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Morning Juice: Pirates set record with 17 straight losing seasons

Big League Stew

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This and almost every weekday a.m. during baseball season, let's rise and shine together to recap the most recent diamond doings. Roll Call starts in Pittsburgh, but not behind the Steel Curtain or inside of the Igloo, where a proud city's champions work and play and win. Instead, we begin with the other major professional franchise in town, one that hasn't posted a winning record since 1992.

Game of the Day: Cubs 4, Pirates 2

Party like it's 2009, '08, '07, '06, etc.: Unlike Sidney Crosby of the NHL's Penguins (above, left) and coach Mike Tomlin of the NFL's Steelers (center) did in recent months, Pirates right-hander Steven Jackson(notes) won't be hoisting any trophies this year. Thanks to the visiting Cubs — who just happen to be the world's most famous losing franchise, not having won a World Series since 1908 — the Bucs on Monday secured a record 17th consecutive losing season.

The Pirates used to share the futility record with the Philadelphia Phillies of 1933-1948. Yeeeearrrrrrgh, but Pirates don't share, do they, mateys?

Among the four longstanding major pro sports in the U.S. — baseball, football, ice hockey and basketball — nobody has ever been so bad for so long.

Other significant sub.-500 streaks:

15 seasons: NHL's Vancouver Canucks (1976-91)
15 seasons: NBA's Kansas City/Sacramento Kings (1983-98)
14 seasons: NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1983-96)

"We can't ignore it and say it didn't happen," manager John Russell said. "We're not accepting it. We're making moves to make sure we build a championship team, and we want that to happen as soon as possible."

We won't know until this time next year if the Pirates will make it 18 straight losing seasons. Unless the talent in the minors makes a unified rush to the majors in 2010, or Russell wins Powerball and spends it all on a pitching staff and infield, it's hard to imagine a different outcome. It's also hard to remember the Bucs have an actual tradition of winning.

Honus Wagner, Pie Traynor and the Waners played on winners; Bill Mazeroski and Roberto Clemente did too; Willie Stargell and Dave Parker won the Series in 1979; Barry Bonds(notes) and Andy Van Slyke averaged 96 victories from 1990-'92. Many Hall of Famers, five World Series titles and nine pennants. That's a good century.

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"Setting a major league mark for losing hurts and it hits particularly hard for us because everyone in this organization is extraordinarily proud to be a part of a franchise that has such a long and rich history of winning," team president Frank Coonelly said.

Since Bonds signed with the Giants after the '92 season and the losing started, here are some raw (as in painful) numbers:

• The Pirates have lost 1,501 games.

• They've had four general managers and six managers.

• Even more telling, they've had three owners.

• The closest they got to .500 was 79-83 in 1997.

The Orioles are one loss from 12 consecutive losing seasons, if you're wondering who's next. None of these numbers are quite as painful as 17, however. Janis Ian, what's the truth?


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Feelin' Rundown (losing is a disease):

Yankees 4, Rays 1 (Game 1): Carlos Pena(notes) will now dye his two broken fingers black to match Joe Maddon's hair and the Rays' period of mourning.

Yankees 11, Rays 1 (Game 2): No hits for Derek Jeter(notes), but Lou Gehrig also draws an 0-fer, so O' Captain still trails the Iron Horse by three in career knocks. If Gehrig manages to keep this record, he really will be the luckiest man on the face of the Earth.

Cardinals 3, Brewers 0: Chris Carpenter's(notes) last name should be Pitcher, not Carpenter. Then again, I've never seen him operate a lathe.

Rangers at Indians, ppd. (rain): I wanted them to play.

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Astros 4, Phillies 3: Yes, that's a four-game sweep of the world flailing champions. What is this? Revenge for the 1980 NLCS? Charlie Manuel is doing everything in his power, even "The Crane" from "Karate Kid," to fix this by the playoffs. (Playoffs?!)

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White Sox 5, Red Sox 1: He wandered around for six weeks after the perfect game, but like the dude in Kung Fu, Mark Buehrle(notes) had a purpose. ... Someone, probably on this blog and probably me, should put together an All-Star team of guys the Red Sox cut this year. Mark Kotsay(notes) would make the squad with his weekend output alone. This also is probably my last, best chance to second what others have pointed out: Kotsay looks a lot like actor Stephen Baldwin. Gimme the keys!

Dodgers 7, D-backs 2: The Dodgers are squeezing lemonade out of Ronnie Belliard(notes) and Vicente Padilla(notes).

Twins 6, Blue Jays 3: The AL MVP race as it pertains to .369 Joe Mauer(notes), according to Justin Morneau(notes): "Amazing. The year he’s having, it’s unfortunate we’re not in first place because he’d be, I mean, in my opinion he still should get the MVP, but he’d be running away with that thing."

Rockies 4, Reds 3: Queue ominous music: A strained lower back for Troy Tulowitzki(notes).

"I'm not sure what happened. I took a swing and I felt a little something and felt like I was a little locked up," Tulowitzki said. "I'm a little sore right now and tight. Maybe I'll wake up and feel good to go today."

Giants 9, Padres 4: Whatever goofballs Brad Penny is gopped up on, lend me some please. It's great theater and he's getting people out at 98 mph. The Giants are batting Juan Uribe fifth. That's beyond the boundaries of sanity! This whole team is on the Crazy Train.

Royals 6, Angels 3: Helping to stop a nine-game losing streak against the Angels, Billy Butler(notes) hit two home runs. He kind of has a right-handed Bob Hamelin thing going on.

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