Cartoon Canon: Comebacks crush Cards!

RICHMOND, Va. — It’s amazing how difficult it is to imagine now … the Pirates, with the second-best record in the majors, playing solid, thrilling baseball in front of massive crowds.

It wasn’t a dream. It did happen, just a few short years ago … but man, at this point, it might as well have been 1992. Or 1979. Or 1960.

Of course, even in that amazing 2015 season, the clues were there. The Pirates nipped at the Cardinals’ heels all season, but the BMTIB did little to improve at the trade deadline, preferring instead to depend on luck to carry them the rest of the way. And so, the season marched inexorably toward the conclusion that seemed inevitable by mid-August, with a drubbing that was as much mental as physical at the hands of Jake Arrieta and the Cubs.

But this weekend, right before the All-Star break, was simply amazing, a glimpse at what baseball could be in Pittsburgh. I happened to be in the stands for the Sunday game. It was the nightcap of my annual All-Day Baseball doubleheader, described in exhaustive detail here. It remains the most exciting sporting event I’ve ever attended live, and second place isn’t close. That it was probably also the last great moment in the Pirates’ history that we’re likely to see for awhile is heartbreaking. But man, it was a blast for the brief time it lasted.

Speaking of All-Day Baseball, our annual excursion is slated for tomorrow, July 11. We’ll kick the festivities off at 12:35 with the Nationals and Pirates at PNC Park, and wish against another 4 1/2-hour, 17-run slaughter so that we can make it to Cleveland in time to see the Indians take on the Reds. If you happen to find yourself in Section 105 on Wednesday afternoon, look for the group of old-timers in matching shirts and say hello!!