The Loop

Pray for Pittsburgh

Only the Pittsburgh Pirates could get walked off in the 11th inning on a routine pop-up

September 03, 2021

If you grew up watching professional American sports between the Reagan and Biden administrations, there are a few franchises that will forever be tied with failure. The Lions, the Clippers, the Coyotes, and, of course, the Pittsburgh Pirates. It doesn’t matter who these teams buy or what they eventually win, the depth and consistency of their lousiness means that they will be losers in our heads and in our hearts forever. Uncharitable? Maybe, but just watch how the Pirates conspired to lose their 86th game of the season on Thursday night, and try to tell us it’s unfair.

Roberto Clemente was an all-star human and a baseball god, but he passed almost 39 years ago. Since then, this has been the Pittsburgh Pirates in a nutshell—tie ballgame, extra innings, runners on the corners, about to record a routine second out and then boom, chaos. You have to feel for Wilmer Difo here. The only thing he and the rest of the Pirates had to play for this season was pride, and pride jumped out the window as soon as this pop-up found dirt. Now there’s just nothing—an inky black void where baseball used to be.

In the Pirates’ defense (rare words, we know), they are not the worst, second worst, or even third worst team in the majors at the moment. The Orioles, Diamondbacks, and Rangers are all just barely out-flailing them. They might not even be the biggest tire fire either, with the Mets and Angels—two big-budget teams that were expected to compete—finding new and exciting ways to humiliate themselves every single day. But fair or foul, the Pirates are the Pirates, and when something likes this happens, it feels like it could only ever happen to them.