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The Pirates string of losing seasons is over — now what?

Sep 4, 2013, 9:00 AM EDT

Cardinals Pirates Baseball

They still need one more win for their first winning season since 1992, but that’s inevitable. The Pirates did, however, put and end to their streak of losing seasons last night, notching their 81st win.

At this point it’s probably worth noting that when the Pirates completed their last winning season, “Roseanne,” “Murphy Brown,” Cheers,” “Designing Women” and “Coach” were top TV shows, Boyz II Men, Sir Mix-a-Lot and Kriss Kross had the biggest hits in the nation and this 40 year-old man was still living in a college dorm. Some of you were not even born. It’s been a long time.

The question now: what constitutes the next step of success for the Pirates? Or, rather, what will render this breakthrough season a disappointment?

If they fail to win the division and only get the wild card, is that bad, or are Pirates fans happy? What if they lose the wild card game? More broadly speaking, was .500 always a goal for you, Pirates fans, and the rest gravy, or are you living in the moment and the moment alone, desiring a long playoff run and anticipating disappointment if that does not come to pass?

Kind of an abstract question, I guess. I’m thinking back to 1991 when the Braves broke through after close to a decade of stinking (and nothing but stinking in the time I had been watching and cheering for them). I recall feeling a lot of “happy to be here” feelings as the season wore down and the playoffs sank in as reality. But I also remember all of that happy to be here stuff disappearing as soon as the NLCS actually began and things got real. Of course I still sting over the World Series, which was one deke and baserunning gaffe away from a Braves success. If you can’t be unequivocally happy being that close to winning it all you aren’t treating your team’s surprise success any differently than fans of teams with a long rich recent history of the stuff.

I feel like most Pirates fans will feel the same way. Maybe some high fives and victory laps this week and into next, but then the serious business of winning the division and making a run in October will take precedence. Lack of success in this regard will thus be felt just as strongly by you as it will be by Cardinals or Red Sox fans who have had all kinds of success in recent years.

But tell me if I’m wrong.

  1. clearwall - Sep 4, 2013 at 12:45 PM

    Im a Braves fan, but I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for the Buccos. Kudos to y’all for your success. No team or fan base should have to endure what y’all have the last 2 decades. I remember the night of the Sid Bream slide with fondness, but I cant fathom how painful it’s been to be a Pirates fan in that time. Best of luck to you the rest of the year.

    • gostlcards5 - Sep 4, 2013 at 1:00 PM

      Ditto from a Cardinals fan, especially because I went to high school with several Pirates fans, and they deserve some satisfaction for their loyalty. Plus, the Pirates have rarely been a team worthy of vitriol (even in the Bonds/Bonilla days).

      At any rate, clearly I would like for the Cardinals to snap out of their funk and get things rolling in the right direction, but I said from the start of the season that the Bucs are for real this year. Good pitching helps, and they have that. Experience with the end of season meltdowns….helps. Keep it up, Bucs, kudos and (hopefully) continued success!

      • thegloriousone - Sep 5, 2013 at 10:39 AM

        Pirates fan base? What an oxymoron.

        I wonder if all those Steelers fans will now lower themselves to root for the other team in their city.

  2. modellforprez - Sep 4, 2013 at 1:21 PM

    So its time to start a new streak. The losing is over so obviously it us time to win. And i think they need to lock up El Toro Now through most of or all of his Arbitration because he will be a key componet for years with that power and his always improving Defense. hard part is Scott Boras. he is hard to deal with for everbody followed by locking up the Young arms

  3. stairwayto7 - Sep 4, 2013 at 5:07 PM

    Next is to knock off the overrated Braves in the playoffs and let them start a 21 year losing streak!

  4. Kevin Gillman - Sep 4, 2013 at 6:03 PM

    As a lifelong Indians fan that experienced the EPIC losing of the 80’s, and the resurrgence of the ’90’s. I remember not being home the night the Indians clinched the Central. Now, I knew the Indians were going to clinch it anyway, but I wanted to record it anyway, just to live for the moment. And when they beat the Baltimore Orioles, I will always remember Tom Hamilton say “The season of dreams have begun”.

    Now, as the season went to an end, I was happy to just be there. But when the playoffs began, it got real very quickly. Sitting on the edge of my seat, even staying up to see Tony Pena hit the walk-off HR to end the game in 14 innings against an old friend Zane Smith, (I also followed the Braves, and remembered his days with Atlanta). They swept threw Boston, beat a very tough Seattle Mariners team that was very dangerous, because they truly had “nothing to lose” that season to advance into the World Series against the Braves.

    Then Game 6 happened when the Indians were in a must win game, and it seemed any pitch Tom Glavine threw was a strike, and the Indians lost a tough game 1-0, to lose the World Series.

    Now, I was disappointed for a half hour, but I was so damn proud of my Indians. I will never forget that first run in the postseason, and will hope the Pirates go through the same route through the postseason, except maybe a WS Title. I mean, why not? Andrew McCutcheon is a fun player to watch.

    Good luck Pirates.

    • blackmike2 - Sep 5, 2013 at 10:52 AM

      yes sir, that’s part of what makes baseball such a special past-time, those memories that stay with us forever, as vivid and as real as they were the season during which they occurred. good luck to the pirates (at least until they come up against my team in the post-season).

      • Kevin Gillman - Sep 5, 2013 at 12:28 PM

        A big reason why I like Baseball over Football. You never know what is going to happen before every game.

  5. steelers88 - Sep 4, 2013 at 6:15 PM

    I don’t think inexperience will hurt the Pirates. If you have great starting pitching a good bullpen and play solid defense you have a chance to win a championship, and the Pirates have all of that. Since they made the trades the offense is starting to come around. The Pirates will be a very tough out in the Playoffs they are a very gritty team that doesn’t give up when their losing. I really wouldn’t be surprised to see the Pirates raising silver above their heads and drinking champagne at the end of next month. And if they don’t do it this year they will defiantly be in the conversation next year. The Pirates are here to stay and they will be contending for a LONG TIME!

  6. steelers88 - Sep 4, 2013 at 6:40 PM

    Pirates 2013 postseason ticket pricing. $655 a piece for upper-grandstand $1,328 for lower grandstand and $3,825 for Lexus Club. Well I can’t afford that.

  7. joewilliesshnoz - Sep 4, 2013 at 6:46 PM

    Go Bucco’s !

  8. michaeljacksonisback - Sep 5, 2013 at 12:45 AM

    From a Cardinals fan… Good job this year pirates! Congrats on a great season and being a classy team. No big talk,no bragging like the Brewers, just butt kicking baseball. Cardinal nation respects you. Now lets both get to the NLCS!!!!

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