Yesterday’s 4-2 loss to the Cubs was Pittsburgh’s 82nd defeat of the campaign, guaranteeing the Pirates their 17th consecutive losing season. Calling yesterday’s contest, “the only historically significant game the Pirates have played at PNC Park since its 2001 opening”, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Dejan Kovacevic recalls some of the more desperate moments in recent Pirates history, along with giving the club a chance to defend themselves.
Through it all, there were salary-slashing trades from Jason Schmidt to Jason Bay, Derek Bell’s “Operation Shutdown,” Bottled-Water Gate, the Matt Morris and Matt Wieters fiascos, Randall Simon questioned by police for clubbing a human sausage, John Van Benschoten and Ryan Vogelsong getting chance after chance, Sean Burnett calling the Pirates a “laughingstock” while playing for the only team with a worse record, a 17-2 rout at Wrigley Field last month in which the Cubs led by two touchdowns after two innings and, just in the past week, New York Yankees bench player Eric Hinske telling a Canadian newspaper he “hated it in Pittsburgh” before he had asked to be traded earlier this summer.
And now, what is left of the Pirates’ fan base — there is a reason those Strip vendors are selling endless rows of those “The City of Champions. And the Pirates” T-shirts — now frets over is this: When will it end
President Frank Coonelly strongly suggested the streak could have been over by now with a short-sighted approach.
“If we had brought in a few veterans, we would hope that we could have broken it, sure,” he said. “But we’re obviously not focused on the 82nd loss. It’s been clear through our conduct that we haven’t allowed this streak — which we don’t like and nobody’s proud of — to dictate how we build this club. We’re looking to win a championship, and we are so much closer to that today than we were a year or two ago.”
“The people who work for the Pirates shouldn’t focus one ounce of energy on the losing streak,” General Manager Neil Huntington said. “Our focus isn’t on getting to 82 wins one time to get this monkey off our backs. To win 82 with a group of players on the down side of their prime or leaving through free agency with nothing coming behind them in the farm system … OK, we break the streak, but we put ourselves in a position to start another one.”
Could ending the streak next year be a target?
“If it’s a step in the natural progression, if it’s the right players who have a chance to be part of what we’re doing going forward, that’s great. But we’re not going to pop champagne bottles when we get to 82 wins.”