I have read “Blink” my Malcolm Gladwell, and a pair of books about Pirates history. But the one that stuck out, not only from the books I have read this summer, but from all books I have ever read is “Are We Winning?” by Will Leitch.
I have always been a fan of Leitch’s. I loved “God Save the Fan” where he trashed ESPN and other media outlets, it really got me thinking. I also enjoy his columns in The Sporting News. But this book is the end all be all of Leitch and baseball books everywhere.
It is an honest tale of the game of baseball and how special it really is to fathers and sons. The memories made, the lessons taught and the good times that can ony be shared and understood by a father and his son.
Each chapter in entitled as an inning, top of the first, bottom of the first, top of the second and so on.
The premise of the book details Will’s trip to Wrigley Field where he meets his father and college buddy who is a die-hard Cubs fan. The Leitch family lives and dies by the Cubs’ bitter rivals, Cardinals. Just as you can expect hilarity ensues with raunchy slurs and colorful words
to describe Wrigley Field, Wrigleyville, Cubs fans, Vince Vaughn, beer, women and everything and everyone in between.
He gives a vivid recap of the game at hand, it is a special game as the Cubs are just one win away from clinching the Division title. Along with the game play by play he also flashes back to important moments in his life.
College days, Cardinal games and life in general. It is a perfect autobiography that all men who love baseball can easily relate to, and get many laughs in the process.
While Leitch doesn’t necessairly bash the Pirates he just tells the truth. Many times he spouts that there are not any Pirate fans, well quite frankly there are not. When he spoke of this fact many times he really made me sad, driving me to put down the book a few times and collect my thoughts. I thought long and hard about what the Pirates mean to me, what baseball means to me, what I would possibly do without being a Pirates fan and what a shame it is that more people in Pittsburgh have turned their back on this franchise.
However, all the disdain will eventually turn to the most powerful statement of the whole book. Towards the end he describes baseball towns and how other sports take a backseat to these citizens compared to their baseball teams. New York, Boston and St. Louis are examples of these baseball meccas. To conclude the chapter he delievers a bold prediction.
“Kansas City. Pittsburgh. Cincinnati. Baltimore. These are baseball towns. They will rise again.
Man is that beautiful and I simply could not agree more. All four have had their time in the sun with a large period of famine since either one of the franchises have seen a good baseball season. Cincinnati is seeing what could happen when winning occurs and it has transformed that city in Ohio. If the Pirates have even just a winning season within three years fans will flock back. My generation does not know what winning feels like. The book makes that clear and makes me jealous when Leitch describes how amazing it is to live and die by every pitch, call your father after a must win game and live out dreams by seeing a World Series live and in person.
While its been a tough 18 years with the 18th consecutive losing season just a few games away, the Pirates redirected their future today by signing their first and second round draft picks, Jameson Taillon and Stetson Allie.
Taillon and Allie have been touted as the two best high school pitchers in the country. They are now part of the Pittsburgh organization. Homegrown pitchers have been a specialty of the Bucs, however they never seem to live up to the hype let alone pan out as formidable Major League starters.
This pair has a chance to change that mantra and allow the Bucs to become part of the competitive baseball landscape. We’ve seen that this year has been dominated by pitchers and now that the Pirates have two pitchers with the potential to dominate it just shows that down the road Pittsburgh will rise again.
photo credits: amazon.com, destination360.com,mackmetblog.com, hotstoveinfo.com