Good morning. It is August 29th, 2013.
With last night's win, the Pirates are 77-55. Since 1992, the Pirates failed to win 77 games in the following seasons*: 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011.
There are no new seasons left on the list, so let's spend today's post remembering the Shawon Dunston Game. It is inevitable that when a late-season Pirate trade acquisition makes his debut, someone will mention Shawon Dunston. Dunston, you will no doubt remember, was traded to the Pirates on August 31st of 1997 after Kevin Polcovich's injury really depleted the Pirates at the shortstop position (Polcovich replaced Kevin Elster early in the '97 season). Dunston showed up and hit two home runs and drove four runs in in his Pirate debut on September 2nd, practically single-handedly dragged the Pirates to a 6-4 win over the Indians. That win put the Pirates just 1 1/2 games back of the Astros with 23 games left to play, though ultimately the Pirates wouldn't catch them.
This is the thing that gets me about Shawon Dunston's Pirate career: you'd be hard-pressed to find a Pirate fan that remembers 1997 but somehow doesn't remember that game or four homers he hit in his first five games as a Pirate or the ridiculous tear that he was on for basically his entire Pirate career, but Dunston's Pirate career only lasted 18 games. Think about this for a second: one of the hands-down most memorable Pirates of the last 20 years, and the player that I think is probably most associated (or maybe the fourth-most associated, behind a three-way Francisco Cordova/Ricardo Rincon/Mark Smith tie) with the Pirate team that made it later into the season as contenders than any other Pirate team of the last generation didn't even play 20 games for the Pirates.
Think about what that says about the Pirates and what being a Pirate fan has been like over the last 20 years.
There are only three seasons left on this list, but that doesn't mean that there's not work left to be done.
*The strike shortened 1994 and 1995. The '94 Pirates were on pace for 75 wins, but the '95 Pirates were terrible and only on pace for 65 wins.