BRADENTON -- The Pittsburgh Pirates, Detroit Tigers and Michigan Wolverines, or fans thereof, descended upon McKechnie Field for the Pittsburgh Pirates Grapefruit League home opener Wednesday.
"I love this. Nothing better," said Bradenton resident Joe Morris, 48. "Look at the weather, the people, the atmosphere. It's great. You can't do anything better. It's a great feeling. Everybody should be here. I love baseball. I couldn't wait for baseball to get here."
A love for baseball was the main similarity fans shared throughout the 10-3 Detroit victory.
The fans who comprised the majority of the crowd on McKechnie Field proudly wore garb representing their favorite team. Most in a random sam
pling expressed love for the Pirates because of their storied history and recent success.
"Just an awesome experience. It's fun, enjoying the weather, just coming out and having a nice beer. It actually means just something to do," said Jared Bellittera, 33, who lives in Palmetto. "I think kind of seeing how they practiced and how they do in spring training, it just either gives you a good outlook or kind of an: 'Oh man, this is going to be a rough season.'"
Playing Detroit, there was an abundance of Tiger fans in attendance along with University of Michigan head football coach Jim Harbaugh, who was an honorary coach for the Tigers.
The one thing nearly all the fans agreed is they don't like the one-game wild-card playoff used in the postseason. It's a sore spot for Pittsburgh, which has lost two straight wild-card showdowns the past two years, including last season when it compiled the second-best record in baseball.
"I would absolutely like to see a best out of three," said Larry, 62, a Toronto native and Blue Jays fans, who said he can't help but feel sympathy for the Pirates. "The Pirates are in the toughest division in baseball with Chicago and St. Louis. You play the whole summer for one game and maybe you get eliminated because your ace is not ready or have a bad call by an umpire."