Sunday, March 25, 2007

A 14 year retrospective with the help of iTunes

I hate to do this so close to the start of the season, but I'm going to be in Chicago attending the ACS Spring Meeting (chemistry nerd alert!) from today through Wednesday and since I don't have a laptop, it's pretty unlikely I'm going to be doing much posting while I'm there. Anyways, I'm going to put a long and at least somewhat fun post below and what I'm going to do is leave this thread for Pirate news, discussion, whatever. I'll try to log on once or twice (though I can't promise I'll get the chance) while I'm gone and check the comments. If there's something good in there I'll bump it up to the front page.

So... something fun. The music-related posts seem to get people talking and since that's kind of the goal because I'll be gone for so long, let's do a losing streak retrospective. Using the tried and true iTunes shuffle method (that is, put my entire playlist on shuffle and use the first songs that come up), I'm going to assign a song to each of our fourteen losing seasons and put my favorite memory or two from each year. Remember, the songs are picked totally randomly. If something like a stand up comedy bit or a Christmas song comes up, I'll skip it, but other than that it's first come first serve. I'm not doing this to dredge up bad memories or anything- most of these obervations are off the top of my head and I've already repressed the really depressing stuff. Instead I think we're mostly at the "Someday we'll be able to laugh about this" stage for most of this stuff. If you're the masochistic type, I included a link to the Baseball Reference page for each team. They aren't for the squeamish.

1993- My dad went to Opening Day and I asked him if the Pirates would finish in first again (lay off me, I was 8). He said probably not. The Bucs won the opener behind Tim Wakefield and I couldn't see how things were going to change. I was right, things haven't changed.
Song: Bargain- The Who. What would you give for another winning season?

1994- The '94 All Star Game, Fred McGriff's homer, Moises Alou's double, Jim Leyland waving the winning run home in the 10th like a madman. Also, the strike. The Pirates second losing season is a mere footnote on this one.
Song: Time Is On My Side- Rolling Stones. Ahh, 1994 was so long ago. I think we probably assumed back then we'd bring up a new crop of young players and be good within a couple years.

1995- A bunch of replacement players destroy Spring Training for the Buccos before the owners cave and let the players back in. Denny Neagle was good. Beyond him we should've kept the replacement players.
Song: Echo- Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Even after three years things seemed repetitive.

1996- Jim Leyland's last year. I remember him crying on the field as he walked off Three Rivers for the last time, only to accept the Marlins job a short while later. Also, the McClatchy era begins.
Song: She Said, She Said- The Beatles. Actually fits the Leyland/McClatchy falling out pretty well.

1997- FREAK SHOW! Kevin Polcovich, Francisco Cordova's no-no, Rich Loiselle, the good Kevin Young and Jason Kendall, and of course, second place. When this team is the high water mark... damn.
Song: Love in Plaster- The Hives. Actual lyric from the song that my computer randomly chose to represent 1997: I really thought that we had something growing stronger, but it grew no longer. Yep, that about sums it up.

1998- Probably the most disappointing year of the whole stretch given the promise of 1997. Only 69 wins in this one. Random thought, do you remember how studly Francisco Cordova was? Check out his 1998 line: 13-14, 220 IP, 3.31 ERA, 1.24 WHIP. Too bad he was probably 100 years old and not 27 like he said.
Song: Wild Honey Pie- The Beatles. One minute of goofy guitar and singsong voices repeating, "Honey Pie! Honey Pie!" Then it's over before you know what happened. I suppose the "over before you know what happened" part is kind of like the beginning of 1998: 1997 was over before it happened. I'm reaching, I know.

1999- Brian Giles and Ed Sprague arrive. We hope that perhaps these two with the remnants of the 1997 team can bring contention. We are wrong. Actually, the team was .500 on the 4th of July when Jason Kendall exploded his ankle in the middle of what looked like a career year. He was never the same.
Song: Instant Club Hit- The Dead Milkmen. Ahh, I knew the Milkmen would show up sooner or later. Giles was an instant club hit in Pittsburgh. His first season he went .315/.418/.614 with 39 homers.

2000- Three Rivers closes, somehow John Wehner reappears with the Pirates and hits the last homer. Pirates lose 93 games including something like 25 of their final 30. Peace out, Gene Lamont.
Song: Get What You Need- Jet. Kevin McClatchy got what he said he needed, Three Rivers finally closed.

2001- Enter McClendon, Derek Bell, PNC opens, the Pirates lose 100 games for the first time since '85 and only the second time since '55. Dave Littlefield was hired and traded Jason Schmidt for Gimpy McGimperson the First (Armando Rios) and The White Flag. Also, Willie Stargell died. What a shitty, shitty year.
Song: Crazy Train- Ozzy Osbourne. No kidding. This could apply to a lot of 2001, but personally this song always plays in my head when I see a clip of Lloyd stealing first base.

2002- You know, I honestly remember very little in particular about this year besides Operation Shutdown. Somehow this wasn't the worst team in baseball history. Besides Giles at .622, only Rob Mackowiak, Craig Wilson, and Adam Hyzdu slugged above .425 (and none above Hyzdu's .484) and none of them were every day players (Mackowiak had the most plate appearences with 439, CWills had 424, and Hyzdu had 179).
Song: Not To Touch the Earth- The Doors. I dunno, maybe "Not To Touch First Base." Team OBP in 2002- .319.

2003- Can we not talk about 2003? Jeff Reboulet played second base most of the year and the Aramis Ramirez trade went down. Also, Reggie Sanders, Jeff Suppan, Kenny Lofton, and Matt Stairs actually paid off for DL, paving the way for Chris Stynes, Raul Mondesi, Jeromy Burnitz, Joe Randa, and co. This year kind of had the same effect for DL that '97 did for Cam Bonifay in that it made him think he was good at his job.
Song: Drowned-The Ramirez trade may have absolutely drowned most of my optimism forever.

2004- Let's see, there was Garrett Mackowiak Day. That was good. There was also the Kris Benson trade in which Dave Littlefield was offered Ryan Howard, held out for David Wright, and ended up with Ty Wigginton and a player he lost in the Rule 5 earlier in the year. That was pretty bad. Oh yeah, and Jack Wilson had his career year and Jason Bay won Rookie of the Year. And there was Mondesi.
Song: Let's Spend the Night Together- The Rolling Stones. For our one night (year) stand with Jack Wilson as a productive shortstop.

2005- We enter the post-Kendall era. We fire McClendon. We still suck.
Song: Good For You- Third Eye Blind. Man, I loved Third Eye Blind in sixth grade. That's off topic though. The McClendon era, was it good for you?

2006- Still fresh in the mind. Jim Tracy. Worst first half in a looooong time (30-60). Thirteen game losing streak. Swept by the Royals. Decent second half (37-35! 37-35!) that managed to convince the front office that we were contenders. Oops.
Song: Don't Leave Me- Blink 182. This is what the Pirates should be begging us right now.

If you're curious, the next song on shuffle is Baba O'Reilly by The Who. If you aren't a Who fan you probably call the song "Teenage Wasteland. " I would say that doesn't bode well for 2007.