With their 39th win of the season, and the 10,000th win in "Pittsburgh's" (more on that later) major league history, the 10,000 win contest came to a close last night, not, in the words of poet T.S. Eliott, with a bang but a whimper, and the winner was Don Lancaster. The contest wasn't even close.
Of the 21 entries in the contest, Don's was the most optimistic. He said that win number 30 would come in game number 65, and last night's game was number 65 for the Pirates this season. Don hit it right on the nose! Don's performance was like a Jason Grilli eight pitch save - quick, efficient, and deadly to the opposition.
Don's prize "of small monetary value" went out to him in today's mail. Nothing great, but something that might come in handy along Rt. 22 as Don commutes to and from PNC Park. He also receives the mythical "Jim Haller Trophy", named in honor of the guy who first pointed out that win number 10,000 would come sometime in 2013.
Don won this contest in the manner of Secretariat at the 1973 Belmont Stakes. The next closest entrant was Mike Jones who called for this win in game number 76. Most people, twelve of the twenty-one entrants, predicted that the win would come in the 80th to 83rd game range. As Pirates fans, I guess we should all be happy that Don was correct in his prediction.
We never even got to the tie-breakers, but just for kicks and giggles, let's see how they would have played out based on last night's game:
First TB: Winning Pitcher was Francisco Liriano. Only one entrant, Dave Jones, had Liriano. Don's pick was Jared Hughes.
Second TB: Starling Marte got the first Pirate hit of the game. Ten entrants, including Don, had Marte on this one.
Third TB: Alex Presley got the first Pirate home run of the game. No one had Alex on this one. Don's choice was Russell Martin.
Fourth TB: There were 18 total Pirates hits in the game. The closest to this figure was eleven (11) hits, which was predicted by five entrants, including Don.
There was an interesting article in the Post-Gazette over the weekend as to why the Pirates themselves are not recognizing this as the 10,000th win in their history. It seems that these 10,000 wins include 236 wins accumulated between 1882 and 1886 when the Pittsburgh Alleghenies were members of the American Association. Major League Baseball and most baseball historians recognize the American Association as a "major league", hence their inclusion in the totals for "Pittsburgh" as shown on www.baseball-reference.com and MLB stats.
The Pirates themselves do not include the stats and totals from Pittsburgh's five years in the AA. They only consider the records from 1887, the year the Alleghenies, soon to be the Pirates, entered the National League. No big deal, and I can see the Pirates viewpoint in this regard.
What it means, I suppose, is that we will have to conduct yet another 10,000th Win Contest for when the Pirates accumulate their 236th win starting from today. I am figuring this should come sometime late in the 2015 or early in the 2016 season.