Being a Pessimistic Pirates Fan in a Pessimistic Sports Town

Being from Pittsburgh, I really have no excuse to complain about my sports teams.

The Penguins have won three Stanley Cup since 2009 and five in my lifetime. I’ve seen the Steelers win two Super Bowl and go to four. But if I have one gripe with pro sports in the Steel City, it would be the Pirates.

They’ve gone without a World Series appearance and title since 1979, made the National League wild card game three-straight years from 2013 to 2015 and then just fell off as the rest of their division got better.

You’ve heard the normal complaints from Pirates fans: 21-straight losing seasons, an owner that worries more about profits than product on the field and no sign the team will ever win in my lifetime.

That frustration seems minimal when you find yourself living in Cincinnati.

Here’s a rundown:

-The Bengals have been to the Super Bowl twice (and have never won it) and have not won a playoff game since 1990.

-Owner Mike Brown is hated, especially over the stadium deal.

-The Reds last won a World Series in 1990.

-FC Cincinnati just became a Major League Soccer club and while popular and doing well four games in, a faction of the city is already pessimistic about them ever winning the MLS Cup.

-This past week in the NCAA Tournament, the Cincinnati men’s basketball team got out to an early lead on Iowa, but wound up losing. #MarchSadness

So maybe my problems aren’t as bad. Some might say I’m spoiled.

Getting to know co-workers and other Cincinnati natives over the last five months, it’s easy to understand the frustration. Sometimes I get the sense Cincinnati sports fans just wait for impending doom.

But there is one thing they’re constantly optimistic about: Red baseball and Opening Day.

It’s pretty much a holiday for this baseball town. 99 percent of kids absent March 28 in the tri-state will be out due to it.

Thursday marks the 100th Opening Day parade where Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred is the grand marshal and it’s the 150th season of the Reds being the first professional baseball club.

There is a reason for optimism in Cincinnati when it comes to baseball season.

Unlike my Pirates, the Reds actually went out and tried to improve a team that finished dead-last in the National League Central in 2018.

On Opening Day in Cincinnati, the Pirates will be the opponent and I plan on rooting them on, even though I’m certain they’ll finish last in what has become a more competitive division.

I’m looking forward to seeing the fanfare around the start of baseball season in the Queen City.

But here’s hoping the Penguins get at least third in their division and make a respectful playoff run this spring before I have to watch Melky Cabrera and Francisco Liriano play past their prime this summer.

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