Embrace the losing streak

I was running late. As usual. Due to my impeccable time management skills, I parked my car at 12:24 PM. Eleven minutes before first pitch. I hopped onto the sidewalk and broke into a brisk walk toward PNC Park, arriving at the gate with seconds to spare. A friend met me there with my ticket, and I entered the park around the moment that Daniel McCutchen was making his initial offering. Walking to my seat, I watched as McCutchen quickly retired two batters. As I approached the hot dog stand, my attention was snatched by a crack of the bat and the sound of anticipation flowing through the crowd. I peered through the seats and spotted Garrett Jones gazing toward center field. A cheer erupted from the stands, briefly comforting me. Seconds later, it occurred to me that half the crowd was made up of Cubs fans. I caught a glimpse of Derrek Lee circling the bases. He would spend the day hitting home runs, almost at will.

As I found my seat, the raindrops began to fall. The precipitation reminded me of the previous seventeen years. The rain was relentless for the most part. Mike Lieberthal hit a walk-off home run, capping a ninth-inning rally that started with a 7-1 Pirates lead. Jason Kendall suffered a severe ankle injury, abruptly ending a career season. Brant Brown dropped a fly ball. Matt Capps blew a huge lead in Philadelphia. We were shut out yet again. A few times, the rain slowed. Francisco Cordova and Ricardo Rincon teamed with Mark Smith on a no-hitter. Rob Mackowiak enjoyed an unforgettable night at the park. Brian Giles’ grand slam capped a furious rally against Billy Wagner. But mostly it just rained. I sat there, cold and dripping wet, as the Pirates lost for the 82nd time in 2009.

I was there the night Matt Morris’ career ended in a barrage of line drives. I was there when Ryan Vogelsong bailed out a struggling Josh Fogg, and the offense stormed back for a comeback victory. I was there the night fans littered the field with souvenir flags. I was there when three consecutive Pirate hitters flailed at pitches in the dirt, as the winning run watched from third. I was there the day Freddy Sanchez clinched the batting title. I was in Cincinnati when the Pirates allowed seven runs in one inning, battled back to tie the game at seven, allowed seven more in an inning, and lost 14-7. I was in Cleveland when C.C. Sabathia dominated the Pirates. I was there, by myself, when Francisco Liriano did the same in Pittsburgh. I was there, by myself, when Freddy sliced a ball inside the right field line for a walk-off victory against the Cubs. I was there when Tike Redman‘s epic battle with Braden Looper led to a thrilling comeback victory. I was there when Tony Clark tied the game with a grand slam, leading to a heartbreaking loss. I was in New York to see the Bucs lose at Yankee Stadium when the team drafted Daniel Moskos over Matt Wieters. I was there for the final game at Three Rivers Stadium and for Jim Leyland’s last home game. I was there the night Albert Belle struck out four times. And I was there, surrounded by rain drops, when Lastings Milledge lofted a lazy fly ball to center field, clinching the franchise’s record 17th consecutive losing season.

If you are a Penguins fan, you know how satisfying it is to reminisce about the days of Rico Fata. Or the year Dick Tarnstrom was the team’s top offensive threat. One day, when the Pirates are playing a playoff game at PNC Park, it will be a thrill to remember the days of Abraham Nunez and Kip Wells. Embrace this losing streak, and the good days that are coming soon will be much more special for you.

Enjoy this story? Pirates Prospects will be switching to a subscription site on 4/13, so that we can continue bringing you the best Pirates coverage there is. For a very small monthly price, you can continue getting articles like this, along with coverage from every minor league city. Get more information here, and subscribe today!

Share This Article

Matt Bandi

Matt has covered the Pirates at Wait ‘Til Next Year, Pittsburgh Lumber Co. and now Pirates Prospects. He served as Pirates team expert for Heater Magazine in 2009 and 2010 and has contributed to Graphical Player 2009, 2010 and 2011. Matt was also the editor of the 2011 and 2012 Pirates Prospects Annuals.

2009 State College Spikes Season Recap

Next Story »

Hillcats 2009 MVP: Kris Watts

  • Leslie

    We will all probably be “too” old for any kind of title with the Pirates…Who knows, maybe our grand children or great grandchildren might be around to see this…

Latest Analysis

  • Alen Hanson f

    Pirates Talk With David Todd: Hanson, Ramirez, Taillon, Kingham, Richard, Worley

    8 hours ago

    I was on 970 ESPN in Pittsburgh this afternoon for my weekly segment with David Todd. The podcast can be heard below. Here is a summary of ...

    Read More
  • Billy Roth is the top prospect in Bristol this year.

    Another Projectable Prep Pitcher Sees An Increase in His Velocity

    14 hours ago

    When discussing the best Pittsburgh Pirates draft under Neal Huntington, the 2011 group has to be at the top of the list. It features Gerrit Cole, Tyler ...

    Read More
  • Arquimedes Caminero

    Breaking Down the Final Pirates Roster Battles After Today’s Cuts

    2 days ago

    With less than a week remaining in camp, the Pittsburgh Pirates made their latest round of cuts this morning, sending three relievers to minor league camp, including ...

    Read More
  • Keller Supak Hinsz

    Even With the New Draft Rules, the Pirates Are Still Loading Up on Projectable Pitchers

    3 days ago

    From 2008-2011, the Pittsburgh Pirates spent a lot of resources on projectable pitchers out of high school. So far, this approach has led to breakout performances from ...

    Read More
  • Josh Bell made the move to first base over the off-season. (Photo credit: David Hague)

    Why Should You Care About Prospects?

    5 days ago

    Yesterday I had a shorter day than usual. The Pirates had cuts at the MLB level, and a road game. The day was shortened at Pirate City, ...

    Read More
  • Gregory Polanco

    Q&A: Trading Prospects For Rentals, Polanco Concerns, Meadows vs Appel

    6 days ago

    I missed the Q&A last week due to a common problem in Spring Training: I forgot what day it was. It was around 6:00 that I was ...

    Read More
  • Nick Kingham f

    Improving His Two-Seam Fastball will Make Nick Kingham a More Effective Pitcher

    7 days ago

    With Jameson Taillon returning from Tommy John surgery, and unlikely to make an impact at the Major League level early in the year, the top prospect to ...

    Read More
  • Arquimedes Caminero 3

    The Roster Situations That Could Impact the Makeup of the Pirates Bullpen

    1 week ago

    There are less than two weeks remaining in Spring Training, and the one area where the Pittsburgh Pirates had actual position battles is heating up. There were ...

    Read More
  • Jordan Luplow

    How the Pirates are Trying to Stay Ahead of the Curve With the New Draft Rules

    1 week ago

    The 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement brought a lot of changes to Major League Baseball. The biggest change for the Pittsburgh Pirates came in the draft. From 2008-2011, ...

    Read More
  • Alen Hanson

    The Key For Alen Hanson to Help the Pirates in the Majors This Year

    2 weeks ago

    When the Pittsburgh Pirates moved Alen Hanson to second base last year, part of the plan was to get him to the majors faster by putting him at ...

    Read More
  • Browse More Articles

    More