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
Tim started Pirates Prospects in 2009 from his home in Virginia, which was 40 minutes from where Pedro Alvarez made his pro debut in Lynchburg. That year, the Lynchburg Hillcats won the Carolina League championship, and Pirates Prospects was born from Tim's reporting along the way. The site has grown over the years to include many more writers, and Tim has gone on to become a credentialed MLB reporter, producing Pirates Prospects each year, and will publish his 11th Prospect Guide this offseason. He has also served as the Pittsburgh Pirates correspondent for Baseball America since 2019. Behind the scenes, Tim is an avid music lover, and most of the money he gets paid to run this site goes to vinyl records.