Barring some ungodly circumstance, this might be the last I write about the Pirates until next season. Steelers season has begun and the Pens are gearing up for the coming year as well. But I need to comment on some recent happenings on the Pirates landscape and how we should effectively deal with the news.
A few days ago, the Buccos clinched their 16th consecutive losing season, tying them with the 10,000+ loss Philadelphia Phillies for the longest streak of back to back losing seasons in the history of professional sport. There’s no NFL, NBA or NHL team that has reached that level of awfulness, and the MLB proudly(?) stands alone with two. One more year of this, and we take the top spot.
My buddy Pat had a solid look back at the streak. I was about the same age as Pat when the Braves/Bream/Cabrera/Pirates/Bonds play went down. I remember the good times, contending for the NL pennant, watching Bonds, Bonilla and Van Slyke, marvelling at Drabek. But it seems like all of my good memories about the team have been destroyed by this string of ineptitude. I chuckle now when people bring up the Pirates in conversation. It shouldn’t be like that.
But it is. We’re stuck with this awful team, hoping that each year will snap the skid. Raise the Jolly Roger stated that the streak-continuing loss provided for a sad day in Pittsburgh…but did it? I think we’re looking at this the wrong way.
As a fan of the team desensitized by the 16 years of awful baseball, I think its time to re-think how we view the Pirates. The Buccos just accomplished something that has been untouched by everyone, save for the lowly Phillies. The team that once boasted Clemente, Stargell, Honus, Barry, multiple World Series trophies and the Maz walkoff now is known throughout the sports world as one of the worst franchises ever. So instead of crying over our misfortune…let’s celebrate our new position in baseball lore.
Is anyone really going to be fiercely discussing the Ravens/Giants or Bucs/Raiders Super Bowls 30-40 years down the road? The Marlins beat the Indians to capture a World Series, and they weren’t even a team when we last had a winning season. The Lightning won a Stanley Cup at some point.
My point is…so many teams best .500, go to the playoffs, win championships, produce Hall of Famers. Hell, we get spoiled by the Steelers and (hopefully) the Penguins. Only two teams have ever lost 16 consecutive times. And we’re at the point where number 17 is not out of the question.
So why the sadness, Pirates fans? We’ve come to expect sub-.500 seasons, so why would the 16th version of the same story be any different from the previous 15? Flip the script, and take pride in your team being a conversation point for years to come. Shit, we’ve just done something astoundingly special and seemingly impossible. If this is all we have to look forward to, why not make the best of it?