It was October 14, 1992. The Pirates led the Braves in the bottom of the ninth 2-0. Doug Drabek had just finished an amazing shutout performance that looked like another World Series trip for the five time champions; however, just like everyone else, pitchers do get tired.
Steve Belinda, the Atlanta Braves unsung hero, came into relieve Drabek and blew the game, along with the help of left fielder Barry Bonds, and cost the Buccos the World Series.
It has been 16 years since then. 16 agonizing years of watching my team finish sub-par that I've spent recalling countless stories told by my father and grandparents. The old lore of the Pirates traces back to the greats like Honus Wagner, Danny Murtaugh, Pie Traynor, and Ralph Kiner. Others entail the legend of Roberto Clemente and his 3,000 hits; of the most famous walkoff homerun ever hit in game 7 of the World Series by Bill Mazeroski; and then Willie Stargell and the city of champions.
I sometimes wonder if I'll ever have any Pittsburgh Pirate literature to share with my children and grandchildren. I wonder if I'll ever get to recount any great moments other than how the Pirates traded away their homerun leading outfield, or how they fired Jim Leyland, and who could ever forget the antics of Lloyd McClendon, possibly the greatest entertainment the Pirates have displayed since that fateful night in 1992.
Every year now I end September in disgust, but always hope for next season. For another six months I retorted to the remarks about the disgrace of the Pirates and fought back the bad thoughts of how the next season might turn out the same.
Of course, come April, I had forgotten about last season. "70-92? What's that?" I would ask as if it had never happened. But once again, for 16 years, every season has turned out the same.
The Pirates have now set the record for most consecutive losing seasons; at least something good came out of it, I mean, we got a record didn't we?
The Pirates have done everything: Recycled their staff time and time again, traded away every prospect known to man, and spoiled the dreams of every fan.
However, this sudden worst-to-first spark by the Tampa Bay Rays does instill a little hope. The Rays have built themselves around a young team; that's exactly what the Pirates are doing, unless they trade away their prospects again.
The Pirates sure to need alot of work this offseason, and maybe this is just my amnesia syndrome setting in, but there is alot of young talent and potential on the team that could lead to at least a pennant, I mean, my last one is falling apart - it's a bit weathered from the years.
Maybe the Pirates will turn around, John Russell sure is brewing a storm. I sure would like to see the black and gold on top again, along with the other Pittsburgh teams, I mean Pittsburgh's women's football team, the Pittsburgh Passion, even has two consecutive championships in the past two years.
Just a tip for Russell, you know that kid McLouth? The one in center field, your all-star? You might want to hold on to him. He's pretty good. A possible leader even that could drive the team into the post-season. And hopefully that's just not wishful thinking.
C'mon Pirates, give us a story for our kids, I can't go 16 more years like this.