Playoff clinchers differ

In our business, for years I’ve followed the belief there are two sides to every story.

When covering a game, if time permits, I make it a point to interview members from both teams.

Usually the end result is a fair story.

Once in a great moon after hearing both sides, I find myself in a quandary. For instance, take Monday’s playoff-clinching wins for the Pittsburgh Pirates and Cincinnati Reds.

More than two decades had passed since the last time the Pirates advanced to the postseason. Only one calendar year had elapsed since the Cincinnati Reds claimed the National League’s Central Division.

Guess who partied. Guess who kept it low-key.

I can’t imagine how many bottles of champagne were uncorked in the visitor’s clubhouse at Wrigley Field where the Pirates closed out a 2-1 victory against the Chicago Cubs. The goggles worn by the Pirate players were enough proof that the bubbly was overflowing late into the night.

During that same hour and still in the Midwest at Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati, Shin-Soo Choo’s walk-off single in the 10th inning solidified the Reds’ slot as a wild card – at worst.

Let me repeat – wild card, at worst. The Pirates still remained two games behind the Central Division-leading St. Louis Cardinals. Ditto for the Reds, who bypassed all the hoopla of advancing to the postseason.

Excuse the cliche, but there’s still work to be done. And that’s where I am torn.

If I’m the Pirates owner, I’m saying let loose and enjoy. After all, the year 1992 is a long time as far as the last time Pittsburgh was synonymous with the playoffs.

If my calculations are correct, there could be as many as five champagne parties awaiting the Pirates. We’ve seen one as playoff-clinchers. The other four: wild-card winners or division winners, National League Division Series winners, National League Championship Series winners and World Series winners. Can you imagine the liquor bill?

I’m sure Pirate manager Clint Hurdle will regroup the troops and bring them down from cloud nine in time for the stretch run. Too much chance rests with one wild card game. Pittsburgh wants to catch St. Louis.

Same goes for Reds manager Dusty Baker. Perhaps that’s why they took the more business-like approach on Monday. The cast of characters are similar to those who were members of last year’s team which was one game away from reaching the NLCS, but dropped the final three games in a best-of-5 NLDS series against the eventual World Champion San Francisco Giants.

So in retrospect, I guess there is no blueprint when to celebrate or how often. When 21 years of losing seasons pass by such as the Pirates experienced, plenty of frustration and emotion get (excuse the pun) bottled up.

Contact Kerry Patrick at