I say every year that I feel that this is the Pirates’ year in spite of the fact that Locke was hit hard by the Orioles. These are things that a winning team or a team on the way to winning must perform on an everyday basis sort of ho-hum normal things while playing baseball. The pickoff of an Orioles base runner in the first inning is one of those things. The more things change, the more they remain the same. Are things really changing? The stool that I am sitting on in the press box is probably the most uncomfortable seat that I have sat on. Is it the seat or has my backside become ultra sensitive as a sign of my advancing age?  It is probably a combination of both because I don’t feel this way after sitting through a Samuel L. Jackson movie marathon on the couch at home.
For the 1st three innings the Buc’s offense appears to be more like the “slumber company” not the feared “lumber company” of years gone by. Just as I finished the last sentence, centerfielder Starling Marte singled to left field. Hope is still alive.
Maybe I am doing myself and all of you the readers a disservice. I haven’t been to spring training since 2009. I am now promising everyone that I will return to Bradenton, FL annually so that I may get more surf and sun for these aching knees and also to stuff myself with some of the gargantuan fish sandwiches that Tampa Bay has to offer.  The only thing that I ate in Bradenton was ballpark food which really wasn’t so bad.  
I have one other thing that I would like to bring to your attention.  Every small town that hosts preseason events for major league sports experiences a windfall for their economy, once annually. The Pirates are in Bradenton far longer than the NFL teams are in Canton, Ohio preparing to play in the Pro Football Hall-of-Fame game but the impact on the local economies remains the same. Early spring and midsummer are Christmas-like events for Bradenton and Canton. The economies are juiced to the max because lots of folks get paid when the “circus” comes to town. As Dr. Bruce and our colleague Lee, another “son of the south” (also from Alabama) and I entered the park there were a few of the “locals” with ‘team leader’ shirts on parading around the “grounds” sporting “Wrigley” chewing gum smiles appearing to be relaxed, yet stressed looking as if they are about to steal a page from the SNL’s veteran Garret Morris’ page. They appeared that they were primed to say at any moment with the heaviest of Latino accents, “baseball been verdy, verdy, good to me.”  I am now beginning to get a bit antsy. My legs are beginning to get numb sitting on this wretched stool but not as numb as I have become when it comes to the losing ways of our beloved Pirates.  I am about to exit the ballpark. The Pirates end up beating the Orioles but I have already lost the battle with the “stool,” case dismissed.
(Aubrey Bruce can be reached at abruce@newpittsburghcourier.com or 412-583-6741)

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