The Pittsburgh Pirates won their 81st game last night, ensuring a winning season for the first time since 2015, and the fourth such season overall in the past 20-something years.
This is not exactly unheard of, but Pittsburgh Pirates fans are divided.
What is new this time is that it is not a trade or a lack of spending stoking the fires of fan uneasiness.
No, the impetus for this division is actually something that many would have gladly signed up for in the not-so-distant past: an 81st win. A dispersing of the stench of another losing season.
Yes, the Pittsburgh Pirates won their 81st game last night against the Cincinnati Reds, and Pirates fans aren’t quite sure what it means.
Hopefully it means fans can see that this team isn’t far from competing and this pitching staff is REALLY good and has a ton of potential, and that if we can add some bats, next year could possibly be real special.— Mitchell Polanco (@MitchyMitch9) September 29, 2018
Absolutely, positively nothing.— Gavin Williams (@GavWill13) September 29, 2018
That had they made better offseason moves this year, it could have been special. Instead the mgmt will use this as a reason to do little over the next offfseason.— Halvy Buckets (@halvybuckets) September 29, 2018
Prior to the season, I predicted a record of 84-78. I felt there was more talent up and down the club’s 40-man roster than some realized, and that the team could sneak away a series or two that it “shouldn’t” win, and end up with a decent record. The team could still cozy right up to that mark with a 83-78 record should they win out. But more and more, it has become painfully clear to me what a winning season, hell even winning 81 games, actually means.
Winning 81 games — avoiding a losing season — is nothing more than a band aid.
Don’t misunderstand - the 2018 Pittsburgh Pirates did not luck their way into a winning season. It was earned, Even if it took a hot start, an 11 game midseason winning streak and a strong September finish.
When we were children, and we fell and scraped our knees, our mothers would kiss our booboos and make it feel better.
Bob Nutting has shown nothing during his tenure as the principal Pittsburgh Pirates owner to suggest that he will kiss the team’s booboos by authorizing a big free agent splash to address the team’s needs — in this case, maybe a power hitter, maybe upgrading over Ivan Nova in the rotation.
Thus, it is up to general manager Neal Huntington to tend to the club’s wounds. And there are still a few bumps and bruises that need attention. The team is saddled with one of the worst infields in team history, Their most productive bat will be on the shelf for at least the first month and change of the season. Their pitching staff took considerable strides this season, but could be open for regression in spots. The bullpen seems sturdy enough, but some might argue that it lacks depth in case of injury or ineffectiveness.
The band aid that is a winning record can only heal these wounds superficially, progress though it may be.