Though you may not drive a great big Cadillac, gangsta whitewalls, TV antenna in the back. You may not have a car at all, but remember brothers and sisters, you can still stand tall. Just be thankful for what you got. Diamond in the back, sunroof top, diggin’ the scene with a gangsta lean. (William Devaughn, 1974).
I met a few friends for dinner a little while back and the first thing they wanted to discuss was the current state of the Pittsburgh Pirates. One buddy, who demanded that he remain anonymous, said through a mouthful of steak, “Man, I would rather run through hell wearing gasoline “draws” than waste my time going over to PNC Park to see those sad ass Pirates play.” This was one day I did not feel like joining the crowd in stepping on a man’s neck or in this case, a team’s neck when they were down.
No, the Pirates do not have any marquee, big money players as big money players go but as the late President Richard Nixon would say, “let me make it perfectly clear” that there are still positive elements about having a MLB franchise in your city.
Take the Baltimore Orioles. They played in Milwaukee (one year), then as the St. Louis Browns. They moved to Baltimore and changed their name to the Orioles. The cities they vacated, St Louis (Cardinals) and Milwaukee (Braves and Brewers) have since secured their own franchises. The Braves ended up moving south to Atlanta and Milwaukee was again left team-less until the Brewers rolled into town. The Brewers originated in Seattle as the Pilots. They played one season in 1969 before being acquired by current MLB commissioner Bud Selig. So you see boys and girls, with the MLB playing musical chairs with franchises like a well composed symphony, the Pirates could very well be the Charlotte or New Orleans Bucs. Why are brothers and sisters complaining anyway? They don’t really support the team. Oh, I am aware that the Pirates are color deficient, but how many of your neighborhood buddies take the court for any NBA teams? Just be thankful for what you got.
My friends also wanted to fill the evening with talk about the NBA. I love watching and writing about pro basketball but the last time that I checked, Pittsburgh did not have a franchise. My boys were even on a LeBron “watch.” They had better take my advice and be on a Pirates watch. There is even talk that baseball is somehow “less” than a man’s game. That false macho imagery pseudo-honor is dangerous and can be socially out of bounds. The fake sense of manhood, along with an insidious and dark “honor system” that is being perpetrated by Black families, the media and urban America are the root causes for the undertaker business being only second to the wine and spirits business in the African-American community.
This is way more than about sports. We also talked about drive-by’s, guns and drugs infecting the community. “The gun laws have to be changed” one of my colleagues belted out after several rum and cokes. I looked him straight in the eye and I asked him, “Are you crazy?” They have the same gun laws in the White communities and they are not having daily murders and violence. It is not about changing laws, it is about changing behavior and obeying laws.
When I hear complaints about the Pirates and how the team has been grossly mismanaged for the past 18 years or so, I am reminded of a similar scenario that occurred during the past year in the world of radio broadcasting. Sheridan Broadcasting sold radio station WAMO and discontinued broadcasting. The Black community was immediately up in arms and began a chorus of well-choreographed whining about how Pittsburgh no longer has a Black radio station. All of a sudden a long line of “phantom” investors appeared with proposal after proposal for buying and operating a new station that would replace WAMO. If the Black community really supported WAMO why didn’t someone put together a consortium of investors and buy it? There are certain folks who become soothsayers after an event has occurred. I call them “post-prophets.” Just be thankful, for what you got.
I was leaving Foodland in McKeesport when a five-year-old named Jacob stood outside with his dad collecting money for the neighborhood baseball team. He was a sight to behold. His hat was not turned around backwards and his trousers were not sagging and there was no gold around his neck (I know a person who actually put a gold chain around the neck of a seven month old). Baseball is centered around family values. Whether the Pirates win or not is a moot point. The Pirates may not be a Cadillac when it comes to being a MLB franchise but Pittsburgh had better be thankful for what we have because you never miss the water until the well runs dry.
(Aubrey Bruce can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-583-6741)