An off day Monday for the Giants and the Pirates, so taking a breath to take a longer view. One of those assessments of the season so far makes a persuasive case that neither will win their divisions. The Dodgers and the Cardinals are dealing with more injuries than many other clubs, even the Giants at this point, but they're holding down first place--the Cards by a considerable margin. It's true the Giants had that commanding lead at the All-Star break last year and lost it, so it isn't impossible. But the reasoning is sound--it is more likely that the Giants and Pirates will again face each other in the Wild Card game.
As for the Pirates, since its been awhile since I've been back in the Burgh for any length of time, I read with interest this claim that the Pirates have replaced the Steelers and Penguins as the most popular sports team in the city. The article quotes a Pittsburgh sports fan's blunt assessment: “The Steelers are thugs, and the Penguins are crybabies. The Pirates are good guys and work hard. It’s easy to root for this team.”
The piece is mostly about the supposed decline of the Steelers but what this guy says about the Pirates rings true. They do seem like good guys that work hard. I would attribute my own distance from the Steelers to my dismay over professional football in general. I've been unhappy for some time with the emphasis on hard hits (fed by sports media) over other aspects of the game, and the revelations on concussions kind of sealed that deal for me. Of course, I still secretly read everything I could find on this year's Steelers draft picks.
But as a more active fan, baseball has really become my game. I admire the Giants team--they're good guys who work hard, too, and they are easy to root for. So I've filled out my All-Star ballots with a combination of Giants and Pirates. Mostly Giants I must confess--I recently switched my third baseman to Matt Duffy, how could I not after the week he's had? But I also switched out one Giant for the Pirates' Sterling Marte in the outfield (I still have Aoki out there, though.)
How many Giants fans today would trade Matt Duffy for Pablo Sandoval? Pretty much zero I'll bet.