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1992 Pittsburgh Pirates

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[edit] 1992 Pittsburgh Pirates / Franchise: Pittsburgh Pirates / BR Team Page

Record: 96-66, Finished 1st in NL Eastern Division (1992 NL)

Managed by Jim Leyland

Coaches: Terry Collins, Rich Donnelly, Milt May, Ray Miller and Tommy Sandt

Ballpark: Three Rivers Stadium

[edit] History, Comments, Contributions

No image in Pirates history makes Bucco fans shake their fist and gnash their teeth like that of Sid Bream - mustachioed, plodding Sid Bream - somehow beating the throw home to score on Francisco Cabrera's single in the seventh game of the 1992 NLCS. His game-winning slide (exhilarating to Braves fans, stupefying to Bucco supporters) ended a chapter in Pirates history, one of great success tempered with maddening playoff frustration.

A lot of people thought the 1992 Pirates wouldn't even make the playoffs. The strong 1991 team had been weakened by the loss of slugger Bobby Bonilla to free agency and 20-game winner John Smiley to a trade done for financial reasons. On July 29th, the Pirates and the Montreal Expos stood tied atop the NL East with identical 53-48 records. But the next day the Pirates began an 11-game winning streak highlighted by four extra-inning victories, the last of them a 4-2, 16-inning win over the Mets. The Expos hung tough through mid-September but the Pirates clinched the division with a Sunday afternoon victory on September 27th, another 4-2 beating of the Mets.

The Bucs did it with a virtual two-man offense consisting of Andy Van Slyke (.324, with league-leading 199 hits and 45 doubles) and the incomparable Barry Bonds, who won his second NL MVP award in three years. Bonds was not yet the uber-star he would be for San Francisco but pitchers were plenty scared of him already, walking him a league-leading 127 times. He still managed to hit .311 with 34 HR and 103 RBI - excellent stats for 1992, which was incidentally the last year before Coors Field, expansion, and steroids began inflating baseball's offensive numbers.

In the playoffs, both players performed better than they had the year before, with Bonds finally hitting a home run (in game 6, a 13-4 Pirates triumph). But the end result was the same - a loss to the Braves. Starting pitcher Doug Drabek took a 2-0 lead into the ninth inning of game 7 but the Braves loaded the bases with nobody out. Reliever Stan Belinda managed to get two outs with just one run scoring but then gave up the killer two-RBI single to the unknown bench-player Cabrera. Ironically, the ball was hit to Bonds, whose throw home pulled catcher Mike LaValliere off the plate just enough for Bream to slide in safely.

The play sealed Bonds' reputation as a poor playoff performer - a reputation that would last until his pummeling of Anaheim Angels pitching in the 2002 World Series.

The game also marked the end of Bonds' career as a Pirate, and the start of the extended run of losing seasons that ended in 2013. The 20 consecutive losing seasons would be a record for major North American professional sports.

[edit] Awards and Honors


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NL Championship Series (4-3) Braves over Pirates

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