September 13, 2012
Chicken Soup for the Pirates Fan's Soul
Last year, the Pirates held sole possession of first place in the NL Central as late as July 19th, claimed a share of first place as late as July 25th, and had a record over .500 as late as August 1st. On the next day, August 2nd, their record fell to .500, and their playoff odds flatlined. After that, there was no more good news. The only question was how far they would fall.
The answer? About as far as a team can fall in two months. The Pirates went 8-22 in August and 10-16 in September. They finished in fourth place, which was better than sixth, where they finished the year before. They won 72 games, which was better than 57, their total from 2010. It was progress, and while the end result was a losing season no better than some of the 18 before it, there were more than the usual amount of good days along the way. Still, the season ended on a sour note.
This year, they lasted longer. Almost long enough, really—it’s not their fault the baseball season stretches on so long. As recently as August 21st, the Pirates were a wild card team. Now, not only are they not a wild card team, they’re in serious danger of extending their streak of losing seasons to its second decade. Unless they lose every one of their remaining 20 games, they’ll finish with more wins than they had last season–at 72-70, they’ve already tied last year’s total. It’s more progress, and there have been even more good days. And still, the season appears poised to end on a sour note.
Well, we’re not going to let it. Too much has gone right for Pittsburgh this season to let the last few weeks spoil it all. So here are nine* facts Pirates fans can take comfort in while trying not to think about being swept by Cincinnati (and before that, the Cubs):
*Why nine? Because I learned a valuable lesson back in June, when I tried to come up with 10 reasons why the Astros hadn’t been historically terrible: some lists aren’t meant to be 10 items long.
The Pirates’ playoff odds were higher yesterday than they were at any point last season.