A few random thoughts:
However, he also stepped into a situation where a bunch of young guys where ready to take a step forward (I sometimes wonder if he ever really considered the Mets job, and now with the financial mess that the Mets are in, he's either really lucky or knew the team was heading into financial woes).
I always liked John Russell and felt he was a really good guy thrown into a rotten situation. Honestly, while I'm happy to see Hurdle be the Pirates, I believe the team would have had roughly the same record right now under Russell, as they do under Hurdle, because of the much improved play. But that is only up until this point.
That being said, I think Hurdle's biggest influence is yet to come. The real reason I'm happy the Pirates have Clint Hurdle is from this point forward. How this team deals with success is going to be really interesting to watch. As the team gets more successful, egos begin to build. Hurdle has been through this before, whereas Russell hadn't. I'm not sure what would've happened with Russell trying to manage a team of young, successful guys. Could he have controlled it or would they have taken control of him? I'm much less worried about that with Hurdle in charge. Also, what about when the Pirates hit a rough patch (which is bound to happen sometime). I worry that Russell might have gone into a "here we go again" panic mode, whereas Hurdle is likely to brush it off with a "I've seen plenty of hot streaks and plenty of cold streaks in my time not to get too worried about it." The importance of Hurdle has not yet been felt (IMO), but will come to the forefront very soon.
So I want to stand up on my chair and applaud the work of Neal Huntington, who is never going to get his share of credit for building this team in a very short period of time. No matter what happens the rest of this year, Huntington has restored the pride and excitement of my Pittsburgh Pirates!! Thanks Neal!!
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