Last night, something special happened. Our Pittsburgh Pirates won their 81st game of the season, a number that tradionally means your club has reached mediocrity in a 162-game season. Only the Pirates haven't hit that many wins wince 1992, a season that ended in crushing disappointment as Sid Bream beat a Barry Bonds throw home in the NLCS. And every season since has been filled with sub-.500 teams just plugging away and hoping to spoil some other franchise's playoff hopes.
And then we come to 2013, where the typical underachievement or late-season collapses failed to show up. The Pirates won their 81st game of the season just three days into September, so instead of this being the ultimate goal, it's just a speedbump en route to a potential division crown and playoff appearance. AND WORLD SERIES BECAUSE THESE PIRATES ARE AWESOME SJFJSGFHSDIGFH!
Now, I'm a Barry Bonds apologist. That throw home in '92 was his last act as a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates, and so many fans have yet to forgive the guy for taking the money in San Francisco. Or for fattening up on NL West pitching and likely performance-enhancing drugs. Me, I don't care if a guy of Bonds' skill (or anyone for that matter) used PEDs to reach certain heights.
For the final ~10 or so years of Bonds' career, there was no greater spectacle than a Barry Bonds plate appearance. Aside from a few-months stretch in 1998 when Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa ate every supplement and PED imaginable to chase the single-season home run record after Ken Griffey Jr. fell off the pace, NOTHING came close. Bonds would stand in the box, ready to face whatever junk a pitcher would throw at him. And for those ~350-400 or so career home runs, Bonds made opposing pitchers crap themselves.
And it wasn't the home runs that made his plate appearances so special. Because he was gonna be walked a third of the times up to bat. It was the sheer terror on the faces of the pitchers, knowing that anything near the plate was gonna end up in the seats or McCovey Cove or just plain out of your home stadium. So maybe Bonds bulked up and was able to hit 460-foot home runs instead of 410-foot ones. PEDs don't magically give you the skill and batspeed with which Bonds was naturally gifted.
Frankly, with the number of pitchers juicing to their eyeballs in the same era, it is unimaginable that Bonds stands out as one of the biggest pariahs. We should count every home run hit off a known juicing pitcher as like two home runs if we're gonna gnash our teeth at the batters who pumped up.
But I'm getting away from myself here in defending Barry Bonds. I loved the guy and the dynamic he brought to the sport. It's just unique that his final moments as a Pirate were the last time we as fans saw a .500-or better Buccos team until 2013. So in order to reconcile the Bonds-era Pirates and their successes with these 2013 Pirates ready to finally make it back to the playoffs, I decided to combine the two. And with the recent Internet trend of "every so-and-so as something else," I now give you every current Pirates position player wearing Barry Bonds' dangly gold cross earring.
Maybe I'll do the pitchers tomorrow or something. Or not. This already took a decent amount of time.
Join me after the jump.
Travis Snider (last night's homer, of course)