First Pitch: Remembering When Win 82 Mattered, and the New Expectations

The Pittsburgh Pirates’ losing streak featured a lot of desperation from Pirates fans. At times, it felt like the Pirates would never have a winning season again. For so long, fans were convinced that the only way the Pirates could have a winning season would be if everything went right, and the NL Central was weak. Every player had to have a career year. Every prospect had to be in the majors, and working out. Every off-season move had to work out. And nothing could go wrong, because there was no margin for error. If all of that happened, then maybe the Pirates could win their 82nd game on the last day of the season and end the embarrassing losing streak.

As we now have learned, you don’t need everything to go right. That certainly hasn’t been the case for the Pirates this year.

Even more important, win number 82 really shouldn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. Last year it mattered because of the streak. This year? I didn’t even remember it was win number 82 until I saw the updated standings after the game. I saw several people telling a similar story on Twitter after the game. And that’s the way it should be. 82 was never the goal. The playoffs and a World Series was always the goal. The 82nd win is just a stepping stone to get to that goal.

I wrote about this subject a few days ago, noting that there really wasn’t much talk about a second winning season in a row. Instead, the focus has been on the playoff race, and where the Pirates could end up in the post-season. That was my focus tonight after the win. Hopefully this will be the focus in future years as well.

The Pirates are coming up on an important series this weekend. They take on Milwaukee for three games at home. The magic number over the Brewers is seven, which means a sweep puts the Pirates one win away or one Milwaukee loss away from eliminating the Brewers from playoff contention. Winning the series 2-1 means the Pirates need a combination of three wins or Brewers losses in the final week.

Beyond that, the hope would be that the Pirates could pass either the Giants for the first Wild Card spot, or the Cardinals for the division. That will take some losing from those teams, along with the Pirates capitalizing on their own schedule. The Wild Card spot seems more likely, as San Francisco takes on the Dodgers for three games, along with seven games against a Padres team that they’ve only gone .500 against.

So maybe win number 82 should be appreciated in some way. It should serve as a reminder of how horrible things were, so that these discussions and this playoff race aren’t taken for granted. During the streak you were crazy to suggest the Pirates could be contenders this late in the season, sitting in the driver’s seat for a playoff spot, despite plenty of things going wrong throughout the year. It’s nice to know that this is now treated as the expectation, rather than some unobtainable accomplishment.

Links and Notes

**Highlights From Thursday’s Action in the Fall Instructional League

**Charlie Morton’s Availability For Sunday Start Up in the Air

**2014 Bradenton Marauders Season Recap and Top 10 Prospects

**Morning Report: The Altoona Prospects Should Provide Plenty of Help for Pirates

First Pitch

  • Little known fact?….this is Clint Hurdle’s FIRST back to back winning season. He only had one winning season with Colorado.

    • Given most pro athletes are superstitious, I would suggest Hurdle not get a hip replacement until he has another losing season 🙂

  • Actually, the most common refrain was “The Pirates will never win as long as Nutting is the owner.”

    Last night, the “team of destiny” meter went up a couple of notches. There weren’t too many possible ways for Melancon to get out of 1st and 3rd no outs without giving up the tying run. And in considering that limited list of possibilities, having the runner get himself out on obstruction wasn’t on anybody’s list.

    • Interference, not obstruction. The defense obstructs; the offense interferes.

      And it wasn’t actually interference (7.08b), in which an offensive player hinders a defensive player attempting to make a play; it was 7.08f, runner hit by a batted ball in fair territory before it has been played by or passed a defensive player. It’s the same rule as a baserunner going from first to second getting called out for being hit by a ground ball.

      This has been your weekly episode of Rules Interpretation from a Pedant.

    • Even if they win, Nutting’s status won’t change, he has his detractors and nothing even a WS won’t change their minds, they will just dwell on how bad next year is going to be with a cheap owner.

      • I have been convinced for a long time that the loudest and most persistent Nutting haters have nothing to do with baseball. I believe they have some personal animosity either against him the family and or the other businesses they control.
        Baseball is just the most easily way to attack.
        A fan can disagree with the way the team is run but the most consistent haters go beyond disagreement.

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