PITTSBURGH - If you've been watching the games broadcast from PNC Park and Heinz Field, you have probably seen the big yellow duck in the rivers outside the stadium.
This is it for the giant inflatable duck who's been the talk of the town for the last several weeks.
The big yellow bathtub toy ends his (her?) run tonight around 11. A tugboat is scheduled to take it to be cleaned and warehoused.
The duck first appeared on Sept. 27 and became an instant hit. He (she?) was there for the Pirates' stretch run, the raucous wild card game against the Reds and the two playoff games against the Cardinals.
People love the duck. He (she?) doesn't really do anything, doesn't even quack. It's just big and conspicuous and non-threatening, kind of like Max Starks was over the last couple of seasons. Since Mayor Luke Ravenstahl has gone into hiding, the duck is the cutest symbol of Pittsburgh this side of Baby Ben Roethlisberger.
Desperate fans started an online petition to extend the duck's stay, but that wouldn't really work. If he (she?) stayed, it would become just more routine river clutter like the car fenders that float by, or the drunken boaters who turn green bobbing on the waves on Steelers Sundays.
All your Facebook friends have photos of themselves with the duck hovering placidly in the background. People will be sending duck-themed Christmas cards.
People love the duck, and not just because it's free to see him (her?). The Fort Pitt Block House reports its attendance has jumped significantly during the duck's stay, with a corresponding rise in merchandise sales. This means people have actually visited the Block House without being shanghaied on a school field trip.
The duck is staying just long enough to get some final face time during CBS's coverage of this afternoon's Ravens-Steelers game.
We'll miss the duck, but this is certain: He (she?) was a bigger hit in 23 days here than Steely McBeam has been in seven years.
No matter what the respective records are, games between the Baltimore Ravens and Steelers are always going to be a big deal.
They're not fighting for the lead in the division today. They're just trying to stay close to the Cleveland Browns.
There's a scary pre-Halloween thought.
Any talk of the Steelers' rejoining the division race should be on hold until they can get to .500. That's assuming they can even do that.
A win today would perhaps be a step toward that, but this still doesn't look like a playoff team.
In his worst power year with the Cardinals, Albert Pujols had 32 home runs and 103 RBIs. He never posted a batting average lower than .299 in his 11 seasons in St. Louis.
Yet the Cardinals have continued to reach the postseason without him and are now in the World Series.
They're running a pretty good organization in St. Louis.
Mehno can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.