Pirates suddenly relevant in NL Central

After 18 straight sub.-500 seasons, surging Bucs showing signs they're for real in '11

Originally Published: July 19, 2011
By Jerry Crasnick | ESPN.com

Joel Hanrahan was 12 years old in the summer of 1993 and laying waste to his Iowa Little League when the Pittsburgh Pirates began their dispiriting run of 18 straight sub.-500 seasons. The last time Pittsburgh fielded a winning team, Cal Ripken Jr. was in dogged pursuit of Lou Gehrig, the "tainted supplement" excuse had yet to be invented and Pirates outfielder Al Martin's media guide biography described him as a monogamous guy with a USC football pedigree.

As Boston's 2004 Idiots can attest, ...

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