Well, a month ago I didn't think we would be at this point. An optimistic summer gave Pittsburgh PIrate fans the feeling that it was the year the Pirates would have a winning season. 82 wins seemed to be a reality, maybe even 90 at a point near the end of July into August. As quickly as we assured ourselves that nothing terrible could happen this season, the worst scenario happened.
The Pirates made it 20 straight years of losing seasons after blowing a ninth inning lead, losing to the Cincinnati Reds 4-3 in true Pirates fashion. So...all the hype, the hope, the Zoltan and other moments that happened this season mean nothing. It hurts this year. Not just because it was the two decade mark of mediocrity, but because it was the first time since 1992 that Pittsburgh looked like a team that could win 82 games. The pitching was keeping the squad in close games and despite an offense lacking run support at times, they found ways to get runs.
After the All Star Break, it changed. James McDonald, who everyone felt was snubbed for the mid-summer classic in Kansas City, fell apart and dissipated into the late summer. Wandy Rodriquez was acquired in a trade from the lowly Houston Astros and provided little to no help. Andrew McCutchen, although still in the race for the batting title, saw a decline in his hitting in the second half of the season.
The coaching staff and front office deserves its share of criticism. People have been critical of owner Bob Nutting and General Manager Neal Huntington. Huntington went for the bargain bin during the trade deadline. The Pirates were only in a division race, but why take a chance right? I mean, you never know when the Bucs will compete again.
Manager Clint Hurdle deserves blame as well. Hurdle has been one of the better managers since Jim Leyland's departure, but the decision making was lacking. The teams motto "Finish" is as laughable as the "We Will" campaign in a year where the Pirates almost lost 100 games. The number of times we cringed when Hurdle signaled for a batter to bunt were one too many.
You can't blame the fans for not showing up in September. People in the media criticizing fans for not coming out to support the Pirates. It's hard to imagine people wanting to spend money to watch a team that doesn't believe in itself. It returned to the normal "night out at the ballpark because of the ballpark" for many. In Pittsburgh that means free T-shirt Fridays, fireworks and Lifehouse. That night out pads Nutting's wallet with more cash while he spend like a miser at the trade deadline. As long as you have enough food in your gut in the "All You Can Eat" seats and you're happy, that's all that matters.
Over the last two decades, it's been easier to stomach a losing year. This season, it's nauseating. To the point where you want to throw up. To think at this point back in August, we thought this Reds series and upcoming Braves series would mean something. Perhaps a chance to clinch one of the wild card spots on the last day of the season. Instead, we watched the Pirates crash and burn late in the game and clinch an historic mark that is hard to accomplish.
So for 2013, how about adopting the late Al Davis' slogan and mix in a little of Carly Rae Jepsen's "Call Me Maybe" lyrics and making next years slogan "Just Win Maybe?"
Most people can detect a poor investment. For some, they feel spending more money on the Pirates this year unlike previous years was worth it, but not today. Fireworks and washed up music groups only work so much Nutting. How the Pirates still have people coming to the games is a head scratcher for some. Those who see me and others wonder why we stick with this team after all these years. It's hard to explain, but we still do. Don't know why exactly, but we just do.