October 18, 2013
Pirates reach postseason for first time since 1992 seasonIn the midst of early college football, NFL, NHL and preseason NBA happenings, one major sport and sports story have been able to sail under the radar nationally.
This sport is Major League Baseball, and the story involves Pennsylvania's own, the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Pirates playoff run was ended last week by the St. Louis Cardinals in a thrilling six-game series. Despite the disappointing ending, the Pirates season was considered a highly successful and memorable one.
The reason that it is so notable can be explained by the number 21. That's how many years have elapsed between their playoff berth this month and the one prior to it.
Before this season's run to the postseason, the last image Pittsburgh baseball fans likely thought of regarding the postseason was Sid Bream of the Atlanta Braves sliding home safely to eliminate the Pirates in the 1992 National League Championship Series.
Through a young batting core led by electric center fielder Andrew McCutchen and a pitching staff anchored by a Tommy John survivor, Francisco Liriano, the Pirates were back into the postseason.
While previous Pirates teams faltered down the stretch as the city longed for a postseason berth, this year's edition stayed strong through the dog days of August and September that can cause a team's playoff hopes to evaporate.
The Pirates' first trip to the postseason since grunge music was atop the charts was short-lived, as they lost to the Cardinals in five games in the National League Divisional Series match-up.
With a pitching staff made of former aces recovering from injuries and looking for a new start, top prospects and solid middle relief, the Pirates found a winning combination to playing baseball in October.
For the first time in more than two decades, sports fans in Pittsburgh had something to wave in October besides Terrible Towels. Instead of Heinz Field being the only place to watch live sports before hockey season, PNC Park was alive and well. So well, in fact, that the PNC Park crowd affected the Cardinals' pitching staff.
In making the playoffs, the Pirates had their first winning season since 1992. Just in case you don't have your calculator nearby, 21 years ago dates back to October of 1992.
To help you put into context how much time that has passed since then, I will try my best to show how long ago this time period was by detailing that time in history.
1. Arkansas native Bill Clinton was in the midst of preparing for the series of presidential debates that lead to his first term in office.
2. Billy Ray Cyrus possessed the top-selling album of the year and was still a month away from watching his daughter, actress and pop singer, Miley Cyrus be born.
3. Michael Jordan and the iconic United States basketball " Dream Team" was less than three months removed from their legendary gold-medal performance in the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona.
4. The Georgia Dome, home of the Atlanta Falcons, multiple NCAA basketball Final Fours and the annual Peach Bowl/Chick-Fil-A bowl, was just turning one month old.
5. Sixteen-year-old Tiger Woods, the youngest PGA golfer in 35 years, was only eight months away from participating in his first-ever PGA event.
As sports fans, we often take the feats of athletes and the successes of our favorite teams for granted.
High hopes and expectations are great. However, as Pirates fans have learned the hard way, it's important to appreciate and not overlook the successes that your favorite teams have.
Always remember: Carpe Diem. Seize the day.
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