By Chris Mueller, 93.7 The Fan
The Steelers are underway, and one sentence keeps popping into my mind: I can never go back.
The meaning of that statement isn’t cryptic. It’s simple, actually. Even if my job didn’t involve sports, there is no way I could go back to the old way of being a fan. You know, the way that centered around overanalyzing every single element of Steelers training camp, pondering the upcoming Penguins season, and working up some sort of hope for Pitt football.
I can’t do that anymore. For too long, I didn’t realize what I was missing. I didn’t realize how all-consuming pennant race baseball could be — in a good way, mind you.
No offense to the Steelers, but training camp in general is one of the most overrated things in all of sports. Yes, it can be fun to take a trip out to Latrobe. Yes, occasionally a player will make you “ooh” and “ahh” with a spectacular play, but training camp is nothing more than stretching, practice, and more stretching.
For so long, that was all we had. People would seize onto a seventh round pick from one of East Central State Technical Institute, or some similarly obscure school, and follow their every move. We had to psychoanalyze even the slightest change to the team and wonder what it might mean for the future. In a football-crazy country, Pittsburgh was still a cut above virtually everyone else in its manic devotion to the local team.
Now that the Pirates have come of age, things are different. On the sports talk side, the Pirates dominate the airwaves. Training camp still holds a lot of value for many, but callers complaining about a lack of Steelers talk are now non-existent. Now, the most likely complaint calls are ones centering around a perceived dearth of Pirates talk.
That’s quite the reversal. And, now that this is the new status quo, I can’t ever go back. This new, well-rounded sports landscape is too nice. I don’t have to pretend to care about some mundane story about a guy whose name I’ll never hear again. I can pay attention to what’s actually relevant.
The real winners are the fans, however. Summer isn’t a multi-month slog spent getting drunk and complaining about the Pirates, often at Pirates games, and screaming bloody murder about Roger Goodell or some other NFL-related subject. In this brave new world, fans get to see firsthand how much fun a vibrant, thriving sports city can be.
The Pirates have to stay good. Now that I’ve had a taste of winning baseball, and the cornucopia of interesting topics that it provides, I can never go back. I suspect most of Pittsburgh would say the same.
Hear more from Chris Mueller, weekdays from 2-6 p.m., on 93.7 The Fan.
Tune in to The Ben Roethlisberger Show on Tuesdays at 11 a.m. with The Fan’s Cook & Poni Show, starting September 9!