The Pittsburgh Pirates are putting the finishing touches on what could be their best season in 20 years and also the worst season in franchise history.
Sixteen games over .500 less than two months ago and playing before sellout crowds, the Pirates have set a new North American professional sports record for losing seasons, demoralizing an entire city. Their 77 wins are the most this century for the team and the Pirates could win more than they have in a single season since 1992, yet they have also secured the biggest collapse in the 143-year history of Major League Baseball.
"This has been the most excitingly humiliating season ever," said outfielder Andrew McCutchen. "I'm so proud of us? I'm not sure if I'm being sarcastic right now. Mainly I just want to cry. Tears of joy. And disappointment."
Pirates owner Bob Nutting says it has been a season of high and low.
"There are some guys who deserve big contract extensions based on the numbers they've put up this year," he said. "On the other hand, I kind of want to fire everyone, cut all the players and blow up the stadium."
McCutchen had an insurmountable .374 batting average in mid-July and was also in the Triple Crown discussion. He will now finish a distant second to Buster Posey for the batting crown and is well off the home run and RBI lead.
"if you told me what my final numbers would be at the beginning of the season, I would have happily taken them," he said. "Ah, happiness. I can remember what that was like. Wait. No, I can't. I wish I was dead."
Pirates general manager Neil Huntington says it is his job to improve the team for 2013.
"I think we showed that we have a young core here that is very close to being a legit contender," he said. "Although I don't know why any player of sound mind would choose to sign here."