PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh has been waiting two decades for a winning baseball team, and as the 2013 Pirates vaulted themselves to the top of the National League Central standings, fans have started to pack PNC Park nightly.
Manager Clint Hurdle acknowledged the buzz present in the stadium, as the club has drawn at least 30,000 fans in each of its last eight home games. Stadium personnel expected a sellout Thursday --- even standing-room-only seats were gone.
"There's a vibe in this ballpark when it's full," Hurdle said. "And I've been in a lot of ballparks ... it's not elegant-intimate. It's blue-collar intimate."
Hurdle said the team can feel the energy and is appreciative of it. Outfielder Travis Snider said the home fans really do have an impact on the game.
He added that they want a winner as bad as any other city, and he hopes to bring that.
"It's something we feed off of as players," Snider said. "And sometimes those fans don't realize how much impact they have on us, on the opposing players, and how much we can feed off that."
The focus, of course, is still on the field. Snider isn't worried about who's in the crowd or if they're "true fans" or just bandwagoners.
But either way, no matter who's in the seats, the Pirates just hope they can give the city its first winning baseball team since 1992.
"That was one of the reasons I signed up," Hurdle recalled saying at his introductory press conference in November of 2010, "to re-bond a city with its baseball."
Steven Petrella is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less