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A losing season in Pittsburgh — again

September 14, 2009

by Matt Kane

I felt a little guilty last Monday (Sept. 7) after I saw a game-report on ESPN. The anchor was describing the Chicago Cubs’ 4-2 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park in Pittsburgh.

I felt guilty because, in the past 17 years, I have, at many times, complained about how one of my beloved Minnesota teams has performed on the field.

I’ve complained about the Vikings never having won a Super Bowl and how they always seem to disappoint us fans in playoffs. I’ve complained about the Twins and how they seem to think they are better than they really are. And I’ve complained about the Wild’s inability to get into the playoffs at all lately.

My guilt is aimed directly at any and all Pittsburgh Pirates fans, who, because of that 4-2 loss to the Cubs a week ago, are, again, guaranteed to have been cheering for a losing team all season.

Let me be more specific — Pittsburgh fans watched a losing Pirates team again, again, again, again, again, again, again, again, again, again, again, again, again, again, again and again.

Are you annoyed by the 16 “agains” you just read, and in hope that you will never see an again — again?

How do you think Pirates fans feel? Those 16 “agains” represent how many straight years baseball fans in the Steel City have had to repeat the word “again” after any phrase similar to, “The Pirates finished with a losing season.”

Through Friday night’s game, the Pirates carried a 54-85 record with 23 games remaining. That means, if Pittsburgh won all 23 games, it would finish with a 77-85 mark. That also means this year is the 17th consecutive losing season for the Pirates.

Seventeen consecutive losing seasons — now don’t you feel guilty for ragging on the Twins this year about one possible losing season?

Need a laugh? Check out the Pirates’ official web site. The banner across the top of the page reads, “Pride. Passion. Pittsburgh Pirates.”

No offense, but I’m not sure how much pride and passion Honus Wagner, Roberto Clemente, Willie Stargell and Ralph Kiner would have after 17 losing seasons.

Another humorous note about the Pirates’ situation (maybe not humorous in Pittsburgh) is that the last winning season Pittsburgh experienced was in 1992, and the season ended in Game 7 of the National League Championship Series.

Remember that game, when Atlanta Braves slowpoke Sid Bream beat the throw of Pittsburgh left-fielder Barry Bonds to the plate for the game- and series-winner?

The Pirates were 96-66 during the 1992 regular season. Bonds went to San Francisco in the offseason, and in 1993 the Pirates finished fifth in the National League West with a 75-87 record. They haven’t won since.

The only player from that 1992 Pittsburgh team who is still active is Boston’s Tim Wakefield. Wakefield was 8-1 that year with a 2.15 ERA in 13 games.

Who knows how much longer Wakefield’s career will last, and it will be sad when the last remaining active link to a winning Pirates team is gone.

But, who knows, the Colorado Rockies and Tampa Bay Rays came out of losing slumps to play in the World Series, so maybe Pittsburgh fans will have something to cheer about sooner than they think.

Um, I don’t think so.

When you are on that Pirates web site, let me know if you’ve heard of any of their players. Even if you have heard of some names, like Zach Dukes, Andrew McCutchen, Andy LaRoche and Brandon Moss, odds are that, if they become quality players, they won’t be in Pittsburgh uniforms for long.

For that and the 17 straight losing seasons, I hope the Pirate’s management feels guilty.