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The Pirates had a chance to be the story of the summer but are failing miserably

The Pittsburgh Pirates rarely get to be the top sports story in Pittsburgh for even a summer.

This is thanks to an almost unhealthy obsession with the Steelers, along with the Penguins winning five Stanley Cups since 1991.

But 2024 could have been the exception.

The Steelers have made a lot of exciting moves off the field over the past few years, but those moves have failed to produce anything exciting on the field. As for the Penguins? They’re old, and the core three responsible for winning three of those five Stanley Cups–Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang–is just a nostalgic act that still brings fans into PPG Paints Arena despite missing the playoffs the past two years.

Steelers fans may be obsessed with their team, but the most fun they get to have these days is talking about trading for (insert latest veteran receiver here), fifth-year options and whether or not Mike Tomlin should be fired. Penguins fans might still show up to PPG Paints Arena for hockey games, but they’re mostly there to relive the glory days of 2008-2017 and discuss whether or not head coach Mike Sullivan should be fired.

The Pirates came into their 2024 season looking like a team full of youth, talent and possibility. Of the three professional sports organizations in town, they seemed to have the best chance of at least appearing to be a championship contender for the foreseeable future.

Call me crazy, but player transactions and speculation about a coach’s job security aren’t nearly as much fun to talk about as a sports fan as what happened in the last game and what might happen in the next one.

In other words, there is a void to be filled in the Pittsburgh sports landscape in 2024, and the Pirates could have filled that sucker by playing fun and relevant baseball almost every single day through the rest of this spring, the entire summer, and even into Buctober.

But it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen. It started out fine, with the Pirates winning nine of their first 11 games. Unfortunately, they immediately began a slide that has seen them drop 17 of their past 22 games, with the latest defeat coming at the hands of a pathetic Rockies squad that wobbled into PNC Park with a 7-24 record on Friday night.

You can now make that 8-24, thanks to winning the first of a three-game series in Pittsburgh this weekend. Oneil Cruz hit a two-run home run in the bottom of the ninth inning to end a scoreless streak that had reached 22 innings. That’s right, not only are the Pirates losing, but they’ve been almost lifeless in the process, averaging just 1.94 runs per game over their last 17.

Just how uninteresting have these young Pirates been over the past few weeks? Only 20,000 fans showed up at PNC Park for Fireworks Night on Friday. You know you’re in trouble as an organization when you can’t get Pittsburghers to fill your stadium for a fireworks night.

What has been the most newsworthy event for the Steelers in recent memory? Probably when they fired offensive coordinator Matt Canada last November. How about the Penguins? You can make a strong case for the recent firing of Todd Reirden, an assistant coach responsible for overseeing a powerplay that finished 30th out of 32 teams during the 2023/2024 NHL campaign.

The way things are going for the Pirates and their batters, the seemingly inevitable in-season firing of hitting coach Andy Haines may trump the debut of pitcher Paul Skenes in terms of news that’s going to move the needle for the long-suffering Buccos fans.

That’s a damn shame, too.

It has become fashionable to say that the Pirates season ends when the Steelers report to Saint Vincent College for training camp in late July every summer.

It could have been different this year, but not only are the Buccos now 14-19, but they have been so pathetic that Pittsburgh sports fans might forget about baseball the moment the Steelers report for OTAs in late May.


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