PITTSBURGH -- Inhaling the air of expectancy that hung over PNC Park early Friday afternoon, manager Clint Hurdle admitted this was the day for which he has waited three years.
Not to get here. But for the opportunity to work through it.
"It's not finished. But it's heading in the right direction. I played my part, but we still have parts to play," Hurdle said a few hours before the Pirates were to host the Reds in the first of three games that have a large say in aligning the National League's postseason field and venues.
"I just had a conversation with someone about this. They looked me in the eye and said, 'So this is why you came here?' And I said, 'Absolutely. I envisioned this,'" said Hurdle, hired in November 2010 as the Bucs were coming off a 105-loss season. "Did I know when it would happen? No. But did I believe it would happen? Yes."
A social animal who has woven himself into the community, Hurdle does not have to go out of his way to take the pulse of the fan in the street.
"It's good to get better, for so many people," Hurdle reflected. "I couldn't tell you how many people have said, 'This hasn't happened since ...' and they can tie it to so many things. 'I just got married [when the Pirates last had a winning season], now I got six kids ... I'm a grandfather.'
"It's crazy. It's life."
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.