This is the first in a series of letters—not blogs—in which a man of letters boasts about the achievements of his favorite baseball team.
Sept. 6, 2013
Eureka! Amazing! Incredible! Unbelievable! Who would have thought it would ever happen so soon?
The hunt for the most unattainable record in the history of North American professional sports-- baseball, football, basketball, hockey, water polo, you name it -- is on the verge of ending.
No team has ever managed to put together 20 consecutive losing seasons. No other team had what it takes to break the record yet again with 21 straight losing seasons, a possibility in 2013. None would dare to hope to match the achievements of the Pittsburgh Pirates, as it began Season XXI last April.
By “losing”-- I should point out for those who are not into sabremetrics or other complexities baseball stats geeks use to confuse the general public – is not meant not winning the division, pennant or World Series. It means not reaching .500. Parity. Win one, lose one. In other words, in a season of 162 games, winning 81. The Pirates have not reached this level of mediocrity since 1992.
Without meaning to jinx the Pittsburgh Baseball Club, which managed to reach 81 on Sept. 4, they will not clinch a non-losing season this year until they reach 82 wins.
Why, you might ask?
The Pirates have 23 remaining games. If they go 0-23 for the remainder of the season, they still might qualify for the playoffs, and lose in a one-game playoff (The playoff counts as a regular season game). If my math is correct, the Bucs would finish at 81-82, guaranteeing the coveted 21st losing season record.
The Pirates, thus, will have managed to pull the 21st season out of the fire. Yet another laurel will be added to the Bucs’ “unmatched skein of futility,“ as the sportswriters call it.
What am I worried about, you might ask? It is very unlikely our Buccos can lose 23 games in a row this late in the season with 23 games remaining. It’s a slam-dunk, the record is broken.
I am indebted to Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (a Richard Mellon Scaiffe newspaper, which bats from the right side of the plate on most other issues), the best Pittsburgh baseball beat writer for feeding my paranoia with these facts:
Do the math!
It’s virtually impossible for these Pirates to lose 23 games in a row, you say.
Not to those of us who were waiting to break out the Iron City brewskis about this time in 2012, impossibility recorded in history as Epic Collapse #2. Epic Collapse #1 occurred in 2011.
23 in a row? Should the collapse happen this time, it will be the stuff of a Greek tragedy. The end of civilization, as we know it.
Not likely. But you never know, do you? The great thing about baseball, as TV analysts have been known to pontificate, Is its unpredictability? As it was said on Aug 4, the night the scoreboard read:
The Pirates started on the quest for immortality with a one-game losing streak (against Milwaukee, Sept. 3). 22 to go!
The magic number is zero. If the Bucs win tonight in St. Louis with a magical 82nd win--- all that effort goes into the terlet. The chance to set the all-time, forever, insurmountable 21st losing season is kaput. It’s over. Fini. 30.