The Pittsburgh Pirates are in first place at the halfway mark of the 2013 Major League Baseball season.  Not only that, they’re currently on a 9-game winning streak, and owners of the best record in baseball at 21 games over .500 (51-30).  The last time they were this good, Barry Bonds had a normal sized body and Sid Bream was doing this.

It was 1992.  The Montreal Expos were still in existence.  The Marlins and Rockies were not.  The Brewers were in the American League.  The Astros were in the National League.   The Halos were the California Angels.  And the Cubs were still pretty bad.  So even though some things remain the same year after year, most do not.  The statistical probability of something remaining completely unchanged since 1992 is nearly impossible, unless, of course, we’re talking about Steve Martin’s hair color.  This includes the longest streak of being unable to field a winning team in the four major sports – MLB, NHL, NBA, and NFL.  Specifically, I’m speaking about the Pittsburgh Pirates and the fact that they’ve ended up with more L’s than W’s every year since the first George Bush was in office.

The Pirates obviously had some great talent during the late 80s and early 90s era and have been searching for that ever since.  Bobby Bonilla and Barry Bonds were pretty good.  Brian Giles and Jason Bay were not as good.  They were the equivalent of hiring Bozo the Clown for your child’s birthday party but winding up with this guy.  This new crop, though, is mighty good.

First off, Andrew McCutchen is a badass.  He’s a 20/20 machine who roams centerfield with ease and makes life easy for everyone around him.  That’s the definition of a superstar.  Next to him in left field is Starling Marte AKA Andrew McCutchen Lite.  He too is going to be a 20/20 yearly reminder of how fast and good the Pirates outfield is.  Along with those two, there are plenty of other homegrown talents like Neil Walker, Pedro Alvarez, and Gerrit Cole making their mark on the 2013 Pirates’ season.  And speaking of Cole, the Pirates’ pitching staff is the unheralded hero of this year’s team.  They’ve given up the fewest runs in all of baseball and have the most team shutouts (12), yet don’t have one single complete game.  You can thank the game’s best bullpen for that, which is currently 19-10, with a 2.87 ERA, 32 saves, and a .215 BAA (batting average against).

Statistics and history aside, this Pirates team will break that 20-year losing streak and will at least turn fortunes around in 2013 even if they don’t make the playoffs.  Or not.  The 2012 Pirates had these same beliefs, until they finished the season on an 18-41 skid to fall to 79-83 overall.  So, maybe we shouldn’t put history and statistics aside just yet.  Nevertheless, these Pirates are for real.  They’re a few moves away from being a legit contender, and the way ownership has been saving cash over the last two decades, it might be time to make it rain a bit so we can all enjoy that pirate treasure together.


[YouTube, Deadspin,  Baseball Reference, ESPNESPN]