They did it. All of them did it.
The young guys, the old guys, the new guys — the new coach. They all did it.
The Pittsburgh Penguins hoisted up Lord Stanley’s Cup after a 3-1 victory in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final, Sunday night, bringing the 15th championship title back to the city of Pittsburgh, and adding the fourth tally to the number of Stanley Cups earned by the Black and Gold on the ice, joining the New York Islanders and New York Rangers in franchise wins. (The Montreal Canadians have won the most Stanley Cup championships, with 24.)
The first championship to be taken by the Steel City was by the 1909 Pirates, who took the Commissioner’s Trophy by beating the Detroit Tigers, 8-0, in Game 7 of the World Series.
One century later, the Steelers and Penguins both brought back championships to the city, with the Steelers downing the Cardinals in the Super Bowl, and the Penguins dropping the Red Wings out of the Stanley Cup Final.
Seven years later — to the exact day Pittsburgh won in 2009 — a resilient team of Penguins made region roar, yet again, raising the Stanley Cup in the SAP Center, or as the locals call it, the Shark Tank.
Pittsburgh really is a city of champions.
About two weeks ago, Brian O’Neill wrote a column in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, titled “Black ‘n’ Gold: the hues that bind?”
Highlighted in the column was the fact that across the board, Pittsburgh maintains the same colors: black and gold — Steelers, Penguins, Pirates — and that choice of team colors brings the city closer, along with the fans.
For the most part, O’Neill was spot on.
It’s different being a Pittsburgh fan, opposed to rooting for other sports franchises.
In resemblance to the Iron City, Boston (almost) is the same way.
With the Red Sox, Celtics, and Bruins, Boston has solidified itself as the winningest city in sports. But the ‘Burgh is closing in.
Not only did the Penguins give the City it’s fourth Stanley Cup, but with summer now in session, there’s room for optimism.
Plenty of room for optimism.
It’s been a new season and new team for Pittsburgh on the ice. Much is the same at PNC Park.
The last few seasons have been exceptional for the Buccos, and it has showcased, series after series, improvement, determination, and good leadership from the front office.
From 2013 to 2015, the club racked up 280 wins, second to only the despised Red Birds from St. Louis.
It came at a good time for the Pirates, though. After 20 consecutive losing seasons, it was nice to be in a wild card game, and alas, a playoff appearance in October, rightfully labeled “Buctober.”
But, in that stretch of time, aces from other teams seemed to find ways to shutdown the Buctober train. Focusing on Adam Wainwright, of the Cardinals (2013), Madison Bumgarner, of San Francisco (2014 wild-card game), and most recently, the Cubs’ Jake Arrieta (2015).
Now, the Chicago ball team is as good as ever, looking to run away with the National League title this season. But the Pirates still have a shot. In the most likely scenario, via a wild card game.
The Penguins were able to use youth, skill, and speed to clinch Lord Stanley, and Clint Hurdle’s Pirates have much the same in common.
Maybe the Buccos don’t showcase as much youth as the Pens, but newly added players? Check.
Juan Nicasio is having a wobbly year on the mound, with a 5-5 record so far. But there’s no looking past the fact that he’s good, can throw heat, and loves striking out batters.
John Jaso has plated 22 runs on 56 hits this year, and hasn’t disappointed — to the extent of Pedro Alverez — at first base.
And newly acquired pitcher Jon Niese has been pulling his weight, tipping to a winning record, at 6-3.
Let’s not forget about the Pirates veterans, who shadow those of the Penguins, in Sidney Crosby, Kris Letang, and Geno Malkin.
Mark “the Shark” Melancon keeps getting the job done in the later innings. And Gerrit Cole is keeping his head above water, too, with a 2.77 ERA.
The pieces seem to be there. Now, it’s time for the Pirates to buckle down, and put everything in order.
Now is the time to start pushing for Buctober.
Now is the time to add a 16th championship to the list for the City of Champions.
Lohr is the sports editor of The Herald. He can be reached at 827-3634, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.