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.????