It’s the time of year I find myself asking the same questions. Can things be different this year? Why do I keep coming back and putting myself through this agony? Why should I stay in this relationship? What makes me think that I won’t get my heart broken again?
In case you haven’t picked up on it yet, I have a BIG problem – I am in love with a loser! For the past 20 years the Pittsburgh Pirates have finished each and every season as losers, finishing under .500 each of those years. They have been 100% irrelevant, barely even scratching the surface of professional baseball worthy. Unless of course your team was on the receiving end of one of our lopsided trades or snagged up one of the many top prospects we were unable to sign. (*Note: Since 1993, the Pirates have had 8 top-5 draft picks in the MLB draft, including 3 number 1s)
My beloved Buccos can take ownership of two current records:
1) The greatest collapse in the history of Major League Baseball – last season they were 16 games over .500 at the beginning of August, and then proceeded to drop to sub-.500, ending the season with a record of 79-83
2) More consecutive losing seasons (20) than any other team in all of North American professional sports
Living in Chicago, as Pittsburgh Pirates a fan, I hear the woe is me song all the time – “we haven’t a won a World Series in over 100 years.” Sure, but at least your team has been relevant, made it to the playoffs, and you could even argue that your ownership is making an attempt to win a championship. I challenge any sports fan out there to present an argument that states it is harder to be a fan of their team than the Pittsburgh Pirates. Okay, maybe Cleveland Browns fans might be able to present a solid case, but even Detroit Lions fans or LA Clippers fans have had something to cheer about as of late. The only memories I have to hold onto are of Pirates second baseman Jose Lind’s crucial fielding error in the ninth inning of game 7 of the 1992 NLCS, and Sid Bream, in that very same game, bum knee and all, beating Barry Bonds’ throw to the plate, scoring the winning run for the Atlanta Braves.
Gone are the days of Bill Mazeroski’s 9th-inning heroics, “We Are Family,” and the Killer Bs, but what if we returned to those glory days? What if Andrew McCutchen, AJ Burnett and Pedro Alvarez are the guys to right this ship? How amazing would it be to get to experience that? It’s those kinds of “what ifs” that keeps me coming back. I am ready to be a winner again, and I know the city of Pittsburgh is, as well.
Selfishly, I have another reason that I so badly want to be with a winner at this point of my life. I am about to bring a new generation of baseball fan into this world, and his choice of teams are slim pickings. Talk about setting him up for failure – it’s either his father’s team, the Cubs, whose fan base consists of several generations of loveable losers, or his mother’s team, the Pirates, one of the most irrelevant teams in all of the sports. But again, what if? What if he did see the Pirates hoist a World Series Championship trophy? That would be something special.
If you understand, can offer advice, or can simply relate to anything in this post, please let me know…as the saying goes, misery loves company.