Normally, you don't see much about sports in this space because the weightier matters of politics, terrorism, technology, Wall Street, popular culture, and societal trends hold a higher place in the news world.
But consider this: The Pittsburgh Pirates, with 51 wins and 30 losses at the halfway point of the 162-game 2013 season, have the best record in all of Major League Baseball.
That's right. The Buccos are the same team that hasn't had a winning season in 20 years! You think your school or pro team or stock-market portfolio has endured a slump, eh! TWENTY years. For historical perspective, consider that George Herbert Walker Bush was still in the White House the last time the Pirates mustered a winning campaign.
The Pirates' baseball miracle is inspiring for all kinds of good reasons. The proud franchise has achieved success despite playing in what analysts like to call a small-market city, meaning the Pirates don't have the financial muscle to import free agents the way the New York Yankees and the Los Angeles Dodgers can — teams that play in glamorous big cities.
(Last time I took a look at the standings, by the way, the Dodgers and Bronx Bombers — my team, for the record — were struggling to stay out of last place, despite their respective gargantuan payrolls)
The Pirates have truly done it this year by the old-fashioned way of making shrewd draft choices and executing sensible, if moderate, deals for such players as catcher Russell Martin, who fled the Yankees last season to sign with Pittsburgh and promptly stabilized the club's young pitching staff.
And it couldn't happen to a nicer city. The Pirates have a glorious baseball tradition, sparked by the memories of Roberto Clemente and Willie Stargell, who led the Pirates to World Series titles in 1971 and 1979, respectively (both times besting the Baltimore Orioles in the Fall Classic in seven games). True, the city has had its share of big winners, as the Steelers won two Super Bowls and the Penguins captured a Stanley Cup in the past decade.
But the town's long-suffering baseball fans are rejoicing now, for good reason. Yes, there is still a lot of baseball to be played before the playoffs open this fall. But I think the Pirates will make it to the finish line. Everyone loves a comeback, right? — especially after 20 years!
Jon Friedman writes the Media Matrix blog for Indiewire.com. He is also the author of "Forget About Today: Bob Dylan's Genius for (Re)Invention, Shunning the Naysayers, and Creating a Personal Revolution." Read more reports from Jon Friedman — Click Here Now.
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