Stick a fork in them.
Don't give up on the Pirates just yet
The Pirates are evolving into the Pirates again in the National League standings, and that's disturbing, especially if you reside anywhere near the Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio rivers. But here's the thing: This Pittsburgh bunch never was as prolific as it looked in early summer, and it isn't as ghastly as it has been lately.
What this means is ...
Well, just calm down, everybody. The Pirates still deserves more smiles than yawns, and they definitely shouldn't generate frowns. If nothing else, they are much better than their predecessors who spent the last 18 consecutive seasons with losing records. That streak ranks as the longest one in the history of professional sports in North America.
That streak will end this season, by the way, but to the Pirates' credit, they've wanted more than just to finish above .500.
"We expected to win. That was everybody's goal, and no way, we came out of Spring Training with the attitude of saying, 'Let's see what happens,'" said Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen. "We wanted to win a lot of games, so it wasn't a big surprise for us when we started to do well from the start. We knew change was going to come.
"This is something that we prepared for, and we all knew that if we went out and played as well as we could, we knew that we would be that Cinderella team that people felt like we've been."
Speaking of glass slippers and fairy godmothers, when the Pirates were surging two weeks ago with no signs of stopping through much of autumn, I had a question for catcher Michael McKenry, among the many in his clubhouse sprinkled with pixie dust.
I mean, could the Pirates keep the clock from striking midnight later rather than sooner?
"You know, we don't expect anything but the best every night," said McKenry, quickly and confidently, during a time back when the Pirates actually led the National League Central. "We're very optimistic about what we can do and about what we can handle, and we're just going to go out every night and play our game."
Ding-dong, ding-dong. Midnight is edging closer for the Pirates. And all you need to know is that the Cubs are as meek as they come these days. Even so, they roared enough this week to manage a four-game sweep in Pittsburgh for the first time since Dwight Eisenhower was president.
We're talking 52 years ago.
So, even though the Pirates are spending this weekend playing host to the usually shaky Padres, that's not necessarily a comforting thought for the Pirates Nation.
Consider, too, that after the Padres leave town, the Pirates will travel to San Francisco and Milwaukee, respectively, to face division leaders. After that, the Pirates will have 13 consecutive NL Central games against the Cardinals, the Reds and the Brewers.
After that, the rest of those "dings" and "dongs" will finish ringing to make this feel-good story lose its magic.
Or will it?
"I do believe people are (pulling for us), because it's a blue-collar story," said Clint Hurdle, who spent his first days as Pirates manager this spring working on changing the defeatist mentality of his new squad. He succeeded. "This has the potential of going from rags to riches, from last to first, from bad to good. It's all those things. It's one of those stories that just captures your attention. It motivates you," he said.
"I've been feeling it, just because of the (amount) of media attention we've been getting. It's the difference in the games that have been scheduled, with the changes in times."
In July, for instance, the Pirates were on a nationally televised Monday night game on ESPN for the first time since May 13, 2002. They are scheduled to appear on a Fox Saturday game by the end of the month for their first nationally televised home game in seven years.
According to the USA Today, the Pirates' local television and radio ratings are up 40 percent, and the paper also reported that the sales for merchandising surrounding the team is up beyond 45 percent. The Pirates' home attendance hasn't been larger since they moved into PNC Park in 2001. In fact, only two teams in the Major Leagues have experienced a larger one-year rise at gate than the Pirates.
Said Hurdle, nodding, "You feel it at our park. It's dripping at our park. And you actually see a lot more Pittsburgh Pirates (merchandise) when you're on the road. I had a worker grab me in the ballpark (in Atlanta) -- and I didn't even know him -- and he showed me his Steelers and his Pirates cap, and I went, 'Yeah. Alright. We're in, man. We're in.'"
What are the Pirates "in," you say? They are in the process of staying above mediocrity for a while.
Jason Bay. Jose Guillen. Xavier Nady. Nate McLouth. Freddy Sanchez. Jack Wilson. Aramis Ramirez. Jason Kendall. Those are just some of the talented players that the Pirates have shipped away during their streak of infamy. In contrast, the Trade Deadline came and went this season around Pittsburgh, and not only did the Pirates acquire veteran slugger Derrek Lee, they didn't part with any of their future.
The Pirates still have second baseman Neil Walker and McCutchen for a batting order that doesn't harken back to the days of Clemente and Stargell, but it's a start. The same goes for a mostly rising pitching staff, led by starter Jeff Karstens with one of the lowest ERAs in the league, and Joel Hanrahan, their wonderful closer.
The Pirates also have enough impressive prospects to fill gaps to stay vibrant through the next couple of years or so.
This isn't too say the Pirates aren't focused on now.
"You know, it's been a cute story, actually," Hurdle said. "But when we go out to win a ballgame, we give it everything we've got."
It just hasn't been enough lately.
I'm really crushed. I was really becoming a believer. Bought some pirate gear and sporting it proudly. Getting swept by the cubs was rough. That was a team I thought we could handle. Getting crushed by the Padres? What's going on? Seems like there pitching, which has carried them all year is the problem. I always felt we didn't have enough offense. But we have been scoring runs.
I mean yes, we've almost won as many games as last year. But, all i want is for us to finish with a winning record. I love the bucs. I'm so distraught what has happened to this franchise since 1992.
Come on guys, get it together!
Cleveland Browns suck!
Or are we just not playing the Astros enough.
Cleveland Browns suck!
The pitching fell apart on the Pirates so now they have no offense or defense. Pretty much cannon fodder until they can regain some confidence.
Still holding out for a winning record this year. It's good to still be hoping for a winning record in August. Anything more than that was just a dream.....with the exception of a few of these games in the losing streak, most have been good games with bad breaks.
Thanks to BB2W for the sig
There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)