20 Years Too Long
October 14, 1992. It was Game 7 of the National League Championship Series between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Atlanta Braves. The winner would be going to the World Series and facing the American League Champions, the Toronto Blue Jays. The loser was going home in defeat. Atlanta led the series 3-1 but were now in a Game 7 at Atlanta. It was 2-1 Pirates in the bottom of the ninth inning with two outs, bases loaded. The slowest player in the league, Sid Bream was on second base. Francisco Cabrera at bat for the Braves and the Pirates pitcher was Stan Belinda.
It was a three-two count and Cabrera singled to left field. Barry Bonds fielded the ball, but made a weak throw, trying to throw Sid Bream out at home. Most left fielders could have easily made the throw and could have gotten most runners out, but Barry Bond’s weak throw was too slow allowing Sid Bream to score the winning run. After that loss, the Pittsburgh Pirates would not have a winning record until 2013.
20 years. That’s 7,300 days, 1,040 weeks, and 240 months. That’s how much time has passed since the Pittsburgh Pirates have had a winning season. Here are some facts to put in perspective what has happened over the past 20 years. In 20 years the United States has had four presidents. Presidents George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George Bush, and Barack Obama. Two new teams have been created in the Major League Baseball, the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Tampa Bay Rays. Also, Chipper Jones, has played his entire career for the Braves, in those twenty years. Bud Selig has been the commissioner of the Major League Baseball for twenty years and counting. The Pittsburgh Penguins have won two Stanley Cups and the Steelers have won two Super Bowls.
During the past twenty years for the Pirates, they have had one second place finish, two third place finishes, five fourth place finishes, six fifth place finishes, and six sixth-place finishes. The worst record the Pirates have posted in those 20 years was 57-105 in 2010. Also, the Pirates have had six managers and 3 general managers. The seventh being Clint Hurdle and the fourth being Neal Huntington. And in 2013, the Pirates finally ended the North American record of having the most consecutive losing seasons in sports.
This year, the Pirates had a winning season with a 94-68 record. The Pirates came in second place in the NL Central and first in the NL Wild Card. Andrew McCutchen is a definite National League Most Valuable Player candidate and Pedro Alvarez is tied for the most home runs in the National League with 36. The bullpen for the Pirates ranks either first or second in just about every statistical stat possible. With these assets any team could have a winning season. PNC Park has also held the first postseason game in its existence this year and the first postseason game for the Pirates in 21 years (coincidentally 21 was the number of a very famous Pirates player, Roberto Clemente).
The winning season for the Pirates has generated a new interest in baseball in Pittsburgh, a city with deep roots in baseball. For two decades now, the sports talk in Pittsburgh was dominated by the Steelers and the Penguins, and now people can talk about the Pirates. With the climactic 6-2 victory over the Cincinnati Reds on October 1, history was made at PNC Park. Unfortunately the Pirates lost the NLDS series to the St. Louis Cardinals.
The 20 years of losing baseball is now over in Pittsburgh. With its winning season and postseason success, the Pittsburgh Pirates have a bright future. They have many young players and a strong manager which should bring more winning seasons in the years to come.
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