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And Another Thing

Gene J. Puskar | Associated Press
Pittsburgh Pirates relief pitcher Jason Grilli celebrates after getting the last out.

Pirates-Reds: Some thoughts

Well, that settles it. I'm not takin' this thing off until November.

"This thing," of course, meaning my No. 21 Roberto Clemente jersey, whose mojo is a powerful and mysterious thing. It sent the Reds home in sandwich bags last night. It put thunder in Russell Martin's bat and lightning in Francisco Liriano's arm.

And now, before it's on to another nemesis, the St. Louis Cardinals (Excuse me ... the Evil St. Louis Cardinals), a few final thoughts on the greatest baseball night in Pittsburgh in 21 years:

* It was the greatest baseball night in Pittsburgh in 21 years.

PNC Park, one of the gems of the majors, was SRO. And the crowd was appropriately Pittsburgh-ish, flustering poor Reds pitcher Johnny Cueto with mocking calls of "Cuaaaayy-to, Cuaaaayy-to."

Judging from the reaction this morning, this is apparently unusual for baseball, and slightly outside the boundaries of accepted etiquette. To that I say, "Your mama." This is Pittsburgh, where the Steelers and Penguins are gods. And so of course it had the feel of a football/hockey crowd; speaking of the latter, "Cuaaaay-to, Cuaaaay-to" sounded eerily reminiscent of Orange Nation in the Coliseum serenading Port Huron goaltender Larry Sterling with cries "Laaarrry, Laaarrry."

In other words: It sounded entirely appropriate.

* One-and-done is weird. But right.

I know what you're gonna say: If the Pirates had lost I'd be all over this "one-and-done" wild card format.

Maybe. But even in victory, I have to admit it's a strange animal, given the essential nature of baseball. Baseball is a novel, not a bumper sticker. And so when you fight through 162 games only to find out your hard-won playoff berth is not a playoff berth at all, but merely the foyer to a playoff berth, it's a little disconcerting. A game that's all about delayed gratification suddenly becomes instant gratification -- or instant despair.

That said ... the urgency of it was riveting. It was like a Game 7 without the nuisance of plowing through six previous games. Dessert without dinner, speaking of instant gratification.

And in any case, I'm not sure the fifth- and sixth-best teams in the league should be rewarded with more than a one-and-done. They had 162 games to avoid it. If they couldn't, so be it.

And now, on to the Evil Cardinals. Can't wait to hear Bucs Nation greet Adam Wainwright in the appropriate fashion.

Waaaain-wright, Waaaain-wright ...

Ben Smith's blog.