So, 1992 signaled the multi-year decline of the Pirates. The Steelers lost Super Bowl XLV to the Packers, got Tebow-ed in Denver, and have been mediocre ever since. The Penguins, after slaying the Red Wings have taken early exits from the playoffs, and even with a stacked team cannot get over the obstacles and back into the final round..
Fans in the Burgh still support their team, but there doesn't seem to be any electricity; there is not a whole lot to be excited about, or so it seems.
The 2011 Pirates were first in the division in July and seemed to be poised to end the streak. They didn't. After one of the most monumental collapses in sports history, the Pirates sunk back to where they seemed to be most comfortable, the bottom half of the NL Central. They finished a dismal 70-92.
Repeat in 2012. On August 8, they were 63-47. They lost 35 of their next 49 games to extend the longest stretch of futility in the history of North American sports. Shades of the three ALCS series in the early '90's re-appeared. The talent was there, but they couldn't quite finish.
The emergence of Andrew McCutchen as a powerhouse was taking place. A.J. Burnett got his career on track and showed signs of becoming the Ace the team had been looking for since the days of Doug Drabek. Clint Hurdle was at the helm, the crew was assembled, and the stars seemed to be aligned to end the journey of futility, and sail in the right direction. Yet, the ship continued to sink.
So, how do you re-ignite the passion of fans who seemed to have given up hope and gotten tired of watching the same old story? Simple! One word; three letters. Win!
The Pittsburgh Pirates have finally ended the streak. At times this season they had the best record in baseball, and they've toyed with the division lead almost all season. A bit of a late-season slump may have put the division pennant out of reach, but there's a winning record, and the odds of post-season play look good.
Pittsburgh fans have hope. It was never lost, but just hidden for awhile. Now, it's uncovered. Fans that have become accustomed to seeing winning teams once again have one, and they're loving it! The city has "Pirate Fever!" The merchandise is selling, and people young and old are "Raising the Jolly Roger" and wearing their colors with pride.
Division champion or wild card seed, win or lose, the future looks good. The electricity is in the air, and the future appears to be well-lit. And I'm lovin' it!