As most Pirates fans probably know, the Zoltan sign has become sort of a rallying symbol for the 2012 squad. I personally first started noticing it a couple of weeks ago when Rod Barajas hit a walk-off home run and flashed the sign as he rounded the bases.
From what I've read, the idea to start flashing the sign was conceived by Barajas and Neil Walker.
Now it's catching on to the point that even radio stations are starting to pick up on the phenomenon, and t-shirts have been made with the Zoltan symbol on the front.
That's pretty awesome, and it's nice that the players have adopted a way to unify as a team, even if they did get the idea from watching the movie, "Dude, where's my car?"
From what I've witnessed so far, it's mostly the hitters who have been flashing that sign--Walker, Barajas, Josh Harrison, etc.--but the problem with that, as you probably know, is that the Pirates hitters have been so pedestrian in 2012, many of the players might eventually forget how to flash "Zoltan" after a big hit because they have been few and far between.
The team's offense is ranked dead-last in the National League in both runs scored and batting average.
On the flip side, the pitching staff has been so good this season, they are third in the National League in team ERA. Unfortunately, because of the horrible offense, guys like James McDonald (2.51 ERA) and Erik Bedard (3.52 ERA)haven't been able to benefit that much in terms of their win/loss record. McDonald is having his best season, but he's still only 3-2. Bedard was a pretty hard-luck pitcher early on, losing many low-scoring decisions, and because of that, his record sits at 2-5. I'm not saying Bedard and McDonald and the other starters haven't struggled at times, but a few of them certainly deserve better fates in terms of their records.
The team, overall, has struggled because of the lack of offense, and instead of that great pitching leading to a winning record, the Pirates are still only 21-24.
This is why my sources tell me that the pitchers have adopted a sign of their own. It's called the "FU" sign.
It's a rather universal hand-gesture that involves curling four of your fingers and the thumb and leaving the middle finger extended and pointed upward.
Perhaps, you've seen it.
Anytime a Pirates starter has a quality outing and still loses, "FU!"
Anytime, the offense makes it damn-near impossible to get away with giving up more than two runs, "FU!"
From what I understand, if the Pirates current .217 batting average slips below the Mendoza line, the pitchers will then adopt the double-fisted "FU" sign that wrestling legend Stone Cold Steve Austin made popular back in the 90's.
Bedard seems like the kind of guy who would get behind such a symbol, and I could see him even designing a t-shirt to commemorate it. Be on the look out for a t-shirt that shows the "FU!" sign directed at Pedro Alvarez as he strikes out with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 8th inning with the Pirates behind, 2-1.
People would buy that shirt. Well, at least the Pirates pitchers, anyway. Maybe Clint Hurdle, too.