The Pittsburgh Pirates have been one of the worst franchises in all of American sports for the last 30 years. The franchise has only made one true playoff appearance since 1993 and lost in two wild-card games as well. That has them last among any American sports franchise for playoff appearances since then among all teams that have been in action all of those years.
The once-proud franchise has won the World Series five times and the pennant nine times. But, owner Bob Nuttig, along with strip-mining newspapers across the country, has taken the path of least resistance towards making a profit, keeping payroll as low as possible most years. In fact, the largest free agent contract the Pittsburgh Pirates have ever signed is just a 3-year, $39 million contract given to Francisco Liriano. The New York Mets have two pitchers making more than that this season, Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer. It’s not rocket science to understand how the Pittsburgh Pirates struggled so much.
But, they have a pretty good general manager in former Red Sox executive Ben Cherington, and a good young core of players like KeBryan Hayes, O’Neill Cruz, and star center fielder Brian Reynolds.
And, early this year, that’s paid off. Cruz went down with an injury, but the team is playing good baseball. The Buccos are 13-7, tied for the fourth-best record in all of baseball. Yes, it’s wildly early, but the early returns are positive. And, there is young pitching waiting like Quinn Priester, Luiz Ortiz, and Mike Burrows, all three expected to make their debuts this year, they could make a playoff push.
In the meantime, they’re getting inspiration from the Pokémon signature character Pikachu. For the uninitiated, Pikachu is the constant companion of Pokémon protagonist Ash Ketchum as he he tries to be the best Pokémon master in the world. A stuffed animal of Pikachu is given to the member of the Pittsburgh Pirates that played the best as deemed by their teammates.
The Pirates give a Pikachu to their top performer every game 🥺
(via @justdelossantos) pic.twitter.com/F9t8W46Hfp
— Talkin’ Baseball (@TalkinBaseball_) April 21, 2023
It’s giving serious rally monkey vibes, the rallying cry of the 2002 World Series Champions Anaheim Angels. Hey, if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.