How the Pirates Got Marooned
By DARREN EVERSON
For the better part of two decades, the Pittsburgh Pirates have been on the most troubled voyage in American sports history. The team is closing in on its 17th-straight losing season, which would break the all-time record in the four major sports. (The Pirates currently share it with the 1933-48 Philadelphia Phillies.)
Year after year, Pittsburgh loses early in the season and trades pricey veterans for cheap prospects later on, a vicious cycle the team's relatively new management vows to break. But it too has destroyed the village in order to save it, trading away 10 Pirates this season to the disgust of disillusioned fans and players.
"We're not going to say we'll be competitive in 2011 or 2012, but we do feel we're closer," says general manager Neal Huntington, who took over in September 2007. "We believe we're getting—no offense to those people prior—better-quality information on the players we're acquiring."
Although the Pirates have made a mountain of deals over the years, it's actually possible—in a loose way—to connect Barry Bonds's departure in 1992 to the 2008 addition of Bryan Morris, a pitching prospect who has a 5.98 ERA and was suspended recently for berating an umpire.
Here is one interpretation of where this once-great franchise, which won three straight division titles from 1990 to 1992, went so wrong.
Click for interactive Graphic on WSJ site
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