Diary of a long suffering Pirates fan: If you think the MLB team is bad, you should see the AAA club.

A Pirates AAA affiliate has not won a league championship since 1959

Philadelphia Phillies v Pittsburgh Pirates
Philadelphia Phillies v Pittsburgh Pirates / Justin K. Aller/GettyImages
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2017:  Indianapolis Indians lose in the first round of the playoffs.

2015:  Indianapolis Indians lose the International League championship to Columbus.

2013:  Indianapolis Indians lose in the first round of the playoffs

2012:  Indianapolis Indians lose in the first round of the playoffs

2003:  Nashville Sounds lose championship to Sacramento

1992:  Buffalo Bisons lose American Association championship to Oklahoma

1991:  Buffalo Bisons lose American Association championship to Denver

1985:  Hawaii Islanders lose in the first round of the playoffs

1984:  Hawaii Islanders lose the Pacific Coast League championship to Edmonton

1975:  Charleston Charlies lose in the first round of the playoffs

1973:  Charleston Charlies lose the International League championship to Pawtucket

1972:  Charleston Charlies lose in the first round of the playoffs

1971:  Charleston Charlies lose in the first round of the playoffs

1970:  Columbus Jets lose International League championship to Syracuse

1969:  Columbus Jets lose International League championship to Syracuse

1968:  Columbus Jets lose International League championship to Jacksonville

1967:  Columbus Jets lose International League championship to Toledo

1966:  Columbus Jets lose in the first round of the playoffs.

1965:  Columbus Jets lose International League championship to Toronto.

1961:  Columbus Jets lose in the first round of the playoffs.

Yes, you read that correctly.  In a six-year period (1965 to 1970), the Columbus Jets lost the International League championship five times, including four in a row from 1966 to 1970.  They were the minor league equivalent of the NFL’s Buffalo Bills, who lost four consecutive Super Bowls from 1990 to 1993. 

Of course, those of us around to enjoy Pirates baseball in the 70’s, were treated to the greatest decade in Pirates history. 

And those Pirates teams in the 70’s were built from those Columbus Jets and Charleston Charlies teams.  So one cannot be too hard on them for not winning minor league championships.  Whatever they did wrong in those minor league playoffs, they clearly got it right in 1971 and 1979.

But since those 1960s and early 1970s minor league teams, there has been no consistently great play from the Pirates AAA squads.  There have been playoff appearances, but no sustained level of excellence.  While the 2012 and 2013 Indianapolis Indians did not win a championship, they did make the playoffs and they were arguably the last teams to be consistently good for a longer than a one year stretch.  And that success arguably ushered in/previewed the success that the MLB Club had from 2013 to 2015.

So Indianapolis will try again in 2024 to break the AAA championship drought.  And their success or non-success may be predictive of how the Pirates will fare in the coming years. 

So keep an eye on those Indianapolis Indians.  The future fate of the Pirates may rest on how they perform.