It’s 10:30 AM. You just woke up with the biggest hangover after an all night rager, and you find the girl you thought was pretty isn’t quite so pretty the next morning lying next to you. What do you do?
You never talk about it again.
That’s what it seems the world is doing with the Pittsburgh Pirates. It would seem America’s feel good story of the year has turned into nothing more than another case of beer goggles for most people. The Pirates, losers of five straight, find themselves deep in third place, six games back of the Brewers. They are sitting on an even 54-54 record, and would seem the lightest of breezes could knock them back to a 19th losing season.
But all that said, the Pirates are still alive and kicking. At least for now. I have counted the Pirates as not only a team that will have a winning record at year’s end, but will contend in the division. Teams can go through a bad stretch. Even the best ones lose multiple games in a row. The problem with the Pirates is that while so much of this country was all-in on the Pirates bandwagon, the same people were silently waiting for them to fall.
That’s why no one is writing about a team that was formerly sitting in first place but lost five straight games to drop to third. No one is talking about a team with 18 straight losing seasons who had us all convinced that streak would end. No one is even thinking about what this means for a franchise so deep in losing, an entire generation has been lost.
I’m not sure what’s worse, to have the doomsday prophecies come out in August, or to be ignored. Either way, the Pirates are not done. They have enough talent to carry them to a winning season. Maybe not a division title, but a winning season nonetheless. The fact is, the Pirates have no choice but to finish this season above .500.
I’m not sure the city of Pittsburgh can handle being led on most of the season only to be turned away into the October cold with nothing but the memories of another losing season. The Pirates were buyers at the trade deadline for the first time in years. They have drawn more fans to both the park and the television. They appeared on ESPN for the first time since 2002. They simply cannot finish this season with a losing record.
I choose to keep my beer goggles on. I choose to maintain the same beliefs now that the Pirates are in third place that I did when they were in first place. They have good pitching, play solid defense, and manufacture runs. For a team with a low payroll and limited offensive power, those qualities usually lead to success. So don’t worry Pittsburgh, you’re still the same team I met at the bar last night, and I’m not ready to run out and forget you.