Results tagged ‘ Pirates ’

Russell era thankfully comes to a close

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Pictured to the left is the face of a loser.

John Russell was hired before the 2007 season and 299 losses later he is left looking for work.

Pittsburgh could not be happier.

A head scratching move from the beginning Russell was never seen as a quality big league manager.

He was at one time a 3rd base coach for the Bucs but was let go when the previous coaching regime under Lloyd McClendon was cleared out.

He lingered around in the minors and actually won a minor league manager of teh year award with the Philie’s AAA club.

My question: How?
Russell was a lame duck at the helm providing very little support to his team. He never

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showed an ounce of emotion and was never one to rally the troops. It’s not to say he didn’t have the talent to win, because he did not. Russell was handed a team in turmoil.

Part of me thinks that was the plan. 2007 was also the time when the framework was laid for the future. frank Coonelly and Neil Huntington started their time in the front office. Something tells me they did not think the first three years of their set in Pittsburgh were going to be very, well, good. Evident by the fire sale of veteran players and many losses. I think the pair wanted to hire a guy that could just oversee the on field operations until a new wave of younger players were reaching the big league level.

2011.

Next year a core is in place. Talented rookies Neil Walker, Pedro Alvarez and Jose Tabata are cemented in the starting lineup alongside Andrew McCutchen. There are still plenty of holes but they have the ability to be filled with players with hefty major league experience.

Now, who will be the lucky candidates for the open managerial position. Many names have been floating around for years now but here is my top five.

1. Andy Van Slyke

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The former Bucco’s jersey can still be seen littered around PNC Park. He has always been a fan favorite since he left the team in the early 1990’s. He was a hitting and first base coach for the Tigers for three years and since being retired from the game Van Slyke has continued to showcase his baseball knowledge. He is the author of several books centered around baseball. After running into him at a Pirates game this summer it is evident the he still has an itch to return to the field. Nothing would be a better public relations move than to bring back a favorite son as the fearless leader.

2. Bobby Valentine

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It’s no secret he wants back in the game. Why not give him the task of building up a team from the ground up? After years of overseas ball Valentine can add another spectacle to his resume by helping a lowly organization rise back to prominence. The media coverage would also eat it up, something else Pittsburgh needs, exposure.

3. Larry Bowa

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A brash contrast to what the Pirates have been used to for the past three years, Bowa will provide that much needed fire. Ousted as first base coach in Los Angeles when Joe Torre retired he will be looking for work. Giving his age it is more than likely time for Bowa to hang up the cleats permanently and return to a spot in the broadcast booth. But, there is no doubt he will not accept losing.

4. Ken Macha

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 There has never been a champagne shower in PNC Park, nor do i think it has ever been popped in the facility. A Pittsburgh native and former Pirate, Macha knows the area. The kicker is he has experience leading young, small market teams to success. Oakland and Milwaukee have both reached the postseason under his watch.

5. Tony Pena

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Another one who adorned the black and gold, Pena has been around the bigs long enough to have what is needed to lead a club. During his stint as Royals manager he brought the team to new heights. Not since the George Brett era has Kansas City seen the success that Pena guided. Currently as Yankess bench coach Pena knows what winning is like first hand.

It is hard to tell how much of that is wishful thinking. I’d be happy with those five and I know it would send a need message to fans that the front office is serious about moving forward. John Russell was no doubt a cheap option, those five coaches are not. In order to win the checkbooks have to be opened and some precious cash must be ponied up.

Even though it has just been a day since the announced firing of Russell the biggest name out there for the shot at becoming manager is former Indians manager Eric Wedge. Gm Huntington has experience with Wedge and he is notorious for being a homer with his former Cleveland colleagues. It is not my dream pick, but he has reached the postseason. Talking with my Tribe fan friends they say for the sake of the Bucs, that should not happen. They would feel sorry for me if Wedge was named manager.

Quite frankly, I’d be sorry too.

Let’s run away and don’t ever look back

From the 2010 season.

sad.jpg57-105. Wow.

Andy LaRoche popped out in the top of the 9th to conclude one of the worst seasons in the Bucs storied 124 year history.

It’s hard to say there was much promise to be held in 2010, but no one expected it to be this bad.

General Manager Neil Huntington told Jennifer Langosch that “We are moving forward. And 2010 will be a much better year,” back in January.

In fact it was a gargantuan step back, six more losses than in 2009. I can’t help but feel cheated and lied to, but as sad as it is, I’m used to it.

There were dissapointments.

Aki Iwamura was expected to be a solid advancement as an everyday second baseman. That was an experiment gone wrong as Iwamura failed to sniff the Mendoza Line forcing a demotion to AAA eventually leading to an outright release.

The pitching was horrible, to say the least.

Losing 84 games the starting pitchers failed to put the team in a position to win a game. But its not like the offense was much better either.

Garret Jones led the team with 21 homers and 86 RBI, still very much lacking in the power department. The BUcs scored 587 runs and had a .242 batting average and .304 on-base percentage, 2nd lowest in the majors across those catergories.

Fingers can be pointed in many directions but I say it starts at the top.

JR.jpgJohn Russell is a disgrace as a manger. Tabulating a 186-299 record over three seasons he honest to goodness ranks in the top-ten worst managers of all time. Statistical evidence was provided by sports writer Joe Starkey. The face you see on the right side is indicative to his mood throughout the year. He is stone cold and provides little if any backbone to an already defalted team.

Rumors have circulated throughout the weekend that this is the end of Russell’s tenure in Pittsburgh.

The sooner the better.

Now Russell has not had much to work with in his three years as manager including a lineup that was never set in stone. Also with an influx of youngsters and an always changing roster it was hard to find stability. Actually, it wasn’t. Under Russell’s watch the only stability founded was in the L column.

There were so many negatives in 2010 but believe it or not there were positives.

Here are teh top three.

1. The calvary.

Established by post game show host Rocco DeMaro, the calvary describes the young Pirates that made their way into the big league lineup in 2010. The core includes Pedro Alvarez, Neil Walker and Jose Tabata. This trio really has been something to give Pirate fans some sort of hope. All three are crowd favorites and for right reasons.

 

 

 

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  Alvarez has had a series of ups and downs. He has a potent bat, but also a high strikeout tendency. He did smack 16 homers but the real kicker is his astronomical OPS. He has a strong glove and striking arm. Fellas, he’s just 23.

 

 

 

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Walker and Tabata are carbon copies of each other. Each with speed and a strong bat they have staying power. Flirting with a .300 batting average throughout the course of their half-a-big league season the kids have a knack for getting on base. Walker is easily the new “Jack Wilson” of the team. Clubhouse leader and good guy. He is actually from Pittsburgh making the hometown hero legend a reality.

2. James McDonald

j-mac53.jpgIn a rotation strapped for pretty much everything nothing was more welcomed than the trade deadline acquisition of James McDonald.

Consider the fact that no Pirate starter had double digit wins but McDonald provided a little spark, even with his 4-6 record. McDonald went deep into games and actually put the offense in charge of coming through with something. He really was in charge and control of the mound. Barring an offseason addition to the rotation McDonald really does have ace potential.

 

 

 

 

3. The Fans

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What else do I have to say?

Bittersweet end to a wretched season at PNC Park

It’s been a while huh.

Sorry folks a full senior year of college schedule on top of two jobs really weighs ya down. I’m sure I’m dissapointed than most of your readers by my lack of entries but theres just not any time.Plus the obvious fact that the Pirates haven’t given me much besides a 55-100 season, there just isn’t much to talk about.

That is, until Sunday.

It was my first Fan Appreciation Day in quite sometime. The PNC Park schedule ran dry on Sunday as the Astros and Bucs did battle for the final time in PNC Park for 2010. It was my first season finale ballgame since 2000 when Three Rivers Stadium closed its doors.

Sunday morning began with a bang.

 



sunday1.jpgBANG!

They don’t call it the Jewel on the North Shore for nothing. Nestled beyond the trees across the Allegheny River it really is a spectacle to behold. For the next 3-4 hours I would be sitting in my summer home for the final time this year. It chokes me up now and I did lose it when I entered the gates for the final time.

I met my good friend Erin for the game. She’s an awesome girl who shares my intense love for the team that has sustained 18 straight losing seasons. We have shared many memories together this season, many stemming from past experiences we have been through throughout the years. Thats what makes the Pirates and baseball in general so beautiful, the memories you gain with every pitch. But so much in the experience deals with the people you are with and the atmosphere in the ballpark. She gets that feeling too, rare for college kids in our area.

Entering the stadium was really one of the most memorable and defining moments of the day. Remember what song I heard as I entered the gates on opening day in April?

Probably not, it was John Fogerty’s Centerfield. The baseball gods must have been looking down (they have a lot this season for me) because I heard it again Sunday. Crazy how these things work.

We took are seats four rows behind the Pirates dugout. How much did we pay? 15 each, on stubhub.com. Some seats were going as low as 45 cents on the website.

Just let that soak in. People who saw games at Forbes Field payed more than that for the worst seats.

sunday2.jpgMany players were signing before the game, very close
sunday3.jpg to first pitch too. Quite uncharacteristic but I guess you gotta pull out all the stops on Fan Appreciation Day.

 

I got tears in my eyes as the team ran out. And let the waterworks flow after the top of the first when there was a highlight video put to many highlights from the year. Believe it or not, there were a lot. Including the best sports moment I’ve ever experienced on August 8th when Pedro Alvarez went deep in walk off fashion.

Being so close was beautiful. Perfect way to end the season.

 

sunday4.jpgOnly a win could make it more satisfying.

sunday5.jpgHey, hey whatayasay! Raise the Jolly Roger for the final time in 2010 at home.

Bittersweet.

Great win but with 179 more days to go before I will be back in this place leaves a lump in my stomach. Its hard to fathom that there will be no more road trips to Pittsburgh for a baseball game for quite sometime.

It’s sad.

However, the festivities of the day did not end there.

sunday6.jpgThroughout the game lucky fans were picked to come on the field and recieve the game worn jersey of each player. Quite the honor especially if you were drawn for Pedro Alvarez’s, Neil Walker’s, Garret Jones’ or Andrew McCutchen. Chris Resop, Pedro Ciricao or Joe Martinez? Not so much, still quite the honor. They also drew names for Tv’s, Blu Ray players, gift cards to many places and air fare for too. Unfortunately neither me nor Erin were so lucky. She did however grab a piece of Pirate memorobilla right from the sky, literally.

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She nabbed a hat thrown by pitcher Ross Ohlendorf. It was a nice snag!

After watching many little kids and their families run the bases after the game we finally decided it was time to leave. We were one of the last to leave the park, it felt good to close up shop. We just needed to get our moneys worth until next April. We then had a great dinner in Oakland, home of the University of Pittsburgh. Much to my dismay, it really isn’t that bad of an area. I always listen to John Denver’s Country Roads though to salvage my West Virginia roots. It was a great Autumn day in the ‘burgh.

But, speaking of April, it really isn’t that far off, is it?

 

 

sunday8.jpgNope, its actually on the Horizon! 

August losses bring September football

Ladies and gents my baseball season has come to a close. Actually, its safe to say its been shut down for the past four months. Its customary for Pittsburghers to close up shop early in the baseball department, the lone fact that I have this blog makes me a rare exception.

It’s tough no doubt. Not many of you that read this blog are Pirates fans and you take for granted the competitive baseball teams your franchise fields year in and year out.

I don’t know that feeling.

The Pirates’ record in August was 8-21 leading them to a mark of 46-91 as of September 7th.

This time of the year gets very depressing at PNC Park. That being said it is still prime time for me to take in a game. I was in attendance for an 8-5 Pirate win on Friday night. Had a blast at the ballpark. Had a great dinner, got on the jumbo tron and met former Pirate and post game show analyst Kent Tekulve.

teke.jpg“Teke” was the celebrity bar tender at the Hall of Fame club beneath the scoreboard in left field. I usually pony up the cash to get a beer at every ball game I go to but at this point I’ve finally realized my 7.25 is better spent else where.

As you can see I’m rocking my West Virginia shirt. Every year I can I like to go to a Friday Pirate game in September and it usually falls on the night before WVU’s first football game.

I treat it as a symbolic ending to summer and signify the transition from one of my passions to another. With another baseball season in the books its time to shift focus to the Mountaineers.
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WVU opened its season against Coastal Carolina and routed the Chanticleers 31-0. With almost 58,000 people on hand I had one of the best seats in the house sitting in the Milan Puskar Stadium press box.

For the past three years I’ve covered minor sports for The Daily Athenaeum at WVU this year my beat is the grand daddy of them all, Mountaineer football.

press.jpgFrom my perch atop press row I was able to watch a football game in a view I have never seen before. I felt some what removed from the atmosphere which make college football great but was still able to witness plays develop. Cheering was strictly prohibited and rightfully so as it is a working press area. But in my heart I was screaming loudly for the Mountaineers, I still got chills when the team ran out of the tunnell and when the band played. it was one of the most memorable games I have been to and look forward to more as the season progresses.

Although I am in football mode completely I will still watch every Pirate game and strive to make it to more by the time the hourglass offcially runs dry at the end of the month. I will be sitting in PNC Park tonight for free compliments of Braves President John Schuerholz.

I’ve noted before that my good friend Andrew is the nephew of Schuerholz so whenever the Braves are in town he tends to treat us to a free game in great seats behind home plate.

Bombs Away

400.jpgPittsburgh was littered with flonkies in the left field bleachers this past week.

Not just because they are the cheapest seats in the house. The Cardinals were in town for a three game tilt but more importantly history could have been made.

On Monday Albert Pujols hit his 399th career homerun. Could PNC Park be so lucky to see a milestone in its next two games?

Not so much.

Pujols hit is 400th homerun on Thursday in Washington. It was an opposite field blast that would have dissapointed the crowd in Pittsburgh as that section in right field was nearly empty as most fans were in left field.

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Pujols becomes just the 47th player in Major League history to hit 400 career knocks. The best part about it now is that there is plenty more to come.

He’s young. Albert Pujols just eclipsed the age of 30 and still has plenty more gas left in the tank. He has the sweetest yet most powerful swing in the game today. He is strong, boy is he strong. When he made his major league debut back in 2001 he was 21 years old and looked like he does today, big. Compared myself at the same age he is a monster.

I like those commercials for MLB that say “We can tell our grandchildren that we saw Albert Pujols play.” It’s true, we can, and it surely is a pleasure.

Just recently has Pujols began a marketing blitz appearing in Gatorade commercials. Other than that he is a relatively quiet guy and rather softspoken. He doesn’t recieve the fanfare of a Barry Bonds or ken Griffey Jr. because he is quiet and not so well-spoken with the media to create a positive national image. We know him as a good guy, a family man and a ballplayer who is presumed to be clean.

he doesn’t need the extra-circulars to be a star, he lets his on the field play do the talking for him.

By the way, the Pirates took two of three from the Cards.

photo credit: msn 

 

 

Pitt Peas Book of the Month club

AreWeWinningCover.jpgThis summer I have been pretty big on reading. With some spare time on my hands and no Public Relations textbooks to bog me down I have done my fair share of reading over the past three months.

I have read “Blink” my Malcolm Gladwell, and a pair of books about Pirates history. But the one that stuck out, not only from the books I have read this summer, but from all books I have ever read is “Are We Winning?” by Will Leitch.

I have always been a fan of Leitch’s. I loved “God Save the Fan” where he trashed ESPN and other media outlets, it really got me thinking. I also enjoy his columns in The Sporting News. But this book is the end all be all of Leitch and baseball books everywhere.

It is an honest tale of the game of baseball and how special it really is to fathers and sons. The memories made, the lessons taught and the good times that can ony be shared and understood by a father and his son.

Each chapter in entitled as an inning, top of the first, bottom of the first, top of the second and so on.

The premise of the book details Will’s trip to Wrigley Field where he meets his father and college buddy who is a die-hard Cubs fan. The Leitch family lives and dies by the Cubs’ bitter rivals, Cardinals. Just as you can expect hilarity ensues with raunchy slurs and colorful words
wrigley.jpg to describe Wrigley Field, Wrigleyville, Cubs fans, Vince Vaughn, beer, women and everything and everyone in between.

He gives a vivid recap of the game at hand, it is a special game as the Cubs are just one win away from clinching the Division title. Along with the game play by play he also flashes back to important moments in his life.

College days, Cardinal games and life in general. It is a perfect autobiography that all men who love baseball can easily relate to, and get many laughs in the process.

While Leitch doesn’t necessairly bash the Pirates he just tells the truth. Many times he spouts that there are not any Pirate fans, well quite frankly there are not. When he spoke of this fact many times he really made me sad, driving me to put down the book a few times and collect my thoughts. I thought long and hard about what the Pirates mean to me, what baseball means to me, what I would possibly do without being a Pirates fan and what a shame it is that more people in Pittsburgh have turned their back on this franchise.

However, all the disdain will eventually turn to the most powerful statement of the whole book. Towards the end he describes baseball towns and how other sports take a backseat to these citizens compared to their baseball teams. New York, Boston and St. Louis are examples of these baseball meccas. To conclude the chapter he delievers a bold prediction.

“Kansas City. Pittsburgh. Cincinnati. Baltimore. These are baseball towns. They will rise again.

Man is that beautiful and I simply could not agree more. All four have had their time in the sun with a large period of famine since either one of the franchises have seen a good baseball season. Cincinnati is seeing what could happen when winning occurs and it has transformed that city in Ohio. If the Pirates have even just a winning season within three years fans will flock back. My generation does not know what winning feels like. The book makes that clear and makes me jealous when Leitch describes how amazing it is to live and die by every pitch, call your father after a must win game and live out dreams by seeing a World Series live and in person.

While its been a tough 18 years with the 18th consecutive losing season just a few games away, the Pirates redirected their future today by signing their first and second round draft picks, Jameson Taillon and Stetson Allie.

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stetson.jpgTaillon and Allie have been touted as the two best high school pitchers in the country. They are now part of the Pittsburgh organization. Homegrown pitchers have been a specialty of the Bucs, however they never seem to live up to the hype let alone pan out as formidable Major League starters.

This pair has a chance to change that mantra and allow the Bucs to become part of the competitive baseball landscape. We’ve seen that this year has been dominated by pitchers and now that the Pirates have two pitchers with the potential to dominate it just shows that down the road Pittsburgh will rise again.

photo credits: amazon.com, destination360.com,mackmetblog.com, hotstoveinfo.com

You just can’t script something like this

You always hear of the miracles and magic associated with sports.

But how often do we truly believe it?

I admit I have been skeptical, after all my two favorite sports teams always seem to drop the ball; West Virginia football and of course the 17 straight losing season club known as the Pittsburgh Pirates.

However, Saturaday night changed all of that. It took an extra inning baseball game to sell me with the iniative that sports dreams do come true, thanks to a miracle and a sprinkle of magic.

You see it all started Friday.

My brother and I had been looking forward to attending the Friday night Pirate game all season long. It was Andrew McCutchen bobblehead night, the only bobblehead night at PNC Park all year. We had plans to meet up with my best friend Andrew in Pittsburgh to share a nice night at the ballpark.

Instead we shared in what would be the last night with my ailing grandfather. Papaw Peaslee had been diagnosed with cancer earlier this summer and his timetable of life was greatly shortened. He passed away Saturday morning.

As sad and troublesome as it is to lose a loved one you must first celebrate the life and be happy that the suffering is over.

Papaw Peaslee was a hard working man all his life. He was a farmer who raised cattle for a living and he was darn good at it. As a city boy I rarely took interest in this lifestyle but still entrusted in the skills he taught me and the work ethic my father taught me through the hands of his father.

We did share the love of sports and especially Pirates baseball. He would take my dad to many games throughout the years at Forbes Field in the 60’s. I always hear the stories of how he would reach through wire fences to catch foul balls. My father and papaw witnessed the first night World Series game ever at Three Rivers Stadium in 1971. They also shared in the first Opening Day ever at PNC Park in 2001. I unfortubately was unable to attend due to the chicken pox.

When I would visit him this summer we would talk about the Pirate’s struggles and how frustrating it is to see them lose nearly night in and night out. However, through the thick and thin we always remained the most die hard of fans. Although he never got to see a winning season at PNC Park I think he had a little something to do with that Saturday’s dramatic win in Pittsburgh.

Down by two in the bottom of the tenth inning the Pirate began a little rally with Andrew McCutchen lacing a double off the center field wall. Jose Tabata drew a walk. A pair of batters later Pedro Alvarez stepped to the plate. 

He drilled a pitch into the right field bleachers. A walk off home run.

 Something inside me knew something special was about to happen. My family shared the same sentiments as the Pirate announcers as tears flew down our faces.

“That was for Papaw!” we all said. It was true, Alvarez did that for Papaw. Although we were not at the game I still think that game and that moment will go down as one of if not the most memorable sports moment in my life. After the game manager John Russell even said,

“The heavens must have looked down and said enough is enough.”

We all think Papaw had something to do with it.

Thank you Pedro for making the roughest moment in anyones life a little more tolerable. 

pedrowalkoff.jpgphoto credit: post-gazette.com

Did somebody say McDonald?

jmac1.jpgThey say first impressions mean everything.

James McDonald’s first impression with Pirates fans was as beautiful as his performance on the mound.

Pittsburgh defeated the Rockies 5-1 thanks in part to the Southern Califonia native’s stunning debut.

McDonald went six full innings allowing just four hits and one walk. The golden number for McDonald on Thursday was eight.

The newly acquired Bucco struck out the side to start the first inning. Came out firing in the second mowing down two more and at one point after facing just seven batters McDonald fanned six of them.

I was very excited to turn on FSN Pittsburgh to watch his debut. Las Angeles used him mostly as a reliever but the 25 year old has been fairly touted throughout his career as a future starter. I was proud of the Pirate’s decision to give him the starting nod and all who watched the game cheering for the black and gold were pleased as well.

jmac2.jpgWhile I was excited I was also nervous. Listening to the pre game show on TV McDonald seemed very timid and not sure of himself. He was very soft spoken and only talked in that “player speak” giving vague responses.

He let his pitching to the talking.

What is even more impressing is that his battery mate is also new to the club. It’s not like he was throwing to someone he was used to or somebody within the organization who is used to the ways and tendencies of PNC Park.

McDonald solidified himself as the Pirate’s ace with his masterful start tonight. He has earned a spot in a struggling rotation and has the potential to be the leader that trickles strong starts into other pitchers.

PHOTO CREDITS: Gene Puskar, espn.com

Trade Deadline Wrap Up

 

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Not quite Nomar, that title belongs to April and Opening Day. However, come July 31st I think it is safe to say it may be the most exciting.

Another Trade Deadline has come and gone. Heading into August I have a new feeling for the moves made by the Pirates. Joy.

Uncharacteristically the Pirates were not sellers at this trade deadline. But they were the farthest thing from being buyers as the team stands 20.5 games out of first place.

The moves the Pirates made were designed to swap talented players for relatively players of equal skill level.

The first move of the day sent bench players Ryan Church, Bobby Crosby and reliever D.J. Carrasco to the Diamondbacks in exchange for catcher Chris Snyder.

chris_snyder_200707_ap.jpgSnyder doesn’t bring much to the table offensively. His .230 batting average is about 20 points lower than normal starting catcher for the Bucs Ryan Doumit. However, Snyder does have more pop with 10 HRs this season. He also has something Doumit infamously lacks, a glove. Snyder has a .career .998 fielding percenatge. That is the most welcomed aspect from the deal. Doumit is widely regarded as “No-Mitt” a clever play on his last name and it surely is true. Pittsburgh has tried to position Doumit at first base on occasions just to take back some of the grunt work of being a major league catcher. That was an experiment gone wrong as Doumit was just as grim at first as he is behind the plate. Doumit is currently on the Disabled List. I anticipate Snyder will get the starting nod and will remain in that capacity even when Doumit returns to the clubhouse.

pedroc.jpgPittsburgh also landed minor leaguer Pedro Ciriaco. Look into those eyes, this shortstop looks intimidating and I think I’m going to like it. Ciriaco is probably light years away from the big leagues but he is servicable at the position. He has a respectable average hitting right around the .270 mark. He could make a run at shortstop in a few years. The organization is relatively weak at short in terms of future talent.

Deal two came a few hours later and probably made the biggest splash among fans of both organizations.

The Pirates recieved relief pitcher James McDonald an 21-year old minor league outfielder Andrew Lambo. In order to recieve this pair the Pirates surrendered Octavio Dotel.

I was a big fan of Dotels and will be sad to see him go. He was rented out just for this season and probably was not going to be a Bucco in 2011. I guess it is the best thing to give him up and still get a solid return.

jamesmac.jpgMcDonald is long and lanky, much like myself. I don’t want to say I have followed his whole career, that would be a lie. However I have paid attention to what he has done throughout his relative short emergence out in LA. He is just 25 and still has plenty of time to develop into a solid big league player. He has shown flashes of excellence out of the bullpen but still has yet to be even the least bit respectable. I’m glad he is now in Pittsburgh, this will be a great chance for him to revive.

This Lambo guy may be the most intriguing of the bunch.

lambo.jpgI trolled the Dodger’s Message Boards to see reactions from their fans on the deal. Many were cintent with seeing McDonald go but the cost of trading Lambo seemed way too high for them.

I can see why they were disapointed.

Lambo is a highly regarded prospect coming out of the 4th round of the 2007 draft. This year in AA he has a solid .270 batting average and maintains a career average of .286. He draws comparrisons by some Pirate bloggers to current rightfielder Jose Tabata. Both players will hit for a high average and provided a spark at the top of the lineup. Tabata is currently riding a ten game hitting streak into tonight’s game at St. Louis.

The Pirates completed the day shipping another relief pitcher to the state of California.

Javier Lopez went to the Giants in exchange for pitcher Joe Martinez and outfielder John Bowker.

JoeMartinez.jpgThere is not much information out on Martinez. He is a career minor league pitcher and does have a shot at landing a major league position at some point. Any pitching is good pitching in my eyes.

bowker.jpgBowker may have the best shot of any player in the whole trade deadline package to make a legitimate impact. He can probably make the team right away but will have to earn a starting spot in the outfield. He has been milling around in the minors recently but does have experience in the majors. I like what he offers. He will push an already talented Bucco outfield for playing time.

There you have the new faces of the freshest crop of players in the Pirates organizaton. Last year the influx of trades made left fans with a wait and see attitude. This year we have a lot of the pieces needed for success and we can watch them develop keenly.

In years past the masses of Pittsburgh have bellyached about the trades made by the Pirates. This year should please everybody. Much of the bullpen was traded away and it was the Buc’s strongest suit. All players from the pen will be replaced and replaced fairly easily. I’m proud of Neil Huntington for making these level headed moves.

Phot Credits: boston.com, beat.bodoglife.com, sbnation.com, latimes.com, baseballbeginnings.com, leftysportsacademy.com, espn.com

 

Is it fun to be a fan?

Upon returning from Florida I spent a good two days unpacking and reflecting on a great trip. However just a few days later there was only one place I wanted to be. Can you guess where it was?

 

pnc_park_view.jpgIf you said PNC Park, you would be right on the money.

My brother and me ventured to Pittsburgh on Saturday anticpating the game between the Padres and Pirates. I needed a nice trip to PNC Park, especially after sitting through a game at the ginormous colisuem known as Sun Life Stadium. One of my favorite things to see when driving to Pittsburgh is on the PA Turnpike.

 

mr rogers1.jpgYou gotta feel safe when Mr. Fred Rogers is around.

We would soon find out that we were not the only ones who wanted to enjoy a night at the ballpark.

full stadium.jpg36,000 others packed the park not to see a good baseball game, but to see a Steve Miller Band concert on the field after the final out was recorded. Not going to lie my brother and I had this hidden agenda as well. We love rocking out to hits “The Joker,” “Jet Airliner”, “Take the Money and Run” and our personal favorite “Swingtown.”

steve miler.jpgThe game was running smoothly but the crowd grew restless. It got annoying. They were not there for baseball they were there for the extra circular activities. The crowd was almost as worse as my experiences with uneducated fans in Miami. There were beach balls flying in the stands, nobody paying one bit of attention to the game and more people were whining about the boring game, the hot weather, just nitpicking everything wrong with the Pirates and the sport of baseball.

I was content as always as my brother and I seemed to be the only ones living and breathing on every pitch. Pirates starter Jeff Karstens was really gunning through five innings looking the best he as all year. It was a classic pitcher’s duel as the Padres Matt Latos looked superb as well.

I’m trying to start a new tradition of keeping score at every game I go to.

 

scorecard.jpg

I’ve done so sporadically over the years and have to at each West Virginia baseball game. However, I’d love to do it at every major league game I go to. Buy a scorebook to keep all my games, notes and memories together. If I get this rolling I’m sure I will not quit. But the people around me looked at me like I was insane by doing this sacred ritual. I took a lap around the stadium during the game just to get a scope on how PNC was sitting since I last left it. I discovered I was one of only three people keeping score and one of maybe 12 that actually cared about the game.

Well I guess baseball gods heard the nonsense and ramblings as rain came pouring down in buckets.

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For a good 45 minutes it was some of the worst rain I have ever seen from the stands at a ballgame.

Surpringly alot of people stuck around. It was the 8th inning when the rain started falling and the game was out of reach at 9-2 Padres. But people still remained. Nobody wanted to miss Steve Miller.

Zach and I did not want to either. However, the game eventually ended at 11 and Steve would not come on the field until 11:30. It was getting late and we had to be up early the next day. But we made a pact to stick around for one song, the first one they would play. Lucky for us it was our favorite, Swingtown!

Not lucky for us we still had a good night, very fun. I’m sure the rest of the 30,00 that stuck around enjoyed their night as well. But I’m sure it was just excruciating for them to sit through that baseball game. And it is just a dang shame.

Now it is hard for even the most die hard fans to sit through a seven run beatdown but that may be the only taste of Pirates baseball those fairweather fans will sample this year and it surely came back sour.

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