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MLB

Looking Back At Pittsburgh Pirates’ Last 20 Years

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Taking A Look At The Past 20 Seasons, Pittsburgh Pirates Style

Taking A Look At The Past 20 Seasons: Pittsburgh Pirates Style
Howard Smith-USA Today Sports

A lot has happened since 1992. In 1993, Bill Clinton became the 43rd President of the United States. Heck, the year 2000 brought a brand new millennium. 2011 saw the horrific attacks on September 11 and in 2008, Barack Obama, the first ever African-American President, was elected to office. Do you know what hasn’t occurred since 1992? The Pittsburgh Pirates haven’t avoided a losing season since then – until now.

Pirates fans have been through a lot over the past 20 years. Two decades of losing isn’t something that should ever happen. Not in the NFL, not in the NBA and not in MLB. For the Pirates, a combination of bad luck, poor front office decisions, bad managing and low funds ensured 20 straight losing campaigns – an American professional sports record for futility.

On Tuesday night at Miller Park against the Milwaukee Brewers, the Pirates earned win 81 in the 2013 season, thus ending the massive streak of losing. Win 82 – a winning season – hasn’t happened yet, but it surely will with a month left in the season.

A lot of Pirates fans, including myself, have downplayed the thought of finally having a winning season. In most seasons, a winning season would be great; this season, it’s postseason or bust. The Pirates got off to such a great start that missing the postseason would be an epic collapse. Nobody thought the Pirates’ consecutive losing seasons streak could reach 21, right? The baseball gods wouldn’t let the great Roberto Clemente’s number be associated with that streak at all.

To celebrate the end of this terrible and embarrassing streak, let’s take a look back at the past 20-plus seasons with five of the most memorable moments.

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“Bream To the Plate, and He Is Safe!” (1992)

“Bream To the Plate, and He Is Safe!” (1992)
Dale Zanine-USA Today Sports

I know 1992 shouldn’t count because it wasn’t a sub-.500 season, but it started the entire streak. The Pirates didn’t play another meaningful game in September for 20 years after Sid Bream’s famous and controversial slide into home plate.

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Barry Bonds Signs With San Francisco Giants (1993)

Barry Bonds Signs With San Francisco Giants (1993)
Ford McClave-USA Today Sports

Barry Bonds played seven seasons with the Pirates, hitting .275/.380/.503 with 176 home runs and 251 stolen bases.

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The Birth of Baseball’s Greatest Ballpark, PNC Park (2001)

The Birth of Baseball’s Greatest Ballpark, PNC Park (2001)
Charles LeClaire-USA Today Sports

Just about anyone that you talk to, whether it be fans, media or players, will say that PNC Park, home of the Pittsburgh Pirates, is the most beautiful ballpark in MLB. Thanks to the amazing Pittsburgh skyline facing the park and the Allegheny River flowing outside the stadium, the Pirates are able to play in a gorgeous venue. Unfortunately for the Pirates, the season didn’t end up as beautiful as the park; they finished 62-100.

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Neal Huntington Takes Over As General Manager (2008)

Neal Huntington Takes Over As General Manager (2008)
Charles LeClaire-USA Today Sports

When Neal Huntington took over for Dave Littlefield as Pirates’ general manager, it signified change in Pittsburgh. Huntington instituted a “five-year plan”, and even though it took six years to complete, he looks like a genius at this point. Over his six years as GM, Huntington has done nothing but make shrewd decisions to improve the Pirates, even without a high budget to work with.

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The Collapse: Part Two (2012)

The Collapse: Part Two (2012)
Charles LeClaire-USA Today Sports

The Pirates were coming off of a promising season in 2011 that saw them compete for much of the season before collapsing in the second half. In 2012, the team looked much more equipped to sustain an entire season of success. Unfortunately for the Pirates, it was more of the same. After being over 15 games above .500 in mid-August, the Pirates somehow found a way to not only miss the postseason, but to finish below .500 too.