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It’s been a long time since the Pittsburgh Pirates had a winning season. A well-documented long time. My daughter is a junior in college, and the Pirates have not had a season with a winning record in her lifetime.
But, last night, the Pirates won their 82nd game of the season, ensuring themselves of a winning year in 2013.
A few notable events have happened in baseball since the Bucs were winners back in 1992. Here are a few:
The Florida Marlins, now the Miami Marlins, and the Colorado Rockies came into being. The Tampa Bay Devil Rays and Arizona Diamondbacks came into being.
The Marlins won two World Series. The Diamondbacks won a World Series. The Boston Red Sox won two World Series. Even the White Sox won a World Series. In fact, 11 different franchises have won the World Series.
Joe Torre was hired by George Steinbrenner to manage the New York Yankees. Tony La Russa was hired as manager of the St. Louis Cardinals.
The Montreal Expos abandoned Canada and moved to Washington to become the Nationals. Postseason baseball was played in our nation’s capital, but not in Pittsburgh.
American League and National League teams began playing each other in the regular season — and the games actually count. Central Divisions were created in both leagues. Wild card teams were introduced.
A new generation of superstars has been introduced to fans since the Pirates were last winners. Chipper Jones made his major league debut. Mariano Rivera made his major league debut. Derek Jeter made his major league debut. Alex Rodriguez made his major league debut.
Cal Ripken was still 396 games away from breaking Lou Gehrig’s consecutive games streak of 2,130 the last time the Bucs were winners.
And 10 players — Jeter, Rodriguez, Johnny Damon, Ichiro Suzuki, Jones, Ivan Rodriguez, Vladimir Guerrero, Manny Ramirez, Garret Anderson and Todd Helton — all amassed at least 2,500 hits during that time. Ichiro collected 3,983 in Japan and the U.S. during that time.
Former Pirate Barry Bonds hit 586 home runs and has been retired long enough to be on the Hall of Fame ballot. Alex Rodriguez topped that with 651 clouts. A third player, Jim Thome, also hit more than 600 homers. And another three players — Sammy Sosa, Ramirez and Ken Griffey — hit more than 500 home runs.
The single-season 70-home run barrier was broken twice. The single-season 60-home run barrier was broken six times.
There have been 45 no-hitters in the big leagues, including gems by Chris Bosio, Jose Jimenez and Bud Smith, since the Pirates celebrated a winning season, none by Pittsburgh pitchers. The Bucs have been no-hit once during that time.
Greg Maddux, Andy Pettitte and Randy Johnson each won 250 or more games since the Pirates were a .500 team. Mike Mussina missed by two. The only two pitchers with more than 600 saves — Rivera and Trevor Hoffman — did all their closing work since then.
And Sabermetrics were introduced to baseball fans.
There have been more World Series cancellations than Pirates’ winning seasons in the last 20 years. Heck, there has been more cancelled hockey seasons.
A few things have happened in other sports as well.
In the NFL, the Carolina Panthers, Jacksonville Jaguars, Baltimore Ravens and Houston Texans came into existence. The Houston Oilers became the Tennessee Titans. The Rams moved to St. Louis from Los Angeles, but not before winning nine games over two seasons as the Los Angeles Rams.
A total of 12 franchises won a Super Bowl. Peyton Manning made his debut — for the University of Tennessee.
Michael Jordan won four NBA titles with the Chicago Bulls. Yep, it’s been a while since the Pirates won as many as 82 games.
LeBron James made his debut — for Saint Vincent-Saint Mary High School in Akron. Chris Webber was drafted No. 1 overall by Orlando and immediately traded to Golden State. Isaiah Rider made his NBA debut. Jason Kidd and Grant Hill were drafted.
Boston has celebrated seven championships among the four major North American sports. And in Pittsburgh, the Steelers won two Super Bowls and the Penguins captured a Stanley Cup.
In college athletics, Chris Webber called timeout. Tommie Frazier led Nebraska to back-to-back national titles. And let’s not forget that Corliss Williamson, Tony Delk and Miles Simon each won the NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player Award.
Rick Pitino won national championships at both Kentucky and Louisville and dismantled the Boston Celtics in between. Both Tubby Smith and Lon Kruger took four different schools to the NCAA Tournament.
The BCS was invented. The BCS was disposed. And two college football national championships were shared.
Nine non-SEC teams have won undisputed national championships in college football during the Pirates’ Losing Era.
Mack Brown was hired at Texas. Nick Saban was introduced at Michigan State, and the University of Pittsburgh has hired eight head football coaches. Pete Carroll coached the New York Jets.
Penn State gave up its long-standing independent status and joined the Big Ten. Texas A&M won two Southwest Conference championships. Nebraska won three Big Eight Conference championships.
And, oh, by the way, ESPN.com was launched as ESPNet.SportsZone.com and ESPN2 hit the airwaves.
And here’s a little perspective outside the world of sports:
The United Kingdom handed over Hong Kong to China. Nelson Mandela was elected president of South Africa. And Monica Lewinsky became a White House intern. O.J. Simpson became a criminal.
The Dow Jones topped 5000. GM launched its Saturn Division (“A New Kind of Car Company”). And MP3 players were introduced.
Y2K freaked many people out, needlessly. And the Euro was adopted by the European Union.
“Schindler’s List,” “Forrest Gump” and “Braveheart” debuted on the big screen while “Beavis and Butthead” debuted on MTV.
Bill Clinton was elected President. The “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy was adopted by the military. Sony’s PlayStation was developed. Taylor Swift celebrated her fourth birthday.
And Bryce Harper was born.
All these memories were created since Atlanta’s Sid Bream scored on a base hit by Francisco Cabrera to end the Pirates’ 1992 season, their last with a winning record.