While December remains the “most wonderful time of the year,” this week in January isn’t far behind.
If you were anything like me growing up there was always a few days throughout the year that we looked forward to most. Christmas, Birthdays and Opening Day go without saying, but there was always a time, usually in mid-January, when Youngstown, OH would get a little nutty. The world famous Harlem Globetrotters would pay a visit to YSU’s Beeghly for their famous act.
After being picked up by the Pirates with the No. 1 pick in 1996 he ended his career nearly 14 years later with a record of 70-75 and an ERA of 4.42. He had just one 10 win season in his injury laden career.
He left Pittsburgh in 2004 when he was traded to the Mets in exchange for Jose Bautista. Benson faltered even more with another elbow injury in New York and from 2006 on he spent time in Baltimore and Texas but never amounted to even the miniscule success he found in Pittsburgh. It was reported that Benson was toying with the idea of signing with the Arizona Diamondbacks at the end of 2010 but the 36 year old felt it was in his best interest to offcially retire from baseball.
I don’t blame him.
The dissapointing career might not totally be his fault, though. Perhaps the only mistake he made was the fact that he agreed to sign with the Pirates back in ’96. He was just another pawn in the losing chess game otherwise known as the Pirates in the MLB draft.
Let’s start back in 1992, the last winning season for Pittsburgh and look year by year at the first round picks for the Bucs.
1992: Jason Kendall
1993: Charles Peterson
1994: Mark Farris
1995: Chad Hermansen
1996: Kris Benson
1997: J.J. Davis
1998: Clint Johnson
1999: Bobby Bradley
2000: Sean Burnett
2001: John Van Benschoten
2002: Bryan Bullington
2003: Paul Maholm
2004: Neil Walker
2005: Andrew McCutchen
2006: Brad Lincoln
2007: Daniel Moskos
2008: Pedro Alvarez
2009: Tony Sanchez
2010: Jameson Tailon
Four of those players are on the current Pirates roster, four spent ever-so bried stints in Pittsburgh, three look to be major pieces in building the next wave of successful baseball in the Steel City, one had a fruitful major league career, one currently is sweeping the bullpens in Washington and the rest probably haven’t been heard from since draft day.
Even though the Pirates, as well as Benson, have been losers for nearly two decades there is something Kris has that very few others do.
A lingerie model.
photo credits: foxsports.com, si.com
Last spring the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown welcomed me with open arms for a glorious day.
From the Pittsburgh Peas to you; Merry Christmas! May this time of year be blessed with great joy and happiness as you all celebrate your own customs and traditions with your families. This is my favorite time of the year and my wish is that everyone can remember the reason for the season and experience all the goodness that comes from it.
The bustling winds, fluffy white snow and bone chilling temperatures do not scream baseball. However, for my brother, Zach and I, a trip to PNC Park was just what we needed to cure our national pastime blues.
The select few of you readers who have stuck it out during my extended leave of absence know I have five passions in life. Three of them were on display last week at the Winter Meetings.
Hurdle comes to the Steel City after being a part of two of the last three World Series. The batting coach for the Rangers, who happened to have the league’s highest team batting average is notoriously known for his tenure as manager of the Colorado Rockies. He was at the helm of the Rockies from 2002 until the beginning of 2009. In that time span he oversaw the development of young prospects such as Brad Hawpe, Troy Tulowitzki, Clint Barmes, Garett Atkins and Matt Holliday. That litany of potential is rivaled by that of the crop of youngsters the Pirates currently have now and the likes that are rising through the system.
Hurdle exudes confidence.
Even the harshest critics of the Pirates buy into the demeaner of Hurdle.
Ahem, Ron Cook.
Cook said, “He’s better than the franchise deserves.”
Hurdle has already implemented catchphrases that the Pirates marketing team needs to play on.
Describing his team as a “wolfpack,” Hurdle said he plans for everyone involved with the organization to go “all in.”
I’ve been all in 21 years of my life, Clint. I’m ready for more to join me.
Aside from his on the field duties, Hurdle is a family man.
His family of four is a tight-knit groupe for good reasons. His daughter suffers from Prader-Willi
syndrome, a disease with 1 in 25,000 probability. Hurdle said a big reason why he chose the Pittsburgh job was to be close to specialized medical facilites in the city that cater especially to patients with the rare syndrome.
All in all, Hurdle took the job to meet objectives. He wante dto get back into managing and had a chance to take the Mets job. Both New York and Pittsburgh are in rebuilding situations but there is just something lucrative about bringing a forgotten team back to prominence. Hurdle sees that and wants to be the man to right the ship.
He has already began a grassroots campaign in Pittsburgh since it was announced he would be hired. Hurdle was seen Sunday at the Steelers game and Monday at the Penguins games. The Pirates play third fiddle in Pittsburgh so its good that Hurdle is petitioning for some noteriety. In the business thats called good public relations.
The Pirates really haven’t seen that in the last three, make the 18 years.
photo credits:postgazette.com, yahoo.com
After the remarkable World Series win, San Francisco seems to be the mecca of baseball these days.
A reported 1.5 million were on hand last week for the parade celebration. Talk about coming in with style. Keeping with the famed cable car tradition of the beautiful city the team rode in on cable cars among ticker tape flowing by the thousands. Without a doubt a lovely display of black and orange.
The honor didn’t stop there.
Probably the most recognizable of all the champions is “The Beard” Brian Wilson.
Always notorious for his outlandish behavior, the playoffs gave him an outlet to let loose and get recognition. Described as a “real life Kenny Powers” by the good folks at TMZ, Wilson found his way into the mainstream after the World Series.
Wilson has helped bring in a new wave of baseball fans to the sport, in my opinion. His mentality and persona is unlike that of any player in the game today, really. It is refreshing to see a Rick Vaughn type “Wild Thing” take the mound to close out a game. Let’s just hope he doesn’t flame out or end up in the California Penal League.
Another hero made his way to late night, my man Freddy Sanchez.
I honestly got chills as I sat watching him take shots of Jameson on Lopez Tonight, with George Lopez. Aside from a cheap latino joke, Sanchez handled himself very well and looked like he embraced the limelight. In nearly every interview I have seen with him he always speaks at length about his time in Pittsburgh. He talked about how much he enjoyed being a Pirate after Lopez took a shot at the club. Lopez’s main objective was to divert attention away from Pittsburgh to talk about Sanchez being a Los Angeles native. Nonetheless, it was a brilliant five minutes and hopefully people begin to relaize once again that a Freddy Sanchez type human being are a dime a dozen.
Another classy Giant has to be MVP Edgar Renteria.
Renteria turned down an offer from his native Columbia. His country had asked to throw a parade for him honoring his MLB achievements. He respectfully turned it down and asked the money, time and effort be put towards that of helping flood victims in the area.
The Giants may not be where they were this year, next year. It will be hard to forget the memories and characters from the improbable victory, though.
photo credits: sacbee.com, yahoo.com