Sunday, February 6, 2011

City of Champions

GW was reading Dejan Kocacevic's piece in the Post Gazette today about championships, MVPs, and all the glory of Pittsburgh sports in the past 40 years.

GW is 61 (no, that's not in dog years!) and has raised his mug for six Steeler Super Bowl wins (and hopefully seven by tonight), three Stanley Cup championships for the Pens, Pitt's college football crown, and three World Series winning Bucco teams.

In fact, Pittsburgh first became known as the "City of Champions" when the Pirates, Pitt Panthers, and Steelers took home trophies in the seventies.

Thinking back, they all had one thing in common - the titles all came on the heels of some truly miserable stretches of losses.

Pitt in the Dave Hart/Carl DePasqua era was thinking about deemphasizing football, until Johnny Majors and the Hawk came along. The Steeler's Chuck Noll went 1-13 in 1969, his first season. The Penguins had to be terrible twice, once to draft Mario Lemieux and later to select Sidney Crosby. As recently as 2005, they had finished last for three straight seasons, followed by a lockout. They were an inch away from moving a couple of times.

And the Bucs? They rallied from their dark days of being the "Rickey-dinks" in the fifties to humble the mighty Yankees, and stayed fairly strong until the nineties.

The moral: what the Pirates are attempting to do, making chicken salad out of chicken feathers, is no sure thing. But it has been done by every team in this City. They eventually blend together the right recipe of talent, management and luck to break the losing mold.

So don't give up hope yet. As you watch the Steelers climb the stairway to seven, remember that they too were accused of being cheap and putting out their "Same old Steelers" team year after year by the fans and media. Look where they're at now.

They're at the heights the Pirates want to reach again. And if local sports history teaches us anything, it's that they'll eventually get there.

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