In 2011, the Pirates had a winning record at the all-star break and were in first place in the NL Central on July 25; they ended the season 18 games under .500. In 2012, the Pirates were 63-47 on Aug. 8, then lost 36 of their last 52 games. They collapse quicker than a Rutgers background check.
Frankly, I shouldn't even be in this position of perennial Steel City angst. I wasn't born in Pittsburgh and don't live there; heck, I've never even set foot in Pittsburgh for as much as an airport layover. As a kid, I inexplicably latched on to the Pirates and the Steelers, and thanks to the likes of Roberto Clemente and Franco Harris, was rewarded with years of adolescent joy. Ah, but as with the rest of life, things change - and never for the better - and I've spent much of my adulthood perusing Pirates box scores that read, "Other Team 7, Pittsburgh 2."
Alas, baseball, I am reminded by the late Bart Giamatti, is "designed to break your heart."
Then again, if I weren't so stubborn and simply started following the NHL, at least I'd have the Penguins.
Ask The Slouch
Q. After seeing your use of statistics and the word "cognoscenti" in your column on baseball closers, it became apparent to me you couldn't have gone to Maryland; this knowledge is too far above its academics. Where did you matriculate post-high school - the University of Phoenix online or Motorcycle Mechanics Institute? (Rick Matzko; Punta Gorda, Fla.)
A. I audited several courses at DeVry, then hung out at the Algonquin Round Table in a local truck stop.
Q. Cheap beers, like your precious PBR, are rising in price because of "hipsters." When did The Slouch become a hipster? (Dan Shepard; Plainfield, Ind.)
A. I am so unhip, I don't even know what a hipster is. So back off, Jack.
Q. Are you in favor of the limited use of "challenge flags" and instant replay at the National Spelling Bee? (William Gross; Pittsburgh)
A. Pay the man, Shirley.
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