In my youth, the Pittsburgh Pirates were among the Cubs' most-hated rivals. It was a different sort of "sports hate" than we had for the Mets, though. We hated the Pirates because they always, always, always beat the Cubs.
From 1970 through 1980, a period of Pirates dominance (six division titles, two World Series championships), the Cubs were 74-121 against the Pirates, by far the Cubs' worst record against anyone.
30-plus years and a period of Pirates awfulness have dulled that pain. The Pirates are now a fun team to watch with one superstar (Andrew McCutchen) and a number of other very good players.
Am I rooting for them? Kind of. I don't mind the Giants, either; they're also fun to watch, but considering they've won two of the last four World Series, maybe it's someone else's turn. The Pirates won four of the six games between the two teams this year, taking two of three in each ballpark. So you'd have to think the Bucs have the advantage here; they also have the advantage, if there is one, of having played in this game a year ago. So they clearly know the feeling, at least, of the one-and-done game. Whether that has any real impact on tonight's result is unknown.
Whatever happens, they'll be hard-pressed to match the drama of last night's game.
Blanco CF, Panik 2B, Posey C, Sandoval 3B, Pence RF, Belt 1B, Crawford SS, Ishikawa LF, Bumgarner P
Harrison 3B, Mercer SS, McCutchen CF, Martin C, Marte LF, Walker 2B, G. Sanchez 1B, Snider RF, Volquez P
Here's tonight's pitching matchup. A reminder, I'll make my overall playoff picks tomorrow morning, once the Division Series matchups are all set.
Today's Starting Pitchers
Tonight's game is on ESPN. The Sunday Night Baseball team -- play-by-play voice Dan Shulman, analyst John Kruk and reporters Buster Olney and Tim Kurkjian -- will call the game on TV. The game will also be carried on ESPN Radio (AM 1000 in Chicago) with Dave O’Brien and Aaron Boone calling the action.
Whatever happens on the air tonight, it can't possibly be worse than the snoozefest TBS gave us in the booth while one of the best postseason games ever was going on around them.
If you are unable to follow on radio or TV, here's MLB.com Gameday
This will be the only game thread for tonight's game. Enjoy, and discuss amongst yourselves.