By Johhny Sunchips
As sports fans, we all have room for a feel good story. An also ran becoming relevant; a "loveable loser" becoming a playoff contender; a laughing stock of a franchise jumping the barrier between winning and losing. I know I do! And if you don't... well... maybe you just don't have a pulse!
Twenty-one years ago; Shaquille 'O Neal was an NBA rookie, the Buffalo Bills were in the middle of reaching (and losing) four consecutive Super Bowls, knuckleballer Tim Wakefield was made his MLB debut, .Pop sensations Selena Gomez and Miley Cirus were both born! Basically, what I am getting at, is that 1992 was a long time ago.
If you are a fan of the Pittsburgh Pirates, it probably seems twice as long. 1992 marks the last time the "Bucs" had a winning season. When you think about it, eeking out one more victory than defeat doesn't seem that difficult... in fact it seems harder to remain futile for such a long time. But, in twenty-one straight 162 game seasons, the Pirates have failed to win more than 79 times. In an
uncanny way, that's impressive.
The last time Pittsburgh made the playoffs, Doug Drabek was their staff ace. They also featured a lineup core that consisted of Jay Bell, Andy Van Slyke, as well as a highly touted, yet scrawny developing prospect. This 27-year old left fielder would become the muscle-bound slugger with an oversized head, known as poster child for the steroid era; Barry Bonds.
Fast forwarding to 2013, with just 60 games remaining in the season, the Pirates have the second best record in all of baseball. Their batting order is centered on MVP candidate Andrew McCutchen, and anchored by the strong veteran presence of their catcher, Russell Martin. When it comes to pitching, starters Jeff Locke, (9-3 2.15 ERA), Francisco Liriano (10-4 2.23 ERA) are two of the best this year in the NL, followed by a bullpen stabilized by closer Jason Grilli (30 saves, but currently on the disabled list... hoping to be back in September), and set up man Mark Melancon. Their team era (3.08) is the best the NL has to offer. They have all of the ingredients for winning in baseball.
The Pittsburgh Pirates may not win the World Series in 2013. They may not win the NL Central Division. They may even miss the playoffs entirely... but if they can just win 20 of their final 59 games, the can exorcise twenty-one years' worth of baseball demons... and win more games than they have lost. That's a really good feeling!
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