Rounding Third: Pirates not done raising that Jolly Roger
By Chris Ruddick, MLB Editor
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - With the NFL about to get started, this normally would have been a big week in Pittsburgh.
Regardless of the time of year, anyone who has taken a gander down the Strip District knows that Pittsburgh is a Steelers town. And for the last 20 years, the Steelers have really taken over since the Pirates have had a losing season every year since 1992.
That is until this year.
Tuesday night, the Pirates secured their first non-losing season since Barry Bonds was patrolling the outfield, as they won their 81st game of the season, ending the worst drought in the history of professional sports.
"It's a step in the right direction," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "It was on our to-do list. The one family I'm happy for here is the Clemente family. I had a little talk with them earlier in the season and they told me, 'We can't have 21 losing seasons. We've got to find a way to not have Roberto's number tied to that.' I told them we would do everything we could to take care of that, and it's been taken care of."
And, oh by the way, Pittsburgh also upped its advantage atop the National League Central to two games over the St. Louis Cardinals.
Yes, the Pirates finishing over .500 is a nice story by itself - and they will get another win - but they are in first place and seem to be a virtual lock to reach the postseason.
How good are their postseason chances? Well, Baseball Prospectus has them at 100 percent, so I'd say that's pretty good.
"Confidence. Everybody has confidence," newly acquired outfielder Marlon Byrd said. "There's just a vibe going on in the clubhouse that everybody knows they can get it done. It's nice being a part of this. Like I said, I'm just a piece of the puzzle. They've welcomed me with open arms, and I'm just going to keep doing everything I've been doing all year.
"This club's good enough to win it all."
This isn't a typical rags-to-riches story, either. Pittsburgh has been coming for some time and teased us all the last few years.
In 2011, it set a major league record for the worst finish (72-90) by a team in first place halfway through the season, as the Pirates endured a nightmarish second half and became the first major league team to finish with a losing record after being at least 16 games over .500 at any point.
If that wasn't bad enough, last year the Pirates held the top spot in the division, were 11 games above .500 at the All-Star break and put playoff tickets on sale only to see everything fall apart again.
Well, playoff tickets are again on sale and this time it looks as if we are going to get to see PNC Park filled in October.
As bad as the last two seasons may have been for the fans in Pittsburgh, at the very least it gave them some hope. Let's face it, optimism in the Steel City ended after Opening Day for the better part of that 20-year drought.
But with a roster spearheaded by the great, and, more importantly, signed long- term, Andrew McCutchen, they are going to be in this position for a long time.
They'll be plenty of time to talk about the Pirates' postseason chances down the road. Heck, let's let them secure that winning season first.
Either way, though, they are one of a handful of teams that can win a World Series. And make no mistake,.judging by the recent pickups of Byrd and Justin Morneau, the Pirates are going for it.
And they should because tomorrow is never promised. See last year's Washington Nationals.
So the next time you are getting a Primanti Brothers sandwich, don't be so shocked when the Black and Gold you see belongs to someone wearing a Pirates jersey.
But, then again there'll probably be a Steelers T-shirt under it.
09/04 12:58:57 ET