The baseball season of 2013 was a magical one for the Pittsburgh Pirates, no matter the result of Game 5 of the National League Division Series with the St. Louis Cardinals.
True, Wednesday's 6-1 loss in the winner-take-all series finale was a disappointment, but no fan of the Pittsburgh Pirates should be disappointed about the season.
This team came together after a two decade drought of losing to vie for the division title, something that wasn't decided until the final weekend of the regular season. And for many days this past summer, our Buccos had the best record in all of baseball.
No one in the sports world could have imagined the scenario in Spring Training. The idea was floated that the Pirates possibly could reach that .500 plateau - the first time since 1992, but never could this losing franchise obtain a ticket to the postseason. Wrong!
In the end, the Pirates came together, and brought with them, a return of the fanbase that for so long wanted to support a winner in the Steel City. In fact, the three playoff games at PNC Park (the wildcard game and the two division series games) were sellouts, each eclipsing the previous with a new attendance record - the final mark being 40,493.
The Pirates leadership - led by Owner Bob Nutting, Team President Frank Coonelly and General Manager Neal Huntington- needs to be commended for a job well done; for sticking to a plan; for building what looks to be a winner for year's to come.
They have pushed the right buttons.
As part of the 2013 roster, they signed established veterans Russell Martin, Francisco Liriano and Mark Melancon in the offseason; they infused younger talent, led by impressive rookie pitcher Gerrit Cole, into the lineup; and they made deals to obtain Marlon Byrd, Justin Morneau and John Buck for the stretch run.
What that roster did was enable Manager Clint Hurdle to put a lineup together each day that was every bit as good as the opposition it faced.
There will be some decisions to make this offseason, but if 2013 is any indication, those in charge will do what's right for the organization.
The future appears to be a winning one for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
"Raise the Jolly Roger!"