Results tagged ‘ Delwyn Young ’

“Where were these fans during the year?”

Well, the fun kept coming last week as Pirates baseball remained fresh on everyone’s mind.

The annual Pirate Fest occurred Friday through Sunday at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. In fitting fashion I was there for the weekend’s grand opening and grand closing. It was an event filled with non-stop action lifelong memories.
Honestly.
At least enough to hold me over until Spring Training, that is.
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Friday night there was line to get in as the doors were not opened until 4 p.m. In Black Friday style the crowd ransacked their way into the Center as if they were in search of a Doorbuster Deal on ipads. 
While a few friends and I were some of the first ones in, we didn’t rush over to the autograph lines like a majority of the die-hards. Instead, I signed up for a subscription to the Tribune-Review. I was told they could deliver the paper to me on Sundays, so I said why not? 
Just doing my part to sustain my dying industry. 
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We would eventually find our way to the autograph lines. They seem to stretch for hours, because they do. Sometimes, though, I just don’t see the point. I mean, it’s just a signature. Nonetheless, I still got some pretty cool things signed by players and coaches. 
In my opinion, nothing is cooler than a picture, much like this one on the right. New manager Clint Hurdle and I shared a quick discussion and handshake. 
Let me tell you, he means business. 
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While Hurdle has been a hot topic in Pittsburgh recently, the 1960 World Series team is, too. 
Pictured left is pitcher Bob Friend who was a hurler on that classic team. As I’m sure most of you are aware footage from that historic game 7 was recently discovered. Found in Bing Crosby’s wine cellar of all places, it has since been copied into DVD and widely distributed throughout the city and baseball circles.
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Current players were signing, too. 
Here is my brother, Zach, getting right fielder Jose Tabata’s autograph. 
Tabata bulked up over the winter and was visibly larger. He is quiet as he is shy, and not so fluent in English, either. 
Hearing him say Jersey might be the funniest thing in the world.
“Hersee”
Jeff Karstens, remember him?
He was signing Friday, as well. But unlike the rest of the players he kept his interactions with fans to a minimum.
As you can see, he already zoomed through his stack of cards just merely handing them out to passers by.
He was like that mean old lady at the end of your street that just left a big box of candy on the porch on Halloween.
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Of course, they don’t call it Pirate Fest for nothing. There are a plethora of other events go on in this winter baseball epicenter. 
Zach and I took our skills to the broadcast booth as we love to share off our speaking talents. I’m not one to toot my own horn, but we have great banter and chemistry on the mic. 
We called the highlights of this year’s Pedro Alvarez walk off home run to down the Rockies in extras on August 7th. We were very Greg Brown and Steve Blass-esque.
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Speaking of family, it was great to run in Zach, as well as my dad on Friday. If it wasn’t for my old man I wouldn’t be writing this blog in the first place, simply because I wouldn’t be a Pirates fan.
I recall one game when I was no older than 10, we witnessed a beat down of our Bucs and Three Rivers Stadium. Upon walking out, he just turns to me and says ‘I’m sorry.”
There’s no doubt a majority of my 21 years have been a disappointment, but thats what will make the impending turn around so much better.
Sharing the victories with my dad.

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I haven’t been the only one suffering from baseball withdrawal. Driving up from Morgantown with my friend Marc was a great time, even if he truly is a Cubs fan. But meeting up with two of my best friends, Erin and Craig, who are indeed die-hard Pirate fans was refreshing. 
We shared a nice night in the ‘Burgh.
Friday night wasn’t over, though.
The fun was just beginning. 
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I ran into Joe Klimchak, in game host for games at PNC Park. He does a great job keeping a lively atmosphere at games and I try to compliment him any time I can. having been to many parks across the country, I am proud to say, hands down, Pittsburgh has the best host in all of baseball. His attitude and knowledge are inspiring and you just can’t help but feed off his energy. This was evident Friday as we chatted for a good 10 minutes. he had recognized me and called me “West Virginia.”
Heck, I don’t go by anything else!
Then things got a little somber. 
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The most hurtful thing that has happened to myself and the Pirates this off season was letting go of Lastings Milledge. Now, he didn’t necessarily live up to his lofty expectations.
In fact, he underachieved greatly.
But, he had promise and was a fun player to watch at the plate and in the field. He was my favorite player and I just feel the Bucs could fall victim to releasing a strong talent. 
I don’t want the non-retention to hurt Pittsburgh, but I also wish Milledge the best wherever he ends up.
We will never forget.
Later on, my West Virginia act would bite me in the butt.
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At the Q and A session players and coaches sat on stage fielding questions from fans. 
Some questions were cute, others were stupid. 
I had the honor of closing off the event. I asked who attended the recent wedding of Pedro Alvarez, just Neil Walker did.
It got a little dicey, though. 
Introducing myself as “Matt from Morgantown, Let’s Goooo Mountaineers” may have been a bad move. I was serenaded by a throng of boos. There were some cheers, however, laughs, too. I was glad to showcase my two loyalties, though. 
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We ended on that note and came back Sunday. We were greeted by a huge line of people filling in right as the gates opened at noon. 
Many jokes were passed by attendees saying “Where are all these people during the season?” Valid question, but in all honesty, they’ve been at PNC Park.
For the three day span an announced crowd of nearly 17,000 people came, the largest crowd for Fest since 2003. 
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 Erin joined our crowd again Saturday, she’s great. Never thought I could meet a bigger fan of Bucco baseball before, I still have her beat, but sure sure is close. Then, two buddies from Youngstown met us. My longest friend, Andrew and Ed, Yankees and Cubs fan, respectively, donned their black and gold to escape the winter doldrums and get in the baseball spirit. 
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A new addition to the Pirates’ wardrobe was showcased Sunday.
A yellow batting practice jersey will be inducted into the normal locker room attire for this year.
I like it, I always like yellow anything and that includes my music.
Pittsburgh rapper Wiz Khalifa’s “Black and Yellow” has been sweeping the country and the Pirates are jumping on board. Be prepared to hear it a lot this week, too, as its Super Bowl Time.
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The best part about an event like this definitely the people. A colorful crowd attends Pirate Fest every years and it is a great opportunity to discuss baseball with other passionate fans. We mingled and met many cool people including a fellow Pirate blogger, Zac Weiss.
He is an inspiring journalist, too and you and see his work here on mlblogs. His blog is called “Breaking Down the Bucs.”
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In what Erin calls, “The Cutest Thing Ever,” this picture on the left was a long time coming. It is pitcher Paul Maholm’s twitter picture.
Having asked him if I could print it out to have him sign on twitter a few days before, he obliged.
We shared a nice chat about his tweets and family. His so, Wyatt, is indeed the cutest thing ever. Come one, one look at the pic and all you can say is “aww.”
By the way, be sure to follow him on twitter, @Maholm28. He and his family are going to Disney World the week before Spring Training and will be tweeting and twitpic’ing up a storm.
For more Wyatt action, check it out. 
If you think that’s cool wait until you get a load of this.
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Jim Rooker, pitcher on the 1979 World Series team was signing autographs on a limited basis. He just wrote a series of baseball related children’s books. “Matt the Batt, Kitt the Mit and Paul the Ball,” are entertaining books and perfect for the youngest of baseball fans. He would only sign if you bought the book. Of course, I had to splurge on Matt the Bat. Being my namesake and all it will be a great heirloom to pass onto my kids.
Judging from those pictures, wouldn’t you say it was $14 dollars well spent?
Although Rooker would not give me his ring, he did have to say “Give it back, give it back,” I still did not come away from the day empty handed. 
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That my friends is a Delwyn Young banner than hung from outside PNC Park during the 2009 season. For just $25 bucks I one of two people that own one, me and Young himself. 
Unfortunately, shortly after that it was time to call it a day. A wonderful baseball weekend was the perfect dose to cure the winter blues.
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Is it Spring Training, yet?

Pittsburgh Broom Company

 

brooms.jpgThe. Pirates. Stink. I do not think there is a better way to put it.

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.

kurt.jpgOakland defeated Pittsburgh after a Kurt Suzuki 8th run solo home run to eventually be the deciding blow in their 3-2 victory.

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.

 

dancutch.jpgIt 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.

The first step needs to be the firing of John Russell. 
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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

Week in Review

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….

 

 

 

hateindians.jpgThe 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.

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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.

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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.

pedro.jpgHe’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.

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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

The future’s open wide

strasburg.jpgThe hour building up to the debut of Stephen Strausburg against the Pirates may have been the most excited I have been in quite sometime.

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.

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jose-tabata.jpgBoth have been hailed as saviors for the big league club and will also have to fight the adversity Strasburg is going through in order to prove they can belong.

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.

 

Gyorko-Header-6810.jpgI 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.

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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.

photo credits:

postgazette.com

insidepittsburghsports.com

media.scout.com

msnsportsnet.com

March 2, 2010- a good day

From embarrassment to back on track the Pirates defeated the State College of Florida 6-1 on Tuesday afternoon. The embarrassment came last year as the community college defeated the Pirates. Yes, that really happened. Although obviously not the entire major league roster an MLB or even minor league club should handily beat any college team.

It did happen today.

There were a handful positives for Bucco fans steaming from the win today.

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1). It is the start of baseball season. What is better than seeing our boys take the field for an official organized game against competition.

 

 

 

 

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2). Pedro Alvarez very well could be the read deal. The “prodigy” went 3-for-4 with three straight hits including a solid double. If it is any sign of things to come, which I’m sure it is, Alavarez will be on a fast track to the hot corner in Pittsburgh.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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3). Donnie Veal-remember the name. Veal was a rule 5 pickup last offseason and is said to have killer potential. He was injured for a majority of the year in 2009 but showed promise in a depleted bullpen. He was a part of th Arizona Fall League and tore up the mound last Autumn. Today he went just one inning, but did not allow a hit and struck out a batter. He will begin the year in the Pirate bullpen, but has the talent to make a run at a rotation spot later on in the season.

 

The players in the lineup for the Bucs today were all minor league prospects who will not sniff the big leagues for a while. Alvarez and Jose Tabata are two of the exceptions. However, Brandon Moss too was in the lineup. Moss had a sensational game hitting a home run, but to be playing with these youngsters would have to be pretty demeaning if I were in his shoes. 

moss.jpg Moss has failed to live up to lofty expectations the past two seasons. It is questionable whether or not he will make the big league roster. He surely needs the work in AAA, but there is a fighting chance he will be the last bench spot. He will be in tight competition with Delwyn Young and another rule 5 acquistion, John Rayner. I personally hope Young is part of the opening day 25-man roster

 

 

There are two more reasons why today has been a good day.

Over the weekend I set out with some friends to the Morgantown Mall, anticipating a big purchase. I had my sights set on buying a new hat. I had bought a gray Pirates earlier this year but Saturday I really wanted to be unique with a new team. After much consideration and second guessing I left with this:

SF.jpgYes my friends a San Francisco Giants hat. Odd? Maybe. Unique? Indeed. It is something different and I like being a trend setter here. I have seen these on campus before, but it is very rare. I recieved about three compliments on my new cap and I am proud of my purchase.

Reson number three, last but not least is some big news.

After interviewing for an internship with the West Virginia Power minor league baseball team,
wv power.jpg class A of the Pirates, a few weeks ago I recieved a call back today. I was selected to be an intern. I am overjoyed at this opportunity as it will help further my career and give me a leg up in a field I hope to work in. There are still specifics that need to be worked out, I need some extra cash and a place to stay as the Power makes their home in Charleston, about a three hour drive from Morgantown.

I still have time to think it over, but good news is always welcome.

Everybody who has MLB Network should tune into it tomorrow at 1pm as the Pirates take on the Yankees. I do not pickup the station but my buddy’s girlfriend does. Manager John Russel has said both Paul Maholm and Ross Ohlendorf will pitch in the opening game against NY. Get pumped! Because I am!

phot credits: sarasota.com, zimbio.com, bucsdugout.com, sportsillustrated.com, lids.com,    wowktv.com 

 

Move over Sidney, there’s a new Crosby in town

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And his name is Bobby.

The Pirates are reportedly close to signing infielder Bobby Crosby to a one year deal on Thursday. The 29 year old shortstop is a former Oakland A with an aresenal of talent hiding within him and six years of big league experience.

As the winter meetings come to a close and the biggest blockbuster officially landing on Wednesday (the 3-way trade of the Yankees, D-Backs and Tigers), it is safe to say this free agent pick up by Pittsburgh will be overlooked, not only by the baseball world, but in the Pittsburgh area as well.

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Theres no question that this guy is not only the most famous Crosby in Western Pennsylvania, but also the most recognizable sports figure in the Steel City in a number of decades. With the Steelers at 6-6 and on the verge of one of their worst seasons in recent history, Pittsburgh is a Hockeytown. Rightfully so, the Penguins are Stanley Cup Champs and with marketable players with such as Mr. Sidney Crosby in town, the Pens not only are a dream on the ice, they really win the hearts of the tween girls of the area.

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In my honest opinion, females are the driving force behind the economics and welfare of professional sports teams. That may be a stretch, in fact it is, but girls enjoy a good team and it doesn’t hurt to have a few handsome players on that team. The Penguins have just that. It is amazing how many Steeler/Penguins shirts, hats, jerseys, jackets and other clothing items you see around the campus of West Virginia University. Any given day they sometimes out number the old gold and blue of the hometown Mountaineers. A majority of the people donning the black and gold of the professional teams of Pittsburgh are girls. It is because they are good and have these marketable players. I can count on one hand the number of Pirates paraphernalia I have seen in the past few years here in Morgantown. It is not many at all, mostly because of the irrelevant nature of my beloved Bucs and because the players are just not that marketable-yet.

The Pirates will be a better team. Maybe not in 2010 but by 2011 they should have a developing young core of guys that will make a push for the playoffs. Once the girls of the metropolitan area catch on, Pirates fever will begin to rank right up there with the recent surge of the Pens. Call me a wishful thinker but if the Pirates flirt with .500 this year and maybe, just maybe make a run at the playoffs Bobby Crosby will be reason for that overdue change of pace.

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He may not have had the greatest year in 2009. In fact he didn’t at all. Being paid over 5 million dollars to hit just above .230 and only knock out six home runs is never acceptable, even for a former Rookie of the Year. In 2004, Crosby earned that award when he hit 22 home runs and carried a .981 fielding percentage. SInce that year he has had a sharp decline in his numbers all around but maybe the six year vet just needs a change of scenery to get things back on track.

He will only be signed for one year at 1.5 million dollars. In no way will he be a starter, but a relaible option of the bench and an ideal utility infielder. Last year he made a majority of his starts at first base surprisingly but he is a natural shortstop. He adds to the expanding depth in the infield as he joins Delwyn Young, Neil Walker and Ramon Vazquez on the bench filling in for Andy LaRoche, Ronny Cedeno and Akinori Iwamura.
Personally I like this signing. It is low risk and worth the 1.5 million for a solid utility guy. For some reason I get a good vibe from he, though just a backup I feel he will give the team a different kind of spark and catch the attention of ladies if, and thats a big, IF, the Pirates catch fire in 2010.

2009 Buccos close the door on PNC Park….

WITH A WIN!

What a refreshing way to close the door on PNC Park for the 2009 campaign. It is bittersweet for me. I hate the end of baseball season (yes I know the Pirates still have two series of road games to play and yes there is still playoffs, but the fact I gotta wait til April to see a live game puts me in a tizzy) Bu anyway the faith is still there. The Pirates actually have a little life and a fight in them to take 3 of 4 from the mighty Dodgers.

On Friday the Bucs edged the Dodgers 3-1, they struggled on Saturday but remained in the 8-4 defeat, it was 6-5 on Sunday as Lastings Milledge nailed a 3-run walk off double and on Monday the Bucco big bats came out in an 11-1 victory.

It is all bittersweet. I loved the way we played against LA but where was that winning spirit throughout the course of the season. Pittsburgh is swept by the Reds but can win three games against the Dodgers in the same week. It just doesn’t come full circle. I honestly believe we have the talent. McCutchen, Jones and Milledge will be cornerstones on this team. However, it takes me than three solid major leaguers to win ballgames. The other regulars on the team have had flashed of brillance but never enough to sustain a winning record.

Andy LaRoche was one of those flashes today

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He went 5-5 with a pair of homers, two doubles and a triples. With a showing like that you would think this guy is a superstar but this year he has been far from it. He’s batting .259 with 12 homeruns. Totally mediocre and he has played the 3rd base position all year. For a player at that position he should be doing much better. He has been a dissapointment considering the hype around him. After all we basically got him for the price of Jason Bay. He’s been off and on all year with a 2 week slump here and a week of greatness there. Emma from CRZblue has been asking about her former top prospect in LA. Emma, what you saw today is really just Andy wearing his “good baseball player” mask. He has a lot of slack to pick up if he wants to guarentee his spot next year. Pedro Alvarez is in the minors and knocking at the PNC Parks doors rapidly.

LaRoche came over from the Dodgers in the three way trade last year. The Dodgers gave the Bucs another key player that has been a starter for Pittsburgh most of the year.

Delwyn Young is a natural corner outfielder. Since the Pittsburgh trade he has been converted
to a second baseman. It took him a while to get adjusted but since he has been more nurtured he has been a soild infielder. He’s been seen on top plays and web gems. He’s been strong at the plate doing his job as speedy guy and getting on base. He is a pure singles hitter who always seems to get a hit. He’s flireted with a .300 batting average for most of the season. He has descended throughout the past 2 months and is now at .261. I’m sure this being his first full time position player season he is winded and will need some much needed R and R this offseason.

The Pirates-Dodgers connection extends beyond the baseball field.

Last week the Pirates took a trip out west to Sunny California and were warmly welcomed by the Dodgers in historic Dodger Stadium.

Like always Cat was at the game showing her pride and watched her Dodgers sweep the Bucs in three games. While she was there she so genuinely picked up a token of memorabilla for me.

She was able to snag an autograph from Pirates reliever Jesse Chavez. Chavez has been very rocky all year and isn’t the most liked guy in Pittsburgh. However, he is nice with the fans and always takes time to sign autographs and throw balls to fans in the stands. I’m impressed with him and all the Pirates players. They relaize their not a team like the Dodgers and should be happy with the strong fan base that will always stick with him. I just want to say thanks Cat! I’m definately keeping this on display, my favorite part is actually the Dodgers season ticket stub. It is very cool and add to my baseball collection. I also want to say hey to my friend Steve, he’s lurking in the background and got caught in the pic.

So this is what a win feels like

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Before I express my feelings of relief, just got to ask one thing. Whats up with this celebration? I love seeing it. I love the look on the players faces when they are in mid air rejoicing after a win. I just don’t like that every team does it. I feel so proud as a Pirates fan knowing the Jolly Roger has just been raised and my boys are up like this, but every team in the MLB does it. It really rubs me the wrong way. I hope some team, I would love it be the Pirates, to come up with their own victory celebration. I would honestly like some touchdown celebrations of sorts. Nothing too drastic just an after the game dance or diddy out in the outfield. It would be a great marketing tool and players and fans alike can partake in their own jigs.

Now enough about that let me just say that a win is a win. They don’t come often but I surely enjoyed this 7-3 win over the respectable Rockies.

The Pirates owned this game from start to finish. Nearly every player contributed to the win in their own special way.

ross o.jpgStarting pitcher Ross Ohlendorf was outstanding on the mound. He picked up his tenth win and now stands at 10-8. He went 6 innings giving up 6 runs and surrendering 3 earned runs. He was a little shaky as he gave up 2 home runs but still managed to work his way out of jams. He showed that he has the poise to avoid disastorous situations and get the key outs.

 

 

 

ryan doumit.jpgRyan Doumit maneuvered his way out of a deeper funk. He notched a double as he went 2-4 with a walk and run scored. Doumit has been iffy all season. He started out hot, but went down with an injury that kept him out for a few months. On his rehab stints he stunk up the joint in the minor leagues. He failed to get hits and looked like a scrub. He has been equally scrubby since his return to the 25 man roster. He’s had his moments with 2 hit games, such as this one, but he has gone hitless in too many games. A good showing at the plate and a win may boost his confidence.

 

 

 

 

last. m.jpgLastings Milledge is not off the hook either. I love his potential and upside but he still has not proven he is the answer in left field. I still do miss Nyjer Morgan but I honestly believe Milledge will live up to the hype and be a star. You can see he puts in time in the weight room and stretches out those meaty legs. He flashed his hops during the game robbing a homerun and elevating above the outfield wall. It was a sensational grab and earned the number one spot on Baseball Tonight “Web Gems” The hosts ,emtyioned that the Pirates hold the lead for team appearances on the web gem segment. A cool honor and rightfully so as it seems night in and night out there is also a Buc on the spotlight.

 

 

 

cutch run.jpgAndrew McCutchen had another hat trick tonight. Remember 2 weeks ago when he hit 3 homeruns. Well as an encore a few days later he went hog wild again. Cutch stole 3 bases. An amazing feat and something only those special players can perform. He has some outstanding speed in those legs. To get him off and running is a great sign, and a warning sign for opposing teams. Getting him on base and on the move will definately score some run. (3 for him tonite)

 

DY-TB.jpgOne of my favorite faces of the Pirates organization is 3rd base coach Tony Beasley. Not only does his last name rhyme with mine he is a charasmatic fellow, like myself. I sometimes question his decsions about sending and holding runners, but 9 times out of ten he knows how to handle it. Last week his father and aunt dies, just a few days apart from each other. He was on leave to be with his family in these tough times. I love his courage and wish the best to his family. Its great to have him back guiding the Bucs. Here Beasley is with Delwyn Young. DY just laced a triple scoring two runs. He finsihed the game 2-5.

 

 

 

Maybe this game will right the ship and direct the Bucs to more wins. I know its late in the season but I hope they can finish respectably. Like I’ve preached before I want to see hope for the future. Tonight I surely did. My goal for the Bucs is to always finish above the Indians when the season is all said and done. We are a few games back now but if the push continues, watch out Tribe.

The Timeline of Frustration

7:05- Bucco game starts. Excitement runs through my veins as another Philies-Pirates game begins. I enjoy this cross state rivalry and look forward to the games each year.

7:15- Pirate right fielder Garret Jones launches a home run to right field. I was skeptical of Jones at first. He never did intrigue me. He has since proven me wrong. Since his time in the big leagues he has connected with the ball well and been an asset in the outfield. He showed tonight that he has the power that the Pirates need.

 


jones.jpg7:18- Delwyn Young homers to left field.
 I love Young. He seems like a good guy with a nice personality and a good fit in the clubhouse. He brings a fire and passion to the team and always seems to get on base. A home run from him is always welcome.

7:48- Andrew McCutchen continues the trend and blasts an HR to left field. I had actually called this homerun. With Adam LaRoche on first I was ready for him to score. I figured no time like the present. I said Cutch is due for a dinger and he delievered right on cue. With a   5-0 lead I figured the Pirates had this game in the bag.

 


cutch22.jpg8:37
- The Phils got on the board with an RBI from Raul Ibanez. This came in the 6th inning where Philly would continue to surge scoring a total of 3 runs.

9:07- The Pirates got 2 more runs here in the 7th in thanks to a handful of miscues by the Philadelphia defense. Garret Jones drew a walk scoring Jack Wilson. Later in the inning Ryan Doumit knocked in McCutchen to earn his first RBI since returning to the big league club.

9:40- With the Pirates in the field and the Philies searching for any form of life at the plate Jack WIlson showcased his glove making a diving, over the shoulder catch in mid left field robbing Shane Victorino of a hit. Being the always aware, always attentive shortstop he is, Wilson flung the ball over to LaRoche at first doubling up Jimmy Rollins. It was an amazing play and sure to be a web gem and top 10 play on tomorrows ESPN broadcasts.

10:00- Matt Capps comes in with a 7-3 lead. I am always weary of these situations. I’m talking baout when a closer is brought in during a non-save situation. Capps had a little breathing room so I was sure he could seal the deal and give the bucs a win.

10:02- Just a few minutes after coming into the game Capps gave up a solo shot to Matt Stairs. I wasn’t worried yet. I like Matt Stairs, he too is a good guy and a fan favorite no matter where he plays. With the Pirates in 2003 he hit 20 homeruns. He leads all current MLBers with 18 pinch hit homeruns.

 


matt-stairs_1009198c.jpg10:11-
Ryan Howard steps to the plate with 2 men on and one out. This was the first meeting between Howard and Capps. Howard took advantage of the Big Bull Rider and absolutely blasted a shot over the centerfield fence. With one swing of the bat the game was tied and another chapter was written in Howard’s legacy book.

10:22- Ten minutes later the ball game was over. The bases were loaded and Paul Bako singled to left field scoring Raul Ibanez, who would be the dreadful winning run.

 

raul.jpgWith the loss the Pirates slip to 11 games under .500. There is little hope for the rest of the season. There is also little hope for the future of Matt Capps. It is inexcuseable for a closer of his nature to blow a game like this. The Bucs recently brought in Joel Hanrahan from the Nationals. I do believe they have plans for him in the pen as a closer here in the near future.

Ryan Doumit performed well in just his second game back from the DL. He was 0-4 in his first game but turned it around tonight with 2 doubles.

Andy LaRoche turned on the jets when he laced a triple in the 8th inning. I did not realize it but it was his 4th triple of the year.

Andrew McCutchen had a heck of a game. He had 2 hits, one being the HR, a stolen base and scored. This is the kind of production we need from him in the leadoff spot.

Virgil Vazquez will square off against J.A. Happ tomorrow for game 3 of the series when Pittsburgh hopes to avoid the sweep.

 

  

 

 

 

Sweet Home Chicago Part Two

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This is not what I hope to see this week. The road trip to Chicago has not been as friendly as hoped for the Bucs. Sunday was an exciting come from behind thriller as the Pirates won 4-3 thanks to a tying homerun by Jack Wilson, his 1st of the season. And the ultimate winning run scored by Nyjer Morgan and hit by Delwyn Young. All the damage was done with the game on the brink in the top of the ninth. 

The Pirates only managed 2 hits against Sox pitcher Gavin Floyd in Fridays 2-0 loss. A different story in the pivital game three. Sunday’s win gave the Pirates 16 hits en route to their 20th win of the season.

Pittsburgh now sits at 20-24 on the year and face the Cubs. I have to applaud whoever does the scheduling of teh season games. To hav ethe Pirates stay in Chicago for a six game stretch was very convienent. I’m sure the players appreciate not having to travel across the country but rather across town. I wonder if they just stayed in the hotel this past week? Doubtful because Chicago is a huge city, but nontheless it is a good move.  

The Pirates now face the Cubs in an interesting crossroads. The Cubbies have lost 7 in a row. This could be both an advantage and disadvantage facing Pittsburgh. Can the Pirates kick Chicago while their down? Or will Chicago be hungry and feeding on the Pirates?

With all these questions upon us lets take a look at some of the images from Sunday’s dramatic victory at U.S. Cellular Field.

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Eric Hinkse filled in at first base for Adam LaRoche. Hinske did things in a big way hitting a ground rule double in the first and a solo homerun in the 8th. The HR was his first of the year. Hinske’s performance should dictate more playing time at first base or anywhere on the diamond.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

karstens.jpg

 

 

Starting pitcher Jeff Kaaaaaaarstens had one of his best outings of the year. (I add the aaaaaaar for the dynamic Pirate-sounding effect. Works dont it?) 5.1 innings pitched, 5 hits and 3 earned runs was his stat line. A no-decision but he definately allowed the Bucs to stay in the game.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Jack Wilson connects for his homerun in the top of the ninth. It was his first of the year and it could not have come at a more opportune time. The dinger tied the game at 3 and ultimately boosted the Pirates to score the winning run a few batters latter.

 

 

 

 

nyjer.jpg

 

Nyjer Morgan crossed the plate for that winning run thanks to the RBI at the hands of Delwyn Young. The look in Morgan’s eyes and expression on his face sum up the feeling of winning that every player feels after a crucial moment. Morgan, a sprakplug in his own right will help instill the positive and most importantly winning mentality in the minds of the players to continue to win vicoriously.

 

 

 

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Outfielder Nate McClouth, Morgan and Brandon Moss gather to celebrate the 4-3 vicotry after Matt Capps shut down the WHite Sox 1-2-3 in the bottom of the ninth. Capps struck out the side en route to his 9th save of the year.

 

 

 

 

 

After singing the Blues while witnessing 2 straight losses, I was signing the praises of the Bucs while watching this game on my couch, all part of my ideal lazy Sunday type of afternoon. As this week continues in Chicago I hope to see more jubilation in part to Buc victories, theres nothing like a good win to make your day alot better.

 

PHOTO CREDITS: allposters.com, espn.com

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