2012 was almost the Pirates' year. They began the season with a team ERA of 2.78 in April—the 3rd best in the league, and by the start of July, they were neck-and-neck with the Cincinnati Reds for the top spot in the NL Central. Though a late-season slump derailed their return to glory, the 2013 campaign offers another shot at a division title, especially since the MLB no longer prohibits forcing opposing players to walk the plank.
In the Pittsburgh Alleghenies' first National League game in 1887, the rag-tag squad amassed six runs against the mighty Chicago White Stockings, establishing the team as a force to be reckoned with for decades to come. Today, through more than 130 years, five World Series titles, and four previous stadiums, the Alleghenies—now the Pirates—make their home at PNC Park, where pop flies soar amid views of the Clemente Bridge and Steel City skyline sprawling in the background. Located only 443 feet away—or, by official MLB measurements, 807.3 half-eaten hot dogs—the Allegheny River waits for home runs to splash down after sailing over the right-field wall, which stands at 21 feet high in honor of legendary Pirate Roberto Clemente. Off the field, the stone archways lining the entry-level façade tip their cap to the club's former longtime home, Forbes Field, and an outdoor terrace and riverwalk cool down fans enjoying the game on warm summer nights.