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For 17 years, they've been a bunch of losers

We knew this day was coming.

It was guaranteed when general manager Neal Huntington began dismantling the team earlier this summer.

The Pirates' streak of consecutive losing seasons reached 17 on Monday, a record in all of sports. It was fitting that it happened on Labor Day, since it has been a labor to watch this team for most of that span.

The Pirates have had such a storied past, with World Series championships, great players like Roberto Clemente and Willie Stargell, and great moments.

This one, isn't worth remembering.

Many of the players weren't bothered by the streak. You can't blame them. They weren't there for all 17 years.

There's been plenty of mistakes through the years, including draft picks, trades and free-agent signings. My favorite was Derek "Operation Shutdown" Bell. But there were others. Too many others.

Perhaps the most disturbing problem is a generation of fans in the area have been lost. A high school senior today doesn't know what it is like to root for a team that had a winning record.

Do you think it's easier for someone to root for the Pirates over the Steelers or Penguins? Or how about the Pirates over the Pitt Panthers -- football or basketball?

That much losing can't win over a population. You need a moment to rally around a team to be hooked for life. For me, I've seen a World Series championship. For my sons, they're not hooked.

And I can't blame them.

Our only hope is that Huntington and his scouts know what they're doing.

It's the only thing we can cling to. And we can hope that the streak doesn't reach 20 years.

At least football season starts Thursday.

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