As of this writing, the Pittsburgh Pirates are 39-37. They’re close to entering July with a record at or over .500. That would be amazing.

I was thinking about the Pirates’ 1992 season, which started amazingly — they charged out of the gate, playing five or six games and then going on a nine-game winning streak — and ended with the most heartbreaking end to a sporting event in which I had a rooting interest that I’ve ever seen. Seriously: the Francisco Cabrera hit in the bottom of the ninth in Game Seven of the NLCS that year was more gutwrenching than even Scott Norwood’s miss in Super Bowl XXV. While the Bills were on the edge the entire game of that Super Bowl, the Pirates really looked like they were going to break through to the World Series after two consecutive years in which they lost the NLCS. They took a 2-0 lead to the bottom of the ninth, only to see a nightmare of an inning unfold in which the Braves put up three to win the pennant.

I watched my fair share of Pirates games that season, whenever I could. ESPN had the Pirates a lot, and I’d watch them play the Cubs on WGN and the Braves on TBS. One of those Braves games stands out as one of the most hard-luck games I’ve ever seen a team lose. I remember the Pirates pitcher, Danny Jackson, for whom they had traded despite his awful record at that point in the season because they desperately needed left-handed pitching, throwing a masterful game but losing, 1-0. It was worse, even, than that, however. I was able to do some research and track down the actual box score from that game, and Ye Gods! Jackson pitched seven innings, and a reliever tossed the eighth. Between the two of them, they combined to throw a one-hitter. But that one hit was a solo home run by David Justice, and that one run would be all the Braves would need.

The Pirates actually had a great chance to score. I don’t recall if anyone was on base at the time, but center fielder Andy Van Slyke hit a ball deep to center field. Deep to center field. In fact, he hit it out of the park for a home run — or, rather, it would have been a home run had Braves CF Otis Nixon not run to the wall, jumped up, stuck his glove about a foot over the fence, and hauled in the ball. It was an astonishing catch, truly (you can watch it here), and one of the biggest “Oh, come on!” moments I’ve ever experienced as a sports fan.

Oh well. But apparently the Pirates are getting good again! Huzzah!

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One Response to 39-37

  1. Roger Owen Green says:

    makes me happy; hate dumping on them EVERY year

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