Sunday, the Pittsburgh Pirates continued their epic streak of futility with a 4-3 loss to the Cincinnati Reds. Next year the streak will be able to purchase alcohol. They grow up so fast, don’t they? Sunday's loss put a nice ribbon on what has been a downright depressing year for Pittsburgh sports fans. Let's review just how bad it has been.
The 1-2 Pittsburgh Steelers are off to an inauspicious start to the 2012 season, yet they contributed first to the terrible sports year this has become. In January, the Steelers bowed out of the playoffs in spectacularly devastating fashion to the Tim Tebow-led Denver Broncos. The almighty Tebow seemed to find his passing skill that night, torching the Steelers defense for, coincidentally, 316 yards. The Steelers opened the new year with an overtime playoff loss on the road to christen the new year. We should have known then that 2012 would be rought.
Next to break our hearts, the Pittsburgh Penguins found a way to crush the spirits of the fan base after a beating at the hands of the hated Philadelphia Flyers. At one point late in the season, the Penguins looked nearly unbeatable. Sidney Crosby was finally healthy and Evgeni Malkin was capping off an MVP season. That all came screeching to a halt when the Flyers managed to bottle up Malkin and dominate the Penguins on special teams. Not to mention that once-beloved Penguins, Max Talbot and Jaromir Jagr haunted their former team with timely contributions, including Talbot’s series-ending empty-net goal. The series was truly one of the most humbling and crushing losses for Pens fans to endure.
That brings us to the Pirates. Those lovable Pirates. Oh, how they tease us. Long-suffering Pirates fans were once again teased with the hope of the Pirates finally breaking the streak of 19 consecutive losing seasons. The Pirates were 16 games over .500 at on August 8. The team not only looked destined to snap the streak, but also to make the playoffs. Then the collapse (part two) happened. Slowly expectations shifted to just staying over .500. It then became evident that even that was unlikely. 20 consecutive seasons of losing for the Pittsburgh ball club. Two decades. Let that soak in for awhile.
I haven’t even mentioned the CBI champion Pitt Panthers. Or the fact that the Pitt football team was forced to hire another head coach and finished 6-7 with a loss in the BBVA Compass Bowl.
This past calendar year has been rough for Pittsburgh sports fans. Has it been the worst year ever? Probably not. Our teams have made the playoffs, given us hope, and performed admirably, for the most part. I don't think we can complain too much, just remember we could be Cleveland fans. And in all honesty, this is why we are sports fans. It’s the best kind of reality television. Our emotions ebb and flow with our teams. Those bitter defeats keep us coming back. They keep us wanting more. It’s the reason we’ll be back watching next season and for seasons to come. Victory next year, the year after, or whenever that moment of glory comes will be that much sweeter. Although it would be nice if 2012 took it easy on us for the next few months. I don’t know how much more Pittsburghers can take.