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Like Penguins, Bucs Still Have Work To Be Done

PITTSBURGH — The Pirates may be out the playoffs already – c'mon, they lost to a team they were up in the series 2-1 on, really? – but at least one Pittsburgh team won this baseball season.

Yep, you guessed it – the Penguins.

Now that the Pirates have gone belly-up in the playoffs for the first time in one year in the Andrew McCutchen era, maybe we'll hear less about how the Pirates will turn around the sports outlook in this city in no time if given the chance.

The fact is, despite every conceivable advantage from second or fourth overall choices in four consecutive drafts to the mother of all #1 picks in Gerrit Cole to a league that operates without a salary cap to a bats-and-balls-mad fan base, the Pirates have been unable to dominate their own division let alone the entire league.

Or did you know that, while the Penguins have gone four years without a sniff of Lord Stanley, the Pirates have hoisted exactly zero Championship trophies in that period?

Pure and simple, like the Penguins over the years, the Pirates have made mistakes in the draft and the open market. Lots of them.

For instance, take the 2002 draft, in which the Pirates owned the No. 1 pick on the heels of a anorexic 100-loss season. (Yes, Bubba, they were dog breath themselves not that long ago.) The golden rule states that you never, ever select a lesser pitcher at the No. 1 pick, but the Pirates chose Bryan Bullington, anyway. Here are some of players that they could have taken instead — Zack Greinke, Scott Kazmir, Cole Hamels, Matt Cain, Prince Fielder, Joe Saunders, B.J. Upton, Nick Swisher . . .

Hey, maybe Angelo Esposito wasn't that bad, after all. Sorry, forget I wrote that.

Here it is, eight years after McCutchen was drafted, and the guy still doesn't have a regular teammate that is in the same zip code as his talent level. Quick — name the last non-Pedro Alvarez legit 30-home-run-hitter to be developed in the Pirates farm system.

OK, 25 then.

Uh, 20?

God help the franchise if Cutch goes down any time soon. Cart him off and the Pirates are the New York Mets all of a sudden.

I wouldn't wish that on even a Milwaukee Brewer let alone Cutch, who represents everything that is good about professional sports. I wouldn't wish that on any team owner let alone Bob Nutting, a guy that only the devil could root against in 2013.

It's just that, before people wish for the Pirates to step in and save sports in this town, they should remember that the Pirates have to help themselves first.

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