Steelers-Pirates: A Comparison of Pittsburgh's Teams

ctsports picksAnalyst IJanuary 25, 2009

Sunday morning started as normal—three cups of coffee, the local paper, and a day of sports, before I head back to reality tomorrow morning. While reading the sports section, I became intrigued by the letters to the editor.

One letter in particular sparked interest and posed the following question—why are there so many vocal Steeler fans, and why do they disappear during baseball season? If you bleed black and gold during the fall and winter, why don’t you during the spring and summer?

Below are the top five reasons why it is easy to love the Steelers but hard to love the Pirates.

The difference in leadership

In 1933, Art Rooney purchased the Steelers for $2,500—what a great investment. The Rooneys have owned the Steelers ever since. It seems like the Steelers produce a winner every year, which can be contributed to a great vision of the Rooney family. Their name is, and always will be, synonymous with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Pirates have had five owners since 1933 and most importantly, three since 1996. Since then, the Pirates have struggled to win. When the Pirates were having success in the ‘70s and ‘80s, they were under the ownership of John Galbreath, who controlled them for 40 years.


The Steelers hire young coaches and let them lead the franchise for years. Chuck Noll, Bill Cowher, and now Mike Tomlin were young and for the most part, inexperienced coaches that brought energy and success to the team. The Steelers have only had three head coaches since 1971 and they have won five Super Bowls—and are looking for number six on Sunday.
Since 1971, the Pirates have had eight managers and more importantly, five since 1996. During the tenure of Tanner and Leyland, in the ‘70s, ‘80s and early ‘90s, the Pirates had some success but since 1996, it has been all downhill.

The terrible towel

The Steelers have the terrible towel. Remember when the Titans beat the Steelers in Tennessee this season and ESPN and every news outlet made a big deal about the Titans stepping on the towel? They spoke about how disrespectful the Steelers and their fans thought this was. Of course, CBS analyst Bill Cowher was also offended. On the other side of the towel was Coach Fisher, who was offended because Steelers fans brought the towels into their stadium. Can a towel hold such symbolism in the NFL? It can!
The Pirates, on the other hand, have no symbol!

The face of the franchise that fans want to follow

The Steelers have “Big Ben”, Hines Ward, Willie Parker, James Harrison, Lamar Woodley, Heath Miller—should I continue?
The Pirates had Jason Bay, but he was traded away to the Red Sox.

Everybody Loves a Winner

I’m not going to lie—everybody loves a winner. It is easy to root for a team when they are winning, and the following numbers since 2001 don’t lie.

The Steelers won a championship in 2005, have appeared in the Super Bowl in 2005 and 2008-09, and made the playoffs in 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2007 and 2008.

The Pirates, on the other hand, have finished in last place in their division three times, while finishing fourth once.

I’m not sure if the Steelers win No. 6 on Super Bowl Sunday, but I do know that the Pirates open spring training on Feb. 25 against the World Champions from Philadelphia!

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