2 Hour’ summit convenes in the ‘Burgh

MIKE BURKE

Allegany Communications Sports

It’s Opening Night in Pittsburgh, which is always a huge thing as the ‘Burgh is going to be electric tonight. Raising the bar even higher, of course, is the Pirates are 6-1 to start the season with the best record in the National League.

Making things even better around here in 2 Hours From Everywhere, is the Pirates will host the Baltimore Orioles, beginning tonight, for a three-game weekend series. The weather might not be the greatest for baseball, but Pittsburgh will be steaming and there will be a lot of fans from here and from Baltimore there to experience it.

Pirates fans and Orioles fans are funny. Pirates fans never seem to believe in the Pirates, and this dates back to as long as I can remember, until the season is over and the Bucs have won it all or darn near did.

Don’t misunderstand, Pirates fans are loyal and they support their teams day-in and day-out each and every year. There is no better ballpark experience than a Pirates home game, but it’s just always seemed Bucs fans won’t let themselves believe until the Pirates are neck-deep in a pennant race in late summer; and when that happens, they’re there full-throated to urge on their team with more zeal and more noise than ever, as Pittsburgh fans are very spirited and very loud.

That said, this side of Oakland (California, not Maryland), Pittsburgh has been cursed with the worst and most cheapskate baseball ownership the game has known for a very long time, so the skepticism of Pirates fans is understood. Why commit yourself to a team and to players, even when you love the team and the players, when ownership never seems to commit to the team, the players or, most importantly, the community?

It’s as though Pirates fans, unlike Steelers fans (even though they are one in the same), are hesitant to commit because they know at some point the rug is going to be pulled from beneath them by their own tightwad ownership.

Meanwhile, in Baltimore, speaking of 30 years of bad ownership, we have Orioles fans, who last year basked in the glory of a 101-win season, orchestrated by one of the youngest and most talented teams in the big leagues. And this season, the Orioles have started the season 4-2, having won both of the three-game series in Baltimore to begin the season.

Yet Orioles fans are angry (at least on the squawkbox of social media), even when the Orioles win, because of who’s not on the roster, even though it is just six games into another season.

Orioles fans, shut up. Just enjoy it. It won’t be long before Jackson Holliday is in Baltimore, and it won’t be long after that until all of the other young players (Heston Kjerstad and Kyle Stowers are breaking a lot of windows in Triple A) you yearn to see replace the young mugs who managed just 101 wins last year, will be up at some point or another as well.

Be reasonable, Mike Elias knows what he is doing. Just trust it and enjoy the outstanding team you have to root for on the big-league level right now. There is so much going Baltimore’s way – new ownership, great, young players at every level of the system, smart people who put it together and who are running it, and a potential Houston Astros-type future to watch unfold before your very eyes.

Don’t act as though you’ve never been here before, even if you actually haven’t been here before; just take it from an old guy who was there for the Orioles Magic and remembers when the two best prospects in baseball, Bobby Grich and Don Baylor, spent an extra year in the minors because the Orioles were so loaded at the big-league level.

Things are different now, of course, which is good, because teams are not allowed to stash players as they once did, so keep your shirts on – when the time is right, deals will be made. In the meantime, just trust it and enjoy it.

It’s like this: The Orioles are going to be very good again this year, and the Pirates are going to take their long-anticipated step this year and be in the playoff hunt – that’s a fact. The Bucs have a young, talented core at the big-league level and an organization that is loaded with great young pitching. If they stay healthy, unlike last year, they not only contend for the National League Central, but have a chance to win the National League Central, and you read that here first.

The beauty of it is, even though I have always found interleague play to be a pox, I have always enjoyed the Pittsburgh-Baltimore interleague; I guess, because I live here in 2 Hours From Everywhere.

I enjoy it because I’ve been to a lot of these Orioles-Pirates games in both cities, and the same people who want to kill each other when the Ravens and the Steelers play get along most swimmingly when the Orioles and the Pirates play.

Baltimore and Pittsburgh look at each other and don’t like what they see during the football season, but really like and respect what they see during the baseball season. They are the same folk; they are the same cities.

They are my two favorite cities in the world outside of Cumberland. I wonder why that is?

There are going to be a lot of Orioles fans in Pittsburgh bars this weekend sharing drinks with Pirates fans, and it will be fantastic. It’s going to be a great weekend. Trust me.

Now, next fall? We’re not getting into that.

Mike Burke writes about sports and other stuff for Allegany Communications. He began covering sports for the Prince George’s Sentinel in 1981 and joined the Cumberland Times-News sports staff in 1984, serving as sports editor for over 30 years. Contact him at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @MikeBurkeMDT