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EXCERPT | May 4, 1992
The retooled Pirates again overpowered the NL East
After two straight trips to the playoffs, the Pirates endured a major shakeup before the '92 season. But even without such former stars as Bobby Bonilla, Pittsburgh kept right on winning. Steve Rushin reported for SI.
You've heard of the Mudville Nine? The Pittsburgh Pirates are the Vaudeville Nine. Yes, we have no Bonilla, they'll tell you. Pirates prospects aren't merely sent to Triple A, they're shuffled off to Buffalo. Who's in first? The Pirates, who are so far out front in the National League East that it's hard to tell What's in second. I Don't Know? Third place.
The Pirates, two-time defending division champions, have the best record in baseball: 14--4 through Sunday. They've been so dominant of late that even after losing 5--4 to the Cubs on Sunday in Chicago, the manual-scoreboard operator at Wrigley Field reflexively recorded a 5--4 Pirates victory. The error remained there long after the players and spectators had departed.
At first blush these Pirates look like the same guys who won the East last season by 14 games. The early 4½-game gap between them and the second-place New York Mets at week's end looked so large you could have driven Cecil Fielder through it. Pittsburgh has already had a nine-game winning streak this season, equal to its longest run of a year ago. Leftfielder Barry Bonds continues to go long, like an Oscar acceptance speech, seemingly every time he steps to the plate. Pitchers Doug Drabek (3--1), Randy Tomlin (4--0) and Zane Smith (3--1) are racking up W's like unlucky Scrabble competitors.
The Bucs won another division title but fell for the third year in a row in the NLCS. They haven't returned to the postseason since.
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Bowl of Chilly
SI.com's Don Banks mulls the idea of the Super Bowl coming to New York
Start spreading the news, it's gonna be cold. There's no way around it. But it's not really the hard-core fans at the Super Bowl the league is worried about, because roughly half of the NFL's 32 teams play outdoors in some cold conditions for a good bit of the season and have fans who know how to stay warm. Rather, it's the fat-cat, big-money corporate element that has made the Super Bowl its own private event in the past two decades. So how will it react to sitting in the elements for four to five hours?
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Online Cover Gallery
Pirates of Pennants
Dick Groat, the Pirates' undersized shortstop, hit .325, won the NL MVP award and helped lead Pittsburgh to a seven-game victory over the Yankees in the World Series.
Roberto Clemente led the NL with a .357 average but couldn't keep the Bucs from a sixth-place finish. He would have to wait three years to reach his first postseason since '60.
Willie Stargell led the NL with 48 home runs (and 154 strikeouts) as the Pirates rolled to their first World Series championship in 11 seasons.
Rajon Rondo NBA Playoffs
Lookin At Lucky Preakness
Jonathan Toews NHL Playoffs
Photograph by JOHN IACONO
BIG STICK Bonds, in his final season in Pittsburgh, hit seven homers in the first 18 games. He finished the year with 34 and won his second MVP award.
JOHN G. ZIMMERMAN
WALTER IOOSS JR.
DAMIEN STROHMEYER (WARNER)
LOU CAPOZZOLA (TOEWS)
BILL FRAKES (PREAKNESS)
BOB ROSATO (RONDO)
GREG NELSON (FREDETTE)
SIMON BRUTY (GIRARDI)
JIM O'CONNOR/US PRESSWIRE (MARTINEK)