As long as I can remember I have always loved the Pittsburgh Pirates. I grew up in the 80’s and 90’s with the Killer B’s, Bonds, Bonilla, Bream and Bell! That was a great era of baseball to be a part of! The pirates were so competitive and seemed like they made the playoffs just about every year! Once free agency really took it’s tool on the Pirates they seemed to have nothing left but a farm system for the rest of the major leagues. Every year it seemed obvious, if a player started to do well it was certain they were getting traded by mid season. And every year that was the case. 20 years of losing was upon us! Do you even understand how long that is to suffer from losing? It hurts to even think about it. Even though it was rough I continued to watch my team get pummeled every year. I may have lost hope for about a year until they brought up Cutch! That was a great time because you knew he was something special! Even after they brought him up the losing continued up until 2012.
The Pirates actually had a great shot that year! They started out slow as usual, but at one point in the season they were 16 games over .500 with 7 walk off wins! They hadn’t had a winning season in 19 years and we were that far over! We were all going to win that year! And then the wheels fell off. They had a total collapse the last month and a half of the season and ended up in forth place in the N.L. Central with a record of 79-83 4 games under .500. Another losing season in the books!
2013 was a different story. They added some pieces that were going to prove to be key! Francisco Liriano and Russell Martin were added to help and boy did they ever. Again the pirates had 9 walk off wins that year! Liriano went 16-8 revitalizing his career and Martin ended up with 15 home runs! The key home run being in the wild card game when he belted a 2 run HR over the left field wall off of Johnny Cueto! It was still by far the best game I have ever seen. I was in my living room jumping up and down screaming! 20 years of losing can do that to a fan let alone a town! It was awesome! They lost in the divisional series against the Cardinals but it was still a great season. Their record was 94-68.
2014 started off just as strong in and out of first place of the division all year with the Cardinals. They ended up with with a record of 88-74 and made the wild card game for a second consecutive year. They had 10 walk off wins that year! They ended up losing to the Giants that day, but it was still a great season. Winning baseball was back in Pittsburgh!
2015 was even better then the year before. This time the national league central was stacked and between the Pirates, Cardinals and Cubs it was a battle all year. The pirates had 11 walk off wins that year and ended up with a record of 98-64! And they didn’t win the division! They made the wild card game for the 3rd consecutive year and lost to the Cubs. It was a very promising year!
2016 was very disappointing. They had just came off of a 98 win season and just didn’t look good. A lot of blown opportunities and they finished the season with only 4 walk off wins and a record of 78-83, another losing season! I personally was very upset and frustrated about it. How can you have a 98 win season and lose that many games the following year? Do walk off wins play a part in momentum?
As most of you know I help coach my sons travel baseball team. This past year has been a blast and I have enjoyed being a part of every moment. This year alone they have had 4 walk off wins that I can think of. One of them was just the other night in the sectional little league tournament. My son came up and hit a single into right center to win the game. It was great to be a part of! The next day those kids carried that momentum into another win and a birth into the championship! Last night we came in and totally dominated! A 12-5 win and a birth into the PA state little league championship! I am a big believer in momentum and feel that the experience these kids have will give them a huge advantage.
When I talk to my patients in my office about their success and failure I try and relate it to the walk off hit to win the game. If you have a great day or week or month of physical therapy you need to celebrate it! You need to use that as fire to build upon. Mindset alone can change what you believe and how you think. If your down it will show in your effort. If you use it to your advantage nothing can stop you!
So far this year the pirates are 48-48, 3 games out of first. They have had 7 walk off wins so far this year. One of them coming two nights ago. The momentum is starting to show because they have won 11 out of their last 13 games. Hopefully the walk off will hold true as to what type of season they will end up having.