Pirates the worst ever? Not yet

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pirates_090903.jpgWith three more losses, the Pittsburgh Pirates will be guaranteed their 17th consecutive losing season, something no other major American professional sports team has been inept enough to pull off.

Take a moment to consider the enormity of that feat. There are kids just about out of high school who have NEVER seen the Pirates finish even 81-81, let alone threaten to win a championship. The last time the Pirates had a winning season …

Hannah Montana was about to enter the world.
— It was Iraq war, not wars.
— Jay Leno replaced Johnny Carson as host of the Tonight Show.
— Madonna turned 34, which is how old A-Rod is now.

Impressive, indeed.

So are the Pirates the worst U.S. sports franchise ever? It’s tempting to say so, but 17 years is a long time, and our memories are short. The Pirates used to be proud, used to be talented.

They’ve got five championships and nine pennants on their resume, and of their 128 seasons, 69 of them have been winning campaigns.

So they’ve been terrible in recent years, and their current team isn’t worthy of cleaning the bathrooms in that beautiful stadium. But worst ever? Afraid not. Not even the worst in baseball history.

Pick on the Astros, or the Mariners or the Rangers or the Brewers. But lay off the Pirates. At least for now.

Of course, there’s still time.

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If you Twitter, and can appreciate a happy Pirates story, follow me at @Bharks.

Report: The White Sox and Diamondbacks are in on Manny Machado

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Buster Olney of ESPN reports that the White Sox and Diamondbacks have emerged as two of the strongest contenders for Orioles third baseman Manny Machado. It seems like a foregone conclusion that Baltimore will deal their superstar infielder this winter, but nothing appears imminent just yet. While both the White Sox and D-backs have reportedly made serious offers, Orioles owner Peter Angelos is wary of any non-contending team that might be incentivized to flip Machado to the rival Yankees next season.

The White Sox, for their part, have assured the Orioles that they view Machado more as a solid one-year rental than the new face of their franchise, with no immediate plans to deal him elsewhere. Given their current rebuilding status and the unlikelihood that they would contend in 2018, it makes their offer a bit of a head-scratcher — and, as USA Today Sports’ Bob Nightengale points out, they’ve been reluctant to put any top-5 prospects on the table in preliminary negotiations.

The Diamondbacks, on the other hand, are far better positioned to enter the postseason in 2018, though that doesn’t automatically make them the perfect landing spot for Machado. They already have Jake Lamb stationed at third base, and while it’s not inconceivable that they could jettison the Ketel Marte/Chris Owings/Nick Ahmed shortstop platoon for someone of Machado’s talent, his $17 million salary appears to be more than the D-backs are currently capable of absorbing.

The White Sox and D-backs may have exhibited the most interest in Machado so far, but they’re hardly the only contenders here. MASN Sports’ Roch Kubatko maintains that the Cardinals and Yankees remain in discussions for the 25-year-old, with Cardinals’ RHP Jordan Hicks and catcher Carson Kelly drawing interest, as well as Yankees’ top prospect Gleyber Torres. Any deal involving the Yankees still feels like a long shot, however; as Craig mentioned on Wednesday, it makes sense that the club wouldn’t want to see their star player hanging around their division rivals in 2018, and the Yankees should be well prepared to make a run at him in free agency next winter.