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Believe in the Bucs? It's about time

There comes a time when a team believes in itself.

Then there are times when a fan starts to believe in a team.

For me, I think that happened last night after the Pittsburgh Pirates shut out the St. Louis Cardinals 5-0.

It took me 130 games, but I'm there.

I admit it, I fully expected the Pirates to crack this series against the Cards. Nothing changed after the Bucs lost 4-3 Monday.

Well, I thought they might get swept.

Instead, the Pirates responded with back-to-back shutouts of one of the teams they're trying to chase down for a wild-card playoff berth.

Today, before they enter a series against the Milwaukee Brewers, the Pirates are just one game away from that coveted spot.

I'm not sure they'll reach it, but I have faith they won't utterly collapse either, which was a big fear before the Pirates bounced back and beat the Cardinals 9-0 Tuesday.

Maybe Pedro Alvarez will stay hot through the end of the season.

If he does, then I think the Bucs have a very good shot at making the playoffs.

If Alvarez's hot-then-cold trend continues, then the Bucs will have to grind it out.

A lot depends on Pedro Power.

It just might happen.


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So much for Byron the great backup

I never understood the Steelers' fascination with their backup quarterbacks.

They've had either Charlie Batch and Byron Leftwich for what seems like ages now.

And when the Steelers really needed a backup, Leftwich couldn't deliver.

Leftwich rambled 31 yards for a touchdown Sunday against the Ravens, but other than that burst, the Steelers couldn't do anything on offense in a 13-10 loss that puts them in a bad position in the AFC North.

Leftwich, with his long delivery, looks better suited for the Pirates' bullpen than behind center.

He went 18-for-39 passing for 201 yards, but couldn't help a Steelers' offense that looks lost right now.

The Ravens came into the game with a weak defense. The thought was Leftwich could manage the game, the Steelers could find a running back to rely on and they'd escape with a win.

It didn't work out that way.

And it looks like we could see Batch at QB this week -- or someone else.

The Steelers are worried about Leftw…