Hurdle fascinated by concept of 'spoiler'

Hurdle fascinated by concept of 'spoiler'

PITTSBURGH -- The Brewers, who just treated the Pirates to a very harsh weekend in Milwaukee, are not your classic "spoilers." They are still the defending National League Central champions, and after two hot weeks are harboring dreams of a Cardinals-like charge into this postseason.

However, the Bucs will spend much of the season's last month in the company of bona fide also-rans, whose September pledge is to spoil contenders' hopes. Two of those clubs -- the Astros and the Cubs -- represent the opposition for a week-long homestand that began on Monday.

And the zeal with which these teams attack their spoiler tasks intrigues Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle.

"It's just interesting to me," Hurdle said. "Why now? Why do they now feel they can beat somebody they shouldn't beat? What happened to April and May and June and July? Do they have some vitamins, or what do we hand out?

"It's just crazy to me. But 'spoiler' is not just a media term. Do these teams now play looser? Yeah, that probably has something to do with it."

What will be of utmost interest to any Pirates fan younger than, say, 25, is that the Bucs themselves are no longer the spoilers, but the potential "spoilees."