December 6, 2013
Get It Now!Hardball Times Annual is now available. It's got 300 pages of articles, commentary and even a crossword puzzle. You can buy the Annual at Amazon, for your Kindle or on our own page (which helps us the most financially). However you buy it, enjoy!
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Tuesday, 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.
Dodgers 8, Diamondbacks 1: Three bombs for Juan Uribe and four driven in. What a season for the guy who, in his first two years in Dodger blue, looked lost and, frankly, over. This year he's hitting .279/.334/.476, is playing excellent defense at third and has been, by all accounts, a great guy in the clubhouse whether he's been struggling or not. Oh, and Uribe was so good last night it's easy to overlook the fact that Ricky Nolasco didn't give up an earned run into the seventh inning. Oh, and the win eliminated the Giants from NL West contention, which is kinda sweet for those of the Los Angeles persuasion.
Cubs 2, Reds 0: Travis Wood with seven shutout innings and a couple of solo homers were enough for the Cubs to stop Cincy. Until looking at his stat line I totally forgot Wood was with the Reds previously. What else am I forgetting? [Starts to write things all over his body like Guy Pearce in "Memento."]
Orioles 4, Yankees 2: Managers got chippy in this one after Joe Girardi accused Orioles third base coach Bobby Dickerson of stealing signs in less-than-calm fashion and then Buck Showalter came racing over to confront Girardi about it in less-than-calm fashion. Meanwhile, Alex Rodriguez and Lyle Overbay hit home runs, but it wasn't enough as Chris Tillman allowed only those two runs and the O's scored four on a couple of sac flies, a single and a double.
Nationals 9, Mets 0: Well, that was a dominant win. Gio Gonzalez with a one-hitter and eight strikeouts and Jayson Werth and Wilson Ramos each drove in three. A forfeit is officially scored 9-0 too. Maybe the Mets woulda been better off just staying home?
Indians 4, Royals 3: Ten strikeouts and only an unearned run in seven innings. The Royals' playoff hopes, at four games back of the Wild Card and four teams above them, seem pretty over.
Braves 5, Marlins 2: Atlanta snaps its four-game losing streak with a five-run fourth inning. All of the Braves' hits came in the fourth, which is kinda efficient. And kinda worrisome, too, but let's worry about that when they can't score runs in the playoffs. Kris Medlen got the win. He started 1-6 and this brought his record up to 13-12.
Twins 6, Angels 3: Jered Weaver has a history of dominating the Twins but he didn't last night. Trevor Plouffe drove in three. “Trevor effing Plouffe. Plouffe was magical. He was like a GD unicorn."
Pirates 1, Rangers 0: And with that, the Buccos have their first winning season since 1992. That's great for history. More important for the Pirates is that Gerrit Cole was effective, throwing seven shutout innings. All they could manage off Yu Darvish was an RBI double from Pedro Alvarez, but that was enough.
Giants 3, Rockies 2: Eliminated when the Dodgers won -- and one more loss from total playoff elimination -- but they won anyway. Brandon Belt hit an RBI single in the bottom of the 10th. Tim Lincecum went eight innings, allowing two runs and getting a no-decision. The next significant thing the Giants have to do is figure out what to do with him -- or whether to do without him -- next year.
White Sox 5, Tigers 1: Chris Sale allowed one run over eight innings and struck out eight. Meanwhile, Miguel Cabrera and Jim Leyland were ejected in the first inning because people really, really prefer to see home plate umpire Brian Gorman way more than the likely two-time MVP. So hard for Gorman, always signing autographs, posing for photos with fans and still having to make time to go out and perform at the highest levels on the field like fans expect. Let's hear it for the star of the game.
Astros 6, Mariners 4: Houston with a four-run rally in the ninth for the victory. One of the runs that inning came when Justin Smoak threw a ball home on a foul out and hit the guy in the on-deck circle. Smallest crowd of the season at Safeco Field.