Friday, April 18, 2008

An Open Question To Pittsburgh Pirate Fans

This is the 16th season since Sid Bream slid past Spanky LaVailliere's tag and crush the Pirates' dreams of the 1992 National League pennant.

If you were born that night you'd almost have your driver's license now.
And if you factor in that your don't really follow baseball closely day to day until your turn 6 or 7, think about this:

You can be a 23 year old Pittsburgh Pirates fan and have NEVER seen your team play .500 ball!

Now as I wrote last year... there is no excuse for the 15 year slide. None. Not payroll, not market, not ownership.

If the Expos could have winning seasons in 2002 and 2003 even though they didn't even have an owner, then the Pirates could have snuck in an 82-80 season along the way.

So I have a question for you Pirates fans out there...
How do you do it?

And let me say I've always liked the Pirates. My first World Series memories was watching Pops Stargell beating up the Orioles to the tune of Sister Sledge.

But that was a long time ago.

When I was a kid, the Red Sox went on a stretch where they didn't contend...

But they had exciting players like Lynn, Fisk, Rice and Evans. They had links to the past like Yaz and hope for the future like Boggs, Gedman and Clemens.

And eventually they won the 1986 AL Pennant.

What fond memories do young Pirate fans have?
Forget We Are Fam-A-Lee... I'm sure young Pirate fans don't even remember Bonilla, Bonds, Van Slyke and Drabek!

Forget Dave the Cobra Parker and John Candelaria.
The memories of pre hooker Denny Neagle are faint.

And be honest... do you grind your teeth knowing Marlins fans have won 2 World Series since Bream scored?

So seriously... Pirates fans 22 and younger... what are your memories?
Who were your favorite players? What makes you a die hard Bucs fan?

Clearly I know you have great Steeler memories of the Super Bowl and the Penguins have a real shot at the cup... and even if they don't, you can build memories of Sidney Crosby.

But which Pirate poster did you have growing up?
Jason Kendall?
Kris Benson?
Todd Ritchie?

Which games were your fondest baseball memories?

What I am saying is, if you are a Pirate fan who only knows the post Barry Bonds years... then you are as good and as loyal a fan as possible.

I admire fans like Erik Hoeke, who wrote the terrific 10 Positive Things About Being a Pittsburgh Pirates Fan

Or devoted fans like Sara Legarsky, who loyally breaks the team down.

There are devoted folks at the ironically named Mighty Pirates, and the bitter guys at Raise the Jolly Roger, and Cliff at Pirates Home Plate, and Pat at my favorite Pirate blog name Where Have You Gone, Andy Van Slyke.

So write in... tell me your favorite memories of the post Bonds era... and tell me those of you who don't shiver at the name Francisco Cabrera why you love your team.

6 comments:

  1. I'll field this one as best as I can.

    I'm a Pirates fan because I legitimately enjoy Pirate baseball. I know, I know...it's really bad baseball. But I can't help myself.

    To answer your questions:

    My favorite players are sadly mostly still active on major league rosters...just not ours. I was always a big Aramis Ramirez fan...watching him was always great, but the trade was one of the worst memories ever. I was a big Craig Wilson fan and was always frustrated that he never got a real chance to show what he could do. Oliver Perez and Zach Duke were both absolutely electrifying in their rookie seasons. And of course, the obvious choice here is Jason Bay. He's one of the few legit stars we've had in this stretch.

    My favorite memories are honestly pretty recent. Freddy Sanchez's batting title (and with what reluctance management let him start) and the "go Freddy go" signs in PNC. Duke's rookie year. Seeing Gorzelanny and Snell be lights-out pitchers last year. The accomplishment of actually making Shawn Chacon a pitcher with any value, even if it is in long relief. Xavier Nady's evolving nickname. (from "I can't believe we traded for this guy" to X-Man to Weapon X)

    However, my fondest memories are of this last year when Dave Littlefield, Ed Creech and Brian Graham all finally got fired. We've since replaced them with actual, competent baseball people, and it's starting to look for the first time like this organization actually cares about building a contender from the bottom up. Just recently we even hired a Baseball Prospectus writer to work in our front office.

    I'm a Pirates fan because every year, regardless of the fact that I know we're going nowhere, there's always something that's pretty exciting to watch...the aforementioned Freddy Sanchez batting title, Duke's rookie year, the "freak show" team that finished 2nd in the Central and still had a losing record, Jason Bay's rookie year, (and the years to follow, for that matter) seeing Ian Snell actually get fired up about this team, Nate McClouth suddenly being good at baseball, Lloyd McClendon stealing first, etc.

    The most frustrating thing about being a Pirates fan is that nobody gives us our due. You always hear about the poor Cubs fans that haven't won a World Series in soooo long but are almost always contenders, or the poor, downtrodden Red Sox fan that's seen their team win 2 World Series titles in the past decade. You never hear about the Pirate faithful that have stuck with their team despite 16 terrible years.

    It's not that difficult to be a Pirates fan, really. The Pirates are merely 1/3 of Pittsburgh's sports tradition. The Steelers are always there for us, and the Penguins keep looking better and better. So it's easy to forget just how bad the Pirates are...we root for the city of champions, after all. It's that thought that mostly keeps me sane.

    But mostly, I'm a Pirates fan because I know this won't go on forever. I'll never abandon my Bucs...there's no way that they'll always be a loser. In fact, the odds are (and these are just odds, mind you, they're not guaranteed to come true at all...just ask Cubs fans) that I'll eve get to see the PIrates win the World Series some day, and when that day comes no victory will be sweeter. I can honestly say that I've been there through some incredibly rough times, and this makes it worth it.

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  2. hey, thank's for mentioning my site...and it is absolutely excrutiating to be a bucco fan these days...i totally hear what you're saying...but i wouldn't say I'm bitter...i'm a fan who knows bad baseball when i see it but I love the bucs and am actually one of the most optimistic Pirate fans out there. maybe you should chec out the site more closely

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  3. Anonymous11:01 PM

    Honestly, I'm a Pirate fan because of inertia. I've been one for so long, I can't imagine rooting for any other team. I was 14 the night Sid slid, and it remains the only time I've ever cried after a sporting event.

    Like Nate, I'm hoping that the Bucs eventually field a championship team. The harder the journey, the sweeter the victory, so to speak.

    Being a Pirates fan is like being a martyr. We've endured Barry Bonds and Jim Leyland's adieus, the failed 5-year plan, Cam Bonifay (incompetent), Dave Littlefield (even worse), the 2003 Rule 5 draft, the Ramirez trade, signing Mondesi/Bell/Santiago/Martinez, passing BJ Upton and Matt Weiters in the draft, trading for Matt Morris, EVERY pitching prospect in the system having Tommy John surgery, the list goes on and on.

    You gotta admit, it takes a special kind of suckiness to fail at almost every facet of the game for 15 years.

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  4. I remember Jim Leylands last home game in Pittsburgh, The fans giving him a standing O everytime he walked to the mound!! I remember the no hitter,With Mark Smith,(who played right here in Hagerstown as a minor leaguer)crushing the ball over the fence.For all the good memories out there,there still MANY more bad ones..But i will always be a Bucco fan,No matter how bad they are, i always say they will turn it around.sadly i remember that night in Atlanta, watching the slowest man alive slide into home.. someday, we will be that winning team..someday

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  5. Anonymous1:49 PM

    I love watching the Pirates because you can NEVER be disappointed. All true Pirate fans have accepted that they suck and will not win more than 75 games.

    But my favorite memory of the post Bonds era is going to a game where we were losing to the Mets 5-1 in the bottom of the ninth inning with two outs and we came back to win in extra innings.

    And of course when baseball season is over you have the Steelers and then when football season is over you move over to the Penguins. It helps to keep me sane.

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