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Are the Pirates in a World Series drought?

The Bucs have titles to look back on, but they’re looking smaller and smaller in the rear-view mirror.

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Baltimore Orioles v Pittsburgh Pirates Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

The Houston Astros, you may have heard, won the World Series. It was their first title in their 55-year existence.


The Cleveland Indians, you’re probably aware, have the longest time without a title, now at 69 years, a not-so-nice distinction after getting bounced by the Yankees in the American League Division Series.

The list of next-longest lulls goes as such:

Rangers* 56

Brewers* 48

Padres* 48

Nationals* 48

Mariners* 40

Pirates 38

The asterisk denotes teams that have never won a World Series. The Rockies (1993) and Rays (1998) have never won a title, either.

So, out of teams that have won titles, the Pirates have the second-longest span without one. Does that qualify as a drought?

The question is ultimately a matter of semantics. One could argue the Cubs are on a one-year title drought. But how long does a drought have to go to qualify as a capital-D, generally accepted, fanbase-haunting drought? Cleveland’s drought is certainly one cited in the media, and I suspect, with famous droughts having ended in recent years, this motif will start to be applied to other cities. The temptation to build up a long-suffering fanbase theme is strong.

A quick search finds plenty of references to a 30-year drought for the Dodgers, which, sure, for a team of its might, that seems to be a long time without a World Series title.

The Pirates have been haunted by other ignominious streaks fairly recently, without a winning season or playoff appearance for 20 years until 2013. The focus hasn’t necessarily been on the World Series. Famous near-misses, of which the Pirates have one, which came 24 years ago, seem to be an important part of building this narrative. The Red Sox had Bill Buckner, the Cubs had Steve Bartman, etc.

Are we cursed, though? Are we still “long-suffering”? Everyone will have different ways to answer these questions, but keep an eye on it.

The Pirates are getting up there on the list.