Dear Pirates fans: We feel your pain

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Derrek Lee Pirates

Dear Pittsburgh,

We feel your pain. We fans in Baltimore know a little something about the bottom dropping out from below our team during the second half of the season when almost anything seemed possible prior to the All-Star break. A winning record? The wild card? Winning the division? Surely you've dared to daydream against even your strongest self-protective instincts.

Your Pirates dropped below .500 on Wednesday for the first time since June 21, when they beat our beloved Orioles 9-3. Our team helped yours get back to .500 by losing two of three at PNC park during that series, and the Pirates had been rolling ever since. But after getting swept by the 47-65 Cubs at home this week, that must seem like a long time ago in a place far away.

It's starting to look like Cinderella may have stopped off for a cold one-too-many at Fat Heads on the way to the post-season ball. Trust me when I say we know how that goes in Baltimore. We call it 2005.

So far, the 2011 Pirates have been in first place for a total of seven days. The Orioles spent 69 glorious days atop the division in 2005. Those totals include off days, because while our teams may take days off from playing, we fans never really take days off from basking in the reflected glory of their success, however temporary.

Granted, our teams reached their respective peaks of early season glory in different ways - yours as a tortoise, ours as a hare. The slow-and-steady Buccos have posted three four-game win streaks, most recently from June 21 to June 25. The rapid Birds had an eight-game streak from April 22 to May 1.

The Pirates ultimately built a division lead of a half-game; our Orioles led the division by 4.5 games.

The Pirates entered the All-Star break with a 47-43 record, one game off the pace. The 2005 Orioles were 47-40, two games back.

Which brings us to now.

The Pirates fell below .500 this week; the Orioles got there sooner, on July 30 to be specific. The Birds recovered to reach .500 again on Aug. 17, 2005, but they ultimately finished 74-88. Nine-game losing streaks (Sept. 18-Sept. 26) will do that to a team. Oh, and there was also this.

The rest of the Pirates' story remains to be told.

Come September, we can go back to rooting for winning teams and hating each other again. Until then, best of luck the rest of the way. At least you have something left to root for.

-34-

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