Twenty one years ago, Sid Bream slid home and started the Pittsburgh Pirates and their fans into a fall faster than Mrs. Fletcher. 1992 saw the end of the first Bush administration. 21 years, hundreds of children that were born in the city of Pittsburgh never knew what the .500 mark looked like, their lives never knowing what post-season baseball looked like until this year.
Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama have all served two terms in the White House. The world has also seen three popes. Twitter, Facebook, Gather and other social media have also seen the light of day since the Pirates last reached .500.
To give you a few more examples of how the world has changed since 1992...
Yearly Inflation Rate USA - 3.03%
Year End Close Dow Jones Industrial Average - 3301
Interest Rates Year End Federal Reserve - 6.00%
Average Cost of new house - $122,500.00
Average Income per year - $30,030.00
Average Monthly Rent - $519.00
Cost of a gallon of Gas - $1.05
1 LB of Bacon - $1.92
Average cost of a new car - $16,950.00
What else happened in 1992, you ask?
Ross Perot announces he will run as an independent in the upcoming presidential race against Bill Clinton and President Bush
Mafia boss John Gotti (the Teflon Don) is sentenced to life in prison after being found guilty of conspiracy to commit murder and racketeering
Hurricane Andrew hits South Florida August 22nd
TWA Declares Bankruptcy
Bill Clinton becomes U.S. president, beating both Bush and Perot
The 27th Amendment to the US constitution is ratified on May 19th
The largest shopping mall in the US, Minnesota's Mall of America is constructed spanning 78 acres
Rioting breaks out in Los Angeles following the acquittal of four white police officers accused of beating black motorist Rodney King.
Mike Tyson Convicted of the Rape Miss Black Rhode Island, Desiree Washington
Two of the strongest earthquakes ever to hit California strike the desert area east of Los Angeles
Georgia Superdome in Atlanta is completed with the worlds largest cable supported fabric roof
The North American Free Trade Agreement between United States, Canada and Mexico is signed
The top movie that year was Disney's "Alladin," the number one television show was "Law & Order" and Miley Cyrus came into the world (sans trewking) that year.
Sid Bream has become Pittsburgh's answer to Boston and their disdain for Bucky Dent (or as they say in Bas-tun, "Bucky F...ing Dent!"). Every year, Pirate fans have been reminded of the fact that his slide sent their team into a tail spin that has lasted two decades. It's been like a piece of spinach stuck between one's teeth. Toilet paper on the bottom of your shoe. It's been that bad. It's been so bad to the point that the team has somehow become the punchline of many a joke on Letterman or Leno. Children that were either born or concieved that year never knew what winning baseball looked like until this year.
Give Pirate fans credit. Instead of brow-beating their team and wearing bags on their heads like Saints fans in the 80s, they've hung in there, sort of like Wile Coyote falling off the cliff over and over in his attempt to catch the Road Runner. They could have given up hope and said "wait until next year." They've managed to persevere through those two decades of bad baseball. A lot of tears and angst has befallen the Steel City, hanging over them like the cloud that hangs over Eyore. In those 21 years, the Steelers have been to two Super Bowls and won one and the Penguins have made it to the Stanley Cup, winning it twice. Even the Pittsburgh Panthers have made several bowl trips in that time. Also in that time, the city and team that they lost in has hosted an Olympics and won a World Series.
Like the children of Israel wandering in the desert, Pirate fans were finally rewarded and 2013 was the first time since Bream's foot crossed home plate at old Fulton County Stadium in 1992 that the team finished .500 or better. While they didn't win the NL Central, they did take their place on the baseball playoff stage by beating Cincinnati in the Wild Card game to advance to the second round of post season, where they locked horns with St. Louis and would eventually lose to the Cardinals.
This is how things broke down from the 1991 season to the present...
W L Pct. GB Place
1991 98 64 .605 -- 1 - NL East
1992 96 66 .593 -- 1 - NL East
1993 75 87 .463 22 5 - NL Central
1994 53 61 .465 13 3 - NL Central&
1995 58 86 .403 27 5 - NL Central%
1996 73 89 .451 15 5 - NL Central
1997 79 83 .488 5 2 - NL Central
1998 69 93 .426 33 5 - NL Central
1999 78 83 .484 18.5 3 - NL Central
2000 69 93 .426 26 4 - NL Central
2001 62 100 .383 31 5 - NL Central
2002 72 89 .447 24.5 4 - NL Central
2003 75 87 .463 13 4 - NL Central
2004 72 89 .447 32.5 4 - NL Central
2005 67 95 .414 33 5 - NL Central
2006 67 95 .414 16.5 4 - NL Central
2007 68 94 .420 17 5 - NL Central
2008 67 95 .414 30.5 5 - NL Central
2009 62 99 .385 28.5 5 - NL Central
2010 57 105 .352 34 5 - NL Central
2011 72 90 .444 24 4 - NL Central
2012 79 83 .488 18 4 - NL Central
2013 94 68 .508 3 2 - NL Central
1468 1781 .454
& = Strike ended season
% = Strike shortened season
Although they came up short against St. Louis, they drew a lot of attention and positive press. They lost but they had a great run. For 2013, they were no longer the punch line of many jokes. They were the girl that was teased in high school because she wasn't pretty or popular and she comes back to the class reunion as a supermodel. Pirate fans no longer had to hold their heads in shame and wonder "what time do the Steelers kick off?"
So Pirates fans, by all means raise the Jolly Roger. Your patience was rewarded and while it wasn't the result you wanted, in the end, you were better for it. The baseball world has missed you, sort of like that long-lost cousin you only see every other Thanksgiving.
The kids that were born when Sid slid have grown up and the cloud that hung over their heads has been lifted. That curse is over. Beaten up like a schoolyard bully that gone around stealing lunch money. Fans in the Steel City can finally exhale. For Pirate fans, the wandering in the baseball desert all these years has come to an end. Time to raise the Jolly Roger.
And keep it raised.