September 14, 2011
Those are the surest guarantees in baseball, a fact that was clinched on Wednesday when the Buccos collected their 82nd defeat of the season with a 3-2 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals at PNC Park. Pittsburgh has now posted 19 straight losing seasons, extending its record for the most consecutive losing campaigns in baseball history.
The previous record had been held by the 1933-48 Philadelphia Phillies, but the Pirates won exclusive control of the depressing designation in 2009. The franchise is actually the most consistent losing outfit in professional sports history with the list looking like this:
While most of these past two decades have numbed the loyal fans that remain in Pittsburgh, this year might have actually left a stinging sensation after some early false hope. The Pirates caught a few breaks in the first half, climbed as high as seven games over .500 and even held a share of first place in the NL Central as late as July 25.
For a short time, PNC Park was baseball's place to be.
But then came Jerry Meals' stunningly incorrect call in a 19-inning loss down in Atlanta and the Pirates entered a tailspin they've yet to correct. The team has gone 14-35 since that night, demolishing any hope that this would be the year they'd end the most embarrassing streak in baseball this side of the Chicago Cubs' World Series drought.
That's not to say the Pirates can't take anything positive away from this season. Andrew McCutchen(notes) is continuing to show signs that he can be a franchise-leading superstar and the team's front office showed enough restraint when it could have overreacted to a first-half record that was better than the squad's peripherals. That means the team's future core is still intact and the Pirates look a lot closer to a winning record than the Baltimore Orioles, who have already clinched their 14th straight losing season.
Still, all that losing can wear on the soul and it makes me admire all the Pirates fans who are still sticking around waiting for the streak to end. Be sure to send some good thoughts their way as they soldier on, hoping this thing ends before it reaches an even 20.
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