Party Like It’s 1992.

Only Marlon Byrd crossed the plate… and that’s all the Pirates needed.

Since I last wrote, I am pained to admit that I actually started to believe the Pittsburgh Pirates might not move from non-losers to winners. Despite their snapping the infamous 20-season losing streak with win #81, the old dear-god-it’s-all-falling-apart-now feelings started to creep back in. Four straight losses will do that to you, especially when three of those are part of a dominant sweep by the St. Louis Cardinals.

But now, September 9, 2013 is another date I get to remember.

I will remember 22-year-old rookie Gerrit Cole, making just his 16th career start, out-dueling Yu Darvish of the Texas Rangers. I will remember the recently-acquired Marlon Byrd breaking through in the 7th with a two-out double, and the next batter, big bull Pedro Alvarez, coming through with a double of his own to knock Byrd in for the game’s lone run. I will remember wrapping my arms around myself with two outs in the bottom of the 9th, trying not to barf when Adrian Beltre singled to left off Mark Melancon to put the tying run on base. And most of all, I will remember the cheers and high fives from my colleagues as the next batter, A.J. Pierzynski, grounded out fittingly to Neil Walker, the Pittsburgh Kid, to end the game and finally, finally make the Pirates winners again.

Click here to watch the highlights of the Pirates’ 1-0 victory over the Texas Rangers for win #82.

A Bunch of Non-Losers.

Something I wasn’t sure I was ever going to see magically materialized in front of me yesterday evening – the Pittsburgh Pirates, my hometown and no-matter-what-happens-will-always-be-my-favorite baseball team, won their 81st game of the season, beating the Milwaukee Brewers (IN MILWAUKEE), 4-3. Why is this significant? Because that one Tuesday night victory snapped 20 consecutive losing seasons (and less importantly, gave the Pirates their fourth consecutive victory IN Milwaukee for the first time since 2002 – woof).

Oh happy day.

We can’t call it a winning season yet – #81 guarantees a .500 season, and a tie isn’t a win. But it is a non-losing season for the first time since 1992. I was a small nugget version of myself back then, learning how to throw fireballs in the backyard with my dad. I am an adult (kind of) now, watching baseball professionally, and I got to both see and help manage the production of last night’s highlights (for I got to slap a Zoltan high-five with my Pirates-fan compatriot at work as Travis Snider crossed home plate after his go-ahead pinch-hit homer in the top of the ninth, and again when Mark “The Shark” Melancon K’d Khris Davis to end it… end the game and end the most notorious losing streak in professional sports.

Here are the official highlights. Can’t get enough of Greg Brown. And here’s Travis Snider’s beautiful bomb.

Finding a Way.

In just this week, college football was blown away by the debut of quarterback Jameis Winston, Roger Federer shocked the world with his Labor Day loss at the US Open, and baseball’s frontrunners jockey for playoff position daily, but possibly the most astounding sports moment in decades happened outside of all these mainstream channels yesterday afternoon.

At approximately 2 PM on Monday, September 2, 2013, endurance swimmer Diana Nyad (64) arrived – via the ocean – on a Key West beach, becoming the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without a protective cage (sharks!). Her fifth attempt at the treacherous, 100-plus mile journey took nearly 53 hours.


When she arrived on the beach, visibly exhausted and sunburned with saltwater-swollen lips, Nyad stopped to address the crowd of supporters, telling them, “I have three messages. One is, we should never, ever give up. Two is, you’re never too old to chase your dream. Three is, it looks like a solitary sport, but it is a team.”

Nyad first attempted the feat in 1978 and jumped into Havana’s waters three more times between 2011 and 2012 before Monday’s success. Nyad’s fourth attempt was thwarted by box jellyfish stings, which led to her wearing a customized mask for various legs of this weekend’s journey.

As a woman, sports producer, sports fan, American and human, I am utterly blown away by Diana Nyad’s perseverance and performance. She embodies so much of what we look for when we follow athletes and the sports in which they participate. Triumph of the body intertwined with triumph of spirit is ultimately what I fell in love with when I became an athlete, and it is still what captivates me both personally and professionally every time I see, hear, or read about someone pushing the boundaries of human minds and bodies.