Saturday, June 30, 2007

Protest!

The planned fan protest at tonight's Pirate game is gaining a little attention, which is a very good thing. it's obvious the Pirates don't like it, and whether or not I think it's a perfect protest (I would've walked out after the 1st out of the 4th inning... 1-4, 14 years... plus TV cameras would have to catch it mid-inning), it's something. And that's a lot.

I won't be at the game tonight, but here are the quick reasons why I would walk out if I was:

14 (sure to be 15) years of losing. No commitment. No accountability.

...

Actually that's about everything right there, but I'll try and flesh it out, in broad terms. The Pirates are a joke of a franchise and they're playing a meaner joke on Pirate fans: the dumbing down of baseball in Pittsburgh so that 70 wins, bobbleheads and fireworks is what we'll be given year in and year out. We might get lucky and break .500 here in the next couple of years, but we very well may not. And that's a joke if there ever was one. The problem runs all the way from the top down. Owners "McNutting" couldn't care less, despite Nutting's falsehoods about a commitment to winning (his commitment is solely to the bottom line). Littlefield is the worst GM in sports and should never have held on to his job this long. Ed Creech/DL's drafting strategy is spineless at best. And Tracy is a passionless manager who still thinks he's coaching the Dodgers (who he never coached all that well) and was not the right man for the job, in my opinion. Our farm system is a wasteland. Our international scouting is microscopic... I could go on. There are problems with the on-the-field product as well (base-running and run production to name two) but they're not why I would be protesting tonight. The team has its flaws, but the organization's flaws are the reasons to be angry.

Pirates' management has no idea how to put together a winning baseball team, or at least is unwilling to, or they just don't care to. Drastic change is needed. Which is why tonight's protest is long overdue.

Let's hope it doesn't fall on deaf (and dumb) ears.

Check out lots of protest news and links at iratefans.com. And definitely read this for a thoughtful response that sums up the feelings of most Pirate fans.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Now showing at PNC Park...

I don't watch the Sopranos, but I get the feeling that if I did, this would be amazing:

Sunday, June 10, 2007

NYC

I spent the weekend in NYC with my brothers and Geneva friends Chris, Zeke, Mrs. Zeke, Dre, and Jasons O'Neill and Panella. I am now exhausted and will sleep.

UPDATE: Pictures here.

Friday, June 8, 2007

What's wrong with the Pirates?


I keep hearing this question, as if people haven't noticed the last 14 years of Pirates baseball and this is some sort of new development. Well, I've been paying attention for a while now, and what's happening this year is for certain nothing new. So, as we began by asking, what's wrong with the Buccos? Short answer: The Pirates are the worst-run organization in professional sports, hands-down, from the owner to the general manager and his staff to the coaches. And, because of all that, and in regards to this year's struggles, they don't have all that many players who are good at baseball. Sure we have a few: Jason Bay (who's great at baseball), Freddy Sanchez, Adam LaRoche, Ian Snell (who's probably the most fun-to-watch Pirate in years), Tom Gorzelanny, Matt Capps, and some other serviceable folk, but (and I'm blaming this on Dave Littlefield), we don't have enough.

The latest and worst example of this ineptitude is Oliver Perez, who's pitching like an ace again for the New York Mets. We traded him, basically as a throw-in, for part-time outfielder Xavier Nady. At the time the trade didn't look all that smart but now it looks downright stupid, because Perez has rediscovered his 2004 form, striking out batters and dominating. We couldn't fix what ailed Ollie (actually, we broke him in the first place), the Mets could fix him it seems, and to sum it up, we made a series of bad baseball moves and decisions and gave away an ace because of it.

And then there's what happened today. The Pirates, with the fourth pick in the 2007 entry draft, take a college reliever. For a team like the Pirates that refuses to spend any money (and really, we're just about the only team that still doesn't), building from within, from our own system, is absolutely a must, which makes the first-year player draft probably the most important day of the year for the Pirates future. (And by the way, our system is awful.) We will never (save a Mark Cuban purchase of the team) spend money with the big boys, but it's inexcusable that we refuse to spend money with the Reds, Brewers, Royals and teams from similar markets. And we did that today. We over-drafted on a college pitcher projected at best to be a closer and passed on a potential franchise catcher and loads of other more talented position players and pitchers, because we wouldn't (not couldn't) sign those better players. That, or the people responsible for drafting are actually just stupid. And I suppose it could just as easily be the latter.

I'm upset. I'm disappointed. But I'm not surprised. As I said, the Pirates are the worst-run franchise in professional sports. The ownership has no commitment to winning and the GM and scouting director are completely clueless or just gutless. Either way the Pirates are bad now, and they look to be indefinitely if the makeup of the front office remains the same.

I hate to be a downer, especially after a fine win like today's. Snell pitched seven strong, as he always seems to now (if not 8) and Capps pitched a great two innings for the win, thanks to Bay's eight-inning blast. We'll continue to have wins like this, maybe 70-some a year. One of these years we'll get lucky and win 82. But the main thing this weekend's trek to Yankee Stadium (to see the Rocket's return to the Bronx, by the way) will remind me is that the Pirates are a long way away from being a good baseball team and way farther from being a good baseball organization.

But, I won't let all that dampen my enthusiasm about my Buccos. Or I'll try not to. As I said, I'm seeing Saturday's game at Yankee Stadium with a bunch of my buddies and both of my brothers and I'll be there in my Jason Bay black and gold t-shirt, cheering for the good guys and loathing the Evil Empire in person. A lot of Pirate fans are under the impression that the best thing we can do now is not give the current ownership group one more penny by going to games. I'm not sure if I'm willing to go that far, because watching, rooting for and following the Pirates (even in their current pitiful state) is one of my all-time favorite things to do.

Yankee Stadium

I'm heading to New York this weekend to visit the House That Ruth Built and see my Buccos welcome Roger Clemens back to the Bronx. This is a big deal for a baseball fan, or anybody really. As much as I hate the Yankees (and I do... I especially despise Derek Jeter), I realize that this is a once-in-a-lifetime trip. When the 60,000 seat "stadium" was built, baseball was a struggling sport and no one thought the Yankees could ever fill it on a consistent basis.

From Wikipedia:

Yankee Stadium was the first three-tiered sports facility in the United States and one of the first baseball parks to be given the lasting title of stadium. Baseball teams typically played in a park or a field. The word stadium deliberately evoked ancient Greece, where a stadium was unit of measure--the length of a footrace; the buildings that housed footraces were called stadiums. Yankee Stadium was one of the first to be deliberately designed as a multi-purpose facility. The field was initially surrounded by a (misshapen) quarter-mile running track, which effectively also served as a warning track for outfielders, a feature now standard on all major league fields. The left and right field bleacher sections were laid out at right angles to each other, and to the third base stands, to be properly positioned for both track-and-field events and football. The large electronic scoreboard in right-center field, featuring both teams' lineups and scores of other baseball games, was the first of its kind.

All of these luxuries came to life during a dark period for baseball. Popularity was very low following the Black Sox scandal a few years earlier. With his ability to transform the game by the might of a swing, the Sultan of Swat attracted more fans than ever to baseball. Combined, it could be argued that Ruth, the Yankees, and Yankee Stadium saved baseball.


We're seeing one of the greatest pitchers in the history of baseball. And I'm seeing the game with a bunch of my buddies and my two brothers. Should be an awesome weekend for sure.