It is tough being a fan of the Pittsburgh Pirates, for young and old alike.
The younger fans have no memories of the club having a winning season, let alone an appearance in the postseason. The older ones can remember a franchise that decades ago produced five World Series titles and some of the game's greatest players.
With the Pirates mired in a record-setting streak of 19 consecutive losing seasons, the team has been the laughingstock of Major League Baseball and of all professional sports in this country. Still, the 2012 edition of the once-great Pittsburgh Pirates will head into September with more wins than losses, giving their long-suffering fans a bit of hope to cling to as they dream of a return to winning ways.
The following list includes 10 memorable moments for the Pirates during their streak of futility:
10: Pirates Defeat the Brewers -- Finally, 2009: The Brewers have dominated the Pirates in recent years, including a span of more than a year between 2008-09 when the Brew Crew won 14 of 15 contests, with 12 of them in a row. The Pirates finally broke the 12-game skid to the Brewers with an 8-5 victory on July 20.
9: Pirates Win 11 in a Row and Still Finish the Season as Losers, 1996: The Pirates won their 11th straight ballgame on Sept. 22, an 11-3 result against the Cubs. It was the team's best winning streak in several decades. However, the late-season surge in the win column just bumped the last-place team to a 73-89 record.
8: Titanic Blasts for Pedro, 2012: Third baseman Pedro Alvarez slugged two tape-measure home runs on Aug. 28 as part of a four-hit night to lead the Bucs to a 9-0 victory over the Cardinals. The first long ball traveled 422 feet to the opposite field, while the second one was even more impressive, at 469 feet, and cleared the right-center field bleachers.
7: Pirates Take a Thriller at Home from the Cubs, 2011: Catcher Michael McKenry crushed an offering from Cubs stopper Carlos Marmol to lead the Pirates to a come-from-behind 7-4 victory in front of a rare sellout crowd on July 8.
6: First-Pitch Home Run Brings Hope for the Future, 2012: Outfielder Starling Marte, a top prospect in the Pirates' farm system, belted a home run on the first big-league pitch he saw in Houston on July 26. The Pirates will need him to realize his considerable potential for the club to have a sustained run of success in the coming years.
5: Cutch Is Clutch With Three Home Runs, 2009: Andrew McCutchen has excited Bucco fans since his debut in 2009. On Aug. 1 of that year, he hit three home runs in a game against the Nationals. It will take great things for years to come from McCutchen for the Pirates to return to winning ways.
4: 19-Inning Loss Sends Pirates to the Bottom, 2011: The longest game in Pirates history--in terms of time--resulted in a devastating loss for the team on July 26. The game concluded on an unbelievable call by home-plate umpire Jerry Meals, who ruled that catcher Michael McKenry did not tag Braves baserunner Julio Lugo before he touched the dish, giving Atlanta an undeserved 4-3 win.
3: 19-Inning Win Might Be Sending Pirates to the Bottom, 2012: The Pirates appeared to exorcise the ghost of Jerry Meals by winning a 19-inning affair in St. Louis on Aug. 19. However, the Bucs have only two wins against six losses since that marathon contest, and could be headed for a second consecutive late-season collapse.
2: A 10-Inning No-Hitter Gives Fans Something to Cheer About, 1997: Pirates starting pitcher Francisco Cordova threw nine no-hit innings and was followed by one more from reliever Ricardo Rincon. This set the stage for three-run home run by outfielder Mark Smith in the bottom of the 10th inning and a 3-0 Pittsburgh victory over Houston on July 12.
1: Brian Giles Hits One for the Ages, 2001: Pittsburgh All-Star outfielder Brian Giles accomplished a lot during his five seasons in the Steel City. But his performance in the ninth inning of a game on July 28, 2001, was something extraordinary.
The Pirates trailed Houston 8-2 in the bottom of the ninth with two outs. After several hits, the Bucs had narrowed the gap to 8-5 and loaded the bases. Giles promptly crushed a pitch from relief great Billy Wagner to give Pittsburgh one of the most improbable victories in the team's storied history.
Patrick Hattman is a long-suffering Pittsburgh Pirate fan and longs for a return of the Pirates of his youth when they put some of Pittsburgh's best-ever baseball teams on the carpet at Three Rivers Stadium.
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