Over the course of the past few years words like curse and collapse have been thrown around the Pittsburgh Pirates and with good reason.
But what has been the reason for the recent failures of the Bucs as of late?
Sure you can blame the hitting or the pitching or the defense or even the base running. But while all of that is true I have decided to point the finger in a different direction- at the World Wide Leader.
Yeah that’s right; the Pirates failures the past two seasons have all been the fault of none other than ESPN.
As they return to ESPN Wednesday night for their series finale against the Oakland A’s, the Pirates aren’t only looking to put an end to a four-game losing streak, but to break the curse of what happened to them the past two times they appeared on ESPN.
The date was July 25, 2011. After years of complaining that the Pirates haven’t been on ESPN forever, the Bucs were back on national television to take on the Atlanta Braves, which marked the first time the Pirates had an ESPN game since since September 22, 2004.
The Pirates won that game 3-1 when James McDonald outdueled Tim Hudson, but what happened after returning to ESPN wasn’t pretty.
The Bucs entered that night the owners of a 53-47 record but their post ESPN record was only 19-43 (hat tip to @tjmcaloon for the numbers).
Coincidence you say?
Let’s look at last season when the Pirates returned to ESPN to take on the St. Louis Cardinals on August 29. Thanks to Wandy Rodriguez and Pedro Alvarez they won that game as well 5-0.
But again things didn’t go so well after their ESPN appearance.
The Bucs entered that August night the owners of a 70-60 record, but finished out the season only 9-23 (another hat tip to T.J. McAloon)
One can only hope that the Curse of ESPN, as I have dubbed it, doesn’t strike for a third consecutive season.
If it does, fans will look for whom to blame from manager Clint Hurdle to general manager Neal Huntington (I’m sure fans will find a reason to blame Pedro Alvarez as well).
But while you are looking for fingers to point, I say blame ESPN.