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Tim Benz: Pirates fans should go or not go to games, but stop preaching | TribLIVE.com
Pirates/MLB

Tim Benz: Pirates fans should go or not go to games, but stop preaching

Tim Benz
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Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
Pittsburgh Pirates fans watch from a walkway inside of PNC Park during the Pirates home opener against the Minnesota Twins on April 2, 2018.
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Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
Pittsburgh Pirates fans watch from a walkway inside of PNC Park during the Pirates home opener against the Minnesota Twins on April 2, 2018.
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Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
Pittsburgh Pirates fans watch from a walkway inside of PNC Park during the Pirates home opener against the Minnesota Twins on April 2, 2018.
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Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
Pittsburgh Pirates fans watch from a walkway inside of PNC Park during the Pirates home opener against the Minnesota Twins on April 2, 2018.
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Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
Pittsburgh Pirates fans watch from a walkway inside of PNC Park during the Pirates home opener against the Minnesota Twins on April 2, 2018.
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Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
Pittsburgh Pirates fans watch from a walkway inside of PNC Park during the Pirates home opener against the Minnesota Twins on April 2, 2018.
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Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
Pittsburgh Pirates fans watch from a walkway inside of PNC Park during the Pirates home opener against the Minnesota Twins on April 2, 2018.
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Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
The Twins' Miguel Sano scores past Pirates catcher Francisco Cervelli during the sixth inning Wednesday, April 4, 2018, at PNC Park.
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Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
The Twins' Brian Dozier slides into third base after an errant pop-up, as the Pirates' Sean Rodriguez takes a late throw during the sixth inning Wednesday, April 4, 2018, at PNC Park.
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Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
The Twins' Miguel Sano scores past Pirates catcher Francisco Cervelli during the sixth inning Wednesday, April 4, 2018, at PNC Park.
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Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates left fielder Corey Dickerson steals second base next to the Twins' Brian Dozier Wednesday, April 4, 2018, at PNC Park.
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Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates left fielder Corey Dickerson makes a leaping catch during the fifth inning against the Twins Wednesday, April 4, 2018, at PNC Park.
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Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates second baseman Josh Harrison warms his hand during a game against the Twins Wednesday, April 4, 2018, bat PNC Park.
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Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates first baseman Josh Bell celebrates his two-run homer with Josh Harrison during the first inning against the Twins Wednesday, April 4, 2018, bat PNC Park.
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Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
The Twins' Miguel Sano scores past Pirates catcher Francisco Cervelli during the sixth inning Wednesday, April 4, 2018, at PNC Park.
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Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates pitcher Ivan Nova delivers in a snow squall during the fifth inning against the Twins Wednesday, April 4, 2018, bat PNC Park.
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Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates pitcher Ivan Nova warms his hand on the mound in a snow squall during the fifth inning against the Twins Wednesday, April 4, 2018, bat PNC Park.
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Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates pitchers Joe Musgrove and Steven Brault talk in the dugout during a game against the Twins Wednesday, April 4, 2018, bat PNC Park.
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Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates pitcher Joe Musgrove throws during a workout Wednesday, March 7, 2018, at LECOM Park in Bradenton, Fla.
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Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates pitcher Steven Brault works the crowd in a snow squall before a game against the Twins Wednesday, April 4, 2018, bat PNC Park.
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Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates pitcher Steven Brault helps with a prom proposal during a snow squall before a game against the Twins Wednesday, April 4, 2018, bat PNC Park.
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Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates shortstop Jordy Mercer stays warm in the dugout before a game against the Twins Wednesday, April 4, 2018, at PNC Park.

Does anyone else feel like the 2018 Pirates have been sucked into a political black hole?

After just a few regular-season games at PNC Park, I’m at my saturation point with one hot take topic:

“What should the fans do when it comes to attending Pirates games? Keep going? Or actively stay away?”

You know the debate.

In light of Bob Nutting’s constant attempt to keep the Pirates’ payroll low, do fans have an obligation to collectively refuse attending games?

Or should fans still come and go as they please because they like baseball regardless of how good or bad the Pirates might be?

It’s not literal politics. It’s not Red State vs. Blue State.

It’s similar, though. More like Black State vs. Gold State.

Nationally, we live in a country where, “My ideology of democracy makes me a better American than you, since you agree with the other side.”

Locally, on a baseball level, we live in a city where, “My ideology of being a fan makes me a better Pittsburgher than you.”

Granted, I listen to too much sports talk radio. I’m in the Pittsburgh-sports-Twitter-sphere too much. I’m immersed. It’s my job.

But this discussion feels neverending. It has devolved into soap box bellowing. Nothing but fans telling other fans their own worldview is right, and anyone who disagrees is wrong.

Practically every phone call into a sports talk show on this topic goes the same way:

“Hi, (insert host’s name). I’m Joe Blow from Crafton. I’ve been around since (insert whatever year you were born to make yourself sound like a sage, grizzled fan). I’ve been going to Pirate games since I had season tickets in (insert the section of Three Rivers Stadium or Forbes Field where you used to have seats, because, you know, that validates your relevance as a fan and invalidates anyone with an opinion who is younger than you).

“So I know a little somethin’ about being a Pirate fan, and I say … (now bloviate freely, and make sure to make a ‘publicly funded stadium’ reference somewhere).”

Same script every time.

Yes, Joe from Crafton. You indeed are a hero because you hung up on the Pirates sales rep who called to renew your season tickets.

Much more of a hero than Bill from Shaler who has “gone to 25 opening days in a row and will be there for number 26, by golly.”

It’s gotten so old. We heard these same conversations for decades before the Pirates had those three beautifully fleeting years of playoff baseball between 2013 and ’15.

Ironically, the basic premise of both sides is: “I have a right as fan to act as I wish!”

Um, yeah. That should be the point. So act how you want to act when it comes to buying tickets or executing your own boycott. But then let your neighbor down the street do what he wants as well.

As Clint Hurdle said Monday about attendance, “If we play good baseball, things will take care of themselves.”

Sure. However, for those who might return to the park if the Pirates remain hot, that’s a bit hollow. They only would be accidentally contending in spite of cost-cutting moves.

Essentially, Pirates fans, if you decide to go, good for you. Go.

Just understand, you simply bought a baseball ticket. You get a seat. You don’t earn a baseball-fan-medal-of-valor with your Francisco Cervelli bobblehead. This doesn’t get you to Yinzer heaven any faster.

You’ve made a choice with your disposable income and your entertainment dollars. That’s all.

If you don’t go, then stay home and shut up. If your silence as a fan is supposed to be what is sending the message, then please, be silent! I beg you.

I’m sick of people who just want to see a baseball game being labeled as enablers by people who want to portray themselves as heroic agents of baseball economic change.

I’m equally as sick of some fanboys lecturing other people on how they should feel obliged to spend their money just because Josh Harrison tries really hard.

He does. But how hard the owner is trying is more to the point.

If you used to go to 81 games a year and now you don’t go to any, congratulations. Your voice is being heard in the ticket office, where it counts. What you say on Twitter or on sports talk radio doesn’t really matter.

And let the guy who used to go to 10 games a year still go to one or two in peace without your value judgment coming into play.

Either way, we are all still pretty far off from making the pierogis great again.

Tim Benz hosts the Steelers pregame show on WDVE and ESPN Pittsburgh. He is a regular host/contributor on KDKA-TV and 105.9 FM.

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