August 2009

6


Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for joker15.jpgSorry Joker, I just can’t put a smile on my face. The Pirates dropped their 6th in a row and looked overmatched. More overmatched than a high school baseball team taking on the Yankees. I would say you guys, the Pirates but I honestly am not sure if you could beat a high school team. The Pirates have been outscored 27-4 from the seventh inning on in the past 10 games. Its no surprise that the Bucs are 2-6 in those last 10 games. The 10 game mark has been the number of contests since Pittsburgh unleashed their trades and showcased their new lineup. At first glance I loved the look and believed in the Bucs. With Lastings Milledge, Garrett Jones and Ronny Cedeno. I thought it was a decent core that would stop at nothing to compete in these last few months of the season- I was surely mistaken. I feel embarrased that the Pirates have been destroyed the way they have over this past week. WHile they still can turn it around and win a few games-it just wont mean anything. I would like to see them develop and fuse into the team I want to watch in the future but they way they have been playing gives me little hope for the future.

I know the organization will not go out and spend money on free agents so it looks like I’m stuck with this team for at least the next year. While I do like the players, don’t get me wrong, I just don’t think they have it in them now to give the Pirates a winning season in 2010. I understand the rebuilding plan better than anyone. We are definately in better shape than we would be with the players we traded away. I enjoy the future and know we will succeed- I just want to be shown something I can believe in.

wvu.jpgNow there is something I do believe in. LETS GOOOO MOUNTAINEERS

The USA Today poll was released for the college football season and the Mountaineers are not in the top 25. You would think I would be a little upset about this but I am not. In past few seasons the Mountaineers have been ranked in the top ten and have underachieved. With expectations lowered and the national eye focused on other teams I’m sure WVU will fly under the radar and surprise some people.

In the fall I will be covering the women’s soccer team for the school newspaper. The women are coming off the Big East regular season chamapionship and a strong showing in the NCAA tournament. This season they have reloaded and maintain a strong offense that is sure to put the ball in the net. While I’m not the biggest soccer fan I am so excited to cover the team and develop a greater appreciation for this fine sport. While baseball is the national pastime, there no question that soccer is the world’s pastime.

-Now back to baseball.

   
charlie.jpg  Charlie Morton takes the hill against a strong Adam Wainwright. Wainwright is 12-7 and Morton is 2-4. I am a huge fan of Mortons (he has potential to be my next Ian Snell) I hope he can recover from his last two mediocre starts. It will be tough though against a team like the Cardinals. It will also be tough for a team like the Pirates. The need to get out of the doldrums and get their bats to wake up. PNC Park will be packed tonight in anticipation of a Fireworks night. The band O.A.R is also going to be playing after the game and the stadium will be filled with young kids and college kids like myself. I think I will be the only one there going for the baseball game, everyone else is pumped for fireworks and OAR. I do enjoy OAR I have two of their CDs and even though I am a bigger fan of rap and country music, their genre appeals to me and I really dig their sound. Nontheless it will be a great atmosphere and the Pirates need to show the community that they know what their doing and these are the guys to shape the future.

“Congrats Jones” or “Come on Bucs”

Tonight there are two stories to tell. One is to give Garrett Jones a big pat on the back.

GJ1.jpgA .301 Batting average and 10 homeruns in just a little over a month of play, GJ has stepped in and provided a little bit of life for the Bucs. Jones was awarded for his efforts by being named the NL Rookie of the Month for the month of July. It is an honor he most certainly deserves and the recognition he recieves is well warrented. Jones has also given the Pirates a positive image amidst the turmoil that has turned over the past two weeks. At 28 years old, Jones is not your typical rookie. For years he was trapped in the Twins organization. He was waiting in the wings for his chance to crack the big leagues. The problem is that the Twins are no slouch of a team. For years they have contended in the AL Central and keep doing their thing. With outfielders such as Denard Span, Carlos Gomez, Delmon Young, Michael Cuddyer, Jason Kubel  and Justin Morneau at first base-there was just no room for Jones. He was signed by the Pirates in the off season and started the year at AAA Indianapolis. He had a solid year and was promoted after Nyjer Morgan was traded. He was well welcomed in Pittsburgh  he showed his power early in the season and continues to be a threat, pretty much the only threat in the Pirates lineup. Jones is also is a candidate for clutch performer of the month. With the likes of Jonathon Sanchez and Mark Buerlhe throwing their gems thi smonth it is unlikely he will win, but more pub. is great for him and the Bucs.

 

 

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Keep smiling Garrett, your doing great.

Jones tried to give the Pirates the win tonight, but his much, just wasn’t too much. He was 1-4 in the game. His lone hit came in the bottom of the 9th as a homerun. The dinger brought the Pirates to within one run but Pittsburgh would fall 4-3, once again to the Diamondbacks.

There were two things that stood out about tonights game.

1) Somebody else besides Ronny Cedeno got a hit. Cedeno recorded one of his own, from the lead off spot. Lastings Milledge (a single), Andy LaRoche (a homerun and single) and Jones (the HR) were the others. 5 stinking hits were all the Bucs could muster up. That will not give you a win, no matter what stage of baseball you are playing in. Theres no question our lineup as been our achilies heel. Not just now but all season, even before the trades. It is surely much more lackluster now after the depletion of the veterans but it is just plain ugly now. The Friday of the trade deadline the Pirates looked like a new team with a breath of fresh air at their backs. I was so excited to watch them play. They had nothing to lose and could just give it their all. Now it seems their lack of lalent or experience, whatever it is, is catching up to them and they really are just this bad. ugh, it is surely frustrating.

2) Honestly, the only other fast fact about this game was Andrew McCutchen. And that is just because he did not play. It was his first day off of the year and well-deserved. He has done everything asked of him, and more. I just feel bad for those in attendence, Cutch is worth the price of admission and I’m sure alot of fans missed seeing him tonight. He was replaced by Jeff Salazar (who? You ask, Don’t worry about it, I respond) He did not get a hit but he kind of was a hit. He was the number one play on Sportscenter, pretty good props for a no-name. Salazar made a breath-taking all out, full extension diving catch in center field. As I said before, Defense may win championships, but it doesn’t seem like thats the case in baseball.

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It stinks don’t it Delwyn. The Pirates are now 45-62 and sinking fast.

 

 

 

 

PICTURES: postgazette.com, AP photos

Yusmeiro Petit; a one hit wonder

8-4 Pirates game 008.jpgPetit was large and in charge last night at PNC Park. The right hander was dominant on the mound striking guys out and making them pop out. He was masterful at making the Pirates look silly. Thats just what the Diamondbacks did last night, embarrased the Bucs with a 6-0 shutout. After being so pumped up to be at this game my high hopes were deflated in the 8th inning.

Petit took a no-hitter to the 8th. It was nuts to watch and be in attendance cheering for history. Obviously at the beginning I was cheering for the Bucs to win and win big. I was sick of the D-Backs being so dominant. The last 3 MLB games I have been to Arizona has won. In Colorado they came from behind to beat the Rockies, in Arizona they whallopped the Pirates and here again lats night they put a spanking on us. I was ready for the trend to halt and have the new look Bucs rip the D-Backs a new one. When it got to become the 6th inning I was ready. Man was I ready. I was anticipating every pitch thrown by Petit in hopes that my Pirates would get out. By doing this though I think I jinxed him. I was talking about the feat alot with my friend and people around me and I was just too excited for the hopes of my ticket stub being worth a good chunk of change. The hopes were dashed in the bottom of the 8th when Ronny Cedeno of Pittsburgh ripped a sharp line drive over the Short stops head. And there it was at the end of the game.

 

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It almost seems like that Pirate flag should be a white flag. Goose eggs across the board and one hit for the lowly Pirates. You can see we did have some guys on base with chances to score. Petit’s control was off and he walked a few batters. We once had a guy on 3rd base ready to score by way of stolen bases but the bats cooled off and couldn’t do anything.

It’s quite the shame this game didn’t turn out they way I wanted. I had two options, a Bucs win or a no hitter and neither happened. I took a lot of time and preperation getting ready for this game too. As I was cleaning my room in the early afternoon I came across a Pirates hat I haven’t seen in a while. It was a 1979 replica Pill box cap. I was so pumped. It was in my closet and I didn’t even know about it. I put it with my other Pirate hat collection and displayed it on my bed.

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 Nice sheets huh? They are a staple at my parents house. Nice hats too huh? Yeah, those are mine. Each tell a story and I love wearing every single one of them. My new discovery was the one with the stripes. While I am a fan of fitted caps the pillbox one is classic. All I had to do was adjust the strap and put it on. I enjoyed my look and the hat too as I showed it off in the mirror.

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Th eonly thing missing was “We are Family” playing on my stereo. (I had Kenny Chesney on instead). But I felt very cool in this hat and I will definately wear it out and to future games. I feel like Richies Hebner, Phil Garner, John Candaleria and the other great Pirates of the 1970’s. I really will use it as a great reminder of the past and a way to show my pride for the future.

 

 

Anyway, along with my hat I had to decide what I was wearing to the game. I usually wear my gray jersey, pictured up there in the right top corner, but theres only one problem. The player doesn’t play for the Bucs anymore.

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 My buddy Ian Snell, recently shipped to the Mariners in the Jack Wilson deal is no longer donning the black and gold. And I did not either. It was tough to see Jack go, but even tougher to see Ian go. I bought this jersey in the 2008 offseason and loved it, because I was a big fan of Ians. He always pitched hard and was determined to succeed. It was a tough year for him in Pittsburgh but after following his whole minor league career I know he has the stuff to have a great career. I really do not like wearing former player jersey like this one. People still wear Bay, Sanchez and Wilson to games but I like to stay fresh and obscure. I’m not sure if I will wear it again to  game, as you can see opted to go with my classic “let’s Go Bucs”  and my yellow hat. The pillbox will wait for another day.

 

 

Hopefully, that day will be Saturday. I want to get back to PNC Park for the game against the Cardinals. Pujols would be nice to see but the big draw is OAR. They are a band who I really enjoy, as do many many other college kids. They are porforming a postgame concert on the field and tickets are sold out. I’ve been rummaging through Stub Hub but the seats on there are very pricey and not worth where the seats are. It’ll be interesting to see if I shell out the money or if I can make it to the game. Wish me luck!

Hard to believe the Pirates could sell out a game a couple of weeks in advance especially after this scene from last night.

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8-4 Pirates game 005.jpgVery much empty and these pics were taken right at 7:05 pm the time of the first pitch. Yeah it was a Tuesday night, yeah its Pittsburgh and yeah its the Pirates but it is still a major league game. The announced attendance was just over 11,000 so I am not upset. Thats like the Mendoza Line for attendance in Pittsburgh. It still was a beautiful night in the ‘burgh.

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Defense wins chmapionships, but not a game against the Nats

 

 

 

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Three “Baseball Tonight” web gems, one of which was by the guy above Andy LaRoche, was not enough to keep the Pirates in the game. Ronny Cedeno’s backhanded grab and diving double play didn’t allow Pittsburgh to put runs on the board. They fell to Washington 8-4. It is tough to swallow a loss like this. One because it was the Nationals, two because it was the Nationals, and three BECAUSE IT WAS THE NATIONALS!

Sorry, but its true. Even though most normal fans would say, “Matt come on its the PIRATES.” But the Bucs had no business losing this game. The bullpen faltered and gave up 4 runs after following starter Charlie Morton. Morton pitched pretty well through 5 innings of work. He shut out the Nationals and struck out 2 batters. The straw that broke the Camel’s back came in the sixth when Adam Dunn belted a homerun. It was tough to swallow and the runs kept coming from hits and a triple by Christian Guzman. It made me very upset to see Charlie let picthes get away from him. After meeting him in Arizona I really have admired his attitude and I know he has it in him to go out and do a solid job night in and night out. I’ll still be rooting hard for him, I just hope the stuffs there longer in the game next time he goes out. The following inning the bullpen came in to give up 4 runs as well. A homerun by Ryan Zimmerman headlined the inning follwed by a bunch of small ball that gave the Nats a good sized lead.

The Bucs offense is not off the hook here either. What started out as a promising game turned ugly and filled with goose-eggs. Andrew McCutchen struck again leading off the first inning with a homerun. He now has 7 on the year and is 2nd on the team with homeruns. It’s great to see that his 3-homerun night was not a fluke and he does have some power built inside.

cutch-milledge.jpgIts a great seeing this sight. The 1-2 punch of McCutchen and Milledge is a match made in heaven. Kind of like and M&M, no pun intended. The charisma they have and established chemistry is great in the clubhouse and at the top of the lineup. Although Milledge did not see the basepaths this game and was 0-5 he still has what the Bucs need. This was the only game Lastings has played in for Pittsburgh without collecting a hit. His failure to reach base may have been a reason for the Bucs failure to put more runs on the board but the rest of the lineup is not off the hook.

3 runs were scored in the first inning and it looked like they were set up nicely to cruise for the W. Steve Pearce, Garrett Jones, Ryan Doumit, set up runs and Delwyn Young scarificed a run in. The rest of the game was dull as the Pirates couldn’t score a run until the bottom of the ninth when Doumit doubled in a run.

On top of Milledge’s o-fer, Ronny Cedeno and Delwyn Young were as well. Ryan Doumit really needed this game to turn his game around. He did not get a hit in the first 3 games of the series. Tonight he was 3-5 with a run and RBI. From the cleanup spot he needs production and he showed it tonight. If he can turn things around quickly and recover from his early season injury he will be a coveted player at the catching position.

The Pirates finished off this series splitting four games with Washington. They start right back up tomorrow hosting the Diamondbacks. I will be attending this game and am very excited to do so. Its kind of funny that of the last three MLB games I’ve been too, the D-Backs have been involved. (Arizona was in Colorado when I was there, at home in Chase Field when I was there, and now here in Pittsburgh.) It is safe to say they are quite familiar. I just hope this result is a little different. The Diamondbacks took 3 of 4 from the Pirates out in the Grand Canyon State.

Tonight, I leave with a great quote from a great player.

“I loved the city of Pittsburgh,” Sanchez said. “I loved going to the ballpark every day and playing for those fans. They’ll always have a special place in my heart for the support they showed after I won that batting title.

“That’s a baseball town in my eyes. I hope all the trades work out, because they deserve a winner there. I’m sure it’s hard for them right now, but I’ll always be watching to see how they’re doing.”

This quote was taken from an ESPN.com article by Jerry Crasnick. It’s greta to see Freddy speaking with such admiration and understanding. I still wish him the best even though he is 3,000 miles away. It does however pain me to see this….                                            freddy giants.jpg  

Riding High

Woo wee. This weekend has been a pivital one for the Pirates. After the firesale of the week before, the Pirates had a big target on their backs. People have been doubting the moves and mentality of the Pittsburgh organization and the Bucs needed to step up and show what they were really made of.

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Andrew McCutchen got the memo and delievered. In a big way. In Friday’s 5-4 win over the Nationals Cutch collected 2 key hits. On Saturday he definetly rose to the occasion. Number 22 belted 3, count em 3 homeruns! It was truly a sight to behold. All 3 dingers sailed over the left field wall in about the same location. He hit one in the first, to lead it off, one in the fourth and one in the seventh. However, he did’nt stop there. McCutchen showcased his outstanding speed and laid down a bunt towards the third base line. He zoomed down to first and was in there with a key single. He ended up 4-5 in the game with a total of 6 RBI and 4 runs scored.

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 Andrew earned his first curtain call at PNC Park. Now I love a good curtain call. The player just completed an aswesome feat and it is so impressive to me that the fans recognize what went down and pay their respects to the player in a very loyal way. I for one think its filled with pagentry that can’t be touched in any way. I take curtain calls very seriously and fondly remember two that took place at PNC Park that I was a part of.

Remember Derek Bell? If not he was a player for the Mets who was a solid big leaguer. He had some good seasons and was signe dby the Bucs one offseason. He started off the year slow and was booed for a good part of the first half. But one fateful Saturday night he belted his first dinger of the season and the crowd went nuts. I’m not sure if it was for his HR or that it put the Pirates up by one against the Astros in the 8th inning. Nonetheless, the corwd remained on their feet for a few minutes after he had touched home. Bell came out of the dugout after high fiving teammates and tipped his cap to the adoring Pittsburghers.

Just this year former Buc Craig Monroe followed in the similar footsteps of Bell. He was an off season acquistion and just getting used to the new club. He was a solid bench player and a likeable guy (the polar opposite of Bell in terms of personality). In a game against the Braves on a Saturday in April Monroe went haywire. He smashed 2 homeruns to starighaway center field that landed in the bullpen. It was great for Monroe to show his raw power and get his name out to the fans. After the second homerun I remember remianing standing and yelling “Hey Craigger” I was sitting behind homeplate close to the field but still a long shot if he actually heard me. Others around me began to stand and cheer loud and even louder than I was. It caught fire and the entire stadium was up and booming, the Craig came to the top step and showed his appreciation. I kind of take pride in the fact that I was kind of the firestarter.

McCutchen’s big night was the number 7 top play on Sportscenter from the night. Sportscenter really did the game justice with about 5 minutes of coverage, honestly the most I have seen given to the Pirates in quite some time. It was awesome sitting on my couch watching the most famous sports show paying all this homage to Cutch and the Pirates. After the 3 minute long highlight the hosts talked about famous Pirates that hit 3 homeruns in one game. Willie Stargell did it as well as Roberto Clemente. Just seeing Andrew’s face among these two MLB legends was inspiring. Even though he is so young Andrew has already left his mark and gotten the attention of everyone in the baseball world. It would feel like a dream if only Cutch can do the things “Pops” and “The Great One” did in a Pirates uniform.

Watching the national attention of the game made me want to laugh and say hey…I told ya so. Earlier in the week ESPN was bashing the Pirates left and right. Reporters on “Around the Horn” was harsh with the Pittsburgh ownership suggesting the MLB step in and kick out the owners. On “Pardon the Interruption” Tony and Michael were also tough and just plain rude. The Pirates won 2 games since the trade dealine and won them impressively. Although they lost 5-3 on Sunday they are still in good shape and poised to finish off the season competitively.

 

Picture credit: postgazette.com, AP

 

 

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