City today is not of champions


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We are not even close to being Cleveland yet. Thank goodness for that. Did you know Cleveland hasn't had a significant sports championship parade since 1964? Pittsburgh has won 12 titles since then.

City of Champions, right?

Not so much lately.

Since the Steelers beat the Arizona Cardinals in Super Bowl XLIII, the Pitt men's basketball team lost to Villanova in the final seconds in the Round of 8 at the NCAA tournament and the Penguins hoisted the Stanley Cup in Detroit -- all in the first half of 2009 -- Pittsburgh has endured major sports disappointments, national embarrassments and one very painful near-miss. Here's hoping you can keep down your breakfast this morning as we re-live the misery.

Let's start with the Pirates. Yes, we must. The '09 team lost 99 games. No one was surprised. That laughable club set a professional sports record with its 17th consecutive losing season.

The '09 Pitt football team blew a chance to win the Big East and play in the Sugar Bowl when it lost at home to Cincinnati, 45-44. Pitt led, 31-10, late in the second quarter and couldn't handle an extra-point snap late in the game.

The '09 Steelers couldn't cover a kickoff, lost five consecutive games at midseason and failed to make the playoffs after a 6-2 start.

Penguins owners Ron Burkle and Mario Lemieux made an offer to buy the Pirates in January 2010. Pirates owner Bob Nutting, who turned it down, had said the previous August, "My family plans to own this franchise on a multigenerational level, and I look forward to my daughters being involved someday as well."

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was accused of rape in Milledgeville, Ga., in March 2010. No charges were filed, but Roethlisberger was suspended by the NFL for the first four games of the '10 season.

Steelers wide receiver Santonio Holmes was accused of assault in Orlando in March 2010, started tweeting like a fool and was traded to the New York Jets for a fifth-round draft choice.

The '10 Pitt basketball team lost as a No. 3 seed to Xavier in the second round of the NCAA tournament.

The '10 Penguins lost in seven games to the Montreal Canadiens in the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Their 5-2 loss in Game 7 was the final game at Mellon Arena.

Word broke in June 2010 that Pirates general manager Neal Huntington was given a contract extension after the '09 season, the same time that manager John Russell's contract option was picked up. Team president Frank Coonelly had spent months distorting the truth about the moves.

The '10 Pirates lost 105 games, prompting the firing of Russell.

The '10 Pitt football team lost at home to Miami (31-3) in front of hundreds of football alums and to rival West Virginia (35-10). Coach Dave Wannstedt was fired after the season.

Miami of Ohio coach Michael Haywood was hired as Pitt's football coach Dec. 16, 2010.

Haywood was fired by Pitt on Jan. 1, 2011, after being accused of domestic abuse.

Penguins star Sidney Crosby was hit in the head by the Washington Capitals' David Steckel during the Winter Classic on Jan. 1, 2011, and again four days later by the Tampa Bay Lightning's Victor Hedman. Crosby missed the rest of that season and the first 20 games of the 2011-12 season.

Pitt hired Tulsa coach Todd Graham as its football coach Jan. 10, 2011. "I am proud and honored to be your coach," Graham told Pitt fans.

The '10 Steelers lost to the Green Bay Packers, 31-25, in Super Bowl XLV. Three turnovers crushed the Steelers, including a fourth-quarter fumble by running back Rashard Mendenhall.

Penguins star Evgeni Malkin was lost for the '11 season after his right knee was injured against Buffalo on Feb. 4, 2011.

The '11 Pitt basketball team lost as a No. 1 seed to Butler, 71-70, in its second NCAA tournament game. Pitt's Gilbert Brown missed a free throw with 1.4 seconds left, and teammate Nasir Robinson was called for a foul with 0.8 seconds remaining, leading to Butler's winning point.

Sports Illustrated reported in March 2011 that the Pitt football team had more players with a criminal record the previous season than any other major college football program.

Penguins forward Matt Cooke was suspended for 10 games after his hit on the New York Rangers' Ryan McDonagh on March 20, 2011.

The '11 Penguins wasted a 3-1 series lead against the Lightning and lost in seven games in the first round of the playoffs.

Mendenhall became a national villain in May 2011 after his sympathetic tweets about Osama bin Laden.

The '11 Pirates, under new manager Clint Hurdle, were in first place July 25 with a 53-47 record but finished 19-43 to lose 90 games again. They lost to the Atlanta Braves, 4-3, on July 26 when home plate umpire Jerry Meals blew a call in the 19th inning.

The '11 Pitt football team went 6-6 during the regular season. Graham put most of the blame for the failures on quarterback Tino Sunseri, not his high-octane offense.

Graham skipped out on his Pitt contract 11 days after the regular season ended to take the job at Arizona State. "This is a dream come true for me ... It's such an honor for me to be sitting here," Graham told Arizona State fans.

The '11 Steelers went 12-4 but lost two games to rival Baltimore, including one at home Nov. 6 when the Ravens went 92 yards in the final 2 1/2 minutes to score the winning touchdown. The Steelers wound up in the wild-card round of the playoffs and were Tebowed by the Denver Broncos.

Crosby returned to play just eight games of the 2011-12 season before missing the next 40 with concussion-like symptoms and a neck injury.

News broke in February 2012 that Coonelly was arrested for drunken driving the previous December.

The '12 Pitt basketball team lost its first seven Big East games and didn't make the NCAA tournament for the first time in 11 years. It lost seven games at home after losing just 12 in the first nine years of the Petersen Events Center.

The '12 Penguins -- the heavy favorite to win the Stanley Cup -- lost in six games to the Philadelphia Flyers in the first round of the playoffs. General manager Ray Shero called it his "most frustrating and disappointing season."

The '12 Pirates took an 8-10 record and the worst offense in baseball into the weekend.

In conclusion:

We were due.

roncook


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