The Top 10 Ways to Enjoy a Rebuild – Justin Verno

The 2021 Major League Season is off and running, and the Pirates sit a few under .500 just 29 games in.  While some guys such as Adam Frazier, Colin Moran, and a few others are off to a good start, most are playing to expectations. As predicted there will be a lot of losing at 1500 Federal Street this year. 

And for once, I think that’s okay. 

10: Enjoy the Park

This might be the easiest advice I can give. Yeah, getting tickets is a pain right now, but PNC Park is always worth the trip. It is the most beautiful park in Major League Baseball. 

9: Social Media

Find like minded fans to root with. If you’re at all like me, your family and a good many of your friends have already given up on the Bucs. I took to social media, Twitter in this case, to find avid Pirate fans. Don’t get me wrong, I still watch the games with my family and friends, but once they’re done telling me I threw my money away I hit up my Twitter peeps. It’s a great way to connect with fans. I’m not saying there’s no negativity, there’s plenty of that to go around, but there’s a good balance here and plenty of fans to talk Buccos with. 

8: Find the Story Lines

The Buccos’ roster is chalk full of them this year.

Pick any OF. Does Gregory Polanco finally start to hit?  Does Tom show his potential? Do Alford or Fowler find their way back to the bigs? Will Louis Oviedo pitch well enough to stay on the 25 man roster or do the Pirates offer him back to the Indians?

7: Management Showing the Way 

Okay, so Ben Cherington hasn’t flat out said they will tear it down to build it up, but he did say we’re in a rebuild and that he has a group of players to trade to help do it. Having expectations set from the top is refreshing. Enjoy it.

6: MLB Debuts

The Bucs have already had a few this season. For some it was the team debut. For others, like David Bednar or Rodolfo Castro, it was their first taste of the Show and that is always a special thing to watch!

5: Competition

The Bucs are losing, sure, but they are playing a competitive style. These guys are easy to root for, as there’s not a lot of quit in this team.

4: Mitch Keller and Ke’Bryan Hayes

Every rebuild needs cornerstone players and these two could be ours.  While Mitch is off to a slow start and Hayes has been on the IL, their growth holds the key to how quickly the Bucs will be back in contention. Watching them grow should be a blast, as both have a lot of upside.

3: The Rebound

A few players such as Bryan Reynolds, Adam Frazier, and Gregory Polanco had down years in 2020. Watching them rebound is important. Frazier and Reynolds are off to a good start, while Polanco is not so much. These players rebounding matters in different ways. Frazier and Polanco both represent good trade deadline pieces, while Reynolds could be part of the team moving forward. Although, I wouldn’t count out moving him. This should be fun to watch.

2: #Hugwatch

Hugwatch is the term used when a player who was just traded gives hugs to the other players on his way out the door. This by far is the best part of any rebuild and there are no shortages on why. From keeping an eye on the players that could be traded, to predicting the trade, to arguing if they got enough back… #Hugwatch is the ultimate rocking chair GM activity, and all of us are rocking chair GMs! 

1: Watching the Trade Pieces Develop

While insiders and fans alike will debate for weeks and months after the trade about who the winner or loser was, it will take time, perhaps years, to know for sure. Keeping an eye on their development through the Pirates minor leagues system is fine; the trouble here is it isn’t easy. But, there are a lot of tools out there to help, from YouTube videos, to Fangraphs, to Baseball America, or Twitter accounts that specialize in showcasing these young players. One Twitter handle that’s excellent at this is @TalkPirates. 

 Look, I get it. Being a Pirate fan since 1992 hasn’t been the easiest thing. There have been a LOT of rebuilds here, one after another, but if the early returns from Ben Cherington are any indication, I think he will have the Pirates back on the high seas and the Pirate fans will be Raising the Jolly Roger soon enough! Let’s have a little fun here and give Mr. Cherington a chance!

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