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As Indians fight for playoffs, Francona is still a Pirates fan, too

By Danny Knobler | Baseball Insider

MINNEAPOLIS -- His first focus is on his own team. His second focus is on the two teams his Indians are trying to beat out in the American League wild-card race.

But you'd better believe that Terry Francona has noticed what's going on with the Pirates. You'd better believe he's thrilled that the playoffs are coming to Pittsburgh.

"Unless we play them, I'm pulling for them to win," Francona said Saturday, on the day his own team clinched a tie for an American League wild-card berth, while the Pirates were clinching the host spot for Tuesday night's National League game.

Francona grew up just outside Pittsburgh, in New Brighton, Pa. His father still lives in the area, and he still keeps in touch with friends there, all of them Pirates fans.

"I'm thrilled for them," he said. "It's a lot like Cleveland. They've been dying for a winner there."

As a kid, Francona would spend his summers wherever his dad Tito playing, which meant Cleveland or St. Louis or Atlanta or Oakland. But before school was out, he'd be home in western Pennsylvania.

"I grew up listening to Bob Prince call the Pirates games on the radio," he said.

Now the Pirates are back in the playoffs, after 21 years. With one more win, Francona would be back in the playoffs, too.

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