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Pirates Make It To Playoffs For The First Time In Since '92


And finally this hour, joy in Pittsburgh as the Pirates have clinched a spot in the postseason for the first time in 21 years. The Pirates beat the Chicago Cubs last night 2-1, while the Washington Nationals lost to St. Louis in a bid for the wildcard slot. To check in on how the Steel City is celebrating, I'm joined by Jerry Micco. He's assistant managing editor for sports with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Jerry, welcome to the program and congratulations.

JERRY MICCO: Well, thank you, Melissa. Much appreciated. Glad to be here.

BLOCK: Well, how much is Pittsburgh celebrating the first time you have a playoff berth was 1992?

MICCO: You know, there isn't an open celebration kind of thing. I think there are two reasons for that. One, the game was won last night late in Chicago. So what you have is kind of what I call a 2013 celebration. Social media just blew up with this.


MICCO: This is the way we celebrate now. It's like, you know, in 140 characters, I know, because I was in the middle of it doing some stuff. So that's how we celebrate. But, you know, around town and just talking to people at work and driving uptown to come here to the studio, there's a little more spring in the step.

I think Pittsburgh people are very proud of not only where they're from but their sports teams. And about 10 days ago or so, they clinched a winning season for the first time in 20 years. That was a big deal to a lot of people. They finally got over the hump. It isn't just not making the playoffs for 21 years and they hadn't had a winning season in 20 years.

BLOCK: And that's really something to think about, yeah.

MICCO: Well, when you think about it, that's an exercise in futility to put you out of breath just thinking about it. And then they make the playoff, I think they kind of knew at some point they would probably make the playoffs, and last night was a big deal. And I think people are very proud. And I think you're feeling a lot of that in Pittsburgh today.

BLOCK: Well, you mentioned social media, and this is what's splashed all over the Pirates' Twitter feed and fan feeds: Welcome to Buctober, meaning Buccos or Bucs, the nickname for the Pirates. But what's the reality at check here? I mean, if you think back to 1992, the last time the Pirates made the postseason, what happened?

MICCO: Well, it was, of course, a disastrous play at home plate when the Braves scored three runs in the bottom of the ninth to eliminate the Pirates from postseason, keeping them away from a World Series. And people always remember that. Of course, the irony here is last night, the Pirates clinched a playoff spot by getting a play at the plate and getting a Cubs runner, John Schierholtz out.

So that moment - and I always call it the curse of Barry Bonds because, of course, Barry Bonds, after that '92 season, left to go play in San Francisco, and they haven't won since Barry left. Now, of course, they have this year, so that curse is broken. But that was devastating in '92. I know, to a lot of Pirates fans. A lot of people, I think, including myself, thought the Pirates would go to a World Series that year.

BLOCK: Well, is it enough for fans to have made the postseason? I mean, it could go one of two ways, right? You either play in the one-game wildcard playoff, or if the stars align in the next - in the remaining regular season games, you could actually avoid the playoff and go right to the division series. So what do you think happens from here?

MICCO: Well, I think the latter is more of a Halley's Comet kind of thing. I think there's like a 2 percent chance they could win the division even though they're only a couple of games out. I think what's going to happen is a one-game playoff. It'll probably be with the Cincinnati Reds who were bitter rivals of the Pirates back in the '70s when both teams were very good and they would both often play in the postseason.

The Pirates have a bitter loss in a final game in a series to Cincinnati in the playoffs too. A wild pitch by the late Bob Moose, a pitcher for the Pirates, allowed the Reds to win that game. I think that's probably going to happen. I think now what they're playing for is to get that one game at PNC Park here in Pittsburgh because home field - you always want home field if you can get it.

BLOCK: Well, Jerry, enjoy the postseason for however long it lasts for the Pirates. Appreciate it. Thanks for talking with us.

MICCO: My pleasure.

BLOCK: That's Jerry Micco of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. We were talking about the Pirates making the playoffs for the first time in 21 years.



You can follow all of us here at ALL THINGS CONSIDERED on Twitter. Our co-host Audie Cornish is @npraudie. I'm Robert Siegel, @rsiegel47.

BLOCK: And I'm Melissa Block, @nprmelissablock. This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED, known in the Twitterverse as @npratc.


SIEGEL: You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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