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Is this really about to happen? Finally?
Full disclosure: I was a Pirates fan in the early 80s (one of my fallback teams behind the Phillies... I know, ick...), but by the time I moved to Pittsburgh, my fandom waned, right as they embarked upon what seemed to be a certain dynasty behind Bobby Bonilla, Andy Van Slyke, skinny Barry Bonds, and Doug Drabek. The first baseman on the 1990 team that won the division pennant for the first tie since the We Are Family champs from 1979? Sid Bream. He hit free agency after the season.
Now cheering on the Bravos, i can't help but feel like Sid put a hex on them on the way out the door.
When Sid Slid two seasons later, capping a 9th-inning rally and clinching the Braves' return to the World Series in 1992, there was only the slightest hint we were witnessing an epic crossroads of fate.
The long-suffering Braves rattled off 12 more consecutive division titles, winning its first title in Atlanta a few years after ousting the Pirates from the playoffs.
Meanwhile, the 3-time-world champion Pirates' franchise completely fell into an abyss.
A win in Milwaukee tonight would put Clint Hurdle's troopers at 81 wins and grant the Pirates a ,500 record for the first time since that ouster at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium way back in 1992. That's over two decades, folks. 9 of those seasons in dead-last place in their division.
Six presidential elections in that span since the Braves win in October 1992. Michael Keaton was still Batman. Sinead O'Connor had just crapped on her own career, and "I Will Always Love You" was looking like a probable hit for a spry Whitney Houston. Kurt Cobain was an up-and-comer. Cartoon Network just premiered on cable, while on network TV, it seemed this Jay Leno character just might pan out on The Tonight Show. A saxophone-playing governor was on the verge of becoming President. A Pirates fan born on the day When Sid Slid may be able to legally drink an Iron City Light beer next month.
I'm still holding out the possibility that the Pirates get swept the rest of the way and screw it up again. In the past two seasons, the Pirates were sitting pretty in mid-summer before falling all the way down to 4th place.
On July 19, 2011, the Buccos won and moved a half-game ahead in the NL Central with a 51-45 record... then they went 21-45 to finish the season at 72-90, 24 games behind the Brewers.
Last season, fans figured the Pirates were in the clear after making it all the way past the first week of August with a sizable winning record. August 8, 2012, they won to move to 63-47 (16 games above .500) and just 2.5 games out of first in the division. They sputtered to the finish line, going 16-36 to clock in at 79-83, 18 games out of first.
It looks like they're finally going to get over that losing-season hump. Something keeps telling me, though, to believe it only when I see it.