Liriano coming back here because he wanted to play with this group of guys and Vance Worley finding a place to reignite his career when others had left him for dead.
Soak up every fist pump and toughest-guy-on-the-planet look given at batters by A.J. Burnett as he goes on his own farewell tour, pressing that pedal to the floor each time he takes the ball.
Burnett knows this is his last ride and will soak it up; you should too.
Soak up Watson and Melancon providing that end-game door slam from the left and right side, respectively.
For so long this franchise didn’t have a reliable closer and now they have two guys capable enough of getting those final three outs.
It won’t last forever; these are high times.
Soak up Clint Hurdle, a man who has already achieved his stated task of re-bonding a city with their baseball club, but now has his eyes on more. He’s the perfect type of leader this team needed at this time, a man all of Pittsburghers can see a little of ourselves in.
How long will he be here? No telling.
That’s why it’s crucial to soak this all in. Remember, these are high times.
Who knows what will happen between now and October 4, when the Pirates bookend the season with game No. 162 against the Reds.
Will they have more games to play thereafter?
Will the Pirates be in the Wild Card Game?
Will they comfortably have clinched a playoff spot?
Will the season be a lost cause, already eliminated from any chances at the playoffs by something unforeseen as we look at things now, as the first pitch has yet to be thrown in April?
No one knows the answer to any of that right now.
I do know this, however: Baseball is back here in Pittsburgh. Back here very strongly here in Pittsburgh. And you never know when the lean years might hit again.
These are some high times, so soak them up.