The Pittsburgh Pirates yesterday concluded, with another loss, a season in which they accomplished the Triple Frown -- worst record (57-103), most games behind in their division (32), worst run differential (-277) -- not only in the National League, but indeed for the entirety of major league baseball.
After providing hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to greedy and inept Pirates owners, the public has a team that loses more frequently, has a lower payroll, and draws fewer fans than was the case in Three Rivers Stadium -- and yet is profitable, with no incentive to improve its performance on the field.
The losers who promoted the stadium giveaway promoted economic development as a reason to subsidize the baseball club. At least five storefronts from failed restaurants (two of the restaurants were publicly subsidized, too) are shuttered within one block of PNC Park, however, including the location closest to the ballyard's entrance (that one was closed throughout this entire season). One of the non-subsidized restaurant victims of redevelopment had operated successfully for decades before the URA, the Sports and Exhibition Authority and Mayor Tom Murphy offered to help.
Like the city the represent, the once-proud Pirates have become a bankrupt -- morally and competitively, in the Pirates' case; financially, in the case of InsolvenCity -- and a laughingstock. The principal difference is that the National League publishes standings, attenuating fans' delusions of adequacy with respect to the Pirates.