It's finally here! Premiere Week is one of my favorite times of the year. It's the time when I welcome back all my favorite television shows and try to embrace a few new ones. As much as I would love to say that I have an interesting and intellectually stimulating hobby, the simple fact is I love to watch TV. There are a few prime time series that I never miss but I also have to admit that I really enjoy reality television. I can't get enough of American Idol and The X Factor and as much as it embarrasses me to put it in print, I am even hooked on The Bachelor and The Bachelorette. And, of course, anyone who knows me will tell you that my absolute favorite show is Dancing with the Stars. Yes, just give me an evening with some of my favorite stars and professional dancers like Derek Hough and at least one of the Chmerkovskiy brothers, and I am one happy girl.
This year for the first time in my life, there is something distracting me from the start of a new television season. As much as I am looking forward to the premiere of Nashville on Wednesday and Glee on Thursday, both shows will have to hang out for a while in my DVR. This year I am opting to watch real life drama play out on the baseball diamond. I will spend each evening until October 1st (and hopefully well beyond) with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
I can't pinpoint exactly when my love of the Pirates began because for as long as I can remember I have always thought of myself as a Pirates fan. It seemed like every time I walked into my grandma's house on Highland Avenue in Moundsville, the Pirates were on her TV. She was a huge fan so I guess I decided at an early age that I was a Pirates fan too. My sister, Tracey Whorton, was a bigger fan than I was. She often rocked the 1970's Pirates hat (the black one with the gold stripes around it) and she cherished her wooden souvenir bat acquired at a game that I didn't get to attend for some reason. She knew more about the teams and the players of the 70's, 80's and 90's while I could just tell you some of the bigger names throughout the years. In fact, it was just this April that I realized that I was not the faithful fan that I claimed to be because I knew precious little about the team I said I loved.
In 2004 I married a man who makes a living watching and talking about sports. My grandma would have loved Mike Anthony, who shares her passion for the Pittsburgh Pirates. For the first nine years of our marriage and for many years of dating before that, I pretended to be totally interested in sports. I have watched hours upon hours of football, baseball, basketball, hockey and even golf with my husband while discreetly paying bills, reading books or even napping. That's how this baseball season started as well. Mike watched the Pirates and I did whatever I could find to do while pretending I was watching too. Sometime during the first month of the season, I found myself turning games on when he was at work or on the golf course. I found myself paying attention to the line ups and the pitching rotations. I began to know each player, their positions and their jersey numbers. I began to worry about myself. Surely I was just tuning in because Jason Grilli and Michael McKenry were so cute. Or maybe it was because no one could resist rooting for Pittsburgh's own Neil Walker. Or perhaps I could attribute it to the likeability and star power of Andrew McCutchen. But several weeks into the season when I was questioning starters and beginning to study opponents, I knew I was hooked. I had become the fan I always claimed to be.
As it turns out, I had great timing. I picked the most successful season in the last twenty years to become a true Pirates fan. As the season winds down (and hopefully has a happy ending), I am trying not to wonder what I will do with my free evenings. I am trying not to think about next season - about who will return and who will break my heart and not be included on next year's roster. I am trying to savor the last games of the regular season and hopefully many post season games beyond that. Thanks to a special team and to Clint Hurdle, the gum chewing genius, I have enjoyed every minute of this season - every win, every loss and some special time with my husband.