It's a number of massive significance to a baseball fan. It means the difference between a season of defeat and a season of victory, of an autumn with opportunity.
For fans of the Pittsburgh Pirates, 81 is a sweet numeral, one that destroys the number 20 and won't allow anything to add up to 21.
With a victory on Tuesday night over Milwaukee, the Pittsburgh Pirates shed the nametags "hapless" and "struggling" and stomped them into the dirt.
With a ninth-inning home run by Travis Snider, the Pirates put the opportunity to let another season slip by with a losing record numerically behind them, earning a 4-3 victory over a team that has been a thorn in the Bucs' side even as the team has improved in recent years.
What is impressive and remarkable about the Pirates is the teamwork. One gets the sense that this is a group of guys who sacrifice for one another in a way fans always secretly hope in their hearts can still be found in professional sports.
It has been a lifetime for younger Pittsburgh baseball fans. Indeed, Gerrit Cole, the starting pitcher, was 2 years old the last time the Pirates had 81 wins, on Sept. 9, 1992.
It means a fall with excitement, and fans of a team who have waited for so long to finally be able to let down and breathe a sigh of relief, that other teams are in the cellar now. Of course, raised achievement brings raised expectations, and fans will be rooting to see the Cardinals and Reds continue to slide as the Pirates ascend in the waning days of the 2013 Major League Baseball season.
We congratulate the team for the achievement and join those rooting for growing and continuing success.