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Top 10 Pittsburgh Sports Figures That Have Given Me False Hope For The Future

Updated: Sep 25, 2023

Being a fan of Pittsburgh sports my entire life, I've had it pretty good. I've witnessed 3 Stanley Cups, 2 Super Bowls, and the Pirates finally making it back to the postseason. Although I've witnessed all this success in sports, it doesn't mean I haven't had my hopes and dreams tossed out the windah. So, here's a list of the top 10 individuals who have given me false hope for a happy future:

10. Freddy Sanchez

Growing up going to PNC park and getting seats in the 1st baseline for cheap gave me a lot of reason to believe in Freddy Sanchez. The man was flat out consistent both in the field and at bat. Most of you may not remember, but he beat out one of the best hitters ever, Miguel Cabrera, for the batting title in 2006 and he started out that season as a bench player.

Inevitably, Sanchez got too big for Bobby Nutting’s pocket and was traded to the San Francisco Giants in 2009. Ultimately, this taught me at a young age that good people can’t have nice things, but I’m glad Freddy got the World Series ring he rightfully deserved.

9. Mason Rudolph

When the Steelers drafted Mason and his favorite receiver from Oklahoma State, I thought the 'Lers were set up to have the best wideout/QB duo for the next 10 years. Unfortunately, Mason had his chance to show off his skills and chemistry with his college teammate last season and just couldn’t deliver. Not to mention, he made a fool of himself on the field many times.

To be clear, I don’t think he said IT, but he made himself look like an absolute, grade A stooge that infamous night in Cleveland, Ohio. If this is the man leading the Steelers into the future, then we may have to wait until the Steelers draft another QB from the Sooner State to replace him.

8. Lynn Swann

Before you throw this list out the window for Lynn Swann being included just hear me out! In 2011, Swann became joint owner of an Arena Football League expansion franchise in Pittsburgh. The Pittsburgh Power games became my new cheap sporting event to attend since the Pirates were starting to gain some momentum.

These games were some of the most electric sporting events in the city...when the team won. The team was lackluster at best, but in 2014, they went a surprising 15-3 and unfortunately lost in the semifinals. Just when the team was ready to takeoff, Lynn Swann pulled the plug on the Power.

This again assured me that good people can’t have nice things and if I wanted to watch football live in Pittsburgh I’d either have to pay a midrange price for Pitt tickets or sell an arm and a leg for decent Steeler tickets.

7. Donte Moncrief

Moncrief's short legacy in Pittsburgh is worthy of a spot on this list. We believed that he would fill a giant hole as JuJu was being forced to step up as the number one receiver quicker than we had expected. Moncrief was going to be our strong number two, with some leadership at the wideout position. Well, turns out he left his hands at the luggage claim when he came to Pittsburgh. He couldn’t catch a damn cold.

Then it came out that he was playing with several broken fingers. Why you may ask? Apparently, Donte believed that Big Ben “needed him out there” and he couldn’t take a day off. Well, Sir, I think everyone, Ben included, would agree that you should have taken a few weeks off to let your fingies heal up.

6. Pedro Alvarez

*sigh* This one cuts deep... I remember going to a Pirates game during Pedro’s rookie season where he catapulted himself into stardom. The Rockies were in town, and were giving the Buccos a hell of a series. The game I attended went into 17 extra innings. El Toro came to the plate and cracked a bomb into the river for the walk off win. The next season, Pedro developed into a phenom alongside Cutch and the Bucs were BUCN.

But soon after, Pedro’s star status began to fade. Pitchers figured him out. His arm became a hazard to the people sitting on the first baseline. The last time I saw Pedro Alvarez play professional baseball was at Camden Yards. He pinch hit for the Orioles that day where he subsequently grounded out to the short stop to end the inning...

5. Chris Archer

Chris Archer is probably the quickest flash in the pan Hope For The Future we have on this list. When it was rumored that the Pirates would trade for the young pitcher, everyone believed he’d be the second coming of Batman (AJ Burnett). Archer had a few good games but ultimately became a back half of the rotation starter. He’s ranked so high on this list just because of the hype that surrounded his arrival and his potential being flushed down a toilet behind the left field bleachers at PNC (the grossest toilets in the stadium, in my opinion).

4. Jaromir Jagr

Another one that people might think I’m crazy to include, but this one is more of a personal loss of hope for the future than a communal one. The younger generation of Penguins fans, which I belong to, have a certain fascination with Jaromir Jagr. We love him for bringing two cups to Pittsburgh with Mario and continuing his success with Pittsburgh after Mario retired. None of us remember how he left Pittsburgh for the Rangers.

We tend to focus on the good. With this being prefaced, I, myself, am met with disappointment every year at the trade deadline. Every year there are rumors that Pittsburgh might pick up Jagr and every year they don’t and every year my dream of Jagr coming back to Pittsburgh, winning one more Stanley Cup, and Floating down the Allegheny alongside Mario into retirement is shattered. I know it’s a weird fantasy, but it’s my fantasy and it can be whatever I want it to be, damn it!

3. Antonio Brown

Oh, Tony... Tony Tony Tony... if only you could keep your head on straight. I know Vontez Burfict messed up your head, but you were one season away from getting us back to the Super Bowl... you and JuJu could have led our receiving core to history. This man broke every Pittsburgher’s heart and he’ll forever be that one ex that we hate with a burning passion.

2. Jamie Dixon

Jaime Dixon had some great years as the Pitt men’s basketball coach, but he could never get out of his own way. The talent that came through that program was phenomenal, but every time they had momentum and were about to close out a key game or a clutch come back, in came Jaime with a momentum killing timeout. Jaime Dixon taught me that no matter how hard you work, how talented you are or how dominant you are, someone is always going to get in your way. 

1. Neal Huntington

Oh, Neal. You were once a shining light of hope. You brought us some great players to the Pirates organization. From Marlon Byrd, to Russell Martin, to AJ Burnett, and so on and so on. Pirates fans saw you as the hero we so desperately needed. You were able to bring our once sorry ball club up into the limelight and into the post season.

Then you traded Pittsburgh’s favorite son, Andrew McCutchen, and it was downhill from there. Players started to question your methods. Josh Harrison wanted out of Pittsburgh immediately following the Cutch move. He thought you were giving up, and giving up you were. No longer were you putting it to the man, Bob Nutting, and winning in spite of not having any money for players.

Instead, you dabbled in the dark art of trading away players to save money. You let the man get to you and you let down an entire fan base. You’ve caused me to no longer have trust in the organization and pushed my fandom to the brink.

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