Monday, September 30, 2013

The Bucs, the duck & playoff baseball in Pittsburgh

I’m becoming concerned that on October 21 Americans will wake up to headlines revealing crazed Pittsburgh Pirate fans have commandeered a four-story rubber duck and are refusing to let it depart.

Yes, I fear the Duckaneers. 

Western Pennsylvania is buzzing about ducks and Bucs.

The giant rubber duck showed up last week, two days after the Pirates clinched their first playoff spot in 21 years.


Of course, it is.

Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman certainly had no idea the Pirates were going to make the playoffs when he agreed last year to showcase the 40-foot high by 30-foot wide duck on the Allegheny River. I’d be surprised if Dutch artists followed MLB standings.

But what do I know? Maybe Hofman has Andrew McCutcheon on his fantasy team. I have no idea. “Dutch Artists” would be a show-killer category for me on “Jeopardy!”

In fact, the entire sum of my knowledge about Dutch artists is that one of them got famous by constructing giant rubber ducks, pretty much guaranteeing the rest of the Dutch artists who do things like paint still life bowls of fruit are resentfully killing themselves because they didn’t dream it up first.

The giant rubber ducks are an international sensation. Hofman has since 2007 displayed similar creations in France, Australia, Japan, Brazil and five other countries. 

The one in Pittsburgh is the first to appear anywhere in the U.S.

Take that, New York, L.A. and all the rest of you smug cultural enclaves!

When it comes to cutting edge art, Pittsburgh alone can say, “Duck it!” 

It’s scheduled to be here through Oct. 20, which is after the National League Championship Series, but three days before Game 1 of the World Series.

It’s moored on the Allegheny River where it can’t help but stare straight at PNC Park, where on Tuesday evening the Pirates will play their first playoff game since 1992.

The duck and the Bucs are all everyone is talking about.

And just because it’s all coincidental doesn’t mean Pirate fans won’t begin to regard the duck as some sort of good luck charm should the Bucs go on an October tear.

The sports logic goes like this: Giant Rubber Duck arrives, Pirates win. So Giant Rubber Duck must stay until Pirates lose. 

As sports logic goes, this actually makes more sense than wearing the same underwear for 30 days straight and I know plenty of guys who’ll pull that one off, which, speaking of coincidences, is what they’ll eventually have to do with the actual underwear. 

I’ve already heard one friend suggest someone should drape a Pirate eye patch over one of the duck’s manhole cover-sized eyes.

Guaranteed, the duck will make a ton of cameos on the TBS broadcast, marquee attention that’d certainly make the Pirate Parrot green with envy. Not that anyone would notice on a neon green feathered mascot.

I look at the competing lineups in the baseball playoffs and believe Pittsburgh has just as good a shot as anyone.

This might be one of those magical years. The team has great starting pitching, solid defense and the positive kind of chemistry we can resume talking about now that Walter White is no more.

God knows the Pirates are due.

It’d be interesting to see how the local sports teams performed in other cities after the duck appeared.

I think the sports-obsessed would have already forewarned talk radio if teams had tanked when the duck showed up.

We’d have known this because there would have been armed squads of vigilantes protecting the city from the yellow-skinned intruder, much the way Rock Ridge locals did in “Blazing Saddles” when another intruder showed up in skin that locals found offensive for reasons that had nothing to do with potential sports jinxes.

That poor guy’s goose was cooked, a fate that I hope awaits the Reds and the rest of the Pirates October opponents.

I wouldn’t bet against them.

A Pirate quack attack might just do the trick.

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