Gone from Pittsburgh, ex-Bucs see hope

Ex-Bucs on Mariners feel for Pirates

ANAHEIM -- A Major League record set more than 2,000 miles away hit home for two Mariners.

The Pirates were assured of their 17th consecutive losing season last Sunday. Seattle shortstop Jack Wilson and starting pitcher Ian Snell could feel the pain being endured throughout the Steel City.

"I feel for the fans and the players," said Snell, like Wilson, a Pirate earlier this season. "There are not that many players there who have been through all that many of the losing seasons, but a lot of the fans there have gone through it and it's tough. There are a lot of die-hard fans there and they deserve better than they've been getting."

Wilson knows that about as well as anyone.

"It's a shame because Pittsburgh is such a great sports city," he said. "This was my ninth season with them, a little over half the streak, and it is what it is. When I was there, it just seemed like we were rebuilding every year."

The streak already was well underway when Wilson became the Pirates' starting shortstop in 2001. The Bucs lost 100 games that season, but three years later, the sure-handed defender from California was selected to the National League All-Star team and ended the season with a career-best 201 hits.

Wilson stuck around for almost five more years, but his stay in Pittsburgh ended on July 31, when he and Snell were traded to the Mariners.

Snell, drafted and developed by the Bucs starting in 2000, predicted better days ahead for the team that has lost at least 90 games in each of the past four seasons, citing a starting rotation that could become rock-solid quickly and budding stars in center fielder Andrew McCutchen and right-handed starter Daniel McCutchen.

"There are a great group of guys there and there's a lot of talent in the Minor Leagues, too," Snell said. "I think they are only going to get better as time goes on and I really believe they will open some eyes and surprise some people next year."

The biggest obstacle, Snell said, is overcoming a losing attitude.

"When you have a mind-set that you're bad, you'll be bad," he said. "You have to become positive and stay positive. I know that's difficult when you are losing so often, but it has to be done to turn things around."

The Pirates' streak not only is the longest of its kind in MLB history, but they are the only North American professional sports franchise to ever endure that many consecutive losing years.

Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.