Royals fans feel a kind of kin-ship to some of their other small-market brethren, but the one club that shares our true tale of misery the most is the Pittsburgh Pirates. Well before we were losing stars like Carlos Beltran, Johnny Damon and Jermaine Dye, they were losing Bobby Bonilla, Barry Bonds and John Smiley. While they have made the post-season more recently than we have, our 1985 Championship is more recent than their 1979 Championship, and their 1991 NLCS appearance left a bad taste in their mouth.
Going into this year, the Pirates had suffered eighteen straight losing seasons - the Royals have had losing seasons in fifteen of the last sixteen years. The Pirates have lost 90 or more games nine times in that stretch, the Royals have had ten such seasons. The Pirates have topped the century mark in losses twice, the Royals four times. The Pirates have finished dead last nine times, the Royals eight times. If the Royals had a partner in losing the last two decades, it was the Pittsburgh Pirates
But things have changed. The Pirates stand on July 19 in first place, half a game up on the Cardinals and Brewers with a 50-44 record. In a lot of ways, they mirror the 2003 Royals (who were 52-42 with a 6.5 game lead after 94 games). Both teams were winning games with smoke and mirrors - pitching staffs with unsustainably low strikeout numbers, hitters with remarkably high BABIP and "clutch hits", and a weak division to deal with.
Are you cheering for the Pirates so they can represent small-markets and the Loserville Duo in the post-season? Or are you jealous that they have escaped the clutches of Loss-tonia and have forgotten where they came from, leaving us in their wake?