You know the Pirates have begun making waves nationally when ESPN begins paying attention. Just today, the Pirates were both the lead story and the subject of their Top 10 list on SportsCenter, a front page story on ESPN.com, featured in a segment on Outside the Lines and debated on both Around the Horn and PTI. To top it off, the Pirates will be on Monday Night Baseball for the first time since 2002 next week in Atlanta.
Seems like a coordinated effort as anchor Steve Levy tweeted the following: spent 30 minutes on the pirates alone today in the sportscenter show meeting...that's a first...#firstplace
For the record, the question on PTI was "Will the Pirates make the playoffs?" Wilbon gave 25% odds, which basically means he puts their chances at even with the other three contenders in the current quagmire. Guest host Tim Cowlishaw put them at 11%.
Bonus Pittsburgh coverage: For good measure, PTI also covered James Harrison and Rashard Mendenhall today.
Post-victory update: Just minutes after I posted this and the Pirates clinched their eighth straight series victory, the Pirates are the lead story on Baseball Tonight. Coverage of the NL Central was wrapped up with speculation on how many wins it'll take to win the division. Larkin said in the 90s, Kruk said he felt 90 would definitely do it, may even be lower. For the Pirates to finish with 90 wins, they'd have to go 39-28 over the last 67 games, which is obviously an even better pace than they are currently on. For perspective, if they played .500 ball over those last games, they'd end up with 84 or 85 wins. 85 would have won the division four times over the sixteen year history of the division.