As Major League Baseball’s Opening Day fast approaches us, I’m wrought with one number plaguing my mind: 16.
Why 16, you ask? That’s how many years it’s been since my Pittsburgh Pirates finished with a winning record. Yes, I know you’re surprised—you didn’t know Pittsburgh even had a baseball team.
To recap, let’s review all that has taken place since the Buccos finished above .500: Four different presidents have taken office, Republicans have stolen two elections, Jay Leno took over “The Tonight Show,” Miley Cyrus was born and nine Olympic games have been played.
Come on, guys. This is getting pretty ridiculous.
Pittsburgh Pirate fans have become so disillusioned with their team that, with each passing season, there isn’t even any glimmer of hope for success. Year after year, we have hoped and prayed for a winning team, but as time has passed, our spirits have dwindled.
To add more fuel to the fire, the management traded away two of our best offensive players last year signifying to fans that our misery is likely to be prolonged for years to come. In a day and age dominated by sports agents and contracts in excess of $100 million, the Pittsburgh Pirates simply cannot compete against the brass of the MLB.
Without a salary cap that enables a level playing field, the Pirates and their fans are staring down a bleak future marred by an embarrassing major-league best 16 consecutive losing seasons.
We’ve come a long way, though. From the days of Honus Wagoner, to Bill Mazeroski’s World Series-winning home run, the Pirates have a long legacy of success if you don’t count the last 20 years.
It’s basically like being a glorified Browns fan living in Pittsburgh.
Pirate’s fans have a few things in common with their football counterparts in Cleveland—rich legacies, great expectations turning disappointments every season and both play in newer stadiums.
Yet, what separates Pirates fans from Browns fans is that, unlike people in Cleveland, most in Pittsburgh don’t expect too much out of their Pirates. Unlike Browns fans that suffer from severe paranoid psychological dissidence that their team is “going all the way this year,” Pirate fans generally accept their team’s lackluster performances in the cellar of the NL Central Division.
As I watch the Pirates’ Opening Day this year, there might burn deep inside me, a little fire of hope. Yet, I’m sure by the time All-Star Weekend rolls around, that ember of hope will long have been extinguished as it was 16 times before.