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Over the last 25 years there have been many teams within the “Big Three” sports that have been unsuccessful.  Football, Basketball, and Baseball have their fair share of unproductive teams.  From all the research done for this project it is clear that the worse team in the last 25 years is the Pittsburgh Pirates.  To make a claim like this a lot of effort was put forth in finding information dealing with certain criteria.  The criteria that it is based on are attendance, revenues, winning percentage, playoff appearances/champion-ships, ownership, and the team’s public image.  These individual areas have lead to the distinction of the worse team in the past 25 years.
            One of the biggest areas that team’s pride themselves on is attendance.  In the last 25 years attendance has been a major problem for the Pittsburgh Pirates.  In 1980 the Pittsburgh Pirates called Three Rivers Stadium there home, the maximum capacity for a baseball game was 47,971 people.  The best average game attendance for Pirates home game was 25,498 fans in 1991.  The worse average game attendance for home games was 9,142 fans in 1985.  The best season average came in 1991 when the Pirates attracted 2,065,302 fans that year.  This was the best ever in the 20 years from 1980-2000 at Three Rivers Stadium, Major League Baseballs season average was 2,058,014.  The Pittsburgh Pirates only beat the league average one other time before, which was in 1990.  They never once again beat the league average while at their old stadium.  The worst season average came in 1981 when the Pirates attracted 541,789 fans; the Major League total was 1,039,866.  In 2001 the Pirates moved to PNC Park, the total amount of people it can hold is 38,365.  In 2001 the Pirates had their best attendance; they average 30,834 fans a game.  Their worse came in 2003 when they averaged 20,983 a game.  The 2001 season also marked the best season average with 2,435,867 fans.  Major League Baseballs season average was 2,481,346 fans.  Their worse season average came in 2004 when the Pirates average 1,583,031 fans that year.  Major League Baseball averaged 2,512,690 fans.  In 2004 the Pittsburgh Pirate where the third worse team in the MLB in attendance amount, only Tampa Bay and Montreal were worse.  It is evident that over the past 25 years the Pittsburgh Pirates have suffered when it has come to selling ticket.  This is just one reason why they can be claimed as the worse team in the past 25 years (Baseball Almanac).
            Revenues are what make a team run.  In searching for the numbers the fact that the numbers might be written down is real but where to look for them is not.  The only hardcore evidence that has been found was the revenue from 1996-2005, which is still a good span of almost 10 years.  The Pirates did very well when it came to revenues from the 1996-2005 seasons.  What does not make sense is that the team can do so well with revenues but yet do so poorly when it comes to winning games.  If there revenues are so good then they should be able to go out and find decent players to sign?  The following chart points out how much money was made from 1996-2005 (Pirates Ownership Must Go).
            As you can see from the chart the Pittsburgh Pirates have had success over the last ten years with making money.  The team took a hit this past season with only brining in an estimated $79.1 million instead of the usual $100 million plus.  To anyone looking at this chart they would claim it a success but the repercussions do not equal out.  One can imagine that the revenue for the Pirates was high during the early 1990’s do to their playoff runs.  The 1980’s though are probably just like they are now doing to their production in the win column.  What is the puzzling piece at the moment is that a team can bring in a profit and yet are not able to go out and buy players.  The winning percentage should be higher because of the money made over the last few years especially (Pirates Ownership Must Go).
Winning percents are a decent way of examining how well an organization is, but it should not be based always on that.  From 1980-2000 the Pirates have had 7 season with an above .500 record, their last winning season was in 1992.  That was also the last season they made the playoffs. Their best winning percent was in 1991 with a .605 season average; their worse was in 1985 with a .354 season average.  The chart below shows the actual winning percentage from 1980-2005 (
During the 1980’s the Pirates winning percent was .469.  They finished in the basement of their division four times.  They finished in the middle of the division three times.  They finished in the top of their division two times.  During the 1990’s their winning percent was .496.  They finished in the basement of their division four times.  They finished in the middle of the division two times.  They finished in the top of their division four times.  During the last five years their winning percent has been .516.  They finished in the basement of their division three times.  They finished in the middle of the division two times.  They have yet to finish in the top of their division.  In the past 25 years the Pittsburgh Pirates have only had a .490 winning percentage.  It is true that winning percentage should not be weighed heavily but not having a .500 winning percentage over the past 25 years means that there are problems within the system.  This is just another reason why the Pittsburgh Pirates are considered the worse professional franchise in the “Big Three” sports (
            “Playoffs!  Don't talk about playoffs! Are you kidding me? Playoffs? I'm just hoping we can win a game”.  That quote by Jim Mora is very funny but it seems to be the quote for the past 25 years in Pittsburgh Pirates history.  Every year all 32 major league baseball teams are supposed to be in contention for a run at the playoffs and the World Series.  Yet, there are a few teams that will not even let themselves get out of the gates, the Pirates are a perfect example of this.  Since the team changed its name to the Pirates in 1891 they have made the playoffs 14 times.  They also won nine Pennants and five World Series.  One interesting fact that was never known by many people is that the Pittsburgh Pirates have never won a wildcard series in the playoffs.  The last time the Pittsburgh won any important titles was in the 1990’s when they had there only good runs in the past 25 years.  The Pirates won the Divisional Championship three times during the 90’s, 1990, 1991, and 1992.  These three years were the last of the “glory” years of Pittsburgh.   During 1990, 1991 and 1992 the Pirates made appearances in the National League Championship series.  Unfortunately they could not pull off a series win against the Cincinnati Reds and twice against the Atlanta Braves.  The Pittsburgh Pirates never have gone back to the playoffs since or have been even close to going back.  The Pirates have had a minor history of winning World Series’, in their 119 year existence.  They have won five World Series, while appearing in seven of them.  Their World Series wins were in 1905, 1925, 1960, 1971, and 1979.  The two World Series that they lost were in 1903 and 1927. So, in 1979 the Pirates won their last World Series and have yet to come close to it since 1992.  It is very clear that the Pittsburgh Pirates have had some success in their history as a team, but in the last 25 years they have produced sub par results.  The Pirates have not made the playoffs since 1992, yet been close to making it.  This reason alone could be enough to prove that the Pirates are the worst team in the “Big Three”.  There has to be a reason why the team has not made the playoffs in the last 13 years and a lot of that rides on ownership (Pittsburgh Pirates).
            The Pittsburgh Pirates have had only five owners in their history of being in professional baseball.  Barney Dreyfuss, Bill Benswanger, John Galbreath, and the Pittsburgh Associates have all owned the Pirates.  As we speak Kevin McClatchy is the owner of the Pirates.  The Pirates owners have all left their mark on the world of baseball in some form (Pirates Owners).  Barney Dreyfuss was the first owner of the team; he created the first ever World Series and built the first steel-frame stadium (BARNEY DREYFUSS).  The second owner, Bill Benswanger, he contributed many achievements as well.  He started Sunday baseball games, Ladies and Kids Day, the first night game in 1940 and the first All-Star Game in 1944 (Dvorchak).  The third owner of the Pirates was John Galbreath.  He brought the Pirates three World Championships, known as the “Million Dollar Mark” since he signed Dave Parker in 1979.  His greatest accomplishment was signing the unforgettable Hall-of-Famer, Roberto Clemente (Wikipedia).  The fourth owners of the Pirates were called the Pittsburgh Associates.  They consisted of ten investors on behalf of six corporations, Carnegie Mellon University and three individual people. The faction incorporated the Aluminum Company of America, PNC Financial Corporation, USX Corporation, Mellon Bank Westinghouse Electric Company, and PPG Industries.  Eugene and Raymond Litman, John McConnell and Harvey M. Walken also were involved in this group.  All this group did was keeping the Pirates in Pittsburgh and lead them to the National League Championship two years in a row (Pirate Team History Part 4).  Finally in 1996 Kevin McClatchy took over as the owner.  In the almost ten years as owner McClatchy has done little to move the team forward.  There is revolt amongst many Pirate fans, and they want him to leave.  He is being questioned to what he is doing with the money made by the Pirates, especially since the Pirate’s loss $30 million over the first three years at PNC Park.  Another reason why fans want him to leave is for the fact that he will not go out and attract athletes and that he is always trading away unbelievable prospects.  The Pirates organization has been in trouble since McClatchy has taken over but there is still hope.  The one thing that can help the Pirates is there public imagine and one person is doing that (Kovacevic;McClatchy).
One person is raising the interest levels in the Pittsburgh Pirates, which has not been done in years.  This one person is gaining more respect everyday and the public image of the team moves in a better direction because of it.  Under Kevin McClatchy the Pirates are underdeveloped and falling apart every season.  Many fans have written negative comments to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette about the team.  Billy Price wrote to the Post-Gazette, “As a season-ticket holder, I'm feeling increasingly foolish for allowing McClatchy, the Nuttings and the rest of the owners to exploit my love of baseball for their own enrichment."  Ryan McCombie wrote the following, "It is crystal clear that the Pirates' ownership is just trying to stay above water until after the 2006 All-Star Game so they can sell the team and collect a huge profit."  These few quotes by Pirates fan make any believe that there is up rise in the city and that they are targeting McClatchy (PG News).  On the other side of the coin there are many people that have a positive view on the Pirates.  Maybe in Pittsburgh fans views is not that great but across the nation the Pirates are tied for eighth among the most popular baseball teams in the country.  There are some fans that have that same approach to the team in Pittsburgh (Reynolds).  Garrett Glaser "I believe that the Pirates are spending everything they can without raising prices on tickets, parking, etc.” Ted Schroeder “I actually support the more prudent approach taken by management.”  So the city seems split on the public image of the team (PG News).  The one man though that is helping their public image is the Pittsburgh native and multimillionaire, Mark Cuban.  His interest in the team alone has many fans talking about a championship in Pittsburgh if he buys the team.  It is very evident that the Pittsburgh Pirates needs some help when it comes to their public image.  As long as people like Mark Cuban help keep interest in the team the image might survive.  It is just sad seeing that it takes a multimillionaire to raise some interest (Meyer).
Is it clear yet that the Pittsburgh Pirates are by far the worst team in the “Big Three” in the last 25 years?  The attendance alone qualifies the team as one of the worse.  Since PNC Park has opened its doors the only season that has had a “good” sale in tickets was the first season there.  The Pirates have been there since 2001 and have only produced one season of sales; besides hurting the team this also hurts the teams’ public image.  Another reason to claim that the team is one of the worst is due to their revenues.  Not because there revenues are bad but because they are so well that they still have not produced a winning/playoff team in 13 years.  The teams winning percentage has also been a cause to say they are the worse in the past 25 years.  The Pirates over the last 25 years have had a .490 winning percentage.  For any major professional team to not even have a winning percent of over .500 in 25 years shows that there are some problems.  The team is also struggling in making the playoffs; the last time they were in was in 1992.  Not making the playoffs in 13 years does not help the Pirates chances of not being deemed the worst.  There last championship was in 1979 and the path they are following seems to be the same as the Red Sox, White Sox and Cubs.  The owners seemed to run the team well until Kevin McClatchy took over.  The way he has handled the team shows his run as owner has been horrible and that he has not helped the Pirates move away from the title of the worse team in the last 25 years.  The last thing that is not helping the Pirates is their public image.  The owner has not helped them in anyway; the team has not produced so they are not helping themselves.  Outside Pittsburgh the fans love the team but within the city it is a far more difficult situation.  So after all has been recorded and thought through it is clearly evident that the Pittsburgh Pirates have wont he title of the worse in the “Big Three” in the last 25 years.