Every culture needs myths, the stories shared among its people to reinforce group norms and carry traditions. While Yinzers have their share of legends — the night Jack Lambert tore through 20 tons of steel with his bare hands, for instance — Yinzers have one particular myth onto which they continue to hold. It’s about a boy, born and raised in the cradle of the Pittsburgh region (Mount Lebanon), educated at a world-renowned, Pittsburgh-based university (University of Pittsburgh for one year, then transferred to Indiana University in Bloomington), and grew to become a very wealthy (selling Broadcast.com at the height of the dot-com boom). He is rabid sports fan, wearing his team’s colors and capable of buying any share of Pittsburgh’s three major professional sports teams at any time. As the story is told, the man comes to Pittsburgh and spends vasts amounts of his wealth to guarantee a Super Bowl, World Series and Stanley Cup in each year he owns the team. Like a shepherd leads his flock, he will lead Pittsburgh to its rightful place as the City of Champions once again. The man, the myth, the legend is Mark Cuban.
Yinzers truly see Mark Cuban as the savior of the franchise, regardless of which franchise(s) he might choose. The Pirates are on their way to their 16th-straight losing season? Mark Cuban should buy them! The Penguins are on the brink of being sold and moved to Kansas City? Cuban and another Pittsburgh legend, Dan Marino, explored the possibility, later saying that not buying the team was a mistake. The venerable Steelers, on the block for the first time in a very, very long time? Mark Cuban has to reject the rumor.
It is easy to see why Yinzers would gravitate to this hometown boy. Mr. Cuban has demonstrated a considerable commitment to the Pittsburgh region by: owning a minority stake in an abandoned building on Fort Duquesne Boulevard; choosing to live in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex; and purchasing the NBA Dallas Mavericks. In addition, his sports team ownership style only slightly contrasts with the typical Yinzer love for understated owners, mostly demonstrated through behaviors like: getting in verbal confrontations with fans and referees; knowing little about running a sports team; acting like an idiot at his team’s games; and writing a blog about issues that no league would ever want discussed publicly. “Hey,” Yinzers say to each other at the corner bar, “he’s rich, he loves sports and he’s from Pittsburgh! He’s a perfect owner for all three of our teams!”
Yinzers see absolutely no irony in their breathless reaction to Stanley Druckenmiller, a billionare who has emerged as a possible buyer of a majority stake in the Steelers and has never shied away from telling people how much he “loves Pittsburgh.” In fact, according to a recent article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
Stanley Druckenmiller is also a diehard Steelers fan who rarely misses a game at Heinz Field, typically hosts a tailgate party in the “A” lot and has been known to paint his face black and gold.
With an owner like that, it’s easy to see how the man could be perceived as interested in ruining the franchise and moving the team to another city.
It is best to leave well enough alone when the subject of Mark Cuban comes up in Yinzer sports conversations. As with the most pervasive of myths, Yinzers never let the facts get in the way of a good legend.