Last time the Pirates had a winning season ....by Chris Jaffe
September 10, 2013
They finally did it. After sitting on 81 wins for a while, the Pirates finally won No. 82, clinching their first winning season since Barry Bonds and Jim Leyland worked there back in 1992.
To put this in perspective, the last time the Pirates had a winning season:
The most popular and widely regarded owner in major league baseball was Baltimore’s Peter Angelos. No, really—he was. Really.
The above makes sense when you consider his competition included Brewers owner Bud Selig. He was still just owner. Fay Vincent was the commissioner back then.
In 1992, the Pirates were one of just four teams to make the postseason. There were only four divisions, no Wild Cards, and a grand total of 26 big league teams. Atlanta and Cincinnati were still in the NL West.
The last time the Pirates had a winning record, the Yankees had a losing record. They haven’t had one since.
Greg Maddux was still a Cub. He won his first Cy Young Award in 1992. Kirby Puckett was still a Twin.
These guys were still in the minor leagues when the Pirates were last over .500: Chipper Jones, Manny Ramirez, and Alex Rodriguez. Flipping it around, Nolan Ryan, Frank Tanana, Bert Blyleven and Carlton Fisk were all still playing.
Broadening our horizons for a second, Michael Jordan’s retirement from basketball was still in the future—all three retirements. The Washington Redskins were defending Super Bowl champions.
The same time that the Pirates completed their last winning season, Pittsburgh was getting used to a new football coach. Some guy named Cowher began his rookie season as NFL coach after the retirement of Chuck Noll.
Back in 1992, The Cosby Show aired its last episode, as did Golden Girls and Who’s the Boss?. Cheers was still around, though. So were Wonder Years, Saved by the Bell, Hee Haw, and Romper Room. When the Pirates wrapped up their last winning season, Springfield had yet to see the Mr. Plow versus Plow King duel.
Jay Leno was the new host of The Tonight Show. He was the lead-in audience for David Letterman, who still hosted Late Night. Conan O’Brien was a completely unknown TV writer.
Ever seen any Law & Order episodes starring Jerry Orbach as Lenny Briscoe? Those episodes all came after the last Pirates winning season. Orbach didn’t join the cast until midway through its 1992-93 season.
Lillian Gish and Helen Hayes were still alive the last time the Pirates had a winning season. So were David Koresh, Richard Nixon, Audrey Hepburn, River Phoenix, Arthur Ashe and Kurt Cobain.
Bill Clinton was governor of Arkansas—but looking to make a big leap to the next level. George H. W. Bush was president. George W. Bush was not yet in politics. He was partial owner of the Rangers. Barack Obama was a lecturer at the University of Chicago’s law school.
The Soviet Union had just recently collapsed; so recently that the former USSR athletes competed in the 1992 Olympics as the Commonwealth of Independent States. Instead of a national flag raised for them when they stood on the podium, the Olympics flag was raised for them.
The world’s population was around 5 billion then.
History instructor by day, statnerd by night, Chris Jaffe leads one of the most exciting double lives imaginable; with the exception of every other double life possible to imagine. Despite his lack of comic-book-hero-worthiness, Chris enjoys farting around with this stuff. His new book, Evaluating Baseball's Managers is available for order. Chris welcomes responses to his articles via e-mail. Oh, and now he's on twitter.