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Thanks to Travis Snider the streak is over, well, kind of …. and the streak’s disconnect

MILWAUKEE – Technically, the Pirates do not clinch a non-losing season until they reach 82 wins.

 

Why?

 

However remote and unlikely, it is possible to lose 24 straight games then qualify for, and lose in, a one-game playoff. The playoff counts as a regular season game and the Pirates would finish with an 81-82 record. Wouldn’t that be a tale of misery?

 

But in order for that to come into play the Pirates would have to make MLB history. The longest consecutive games losing streak is 24 games by the 1899 Cleveland Spiders. The Pittsburgh Alleghenys – who later became the Pirates – lost 23 straight in 1890. The Pirates would have to lose 25 straight. Yeah, that ain’t happening, so I think it’s safe to celebrate, Pittsburgh.

 

And you can thank the unlikeliest of heroes, Travis Snider, for ending it on Tuesday.

 

Snider doesn’t show much emotion on the field but he made a single emphatic clap of the hand in rounding first in the ninth inning Tuesday. His home run and hand clap was a symbolic slamming closed of the longest consecutive seasonal losing streak in North American pro sports history.

 

Snider didn’t think to have much of a role after the acquisitions of Marlon Byrd and Justin Morneau last week. He was on the bench for the the first eight innings Tuesday, just recalled from Double-A as rosters expanded.

 

He was not warm entering his pinch-hitting opportunity.

 

“The cage here is one of the smaller, more claustrophobic-feeling cages. I try to avoid it all costs,” Snider said of the visiting batting cage. “I took some early batting practice today. But luckily we have a lot of room in the clubhouse to run around and get loose.”

 

But he slammed the seventh pitch he saw from Jim Henderson deep into the right-field seats.

 

Snider was pumped. So was the team.

 

Neil Walker, who knows the streak better than anyone on the team being a Pittsburgh native, emerged from the clubhouse into the stadium bowels exclaiming “81! 81!” I think he was only half kidding.

 

There has been a disconnect regarding the meaning of the streak between the clubhouse and the fan base.

 

Most of the players in the clubhouse have little to do with the streak, and little experience with it.

 

Yet, national and local reporters keep asking these players about it day-in and day-out.

 

“It’s 20 years so, yeah, we’re aware of it,” Charlie Morton said. “The season is so long something like that adds unnecessarily. It’s a fact. It would be a load off of our back, especially in terms of the organization and the city. We’d like to do it for the fans because it’s been a while. But in here (in the clubhouse) it’s not enough. A winning season, albeit an achievement … but where we are right now it’s not a high enough bar. I think that’s how everyone looks at it.”

 

A day after Gerrit Cole extinguished two candles on his second birthday cake, Sept. 9, 1992, was the last time the Pirates reached 81 wins.

 

On Tuesday at Miller Park, the 22-year-old Cole helped extinguish the Pirates’ streak of consecutive losing seasons.

 

Cole has been around the team for three months, and Marlon Byrd and Justin Morneau have a week or less of experience with The Streak, acquired in trades last week.

 

Morneau was amused and surprised by the amount of media attention paid to the streak prior to Tuesday’s game.

 

There is a disconnect. And that’s OK.  Pittsburgh the city has lived with the streak for two decades. These players haven’t. And that’s a very good thing or else perception and things discussed off the field might begin to bend on the field happenings.
And without Cole, Byrd and Morneau the streak might still be alive.

 

Morneau went 3-for-3 and batted in Andrew McCutchen to tied the score at 2 in the third. Byrd plated McCutchen in the eighth with an RBI double, to give the Pirates a 3-2 lead.

 

I know many of you want 82. And you’ll get it soon enough. To me the streak is dead.

 

I’m looking forward to moving beyond so we can focus more energy and ink on what is more exciting: a September pennant race.

 

And by the way, your Pirates now have a two-game lead in the NL Central.

 

- TS

27 Comments

  1. Travis, I know the streak and all its ignominy are new to you being your first year in the ‘Burgh, (are you secretly the good luck charm we’ve long needed???) but for me the streak is a two-parter and 82 is the truer of the streak-shattering numbers. Maybe it’s just because a winning season sounds so much better than a non-losing season. Both are important, but I’m saving my champagne for 82 (hopefully tomorrow. Great stuff as always, though.

  2. It’s not possible for the Pirates to lose the rest of their games and the teams behind them(who play the Pirates repeatedly) not win theirs and PASS the Pirates.

    This dumb idea was buried yesterday.

    • John, it is possible: The Reds and Cards sweep the Pirates and take the division and the first wild card spot. Meanwhile, the Nationals go 11-13 and finish 81-81. Bam.

      With a day off tomorrow, really hoping Liriano can close this discussion out tonight!

      • Indeed, there seem to be a lot of people conflating the fact the Pirates broke their losing seasons streak with having made the playoffs.

        Not saying it will happen but there’s still a whole lot of ways the Pirates could still end up out of the playoffs. And rest assured Clint Hurdle will be doing everything he can from here on out, just as he has all season long, to make sure the offense does as little as possible to avoid a worst case outcome.

      • It’s not possible. Not at all. Pirates go on a 23 game losing streak?

        • Math skills need some work … the Pirates need not lose 23 games to fail to make the playoffs.

          If the Pirates were to go say 7-16 (or worse) over their last 23 games and the Nationals and/or Diamondbacks go 18-5 (or better) the Pirates would not qualify for the playoffs.

          Not to say they will do it but given the remained of their schedule it’s not impossible either. There’s a reason the standing don’t show them as having clinched a playoff spot yet and that’s because they haven’t yet and won’t likely be able to for another week at least.

    • EXACTLY

      Thank you for pointing that out.

  3. My three good buddies, both about the same age as me, have already emailed me with “Isn’t it GREAT” emails.

    I am soooooooooooooooo glad it is over!!! Our first winning season in TWENTY BLEEPING YEARS!!!!

    THAT is AWESOME!!!

    this is Step one.

    After this year, I think we’re gonna go back to the way it was in the 70s: The playoffs are our birthright!

    Foo

  4. Of course there would be a role for Travis Snider if the team wasn’t saddled with an idiot manager who keeps trying to find new ways to suppress the offense.

    On a team with a right hand hitting outfielders who hit RHP as poorly as Starling Marte and Jose Tabata do the smart thing to do would be to have Snider and/or Jones starting against RHP at all times.

    Sure it’s great to see the Snider home run but in games like last night where McCutchen, Morneau and Byrd reached base 10 times in their combined 13 plate appearances were there someone other than Tabata (or Marte) and his 0-4 perched atop the order perhaps such ninth inning heroics wouldn’t be needed to win.

    The roster needed to win is essentially there now that but the single biggest obstacle to this Pirates’ winning the division and having a successful run through the playoffs is Clint Hurdle’s inability to manage them and his lineups properly and continues to play small ball when it’s no longer necessary.

    As glad I was to see Byrd and Morneau acquired my enthusiasm continues to be tempered by the knowledge that when Marte returns we’ll continue to see regular lineups of right handed hitting OFs who will get beaten up by PNC Park and RHP and 2 through 5 hitters hitting with empty bases for no good reason while the team struggles to score runs.

    • “the team wasn’t saddled with an idiot manager who keeps trying to find new ways to suppress the offense.”

      Is this the idiot manager who now has a +500 record guiding the Pittsburgh Pirates?

      “On a team with a right hand hitting outfielders who hit RHP as poorly as Starling Marte and Jose Tabata do the smart thing to do would be to have Snider and/or Jones starting against RHP at all times.”

      Marte and Tabata, as right handed hitters, are BOTH better options against RHP than Jones and Snider.

      Not able to watch many Pirate games? Have you watched either Jones or Snider this year. They both are right wehre they need to be. Coming off the bench.

      • Actually I have watched lot’s of Pirate games and that’s precisely what my opinon is based upon.

        I would state without hesitation that the Pirates are winning in spite of Clint Hurdle, ot because of him. It’s pitching, all pitching, more pitching than probably anyone would have or could have expected … the offensive side of the effort has been pretty abysmal for virtually the entire year and his habitual bunting, insistence on placing speed as a priority over on-base skills at the top of the order and his inability to recognize how the characteristics of his home park affect his players are just a few of the reasons why.

        As for the individual players, did you happen to notice that the Pirates offense recently went from being 24 in runs scored in the majors to 20 … and by recently I mean SINCE Starling Marte got hurt and is not piling up outs at the top of the Pirates’ lineup?

        So tell me now which of these guys is starting and hitting
        lead off against RHP and which belongs on the bench?

        AB R Hits 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO OBP SLG OPS
        355 36 88 24 2 13 47 29 86 .303 .437 .740 Garrett Jones
        184 18 51 9 2 2 15 20 27 .354 .380 .734 Jose Tabata
        397 59 101 21 8 8 27 18 105 .314 .408 .722 Starling Marte
        223 26 52 12 2 4 24 20 59 .296 .359 .655 Travis Snider

        Frankly the Pirate’s chances of winning only improve the longer
        marte remains unavailble to Hurdle as lead off hitter option.

        • @NorthPirateFan, frankly, the numbers you just provided against right-handers completely counteract your argument. The OPS difference between Jones and Tabata is a wash, and Marte’s isn’t much lower than that. Snider, meanwhile, has no right to be in that discussion at all. That is by far your most asinine suggestion. Tabata also has by far the best on-base vs righties (more than 50 points higher than Jones) and Marte holds an edge over Jones in that category, too. Plus, both offer a significant speed advantage, especially Marte, which, whether you agree with it or not, is very important to have at the top of your lineup. Next time you might want to make sure the numbers actually back up your theories. Thanks for playing, though. :)

          • You have it completely backwards, the argument my numbers support is that there is no good reason why Jones and Snider are on the bench against RHP while Marte and Tabata continue to suck wind against them … Tabata again 1-5 last night and his OPS against RHP now .727

            The argument I was responding to was that Jones and Snider belong on the bench … so looking at those number how is that the guy with the best overall production and most power is sitting against the platoon match ups that most favor him?

            A good manager uses the players he has available to him in a way to maximize their abilities, Clint Hurdle does not do that. He continues to put guys with a long demonstrated history of failing in certain situations into those situations while ignoring better options.

            As for Travis Snider not belonging there I’d say you need to look again. While his OPS is below the rest of the group that is largely due to his low batting average at this point and a small number of singles… that he could collect in a few games were he ever to be given any regular playing time.

            Compared to Marte who he should be platooning with in left field and the lead off spot, Snider walks more frequently, strikes out less and has much better on base skills than Marte which is the most important factor for a lead off hitter.

            The more plate appearances Tabata and Marte get against RHP the lower their production levels will go and they will continue to be a drag on the offense.

  5. The LOSING streak is definitely over. 81 wins means that the Pirates will no longer be referred to as the team with the longest losing streak. The Pirates will not be included in graphics the next time another team in a major sport has a streak that is current and futile. Media analysts and reporters can’t just glibly gloss over the Pirates again, saying “Pirates will have another losing season, nuff said”.

    And it buries the mantra of “the collapse” by those doubters who trot it out every time the Pirates lose 2 of 3.

    Its huge, and worthy of some celebration. In the magnitude of celebrations, in my opinion, its more important than 82 wins (clinching a winning season), but both are much lower than the celebration of when the Pirates clinch a playoff game. The magic number for clinching a playoff spot is 14. There will be huge elation and celebration when that occurs.

    All those years of following the minor leagues, looking for a savior are over. Now I can follow the minor leagues as just some game. Awesome.

    • The LOSING streak is definitely over. 81 wins means that the Pirates will no longer be referred to as the team with the longest losing streak. The Pirates will not be included in graphics the next time another team in a major sport has a streak that is current and futile. Media analysts and reporters can’t just glibly gloss over the Pirates again, saying “Pirates will have another losing season, nuff said”.
      .
      .
      And it buries the mantra of “the collapse” by those doubters who trot it out every time the Pirates lose 2 of 3.
      .
      .
      Its huge, and worthy of some celebration. In the magnitude of celebrations, in my opinion, its more important than 82 wins (clinching a winning season), but both are much lower than the celebration of when the Pirates clinch a playoff game. The magic number for clinching a playoff spot is 14. There will be huge elation and celebration when that occurs.
      .
      .
      All those years of following the minor leagues, looking for a savior are over. Now I can follow the minor leagues as just some game. Awesome.

      HokaHey everyone. I guess that trend really was correct. 3rd straight year of improvement. I guess it really was a 5 year plan. Hmm. #NHforPrez

      • Roberto……..yep…..gotta love those folks who jumped on the “Hoka Hey” bandwagon, who wanted NH fired, etc, etc, ad nauseum.

        NH was doing it the right way from the beginning! Those of us who have been in his corner since he was hired (why would we hire someone who Cleveland demoted?) are now enjoying this so much more.

        Sure he made some missteps, but what GM hasn’t? He has outshone such ‘luminaries’ as Jack Z, Dayton Moore and others.

        For those who this is applicable, take the crow, do a quick Jack Daniels marinate (or rub), place it in a cake pan with about an inch of beer and grill until until done.

        Let me know how it tastes.

        NH is God Foo

        • Neal Huntington might still deserve to be fired depending on how things finish up.

          Sure breaking the losing streak is a good thing to see however, simply having a winning seasons is not a legitimate goal of a successful franchise in any sport. That we as fans see this as an accomplishment is merely a reflection of how dire things have been for so long. Winning the division and winning in the playoffs are the only worthwhile goals and measures that NH or any GM will be judged by. If the team fails to do either, which is still a possibility, it’ll be because Huntington failed for the third year in a row to prepare an offense in the off season that was a worthy of the pitching staff and/or because he waited to long to rectify the situation once it became clear to everyone that the offense wouldn’t cut it if they wanted to be contenders.

          Yes it’s great to get the losing streak monkey off their backs but there are a whole lot of people counting chickens as of yet unhatched in declaring this season a great success and giving Huntington and Hurdle a pass for their many failures.

          If the Pirates fail to make the playoffs or even if they were to lose a one game wild card game, Huntington and Hurdle will be every bit as insecure in their jobs as they they should be.

          • I quit reading after
            “Neal Huntington might still deserve to be fired depending on how things finish up.”

            Some people just never give up.

            Sheesh.

            Foo

  6. The Pirates GM has made some good moves. But he also opened the ML season with Jonathan, you know, that pitcher guy, and that infielder John whoever and another infielder, Brandon somebody, and another pitcher James McD or somebody, and they all belonged in AA ball or lower, but there they were. But give credit. Signing Liriano was brilliant. And trading Jose that homerun hitting guy was dumb. I kinda thought he was pretty good. His main weakness was that he was a carryover. It has been a painful 5 years. No blame for bad, then why credit for the good.

    • Yeh…I foogot…NH has to be perfect to make some folks happy. He is never allowed to make a mistake.

      That same IFer, by the way, has been wanted by 3 other teams and keeps getting traded to contenders.

      As for Inge and Sanchez, yeh, I’m glad they’re gone, but the same ‘might catch lightning in a bottle” approach that we tried with him, sure seems to have worked with Liriano, AJ, 2/3 of our relievers AND our catcher (anyone remember the headlines, “Bucs sign .211 hitting catcher”?).

      I am quite happy with NH. He has done one heckuva job. Not only is our MLB team one of the top 5, so is our farm system! Long ways from the dreariness of the DL regime!

      Foo

  7. Now the more important number. What is the Bucs magic number?

  8. From hoka-hey-laughingstock to the GMTIB, it certainly has come full circle, hasn’t it?

    From that place where nobody wants to be traded to… to the place where there’s seemingly a hero every night? (Snyder last night)…

    WINNING SOLVES EVERYTHING! (right?)

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