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Pirate Fans Have Something To Look Forward To
[ March 9, 2009 at 2:00 AM ] [ Comments (8) ] [ Full Story ]  [ Filed under: Features | Pirates ]
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There aren't many big league teams assured of making Major League history this year, but the Pittsburgh Pirates are one that is. All they have to do is do what they've done for the sixteen years prior to this one and they're assured a dubious place in big league lore. A losing season this year would give the Pirates seventeen in a row, the longest losing streak by any major North American sports franchise.
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This spring is actually kind of different for the Pirates. During most of Dave Littlefield's tenure, the Pirates made some superficial moves in hopes of drumming up false hope in the fan base for a season that was doomed. Neal Huntington and Frank Coonelly are focused on rebuilding this franchise from the bottom up and didn't really bother with any of that, resulting in a pretty disaffected fan base this spring. It's not their fault; Huntington and Coonelly and doing what they need to do. Of course, it's also hard to blame the fans for being fed up after so many losing situations. It's a tough place for everyone to be in.

Of course, 2009 won't be a complete waste for the Pirates or their fans. Nate McLouth, Ryan Doumit, and Paul Maholm are all signed long-term and could potentially be a part of the next winning Pirate team. Andrew McCutchen will probably make his first appearance on a big league stage, and there's plenty of reason to be excited about him, as he profiles as an excellent centerfielder/leadoff man. Pedro Alvarez has shaken off the rust created by his holdout and he's likely to move quickly through the organization this year. On top of all of that, there's still Andy LaRoche, Ian Snell, and Tom Gorzelanny to watch and see how they rebound from disappointing years in 2008 as the Pirates try to determine their long-term roles with the club.

Really, the Pirates haven't entered a season with any real hope of contending since maybe 1998 or 1999, so this year is only different because the front office has more or less admitted that they can't win right now if they're going to build for the future. For now, Pirate fans just have to realize that the focus is on other places. Instead of agonizing over every Pirate loss, keep an eye on Alvarez and guys like Robbie Grossman, Wes Freeman, and Quinton Miller. The losing streak won't end this year but for the first time in a long time, it seems like there might be a light at the end of the tunnel.

Pat covers the Pirates at Where Have You Gone Andy Van Slyke?.

8 Comments | Leave a comment

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