Pirates reporting from Jacob Hanny, Penguins Reporting by Tyler Woodfill, additional reporting on Steelers by both writers
The Pirates have always been the most disappointing team to watch in Pittsburgh and, truthfully, the most difficult team to follow. The Pirates have had such little success over the past decade, where they have lost so many fans from around the world. The Pirates have also had the addition of a different coaching staff brought in. This came after the loss of Clint Hurdle who was the coach for 9 years in Pittsburgh. The GM of the team, Ben Cherington, has made some questionable decisions since he arrived in town two years ago. The GM before Ben Cherington, Neal Huntington, who had been there from 2007-2019, built a team that had a small, sweet run of playoff success in the 2010’s. With the loss of stars such as Andrew McCutchen and Josh Harrison, and more recently Garrett Cole and Josh Bell, the fans have not been interested.
The 2021 season went just as poorly as the Pirates finished 61-101. Coming off of the COVID-19 season where fans weren’t allowed at games, the expectation was that the team would have at least some of the fans in person, at least for the PNC park views or theme nights like Bring your Dog to the stadium. The Pirates finished in 25th in the MLB with an average of 10,611 attending each ballgame. This means that only 25% of PNC Park seats were filled for each game in the 38,000 seat stadium.
This year has been tough for Pittsburgh’s baseball fans, just like a previous couple of years. “I think it would take for them to get an above .500 record and if they actually had good players on their team. I also think their pitching rotation is a bunch of no-names.” says sophomore Luke Zelinko, one of the few remaining Pirates fans in the high school. The team has not had an above .500 record since 2018 when they went 82-79 which wasn’t good enough for them to make the playoffs.
Freshman Billy Onyshko said, “I am always a Pirates fan, but to go to their games it would take a winning season and for them to make the playoffs.” The last time the Pirates made the playoffs was in 2015, when they went 98-64. They made the playoffs in 2013 and 2014 as well but never made it past the NLDS.
“I think it would take a true Pittsburgher to root for the team. I think many people don’t want to watch the team fail so it takes a lot to be a true fan. I think they also need to get new guys and who they have now isn’t gonna help them win games.” said Senior Noah Talarico.
Junior Colin Crawford had similar things to say which points out the main issues of the team, “ Because of the record of the last 10 years and making the playoffs once in the last couple years and the recent success has driven me away from the team.”
Most fans see the Pirates as basically a farm team for the rest of the MLB. I feel like the team builds up good talent and then ends up trading away future All-Stars for prospects who don’t go anywhere. Some notable players the team has traded away who became All-Stars are people such as Josh Bell and Austin Meadows.
Pirates fans remember when the team had one of the best pitching rotations in the league. The team had guys such as Garrett Cole, A.J. Burnett, Mark Melancon, and Charlie Morton. There are other guys who ended up having a good career such as Starling Marte and Francisco Cervelli.
The team has also run into many problems with players such as Felipe Vazquez who was a good pitcher for the team who was found guilty of statutory sexual assault. This was a big upset for all Pirates fans who saw hope in him during the middle of the 2021 season.
All Pirates fans agree when I say that the team needs major work in the roster. The team needs to bring in more players with big names. The team can not succeed with the players they have now. The 2021 season for the Pirates was a big letdown and could be the future of the team for a long time to come.
As the Pirates are by far the worst Pittsburgh sports team, the debate comes up to the Penguins and the Steelers. Out of 47 people, 31 favor the Penguins being the best team in this city, the rest would argue the Steelers being the best. Out of 17 games in the season, the Steelers are 6-6-1 currently as the Penguins are 15-8-5 out of 82 games in this first bit of the season. In recent history the Penguins have been much more successful; they won back-to-back Stanley Cups in the 2016-2017 seasons and have not missed the playoffs in over 16 years. Proving that the Penguins are the best team in the city.
This year the Penguins are not slowing down even though they are expected to. With center Evgeni Malkin still out, the Pens are not slowing down. They are on pace for 100 points and to make the playoffs, whether it is in the wild card spot or third division spot. They could definitely make the playoffs in the top two division spots with the way they are currently playing.
The Steelers would have to play quite well in the NFL’s last four weeks to make the playoffs. As of right now, they have a 13% chance of making the playoffs. Hockey fan Billy Onyshko spoke on why it is enjoyable to watch the Pens this is what he responded with “the fact that they actually win games and score. Watching teams that are really bad isn’t very fun, and teams that don’t really score are kinda boring.” The Penguins have a promising finish to this season as for the Steelers, that could go either way.
One thought on “The Year in Pittsburgh Pro Sports 2021 – Pirates Plunge, Penguins Persist, Steelers Succeed and Struggle”
I really like your article and how you added what the audience sees and how they really feel.