As always, this is taken from my blog, Good Nonsense. Enjoy.
"Until next week, when the Pirates are recovering from being swept by the Royals..."
Oops. When I wrote that line, it was supposed to be something of a joke. But alas, the Pirates really did get swept by the Royals. The Kansas City Royals. The Kansas City "George Brett would still be their best player even though he's 53 years old" Royals. The Kansas City "Buck O'Neill would be their best player even though he's 95 years old" Royals. The Kansas City "I thought David Glass was the only owner worse than Kevin McClatchy and the Nuttings, but now I must rethink that" Royals. The Royals.
Yes, these are the Salad Days for the Pirates Rant. That's what happens when your team has an 11-game losing streak and now gets to play 10 games against the three best teams in the majors, the White Sox, the Tigers (the team managed by a former Pirate manager, with a staff completely full of former Pirates, and a 1st baseman who the Pirates let go because they needed to free up a roster spot for Raul Mondesi), and the Mets. We're looking at 21 losses dead in the eye, baby.
"Now starting for the National League, leftfielder Jason Bay of the Pittsburgh Pirates, current owners of a 24-game losing streak..."
Man, I don't even know where to start. Let's go chronologically, I guess.
I really, really had trouble picking just one blurb from each blog this week. Adversity, despair and humiliation bring out the best in blog writers.
Charlie from Bucs Dugout lists his 20 least favorite Pirates of the Littlefield era. Seriously, Littlefield's been on the job for almost exactly five years, and this list could have easily been 40 players long. What does that say, exactly? I know..."DAVE LITTLEFIELD NEEDS TO BE FIRED, STAT." Highlights:
20. ABRAHAM NUNEZ: A perfectly capable glove man who Lloyd McClendon used as his top pinch-hitter because Nunez could switch-hit. This was like deciding that a jockey would be a good fighter in the WWF because of his tendency to wear colorful clothing. For his career, Nunez is hitting .204/.222/.426 as a pinch hitter. In 243 at bats. In 2004 alone, he had 62 pinch hit at bats.The difference, of course, is that the last General Manager actually got fired for his offenses.
12. RYAN VOGELSONG: It isn't Vogelsong's fault that he was dealt for Jason Schmidt, who eventually became one of the best pitchers in the National League. But Vogelsong's tenure with the Pirates has been horrifying, and what's even more horrifying is that it seems it will never end. Vogelsong was a disaster as a starter, and he's nearly as bad when relieving. The Pirates rarely bother to put him in games that matter, earning him the nickname "White Flag."
7. JOSE HERNANDEZ: Hernandez first joined the Pirates in 2003 as a player the Pirates just had to have in the Aramis Ramirez trade. He was no substitute for Ramirez, hitting .223/.282/.326 for the remainder of 2003. Jim Tracy brought him back in 2006, and he has played just as badly, occasionally while taking playing time from Craig Wilson.
4. KEVIN YOUNG: Young was good in 1997 and 1998 and downright excellent in 1999, but he was awful from the minute his four-year, gazillion-dollar contract kicked in at the beginning of the 2000 season. By the 2001 season, he was blocking Craig Wilson. Here's what Baseball Prospectus had to say about the contract in 1999:As long as they make these kinds of mistakes, the team isn't going to get better, and after the novelty of the new park wears off, attendance will plummet when the team is still lousy and wondering what went wrong. The problem is that the Pirates are operating under a false assumption, one that's guiding what I'm beginning to think of as the Age of New Mediocrity.I'd say they pretty much nailed that one.
Teams are using salary as a proxy for talent and quality, assuming that expensive players must be good; that is exactly the lesson that this team, on the strength of what it accomplished in 1997, should not have drawn. But instead the Bucs have joined the rush to perpetuate the careers of perpetually mediocre (or worse) players, players who haven't earned the right to keep their jobs, but who keep them because they were expensive, and possibly even good once or twice in their careers. That's no way to build a ballclub, unless your organizational goal is play patsy to the Astros for the next decade.
Billy from Romo Phone Home, well, rants:
The definition of a fan is "an enthusiastic devotee (as of a sport or a performing art) usually as a spectator." When applied to a sport, this implies that, in almost all cases, the fan of any particular sporting contest wants his team to win. I call myself a Pirates fan, but now, today, I want the Pirates to lose. I want them to be swept by the team that people used to think was the worst team in baseball. Then I want their blowhard of a new manager to be humiliated and embarrassed in his former place of employment by the team he used to manage. Then I want the Pirates to be swept by the White Sox (can't wait to see those games), Tigers, Mets, and Phillies, so that they host the All-Star Break as the owners of a 24-game losing streak. I want that losing streak to be the focus of stories by every good baseball writer in the country, so that they all can investigate and describe in depth to the rest of the country the mendacity and ineptitude of those responsible for this mess.Bones from Honest Wagner does too:
Meanwhile, the "extremely disappointed" McClatchy drags DL, Tracy, and the players under the bus with him: "There's accountability that will go everywhere, and I will be at the top of that list. But I think that accountability goes through to not just the general manager or manager but also the players." DL, as usual, sticks to his usual vague meaningless bullshit: "We're always looking at situations," he said. "Certainly, where there are subpar performances, that's something we're going to look at." Certainly we're going to look at subpar performance situations? Uh, yeah. We will. Thanks to you, dipshit.Bucco Blog, as usual, remains level-headed:
With all the failures David Littlefield has experienced as General Manager of the Pirates, you have to really question the ownership's motivation in signing him to a contract extension in 2006. In fact, you have to question how he even remains employed.Hands down, the winning blog post this week has to be Where is Van Slyke's amazing live blog of game 1 of the Royals-Pirates series. I can't even take a blurb from it, just read the entire thing. It's phenomenal. And by `phenomenal', I mean `horrifying'. Read from the bottom up.
I'm not going to sit here and state all of the obvious Littlefield shortcomings - Littlefield has simply failed. Whether a majority of the blame can be cast on the disjointed ownership group through the years or not, only the owners know. But if the owners have any intention of salvaging the sunk Pirates ship, it has to start with replacing David Littlefield as his welcome mat has worn through much the same as Lloyd McClendon's had and Kevin McClatchy's is.
Littlefield lost control of the team two years ago, he has lost control of the farm now, and he continues to plan poorly, imo. It has gotten to the point where coaches in the farm now question his moves, players openly talk to the media about his failures, and few in the industry respect his position nor want to deal with him.
I suspect that the ownership group will use David Littlefield as their scapegoat if they continue to push a non-competitive, maximum profit, business model and want the fans to feel a sense of new found hope so they buy tickets for 2007.
In fact, I expect this to happen after the All-Star game and I propose this was the reason Littlefield was given a contract extension - he knows it too. After all, that has been the Pirates ownership group's MO - put false hope in the fans and they will keep walking the bridge.. competitive or not. The only hope the owners have left to throw at the fans is to replace the GM.
Until next week, when the Pirates are losers of 18 straight...
And now you know that when I say that, I'm not being bitter, I'm being realistic.