(Image: Benny Sieu/USA TODAY Sports)
By defeating the Brewers on Tuesday, the Pittsburgh Pirates guaranteed their first non-losing season in more than two decades. If they end up winning tonight’s game (Brewers are up 7-2 at the start of the fourth inning as I post this), they will officially be a winning team for the first time in a generation. As a Brewers fan, I couldn’t be happier for them. I hope they win the World Series. The Pirates have filled my life with so much joy over the years, I can’t think of a team more deserving of my temporary post-season allegiance.
It wasn’t that long ago the Brewers’ domination of the Pirates had become more or less legalized cruelty. Fans may recall there was a period during 2008-2009 when Pittsburgh lost 17 in a row to Milwaukee. For some Brewers fans (myself included), it was a mischievous treat to read the increasingly restless stories of erstwhile Post-Gazette beat writer Dejan Kovacevic. His dispatch at (what no one knew was) the end of the winning streak is a schadenfreude classic:
Make it a sorry 17.
The Pirates' latest in a litany of losses to Milwaukee, a nails-to-the-chalkboard 8-5 outcome last night at PNC Park, was their 17th in a row to the Brewers, marking Major League Baseball's longest such streak between two teams in four decades…
This time, it was J.J. Hardy coming through for Milwaukee, going 3 for 3 with runners in scoring position after having been 2 for 25 previously in such situations, and had four RBIs. And this after he lugged a 3-for-27 slump into the game.
The kind of breakout that probably happens for the Brewers exclusively against the Pirates. […]
On top of all that, it drizzled all night, and no more than one-third of the paid crowd of 9,775 actually attended.
At their next meeting in July, when the Pirates finally snapped their losing streak, you couldn’t help but feel happy for them.
The Brewers would continue to be the Pirates’ kryptonite at Miller Park through the beginning of the 2010 season. The Brewers would go on to win 22 straight games against the Pirates in Milwaukee, with the final victory a 17-3 blowout that included a five RBI performance by none other than Gregg Zaun.
Speaking of 2010, does anyone else remember that one time the Brewers beat Pittsburgh 20-0? It was the worst loss in Pirates history, with the final insult and RBI belonging to Manny Parra of all people. Kovacevic was on to something when he observed that unremarkable Brewers players had big games against the Pirates.
Although it seems like the Pirates have finally turned the corner in the last few seasons, they really only got the Milwaukee monkey off their back this season. Just last year, the Brewers were 11-4 against the Pirates. In 2011, Milwaukee was 12-3 against Pittsburgh. The Brewers have had four winning seasons since 2007. They couldn’t have done it without the Pirates.
For everything the Pittsburgh Pirates have done for Brewers fans, we practically owe them our loyalty in September and October. And if they knock the Cardinals out of the playoffs, we should throw them a goddamn parade.