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Are the Pirates the Most Incompetent Franchise in All of Sports?

The Pirates don’t have a whole lot to cheer about nowadays.

Are the Pirates the most incompetent franchise in all of sports? Well, former first baseman Derrek Lee once told Pirates reporter John??Perrotto??that he would rather retire than re-sign with the Pirates. That quote alone should tell you all you need to know??about the Pirates franchise, but let???s examine the facts. Most franchises measure success by the number of championships they???ve won.

Well, if the Pirates do indeed measure success in those terms, then they have failed miserably. The Pirates have not won, or even appeared in, a World Series since 1979. That is the third-worst drought in all of MLB. Only the Washington Nationals franchise, which began in 1969 as the Montreal Expos and the Seattle Mariners franchise, which began in 1977 have longer streaks without a World Series appearance. Consider that the Pirates have not even won a playoff series since 1979.??Sure, Bob Nutting didn???t own the team for that entire span, but he has since 2007 and that???s a pretty large sample size.??

What about the Pirates??? ineptitude compared to terrible franchises in the other professional sports leagues???For instance, the Los Angeles Clippers franchise had??long been considered the laughing stock of the NBA, but when Steve Ballmer took over ownership from the disgraced Donald Sterling in 2014 it brought a new respectability to the Clippers. In turn, the Clippers have had??eight consecutive winning seasons and seven playoff appearances in the past eight seasons. They are also about to begin construction on a brand-new arena in the Inglewood section of town and move out of the Staples Center that they currently share with the Lakers. The new arena is set to open in 2024 and will be privately funded, unlike PNC Park which was built largely with taxpayer dollars. ??

In the NHL the Arizona Coyotes have been the doormat of the league for years. However, they???ve at least won a playoff series in the last decade. Despite having the lowest attendance in the NHL, the Coyotes are about in the middle of the pack in spending; they actually traded for former Penguin Phil Kessel and his $6.8M per season salary.?? It should be noted that the NHL has a hard salary cap structure in place. In stark contrast,??the Pirates make no such moves and rank 29th??out of 30 teams with a payroll of just $72M. Compare that to their counterpart in the NL Central, the Chicago Cubs, who rank second in MLB in payroll at $218M. The Pirates payroll will likely be even lower next season with just $35 million committed in salary for 2020.??

Let???s turn to the NFL.??Not too far to the North, the Cleveland Browns have not made the playoffs since 2002 and have never won a Super Bowl. Much like the Pirates, they find inexplicable new ways to lose every season, draft terribly, and trade away top talent. However, even the Browns have recently made strides to attain respectability. They traded for top-tier wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr., they stockpiled draft picks to rebuild their roster, and have gone out and spent money in free agency. Sure, they haven???t won anything yet, but at least they???re trying. The Browns actually rank fourth in the NFL in total salary, paying its players a cumulative $170 million.????

Back to the Pirates. In 2018 MLB investigated the franchise after the players??? union raised??concerns??they were not using their revenue-sharing money properly. That winter the Pirates slashed payroll and saved $21.5 million by dealing Andrew McCutchen and Gerrit Cole. Cole has gone on to be a perennial Cy Young candidate since being traded away. In 2010, the players??? union also questioned the Pirates??? usage of revenue-sharing receipts. In both investigations MLB found no wrong-doing, but the fact that the players??? union requested an investigation speaks volumes.????

The franchise as a whole just can???t get out of its own way — from running out of hot dog buns on $1 hotdog night, to signing free agents that no other team wanted, to not getting any returns on trades, they???re just a folly of a franchise. Just this week Clint Hurdle told??The Athletic that he has been notified he???ll be retained as manager for next season. Then later that day General Manager Neal Huntington sent out a statement that read, ???As we have in the past, we will publicly address any personnel decisions at the end of the season.??? Yet another example of the mismanagement within the organization from top to bottom. So, are the??Pirates??the most poorly run franchise in all of sports? That???s a subjective answer, but there???s no doubt they???re in the running and giving more reasons to claim the title with each??losing season.????

Professional sports writer, fluent in sarcasm and other humorous arts. Bachelor and Master degrees from Duquesne University. Member of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association. Have previously written for many outlets, including the AP, Sports Xchange, PA SportsTicker, etc. Regularly appear as a guest on local sports radio. Expert at Name That Tune and proficient in many other areas of useless knowledge.

17 Comments on Are the Pirates the Most Incompetent Franchise in All of Sports?

  1. Nutting is always about profits, could care less about winning. His Wheeling newspapers are most likely the worst in the Country. You can read his daily papers in five minutes. Sunday paper in 30 minutes. He???s a real tool, businesses are about money, could care less about personall. After going 82-79 last year, one would think you would build on that, not the ???nut???, slashed payroll from the mid 80 million to the low 70 million. That???s not trying to win. They???re lucky if they get 70 wins. Hurdle stated during their current losing streak before the cub series, ???no big thing??? in a post game interview. Lose over 90 games, just day to day business. Owner and management total asswipes.

  2. Yet the Pirates remain a viable operation and TPOP goes out of business.

    • It is completely analogous to compare a business with hundreds of millions of revenue to a website that I no longer have the time/energy to run in my spare time.

  3. Well written hot take as always Vincent! One additional point on the Clippers, they too lured a high end free agent, in fant the most coveted Nba Free agren kwahi Leonard, which substantially boosted their Vegas odds to win the NBA championship this year in addition to other free agent supporting cast. The pirates can’t get anything right, look at the way they have failed countless times to develop their own talent. Much of this talent is obtained through either misses or lack of development of can’t miss prospects. The Astros and devil Ray’s (Pittsburgh south) both have appreciated being trade partners with the pirates. The whole organization needs an overhaul not just a little sprucing up via connection and rhetoric from brass. Hurdles crass arrogance is off putting as he has lost the team given the numerous personnel issues especially in the clubhouse. The team is not fundamentally sound, situational hitting, Fielding,and running the bases Their approach is incomprehensible. One person I feel who appears competent in his role is rick ekstein who has helped to develop hitters bell Newman Reynolds. He also has fire and passion as we witnessed him being in the thick of the mele against the reds. Mark Cuban please save us!!!

  4. Look at the history of the club. It was insolvent in 2003. Nuttig bailed it out. Restored it to profitability and invested in rebuilding the infrastructure. PGH fans have historically not supported the team with attendance. Go back to the 50s and it has always been the case. No business is going to spend what the competitors spend when the market doesn’t support the investment. We are 4 years removed from being one of the best teams in MLB and not as far way from contention as the pundits claim. We are very much like the 2012. If you want to take stupid shots expect them in return. As far as your side business, you made the choice to run it and it failed. Had you succeeded, cashflow would be such that continuing to operate it in your spare time, hiring someone to do so or selling it. When you operate a successful business maybe you will have learned enough to cast aspersions on others.

    • I can’t believe I’m taking the time to respond to this, but…
      I’ve had numerous offers to sell it. This is something that Steve and I built together, from an idea we germinated together. I didn’t want to see TPOP corroded away like what happened to Rumbunter over the years.

      Again, the site was run off of monies received from licensing our work on Prospect Surplus Models and Valuations to various entities, including the national site of Fangraphs. One of our ex-writers is a member of the Pirates’ baseball ops department. Another writer now works for Dejan at a great regional platform.

      TPOP is/was a success. But thanks for reading over the years even if you hate-read it.

    • A Nutting sheep alert.

      And people say they don’t exist.

  5. Tony V is an idiot. // September 27, 2019 at 12:00 PM // Reply

    Tony V, do us all a favor and shut up.

  6. Vince Comunale // September 27, 2019 at 12:01 PM // Reply

    Why would the fans support this franchise right now? Look at the attendance when the team was good in 2015. The Pirates were 8th in the league in attendance because they had a good team. Also, it doesn’t take much to restore an MLB franchise to profitability when you’re making a profit before selling one ticket. As for the 1950s, the team was historically bad back then. The only reason anyone came to see the team was Ralph Kiner. Again, attendance goes up when the team is good and goes down when the team is bad.

  7. I would have to vote for the Detroit Lions. Zero Super Bowl appearances and they have lost their last nine playoff games. Last championship was 1957.

    • I would personally also agree with the Lions. And until the Clippers and Browns win something, I’d put them up there too.
      Buffalo Bills seem like they’d be terrible to follow, too.

  8. I don’t think competence is the core question here–if the Pirates were committed to a reasonable payroll, this conversation wouldn’t be happening. It’s not a matter of competency–it’s a matter of ownership’s unwillingness to spend a viable amount on salaries.

    • Norm Cubellis // September 28, 2019 at 4:41 PM // Reply

      I tend to agree with you. Huntington has made some very bad trades, however he has made some very good ones over the years. Same with his FA signings with bad Chisenhal but pretty good Liriano and Cabrera. He is forced to deal with second and third tier free agents due to budget constraints. As to Hurdle I think he does some really dumb things however he has been given some very inferior players, like most of his middle relief.

  9. South Texas Hombre // September 28, 2019 at 8:05 AM // Reply

    The franchise is a disgrace. The team needs new ownership and management at all levels. When players leave and find success elsewhere what does that tell you? Gerrit Cole is a prime example. I’ve been a faithful fan since 1960I sometimes wonder why!.

  10. Wow… This is the first I have heard of TPOP ceasing in a few days.

    I am so sorry. I found it the best of all Pirate sites with exceptional writing and points of view rarely found anywhere. Thanks for a wonderful time!

  11. As an outsider the team certainly looks incompetent, but I’d be willing to bet from the inside they have a different perspective.

    (My speculation) I think their #1 goal is making money – Success. Then justifying the moves they make so they don’t get called out on not trying to field a winner – Failure.

    As to Huntington. Is he duplicit in deceiving the public? Is he trying to win the Indy 500 while being given the equivalent of a souped up F-150? We have plenty of opinions on this issue.

    I could go on and on, but at this point I’m basically talking with myself, so I’ll just wrap it up with a thank you for another interesting article.

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