Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Pirates Need Wins to Energize Fans Who Are Now Apathetic

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Pirates Need Wins to Energize Fans Who Are Now Apathetic

Article excerpt

The Pirates wasted a lot of time wondering and worrying about their fans' reaction Tuesday night to seeing Starling Marte for the first time at PNC Park since his 80-game suspension for steroids. They should have known many Pittsburgh fans are as hypocritical as any in sports. As usual, the fans loudly booed the Milwaukee Brewers' Ryan Braun - another performance-enhancing cheat - but mostly cheered Marte. You would have thought Willie Stargell was taking his position in left field the way Marte was greeted from those in the bleacher seats when he ran onto the field for the first inning. It seemed like everyone out there but the pups were up applauding. I'm thinking the pups are the only ones who get it. The fans didn't even boo when Marte was picked off second base to end the fourth inning.

The message was loud and clear:

"It's OK to sabotage the team by getting caught cheating. We still love you and we're glad you're back. Now go help us win."

Predictable.

It's that way in every sports town.

But that doesn't mean the Pirates didn't have a fan problem Tuesday night. There wasn't much of a crowd at the yard on a beautiful summer night with school out to react to Marte and watch the team put on a terrific show by beating the first-place Brewers for the second consecutive night, this time, 4-3, in comeback fashion. Ivan Nova somehow made it through six innings and allowed just three runs - all coming on Travis Shaw's home run in the third - despite giving up hits to eight of the Brewers' first 15 hitters. Josh Harrison turned the game with a tying two-run homer in the sixth. Is he fun to watch or what? What energy and enthusiasm the man has. The bullpen got the ball to Felipe Rivero in the ninth inning, which meant game over. He gave up a couple of hits but ended up striking out the side.

The crowd that was there loved it.

But that attendance.

It was announced at 20,462, although there weren't that many at the park. Attendance was down from the season average of 24,109. …

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