Kenny and Jordan Shoup, brother and sister, came to their first home opening game dressed to the nines in Pirates gear. (Photo/Kelly Thomas)

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The North Shore today filled with Pirates fans young and old celebrating the opening of the 2011 baseball season at PNC Park.

As the Bucs prepared to take on the Colorado Rockies, tailgaters filled nearby parking lots, grilling hotdogs and burgers and enjoying a beer or two. Kids in Andrew McCutchen and Neil Walker T-shirts dashed around their parents’ feet, swinging balloon swords at each other and grinning from ear to ear.

The crowd, despite its better judgment, was high on optimism coming into the home opener after the Pirates won two away series and came into Pittsburgh with a 4-2 record.

Pirates fan Dave, who has been coming to the home opener with his wife, Jen, since PNC Park was built 10 years ago, said he had a good feeling about this season.

“We always have optimism this time of year,” he said.

He said he likes the pitching so far and is impressed with new manager Clint Hurdle and his involvement with the players.

Most fans agreed with him. Brother and sister Kenny and Jordan Shoup said they felt better about the Pirates’ chances this year.

Both bubbled with excitement for their first-ever home opener.

“We have the book ready to keep score!” Jordan said.

Linda, decked out in Pirates jersey and baseball cap, said, “I’m an optimist.” Her friend Chris, who always makes it to the home opener, agreed, citing improved pitching as a primary reason for her high spirits.

Plus, Chris added, “New manager, new season.”

Of course, not everyone let the festive atmosphere raise their expectations. Adam Lentz said he wasn’t getting his hopes up, even after a good first showing.

“They’re not going to be any good,” Lentz said matter-of-factly.

Jim, who said he was more or less indifferent to the Pirates but enjoyed the party-like atmosphere of the first home game, predicted the Pirates would be back to a losing streak before long.

“People in Pittsburgh are conditioned to what the Pirates are,” he said, calling it sad that Pittsburghers’ expectations are so low.

And after a 7-1 loss to the Rockies today, many leaving PNC Park may agree with him.