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Posted by Christopher L. Gasper, Globe Staff  July 11, 2011 10:27 AM

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...This is not a Charlie Sheen reference. That's the type of record the Pittsburgh Pirates have at the All-Star break for the first time in nearly 20 years. The Pirates, one of baseball's flagship franchises for futility, enter the All-Star break at 47-43, a game back in the National League Central chase.

This is uncharted territory for the Pirates. The bad news Bucs haven't had a winning record at the break since 1992, when Doug Drabek, Andy Van Slyke and a not-yet-besmirched Barry Bonds wore their uniforms and Bill Clinton was a presidential candidate. That's also the last season the Pirates finished with a winning record.

They went 96-66 and lost in the National League Championship Series to the Braves on Sid Bream's mad dash home in the bottom of the ninth of Game 7.

Since then the closest they came to .500 was a 79-83 mark in 1997. The Pirates have one of the nicest parks in baseball, but now they're finally providing a reason to go to games other than the view from PNC Park.

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The word

Christopher L. Gasper riffs on the news


...That's what the Patriots have when it comes to picks in the 2013 NFL Draft, which starts Thursday. After all those years of stockpiling picks the way a survivalist does non-perishables the Patriots have just five picks in this year's draft, thanks to Band-aid trades for Albert Haynesworth, Chad Ochocinco and Aqib Talib. Five picks would be the fewest draft picks in franchise history. (Part of that is attributable to the trimming of the draft to just seven rounds in 1994). Further complicating matters is that two of the Patriots' greatest needs are at wide receiver and cornerback, positions where they have sustained draft droughts. With that in mind, I'm convinced the Patriots are going trade back out of the first round of a quanity-over-quality draft where you're just as likely to pick a Pro Bowl player in the second and third round as you are in the first round.

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