During Spring Training, Clint Hurdle was asked how many games the 2013 Pirates would win.
“95,” he said. I howled and picked 70 like I always do. I felt optimistic picking 70 because in eleven of the last twenty years, they did not reach 70 wins.
I wished every year I could pick 82 but I never saw 82 wins in any iteration in the last twenty years. The closest they came was 79 wins. They did that twice. Once last year, but I can’t think about that death spiral again and once in 1997, where they were actually in contention in the NL Central until the final week, only because the Astros and Cardinals sucked so badly that year.
Can you imagine how much bad baseball I have seen since 1992? Unless you’re a Pirates fan, you can’t.
A list of some of my favorite lowlights:
**In 2006, local-guy-done-good Michael Keaton came home to throw out the first pitch on Opening Day. In a pregame interview, he decimated the front office, saying, “At some point, you have to write a check.” All true, and good advice, but there is nothing like being reminded of how much your team is going to suck on Opening Day.
**They dumped Aramis Ramirez, who could still be the third baseman here, for Bobby Hill. Bobby Effing Hill.
**John Van Benschoten was the leader in homers in Division I college ball in 2001. The Bucs drafted him and decided to turn him into a pitcher, because that’s just they way they roll. He has a lifetime 9.20 ERA.
**Chad Hermansen was drafted in the first round in 1995, back when the Bucs were stupid enough to draft high school boys. His scouting report in the minors was “can walk on water.” When he got to the majors, it didn’t take long for the fans to notice he could not walk on major league water. It took the Bucs a few years longer.
**Derek Bell. Derek showed up at spring training of 2002 and found out he was competing for his job. This did not sit well with Mr. Bell, who said he would go into “Operation Shutdown.” This from a guy who hit .173 the year before. He was out of baseball before the season started, and the Pirates had to pay him four and a half million dollars not to play for them.
**Jim Tracy, manager from 2006-07, went 135–189 and said when he was fired,” It’s not my fault. It’s everyone else’s.” What a maroon.
**In 2001, the year PNC Park opened, the Bucs lost 100 games. The front office proceeded to raise ticket prices.
**Jason Schmidt, who goes down in twenty years of dreck for me as the worst player I ever wasted a cheer on. When he got to San Francisco, he told the media he did not even try to pitch well in Pittsburgh. Look at the difference in his numbers as a Giant and as a Pirate. I’ll make you puke. God, I hate him.
**Jason Christiansen used to greet new teammates by saying, “Welcome to Hell.” STFU, Jason, you were only here five years. I had to do twenty. And wasted five of them cheering for losers like you.
**Randall Simon got arrested during a game in Milwaukee after hitting the Italian Sausage girl with a bat during the race.
** Raul Mondesi, Matt Morris, Brian Bullington, Jeromy Burnitz, Pat Meares, the hits just keep on coming.
**My favorite was when India had a game show called Million Dollar Arm, and the grand prize was a contract in baseball. You guessed it, there is only one team stupid enough to be drawn into that. The local media followed them all over. We all knew who Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel were. They were so cute and optimistic, you’d allowed yourself to forget India is not exactly a hotbed for MLB studs and neither of them had even heard of baseball until the game show.
That’s how bad Pirates’ baseball has been; anything to distract from the level of play on the field.
I texted Kelly when the news about Justin Morneau broke. I remember using the phrase, “Just like a real team!” And before the game the other night night, the announcers told us what the Bucs Magic Number was. Magic Number!?! Are you kidding me? They have a Magic Number? Who’d have thought? The things fans of other teams take from granted, Pirates’ fans never do.
Roberto Clemente’s son told the 2013 team it has to be them to end twenty years of losing because 21 is a magical number in Pittsburgh and we can’t have it stretching that far.
2013 it is. Here are the guys who did it: