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'Blackout' highlights playoff party in Pittsburgh

PITTSBURGH -- The players are looking forward to it. The manager considers it another item checked off his to-do list.

But none of the Pirates truly have an idea of what they are in store for, of what PNC Park will look, sound and feel like when postseason baseball returns to the Golden Triangle on Tuesday night, starting at 8:07 p.m. ET on TBS.

It is going to be insane, in the best way.

The memorable needle will jump off the meter if a grassroots call for a Blackout -- having everyone in the crowd wear black clothing -- gains traction.

"That's something fans can really get into and look forward to," the Bucs' Josh Harrison said, "If they all wear black, they'll be even more amped up."

If that happens, manager Clint Hurdle's assessment of a typical evening in PNC Park will ring truer than ever.

"There have been nights when it almost looks like an Oakland Raider football game is about to break out," Hurdle said.

However dressed, they will stroll across the Clemente Bridge, baseball fans on a true pilgrimage. They will sit and stand in PNC Park, waving the Rally Towels handed to them at the gate and the Jolly Roger flags that make a Pirates crowd truly unique.

They will hear Petrina McCutchen, mother of the possible National League MVP-to-be, sing the national anthem.

"I think I hit a home run the last time she sang the anthem," said Andrew McCutchen, correctly recalling that Aug. 7. "If it happens again, she'll have to keep coming back."

They will see Doug Drabek, the Pirates' last Cy Young Award winner (1990), deliver the ceremonial first pitch.

Then they will watch a reflection of themselves take on the Cincinnati Reds in a win-it-all playoff game.

"We're a perfect snapshot of our city," Hurdle noted. "We're resilient, gritty ... not perfect."

The party got underway Monday at a noon downtown rally, at which the Pirates manager told the assembled, "We've twisted your heart for 21 years. But what are you feeling today?"

Tom Singer is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer.
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