When the Pittsburgh Penguins celebrated their 2009 Stanley Cup Victory, reporters asked a very young Evgeni Malkin what it meant for him and his teammates to be sharing the championship with the Pittsburgh Steelers who had won Super Bowl XLIII earlier in the year. Through broken English, the Penguins rising star jokingly said, “Go Pirates!”
Flash forward five seasons the Pittsburgh Pirates have not only ceased to be a joke, but they have become part of a new era that some Pittsburgh Sports fans may be missing. Perhaps 2009 made fans reminisce about the glory days of the 1970’s when the Steelers “Steel Curtain” defense was led by the legendary “Mean” Joe Greene, but this year, however, the Pirates and Penguins both qualified for the playoffs, and after the Steelers’ win over Kansas City launched them into the playoffs, all three major league Pittsburgh teams are playoff bound.
This is the first time this has happened since the early 1990’s, and only the fifth time in Pittsburgh Sports history that it has occurred.
This is the Golden Era of Pittsburgh Sports.
All three teams have players that are reminiscent of some of the most legendary names in their respective team’s history, and all three have MVP type players on their team,
As we all know, Andrew McCutchen was the National League MVP in 2013, and he had another spectacular 2014 campaign that saw him reach the finals for MVP once again. It is hard not to compare him to some of the great players in Pirates history like Willie Stargell or Roberto Clemente.
As for the Steelers, Ben Roethlisberger — in my opinion one of five elite quarterbacks currently playing in the NFL — is having arguably the best year of his career and is putting together an MVP caliber season. He holds the franchise record in numerous passing categories, and he is the only player in NFL history to have six touchdown passes in back-to-back games. Also, he is the only player to ever throw for 500 or more yards in more than one game. It is safe to compare him to Terry Bradshaw. Antonio Brown is having a remarkable season as well, and his career is reminiscent of that of John Stallworth and Lynn Swann. If he continues in his ways, it is possible that he could be an MVP in the not-so-distant future.
The Penguins on the other hand not only have two MVP caliber players, but two players who have both been crowned MVP in Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, and each and every day people are making comparisons between Crosby and the great Mario Lemieux — not only the greatest player in Penguin’s history, but potentially the greatest player of all time.
This isn’t New York or Boston, this is small-market Pittsburgh, and this season, all three Pittsburgh teams have qualified for the playoffs, and each team has at least one player who will be considered in the MVP discussion — potentially on a yearly basis.
This is why we aren’t only in a good-year period for the Steelers, Pirates, or Penguins, but we are currently in the Golden Era for all Pittsburgh teams.