SAN FRANCISCO -- MLB Productions' stretch-drive series of up-close and all-access looks at postseason contenders -- "Mission October" -- is leading off with the Pirates. A crew is sticking close to the Bucs through the weekend, preparing for the show's Monday debut on Fox Sports 1.
Why lead off with the Pirates? Cynics out there will say that, given the team's history of falling out of the race the last two seasons, the producers had to act quick because they couldn't be sure Pittsburgh would qualify for future episodes.
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle had his own theory.
"When I was working for the MLB Network in 2009, I lost a bet to (on-site show producer) Jason Katz, so that's probably why he showed up here," Hurdle said.
Truthfully, MLB Productions jumped on the Pirates' bandwagon because they are a terrific, burgeoning story tugging at the heartstrings of underdog-loving America.
Hurdle and his players are trying to take it all in stride, and have ensured not being distracted by the attention.
"We've tried not to make big deal of it," the manager said. "A few more people around here. ... We've met the 'ask' professionally and responsibly. There was a lot of 'ask' and we said no to a lot, and yes to some."
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.