The most recent example of what the Pirates have become under Clint Hurdle was absolutely, positively the most spectacular.
Tony Sanchez’ head-first dive into the San Diego dugout in relentless pursuit of a foul pop in the eighth inning of a 9-1 game on Thursday afternoon meant nothing in terms of determining the final outcome, which eventually came out at 10-1 in the Pirates’ favor.
But in the scope of who the Pirates are and how they compete it meant everything.
Seemingly no one appreciated Sanchez’ sacrifice and hustle more than Hurdle.
That was apparent from the latest installment of The Gospel According to Clint:
“We’ve got a lot of guys that play this game best when they play it in the backyard. You just play the way you meant to play. When you were 6, when you were in the
backyard you didn’t think about the score. You didn’t think about where you were; you just played.
“That’s one thing that I think has consistently improved over the last three years and into this year is the effort and the fact that we’re going to play in the moment
where we’re ready every pitch. One of the things we talk about daily is being ready every pitch.
“It sounds trite and it sounds like it’s easy to do. But you watch major league games and you stop watching the ball and watch players get ready defensively, you might see some things that really astound you, even at this level, from time to time.
“We let them know we got the tape rolling, we got cameras on. We want to see it and we want to see it every day. You bring us everything you got every day and get after it, and our guys continue to do that.
“(Marlon) Byrd, there’s an experienced guy (whose) head’s in the game and then you got a rookie (Sanchez) at the other end doing it. It gets contagious like a lot of
things in this game.”
There’s a difference between playing the game well and playing the game the right way.
You can do one without necessarily doing the other all of the time.
But when you get a whole team of individuals playing the game the right way together special seasons are sometimes the result.
The Pirates are reminding us of as much this season.