Just like the smelly floors of a junior high locker room and the janitor that cleans it up the Pirates know a thing or two about being swept clean.
Pittsburgh will leave the Bay Area having fropped its past six games in which it was swept by the Rangers and most recently the A’s.
The Bucs have dropped 19 straight road games and have been swept 10 times this season, five alone in the month of June.
Sunday was the best opportunity for the Buccos to earn a win. Just like finding a winning season these past 17 years, it just was not meant to be.
Suzuki is flying under the radar this year just as he has throughout his career. He connected for his tenth homerun of the year to accompany a .264 batting average. Along with a team leading .442 slugging percenatge compiled with 31 home runs Suzuki reaps great production as a catcher. He is among the best in the league and should recieve a call to travel down the Pacific Coast Highway to Anaheim for this year’s All-Star Game.
The whole weekend was completely dismal for the Pirates. On Friday they were destroyed 14-4 while losing second baseman Neil Walker to a concussion he suffered during a collision. He has had some time off but will not be placed on the disabled list.
I for one have never suffered a concussion. Rarely do I even get headaches, it is a wonder because it does run in my family. But I would defintely need as much rest as possible and would not feel like doing anything for days. I do think watching the Pirates play this weekend made Walker’s recovery time have to last a bit longer, probably made his head hurt a lot worse.
Saturday night was an absolute disgrace.
It was a turn back the clock night as the Pirates paid tribute to their “We Are Family” days of the 1970’s. They did so by only tabbing five hits in a 5-0 shutout. The Pirates of 2010 disrespected the uniform worn by so many legends of the ’71 and ’79 World Champions. Willie Stargell had to be looking down on Oakland shaking his head.
The living legends who played in the black and gold during the glory days have to be embarrased to watch the team play today. Living legends like Phil Garner, Dave Parker and Omar Moreno have to be proud of their play for the Pirates and probably take pride in beautiful PNC Park, but to have a team that stands at 25-50 lose games so handily has to be detrimental to their spirits. If I was one of them I would demand change and demand it now.
He’s been quite the head scratcher since he was called upon to replace Jim Tracy some three years ago. The expression you see on his face to the right really is permanently tatooed on his face. His indifferent attitude and questionable moves should be reason enough to get him out of the dugout.
The long standing cry has been to fire Russell because he fails to light a fire unde rhis team. Yes, that is surely true. Amongst reports that he can go weeks without talking to some players, it is the baseball mind of Russell that truly is his Achille’s Heel. With the oppotunity to have a Designated Hitter this past week Russell threw Milledge into right field, he would committ a handful of errors. Now Milledge should be an everyday player but when there is that opportunity to have a DH it is best to give him a break from the field and put a stronger fielder, Ryan Church or Delwyn Young into the nine-position. His use of the bullpen, particularly his choice of relief pitchers in certain situations brings out his lack of knowledge. Being a former big league catcher the game management skills of Russell should not be this poor.
Whatever the front office sees in their whipping boy that is Russell is beyond me. The Pirates will not even come close to the promised land of a .500 season this year but why not make a splash. Show the league and the 25 men on the team that you do care and get Russell out of here. Something needs to be done and it looks like the only thing would be to fire Russell.
photo credits: itsonthelist.com, espn.com, postgazette.com/AP, nbc.com
When I visited Washington D.C. this past weekend I met up with my friend Marc who is currently in the nation’s capital on an internship. Being a Cubs fan he and I talked about the NL Central and how far out our respective teams are in terms of games back from the Cardinals and surging Reds. We also talked baseball in general. I had told him
“With Pedro Alvarez up we should be a better team with better run production.” He responds with a “Who is Pedro Alvarez?”
Well, I guess to those outside of Pittsburgh the legend of Pedro Alvarez has not been regularly relayed. So it is my civil duty to tell his tale. A tale of a shaky past, current talent and simply the future. The future for himself and an entire franchise.
Alavrez hails from the street of New York City. An area mostly billed for producing basketball
greats, Alvarez is a rare gem to step from the baseball diamond. His talent allowed him to go to Vanderbilt University in Tennessee. Turning down an offer to be drafted right out of high school Alvarez went on to set records for VU and helped the Commadores win an SEC Championship. Alvarez continued his stories undergraduate career on the USA national baseball team. His power and handiness with the glove at third base allowed him to always be the target of scouts and high draft classification.
He would be picked up after his sophomore season. The Pirates jumped on him at pick number two, but getting him in a black and gold uniform would not be easy. Even getting him through the system would not be easy. Heck getting him INTO the system would be one of the hardest things the Pirate’s management had ever done.
Being picked second demands and deserves big money. After a back and forth volleyball match between Neil Huntington and Frank Coonelly with Alvarez’s agent Scott Boras both sides reportedly came to an agreement just minutes before the August 15th signing deadline. But it still took until September to make both sides happy with a $6 million dollar deal. It was a messy situation that really made the Pittsburgh organization and Alvarez look bad and downright slimey. However inking Alavrez prompted Pirates owner Bob Nutting to claim Huntington and Coonelly as the “best management team in all of sports.” Take that in for a moment. It’s a wonder that the “best management team in allllll of sports” cannot put together a competitive club or show the comptence to do so. However, that is a whole other argument.
Alvarez was watched under a tight microscope throughout his short time in the minor leagues. He helped the Lynchburg Hillcats win their League title and rose through to the AA and AAA levels with his resounding bat, most notably being a strong power prescence.
He was brought up to the majors on June 16th to an adoring PNC Park crowd of 15,000. He did recieve a standing ovation as he walked to the plate just to strike out at the hands of John Danks. He finished that game going 0-for-2. It would take three more games to cross that proverbial threshold where he would collect his first big league hit. From there he would collect a sac fly to cap off a victory over the Indians last Sunday.
He still only has three major league hits but will always be regarded as the best Pirates prospect since Barry Bonds. I’m no scout but at the age of 23 I still think Alavrez needs a tune up and some extra time in the minors would not hurt him. He is playing along a host of other first time big leaguers like Jose Tabata and Neil Walker. The 2010 season is already a wash why not groom him for a month or two more then bring him up when he is ready?
It seems as if Alvarez is over swinging at pitches and not locating them off the pitchers hand. He definitely needs work in the batting cage to develop a keener eye at the plate. He has warning track power that will slowly come more and more with more repitions. He will strikeout; alot. But that is what power hitters do. I will gladly take 95 strikeouts from a guy that is going to flirt with 45 homeruns each season.
It is going to be alot of trial and error with Pedro Alvarez (he already has one in the field) but if he even comes close to living up to his hype he will have a prosperous career and the Pirates will gladly reap the benefits.
photo credits: ducksonthepondkid.com, straybaseball.com, reclinergm.com, facebook.com
I was absent from the blog last week, for good reason. It seemed that the Pirate’s were absent from their talent as well.
My beloved Bucs suffered a 12-game losing streak from June 6th through this past Saturday. I think it was all my fault.
I went to that game on the 6th and witnesses a heartbreaking extra inning loss. Delwyn Young belted a pinch hit homerun to send the game to a tenth inning, but Octavio Dotel just could not hang on to the lead.
From that moment Pittsburgh fell to the Cubs in a one game makeup series. Were swept on the road in Washington as well as at home against the White Sox. Then my most most hated professional sports….
The Cleveland Indians. The Indians came into PNC Park on Friday and beat the Pirates 4-3. It was a pitcher’s duel til the seventh inning when the Tribe jumped out to a 4-0 lead. Pittsburgh manufactured runs the very next inning getting their three, but it just couldn’t answer when needed. I attended that game and the most thrilling moment may have come before hand when I met local FSN Pittsburgh reporter Dan Potash.
I honestly think Mr. Potash was more thrilled that I recognized him. He was overjoyed, very friendly and carefree with me. I bet he called his mom and said “Wow, somebody wanted a picture with me!” Ok that may sound a bit harsh, he was top notch and first class.
Take a look at my shirt there. Better yet, i’ll zoom in for you.
It is a hot item in the ‘burgh these days as the Milledge People are taking over. The shirt features the bodies of the famous Village People of the 1970’s with super-imposed faces of Lastings Milledge with a Pirate hat on each of them. It is hysterical I think, plus at some games six college kids sit in teh outfield dressed in Village People fashion. Unfortunately for me, Milledge did not play on Friday.
However, Saturday was a much different story. For one I was not watching. I was in Washington D.C. with some friends representing WVU. It was a fun day and an even funner night, that blog will be coming in the next entry.
But anyway, the Pirates did manage to break the dreaded streak thanks to a 3-for-4, 4 RBI performance from Lasting Milledge.
Milledge has been recieving spotty playing time ever since the arrival of youngster Jose Tabata. Tabata has been holding down the fort in left field, the original position of Milledge, because of that number 85 and Ryan Church have been splitting tim in right field. The lack of playing time must have lit a fire under his butt and hopefully that gave him a spark and a reason to finally deliever how he was expected to do. He has still yet to hit a homerun, a necessity on this team that lacks any power threat
That is until now.
The arrival of highly touted prospect Pedro Alvarez occured this week.
He’s going to be something special, at least that is what Bucco fans have been told. It is no secret that Alvarez has been called the best Pirates prospect since Barry Bonds. Lofty shoes to fill and I know it will take time but it is something, really the only thing that has given Pittsburgh fans hope in quite some time.
He is a lefty, power hitting thrid basemen. The Pirates have lacked all three for many years. To get it all in one package really fills that void.
He has yet to get the ball rolling collecting just one hit in 16 major league at bats. He had a stellar minr league career as he flirted with a .300 avergae while belting 40 homeruns in just two seasons.
I for one do believe the hype.
At Friday’s game I went off the deep end before he even earned his innagural major league hit and dropped $27 bucks on an Alvarez shirt. Way too much for the time being but I do think I am the only one who has bought one yet, I loved being distinctive. However, that was probably trumped on Saturday when he did get his first hit. He has a long career ahead of him, I just hope it is fruitful.
Speaking of fruitful my favorite fruit is pineapple. Sorry for that irrelevant tidbit. I do think I will sign off on that note. Stay tuned for my next entry recapping the Pitt Peas’ visit to Washington D.C. and Nationals Park!
photo credits: horridindian.com, fanball.com, kentucky.com
I hate Cleveland.
I do. The city, the sports teams and the atmosphere. It is weird, a little dumpy and just plain weird.
Progressive Field isn;t bad, but still its weird. Nonetheless I along with my brother Zach, and good friends Eric and Andrew ventured up to the ‘mistake on the lake’ for a Sunday game between the Indians and Nationals.
We were excited to see the baseball world turn their heads on to Cleveland to see if Strasburg could provide and encore performance to last Tuesday’s 14 strikeout spectacle against the Pirates. Going only 5.1 innings, walking five and striking out eight wasn’t exactly the powerful performance we were hoping for but shoot any team’s fans would take an outing like that from their starting pitcher.
Strasburg started out the game masterfully. These numbers were common on the speed gun.
There hasn’t been a crowd this big to watch a young pitcher since Henry Rowengartner made his debut with the Cubs. The Indians even went as fas as selling Strasburg gear inside the park’s souvineer stands.
However, not all Clevelnaders took kindly to the rookie. Now Andrew, Zach and myself were cheering for the Nationals and Strasburg, the other in our group was not. Eric is not that big into baseball but knows how to have a good time at the ballpark. When Strasburg first walked out of the dugout he began an “Overated” chant. He also was ragging on Strasburg the entire day hoping to see the Indians light him up. He wasn’t alone. While there were many Nats fans in the park, many made the trip from the DC-Virginia area, most people were quick to boo Strasburg. There were three seperate occasions where boos were thrown down from the Progessive Field rafters. Twice he requested the mound be looked at forcing groundscrew to touch up his footing area and he was booed loudly as we was taken out of the game in the fifth inninng.
There were many memories made this game with a majority occuring before the game actually started. Seeing Strasburg warm up was a novelty in itself but on top of that we saw and met many cool people.
Number 25 there is Stetson Allie. Former pitcher of St. Edwards High School in Cleveland. Why do I care about Stetson Allie you ask. Well he just so happened to be the second round pick of the Pirates in last week’s draft. His high school team was being honored pre-game for winning the Ohio State Championship. I’m tol he is a hard throwing righty but has control issues, a younger Strasburg perhaps? I hope the Pirates offer him a lucrative deal and he signs. I shouted a “Let’s Go Bucs!” to him and he seemed a little creeeped out.
The national spotlight was still on Strasburg for start number two and ESPN was well represented. Field reporter Pedro Gomez wa son the field pre game trying to avoid our obnoxious calls to him. After he was filming he posed for pictures with all four of us. We were the original spotters, after our pics a throng came down to the field level forcing Pedro to retreat to the dugout. So thanks Mr. Gomez, I hope we made your trip to Cleveland fun as well.
You may be able to tell that I am wearing a San Diego State shirt. It was in honor of Strasburg who went to school there. The only guy in the park to notice it and give me kudos on it was Pete from clevelandfrowns.com. He was a nice guy and was great to have a ten minute conversation with. If you are a Cleveland fan it is a cool blog site to check out.
Andrew also took part in honoring the past in noteable fashion. Rocking the Expos hat he was very vintage in showing he was a die-hard fan of the Nationals franchise (even though he lives and breathes the Yankees.) He also bit the bullet and purchased a Strasburg T-shirt.
And they said Lastings wasn’t loved in Washington. This guy is keeping the funk alive rocking his Milledge jersey.
And if that isn’t a sight for sore eyes in Cleveland I do not know what is. Peeking out on the railing is indeed an Andrew McCutchen jersey and Pirates hat. Just beautiful. I never like to wear an obscure team clothing item to the park when that team isn’t playing but that guy obviously doesn’t follow my rules and I’m frankly okay with it. It was refreshing.
I say farewell on that note. The Pirates lost 4-3 today. My freind Erin was keeping me up to date with all that was happening via text. We were swept by the Tigers as Octavio Dotel gave up a three run home run to Miguel Cabrera. Despite that frustration I will be back at my home, PNC Park on Tuesday as the Bucs host the White Sox. Even though teh Pirates struggle through it, I love interleague play!
His every move was watched as 44,000 in Nationals Park and millions around the world were focused on this kid who is only six months older than myself.
It was like a presidential procession as he left the dugout to warm up in the outfield as a handful of security guards surrounded him as media and fans attempted to get a glimpse of the hurler.
With all the craze and hype developing since he was drafted as the first overall pick in 2009 Strasburg handled the moment the best way he knew how, striking out 14 Pirate batters.
It was the most unique way I personally have ever watched a baseball game as I focused solely on the 6’4 220 pounds pitcher. He is straight up Nasty, with a capital N.
He throws so hard hitting the upper nineties like it is nothing. His changeup clocks in at 91. His changeup! His sinker and curveballs would make Pedro Cerrano cry. They are simply unhittable.
He gave up a two run homerun to Delwyn Young and Andy LaRoche recorded the first hit off him in the third inning. Strasburg will be great, time will tell if he will be mentioned in the same breath as the Randy Johnson’s and Roger Clemens’s and if he will end up on the Yankees. But I think it is safe to say he will be the 2010 Rookie of the Year.
A much less hyped up debut of a pair of major leaguers will also be occuring soon.
The Pirates’ outfielder Jose Tabata and pitcher Brad Lincoln will make their first appearances sometime this week.
Lincoln was the Buc’s first round draft pick in the 2006 draft, 4th overall. He’s had a solid minor league year at AAA Indianapolis going 6-2 with a 3.16 ERA. It has been his best year since returning from surgery in 2007. He has the potential to be a number one starter in the rotation but alsi has to develop himself into that role. Soemthing that homegrown Pirates pitchers fail to do.
Tabata is a unique story. He came over to Pittsburgh from the Yankees in the trade that sent Xavier Nady and Damaso Marte to New York. The Pirates also recieved Ross Ohlendorf in that swap. Tabata is best known for having a 35 year old wife who kidnaps children (long story). His on the field reputation is good as he has great potential at the plate. He is batting just over .300 with three homeruns this season. His best year came in 2008 when he arrived in AA Altoona. He hit for a .348 average. Tabata will split time in the outfield with Ryan Church, Lastings Milledge and Garrett Jones, when he is not manning first.
Both players will get early playing time by being thrown into the fire right away, I like that. That kind of development and on the job training is necessary to succeed. That is why they are up here anyway, to play.
The Pirates and the rest of Major League baseball all took a step in the right direction towards their future.
I was pleased with Pittsburgh’s draft class as I have been the past two years. It picked up who Baseball America called the two hardest throwing pitchers in the draft in 2nd overall pick Jameson Taillon and second rounder Stetson Allie. Not only do they both have sweet names, they have sweet pitches. Both can hit the 100mph mark which I think is ridiculous for both of them coming right out of high school. I still have doubts that the Pirates will be able to sign eitehr of them. They will demand a boatload of money and I am sure the Bucs will short change them. I can only hope owner Bob Nutting is ready to open up the checkbook.
I was most ecstatic about former West Virginia short stop Jedd Gyorko going 59th overall to the San Diego Padres.
I have covered Gyorko and the Mountaineer baseball team for the past two years and he is head over heels the best collegiate player I have ever seen. He leaves WVU as the best hitter in school history with a .404 Batting Average and 35 home runs. He will help the Padres up the middle as well with a good gloves and wide range.
Kaybee and Hyun Young; enjoy him. He is a pleasure to watch and an even greater guy. He stabnds just a generous 5’10” but plays much bigger. He does have a stocky build and natural raw power. He was definitely picked up because of his bat and will be able to transition from aluminum to wood nicely. He is such a nice dude who was a pleasure to talk with and develop a trusting relationship. Yesterday was a big day for him and his family yet he took time out of it to do an interview with me. You guys can read my article about Gyorko here at The Daily Athenaeum website, the official school newspaper of WVU.
If you are one of my good buddies reading this you will know where I am coming from with that title. If you are not, I will briefly explain.
The year was 2006 and my family and I were on a trip to Washington, D.C. On this one specific day we visited the U.S. Mint. Now I can’t say I remember too much about our tour of the mint but one moment will surely stick out for many years, and it has.
But to Julio Martinez, the Mint security guard, it was.
“Sanchez!?! Who is Sanchez?” he excalims to me.
After I explain who the Pittsburgh second baseman was he showed a slight grin and hinted that he hopes to hear more about the solid player. Some four years later I hope he has had his fill of Freddy.
Now that wasn;t the best story in world but shoot it is in my circle of family and friends, we always get a laugh out of it.
While Sanchez’s career in Pittsburgh is over, he has began to make his mark in San Francisco. After battling through injuries at the end of last season after being traded to beginning this season on the disabled list Sanchez has started to turn things around.
After going 3-for-4 against the Pirates Friday night he continued to have a big series and drove in the winning run on Sunday, a sacrifice fly in the 10th inning.
Sanchez is now batting .371 although he has appeared in just 17 games. He was said to have started to wind down in his carrer but still has that knack at the plate. I feel he will be swinging strongly for quite sometime.
There may not be a classier ballplayer than Freddy Sanchez. In interviews after the trade that send him to San Francisco in exchange for minor league pitcher Tim Alderson, Sanchez has been nothing but respectful of his former city and club.
. The way the fans treated me was just awesome,” Sanchez told Post Gazette reporter Dejan Kovacevic, “I can’t wait to be back there and play in that stadium again.”
He recieved loud ovation this weekend and rightfully so, he earned it. While it may have been dissapointing, yet fitting, that he drove in the winning run to break open a 5-5 tie on Sunday what he did the day before is entirely admirable.
After donating much more $50,000 dollars to Western Pennsylvania Charities and other outlets to build baseball fields for special needs children, Sanchez and his family showed up at one of those fields to play ball with those kids. The Post-Gazette and USA Today have picked up on this story and I am sure we will be hearing more of it. Sanchez the humanitarian is a fitting nickname that will stick because of his strong willed attributes.
How many players, scratch that, how many visiting team players would do that the afternoon before a game, let alone the day after playing a game that did not start until ten o’clock and probably did not finsih until almost 1 a.m.
Sanchez enjoyed his time in Pittsburgh. He was a loser only because of his team’s win-loss
record but still through all of it remianed a good sport and wanted to be in the Steel City. He has taken the high road by only talking about the good of Pittsburgh and wanting to come back. Players such as Nate McLouth, Adam LaRoche, Eric Hinske, Sean Burnett and other who have recently been traded have come right out and said they were happy to move on. To quote Frank Sinatra, Sanchez’s vagabond shoes were longing to stray, just not in New York City, but in Pittsburgh, Pa. He now reps the number 21. A shoutout to Clemente and Pittsburgh? Maybe.
photo credits: fansedge.com, postgazette.com, bayareasportsguy.com
These past few days have been pretty busy for myself. I hate makng excuses for not blogging especially in the summer when school is out, but I have been bogged down by work and other summer activities.
While you all have read about these three stories I am about to report on from many media outlets. I just want to give my two cents.
There is not a soul that does not like Ken Griffey Jr. He is often hailed as a favorite players and the face of baseball. In the 90’s and 2000’s Griffey made the game of baseball accessible to a new audience. Inner city kids who would much rather pick up a basketball than a glove noticed “The Kid” dominate a sport with superb athletic ability at the plate and in the field. His image will forever be tied to greatness as an amazing ballplayer but maybe an even better role model.
Griffey’s career should have ended last year as a 39 year old. He wore out his welcome this year as he flirted with the Mendoza Line and failed to add to his 650 homerun total. He was carted off the field in last year’s season finale in Seatle, that epic ending should have been the perfect way to shut the door on a nearly perfect career.
It is sad when athletes wear out their welcome. Michael Jordan should have retired right there after that classic NBA Finals shot in Utah. Brett Favre is the rare excpetion to this retirement rule. I guess Griffey made the right decison to end his horrid play of 2010 to help out his struggling Mariners.
Point two may just be the hot button issue of the 2010 sports world.
There are so many opinions on what to make out of this Armando Galarraga not-so perfect game. So I will make mine short and sweet. Jim Joyce should have called Jason Donald out regardless. On a play like that you have to know what was at stake whether Joyce thought he was safe. It was a bang bang play and the tie, even though it was not, should have went to not the runner, but Galarraga.
That all being said, it was not a perfect game! What makes baseball so unique is that human judgement that controls the game. For almost 150 years the game has been played naturally under the control of umpires. It is how it has always been the controversy and discussions add to make the game of baseball what it is. Replay should not be brought in. I do not want to see robots over seeing the basepaths or managers in the dugout throwing out challenge flags. Keep the game traditional and pure. However, in that situation other umpires, especially the homeplate umpire, should have been able to over rule or at least meet up with Joyce to decide that the right call was made.
Finally, the least important topic has to do with a Pittsburgh hometown hero, Neil Walker.
The former 1st round draft pick has been milling around in the minors for quite some time. He struggled a bit for the past few years but since being called up he has been blazing a trail and surpassing expectations.
Walker won the game for the Pirates on Tuesday with an 8th inning 2-run homerun to beat the Cubs 3-2. Walker is maintaining a .321 batting average while switching between third base and second base. If he keeps this up he will definitely be a cornerstone on the Bucs for years to come.
photo credits: AP/Gene Puskar, mlive.com, vivalavidro.files.wordpress.com,