Tom Guarriello warned me.
When I asked him to recommend an American team to a new arrived Canadian, he said.
"well, you could root for the Pittsburgh Pirates, but they are going to break your heart."
And sure enough, after a strong beginning, the Pirates are fighting for last place.
Loosing is pretty much what we do. In the words of Luke Cypers, we have a chance at
16 straight losing seasons, matching the 1933-48 Phillies for the worst streak in major professional sports team history. Last year the Bucs lost 95 games. Before that, 94, 95, 95, 89, 87, 89, 100 … And that's just this decade. Every baseball prognosticator projected the Pirates would fail to reach .500 again this season.
But what if we've got this all wrong. I wonder if we should take a page from Leonard Cohen and think of the Pirates as beautiful losers. Not for us, anything so vulgar or gauche as a championship. I mean, winning is so obvious, so bereft of subtlety, so shrill.
We play artisansal baseball. We make our wins in very small batches. This is handmade baseball. Bad to a purpose. Sure, we could do the vulgar, crowd pleasing thing, but, really, wouldn't that be a distortion of our game, a compromise of our aesthetic, a corruption of what we stand for?
Cyphers, Luke. 2009. That was then, this (sigh) is now. ESPN the Magazine. May 27, 2009. here.