In January of 1979, the Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Dallas Cowboys, 35-31, to win Super Bowl XIII. On October 17th of that same year, the Pittsburgh Pirates defeated the Baltimore Orioles in game 7 of the World Series.
The December 24, 1979 issue of Sports Illustrated pictured Terry Bradshaw and Willie Stargell – co-winners of the magazines “Sportsman of the Year” award. They had each been named MVP of their respective championship games.
If we fast forward to 2009. The December issue of Sports Illustrated could include Santonio Holmes and Evgeni Malkin… but wouldn’t it be great if they were joined by a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates?
Impossible! Anyone in his right mind would agree the Pirates haven’t a ghost of a chance. The Pirates current record is 28 wins and 33 losses. They are six games out of first place in their division.
Earlier this year, the Penguins’ chances of making the playoffs were very questionable. Somehow, they pulled themselves together and moved up to a position that gave them the opportunity to make it to the finals. Suddenly they became the first team to twice be down two games to none and win the seven game series. They quietly knocked the ‘im’ off the word and made it possible.
Then again, the Pirates simply don’t have the athletes to make a serious run for the pennant.
I don’t buy that. I’m convinced that all professional sports teams are basically equal when it comes to talent. There may be a few super-stars out there, but by and large, rosters are fairly well balanced.
The thing that makes the difference between the first and last place teams is desire.
The pitcher who has an earned run average of 5.78 often goes out and pitches a shutout against the team that traded him. Why? Because he desires to show them they made a mistake when they gave up on him.
Batters often do similar things when facing their old teammates.
If the Pirate organization can get their players to focus and recognize that they can win a lot of games if they treat every game as if winning it can put them in the World Series, they might just find themselves there.
Too often, players and coaches approach games as if ‘it’s just one of many’ and winning or losing isn’t all that important.
In football, we quite often hear two phrases: “Play them one game at a time” and “On any given Sunday”.
Every game should be played as if it counted more than any other, and any team is capable of winning on any given day.
I may be a dreamer, but I’m hoping someone lights a fire under the Bucs. Maybe the ghost of Bob Prince will start attending the games and wave the green weenie at the opponents.
Boston has professional teams in four major sports – baseball, football, basketball, and hockey. Have they ever won three championships in one year?
This could be a first for Pittsburgh. You people who still live in Pittsburgh – get off your butts and get to the games. Give them the same kind of support you’ve been giving to the Steelers and Penguins.
It CAN happen!