I’ve been to three Pirate games thus far, this season. The young season has not treated me well, personally, as I am 0-3 when seeing live games.
From the 2010 season.
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.
John 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.
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.
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
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
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.
Now it was a four game series, a series in which I attended two games, but Roy Halladay did not even pitch. Still funny nonetheless, thanks Eric for the blog title.
I helped PNC Park open the series on Thursday with some of my favorite guys; Eric, my brother Zach and my dad.
We got there right as the gates opened in hopes of autographs and balls thrown from batting practice.
Ryan Howard was one of the players signing before the game. Actually just one of two players who we saw signing. The other was pitcher Jose Contreras. Howard was only out for about 30 seconds so neither of us had the chance to get something signed.
This would come back to haunt Howard as he struck out twice, much thanks to Eric, Zach and my chants of “Quiznos, Quiznos, Quiznos” in reference to his sponsorship deal with Subway. To tell you the truth I enjoy Subway more than Quiznos anyway.
The rest of warmups were fun as the players were animated with their stretches.
Raul Ibanez tied his shoes with the Pirate Parrot. The Parrot would also steal the batting gloves and balls from the Philies as they were warming up. I don’t think theres a question that he is the best mascot in all of baseball.
Philies fans easily outnumbered Pirate fans in the crowd of 27,000. A very nice crowd in Pittsburgh especially on a Thursday so I do have to extend a thanks you to the Philies fans who helped pack the yard.
Except this chick in the John Kruk jersey. Now I’m all fro Krukky, I am a big fan, love his personality and he is from West Virginia believe it or not, but she was one annoying brat. Everything out of her mouth was delusional and downright stupid. I don’t want to say typical Philly fan but ehhhh. Compliments on the jersey girl!
The Pirates held on to a 3-2 victory.
The Bucs won on Friday, 2-0, thanks to masterful pitching from Ross Ohlendorf.
I made my PNC Park debut of my Pedro Alvarez t-shirt on Saturday. It brought about much fanfare as Alvarez belted his first major league home run. It was an opposite field blast over the right field wall. Ryan Church would also add a homer but it wasn’t nearly enough as the Philies rolled the Pirates 12-4. The worst part was being serenaded with “Let’s Go Philies” leaving the ballpark. Citizens Bank Park West was what it was like.
However the greatest feeling in the world is being at a baseball game, enjoying a beer and hotdog (in my case a big helping of Quaker Steak and Lube wings) and fireworks.
There is no place in this great country better for fireworks than Pittsburgh, Pa. Put to a grand score of American tunes the post-game firework show was awe-inspiring leaving the sellout crowd breathless.
This weekend brought over 120,000 people to the North Shore. It was much like a playoff atmosphere and the best feeling I have had at a game all season, aside from opening day. It seemed that the whole crowd hinged on every pitch as players and fans alike treated the games as a budding rivalry for state bragging rights.
I only hope I can feel this some October in the near future.
When I visited Washington D.C. this past weekend I met up with my friend Marc who is currently in the nation’s capital on an internship. Being a Cubs fan he and I talked about the NL Central and how far out our respective teams are in terms of games back from the Cardinals and surging Reds. We also talked baseball in general. I had told him
“With Pedro Alvarez up we should be a better team with better run production.” He responds with a “Who is Pedro Alvarez?”
Well, I guess to those outside of Pittsburgh the legend of Pedro Alvarez has not been regularly relayed. So it is my civil duty to tell his tale. A tale of a shaky past, current talent and simply the future. The future for himself and an entire franchise.
Alavrez hails from the street of New York City. An area mostly billed for producing basketball
greats, Alvarez is a rare gem to step from the baseball diamond. His talent allowed him to go to Vanderbilt University in Tennessee. Turning down an offer to be drafted right out of high school Alvarez went on to set records for VU and helped the Commadores win an SEC Championship. Alvarez continued his stories undergraduate career on the USA national baseball team. His power and handiness with the glove at third base allowed him to always be the target of scouts and high draft classification.
He would be picked up after his sophomore season. The Pirates jumped on him at pick number two, but getting him in a black and gold uniform would not be easy. Even getting him through the system would not be easy. Heck getting him INTO the system would be one of the hardest things the Pirate’s management had ever done.
Being picked second demands and deserves big money. After a back and forth volleyball match between Neil Huntington and Frank Coonelly with Alvarez’s agent Scott Boras both sides reportedly came to an agreement just minutes before the August 15th signing deadline. But it still took until September to make both sides happy with a $6 million dollar deal. It was a messy situation that really made the Pittsburgh organization and Alvarez look bad and downright slimey. However inking Alavrez prompted Pirates owner Bob Nutting to claim Huntington and Coonelly as the “best management team in all of sports.” Take that in for a moment. It’s a wonder that the “best management team in allllll of sports” cannot put together a competitive club or show the comptence to do so. However, that is a whole other argument.
Alvarez was watched under a tight microscope throughout his short time in the minor leagues. He helped the Lynchburg Hillcats win their League title and rose through to the AA and AAA levels with his resounding bat, most notably being a strong power prescence.
He was brought up to the majors on June 16th to an adoring PNC Park crowd of 15,000. He did recieve a standing ovation as he walked to the plate just to strike out at the hands of John Danks. He finished that game going 0-for-2. It would take three more games to cross that proverbial threshold where he would collect his first big league hit. From there he would collect a sac fly to cap off a victory over the Indians last Sunday.
He still only has three major league hits but will always be regarded as the best Pirates prospect since Barry Bonds. I’m no scout but at the age of 23 I still think Alavrez needs a tune up and some extra time in the minors would not hurt him. He is playing along a host of other first time big leaguers like Jose Tabata and Neil Walker. The 2010 season is already a wash why not groom him for a month or two more then bring him up when he is ready?
It seems as if Alvarez is over swinging at pitches and not locating them off the pitchers hand. He definitely needs work in the batting cage to develop a keener eye at the plate. He has warning track power that will slowly come more and more with more repitions. He will strikeout; alot. But that is what power hitters do. I will gladly take 95 strikeouts from a guy that is going to flirt with 45 homeruns each season.
It is going to be alot of trial and error with Pedro Alvarez (he already has one in the field) but if he even comes close to living up to his hype he will have a prosperous career and the Pirates will gladly reap the benefits.
photo credits: ducksonthepondkid.com, straybaseball.com, reclinergm.com, facebook.com
I was absent from the blog last week, for good reason. It seemed that the Pirate’s were absent from their talent as well.
My beloved Bucs suffered a 12-game losing streak from June 6th through this past Saturday. I think it was all my fault.
I went to that game on the 6th and witnesses a heartbreaking extra inning loss. Delwyn Young belted a pinch hit homerun to send the game to a tenth inning, but Octavio Dotel just could not hang on to the lead.
From that moment Pittsburgh fell to the Cubs in a one game makeup series. Were swept on the road in Washington as well as at home against the White Sox. Then my most most hated professional sports….
The Cleveland Indians. The Indians came into PNC Park on Friday and beat the Pirates 4-3. It was a pitcher’s duel til the seventh inning when the Tribe jumped out to a 4-0 lead. Pittsburgh manufactured runs the very next inning getting their three, but it just couldn’t answer when needed. I attended that game and the most thrilling moment may have come before hand when I met local FSN Pittsburgh reporter Dan Potash.
I honestly think Mr. Potash was more thrilled that I recognized him. He was overjoyed, very friendly and carefree with me. I bet he called his mom and said “Wow, somebody wanted a picture with me!” Ok that may sound a bit harsh, he was top notch and first class.
Take a look at my shirt there. Better yet, i’ll zoom in for you.
It is a hot item in the ‘burgh these days as the Milledge People are taking over. The shirt features the bodies of the famous Village People of the 1970’s with super-imposed faces of Lastings Milledge with a Pirate hat on each of them. It is hysterical I think, plus at some games six college kids sit in teh outfield dressed in Village People fashion. Unfortunately for me, Milledge did not play on Friday.
However, Saturday was a much different story. For one I was not watching. I was in Washington D.C. with some friends representing WVU. It was a fun day and an even funner night, that blog will be coming in the next entry.
But anyway, the Pirates did manage to break the dreaded streak thanks to a 3-for-4, 4 RBI performance from Lasting Milledge.
Milledge has been recieving spotty playing time ever since the arrival of youngster Jose Tabata. Tabata has been holding down the fort in left field, the original position of Milledge, because of that number 85 and Ryan Church have been splitting tim in right field. The lack of playing time must have lit a fire under his butt and hopefully that gave him a spark and a reason to finally deliever how he was expected to do. He has still yet to hit a homerun, a necessity on this team that lacks any power threat
That is until now.
The arrival of highly touted prospect Pedro Alvarez occured this week.
He’s going to be something special, at least that is what Bucco fans have been told. It is no secret that Alvarez has been called the best Pirates prospect since Barry Bonds. Lofty shoes to fill and I know it will take time but it is something, really the only thing that has given Pittsburgh fans hope in quite some time.
He is a lefty, power hitting thrid basemen. The Pirates have lacked all three for many years. To get it all in one package really fills that void.
He has yet to get the ball rolling collecting just one hit in 16 major league at bats. He had a stellar minr league career as he flirted with a .300 avergae while belting 40 homeruns in just two seasons.
I for one do believe the hype.
At Friday’s game I went off the deep end before he even earned his innagural major league hit and dropped $27 bucks on an Alvarez shirt. Way too much for the time being but I do think I am the only one who has bought one yet, I loved being distinctive. However, that was probably trumped on Saturday when he did get his first hit. He has a long career ahead of him, I just hope it is fruitful.
Speaking of fruitful my favorite fruit is pineapple. Sorry for that irrelevant tidbit. I do think I will sign off on that note. Stay tuned for my next entry recapping the Pitt Peas’ visit to Washington D.C. and Nationals Park!
photo credits: horridindian.com, fanball.com, kentucky.com
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.
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.
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.
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 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:
Yes 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,
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