Step 1. Get the ball rolling by making one of the worst talent evaluation decisions of all time.
For example, decide Andy Van Slyke is your future, not Barry Bonds. Andy Van Slyke, nice guy. Barry Bonds, not so nice. But after the 1992 season, Van Slyke only hit 14 more home runs for the Pirates than Bonds did.
Step 2. Trade your only homegrown power prospect in two decades for a strikeout machine (in the bad way) a minor leaguer and a player to be named, who turns out to be this guy.
It's July 2003. And, hey, you're not so awful! You are less than 10 games behind the division leader. Kenny Lofton is jump-starting your offense at the top of the order, and the future of the franchise, Aramis Ramirez, is continuing to develop. Only one problem: You are so broke you might not be able to come up with enough cash to pay your players. Goodbye Lofton and Ramirez … hello Jose Hernandez, Bobby Hill and some guy named Matt Bruback!
It gets worse. Way, way worse, and that's not funny: it's sad. Not just sad: it makes one oblivious with sadness. It's devastating. As a baseball fan, I can only sit open-mouthed and shake my head while pondering our insignificance in the monstrous immensity of the universe.
A Royals mention:
After 16 years of trading veterans for prospects, one would think the Pirates farm system would be loaded. But no! Check out the "stars" from 10 years of Altoona baseball. If you would like to have more than three of these players on your team, you are a Royals fan.
You want to hear something really scary? If not for that Tony Pena-led season in 2003 -- which we all now know was the aberration of aberrations, like the King or God of aberrations -- 2008 would mark the Royals' 15th consecutive losing season. And that's nothing to laugh about.