Then for some reason, someone somewhere reminded these boys that they still were, in fact, the Pittsburgh Pirates, and like a drunk cheerleader on prom night, they fell flat on their back.
How historic is this collapse? Well, Jayson Stark did the heavy lifting at ESPN trying to find another team in the modern era to be 16 games over after 108 games only to finish the season under .500. What'd he find?
We spent way too much time Monday morning studying this depressing topic. We found more than 500 teams through the years that were 16 games over .500 or more after 108 games. And you know what they all had in common?
Not one of them wound up with more losses than wins.
Oh my, that's not good. as if Pittsburgh hasn't been through enough already with having 19 consecutive losing seasons, they are now faced with the possibility of being the first team to go from being a lock to have a winning season, to reinforcing why they have been one of baseball's laughing stocks.
The sort of good news is, we did find two teams that finished at .500 on the nose, at least:
• There was Herman Franks' infamous 1977 Chicago Cubs. That team was 25 games over .500 at one point, was still 18 over (63-45) after 108 games and finished at 81-81, completing their legendary Cubbie-esque plunge from first place, and an 8½-game lead, to fourth place, 20 games south of first place.
• And then there was Buck Rodgers' 1989 Expos. That club was also 63-45 through 108 games, and also staggered home to finish 81-81, with the help of an attractive 5-15 kaboom in its final 20 games.Yeah sort of good news, like finding out; "Hey, I've got seven dollars in the bank. Drinks are on me."
For posterity purposes, there was one team that Elias Sports Bureau found that finished the season after being 16 games over .500 after 108 games, the 1886 Louisville Cardinals. So, it's been 126 years since this has happened.
Maybe, if you guys got your act together in steel town, Vida Blue wouldn't have so much trouble saying your team's name. That, and there's that whole not being laughed at by every fan of every other team not named the Houston Astros.