I whine about Hurdle and his inexcusable decisions as much as anyone, but by this point it has become clear that the primary reason for the "collapse" is not lack of talent or too much bunting - it's simply a team filled with guys who got a severe case of the jitters as the intensity of the pennant race skyrocketed. Bottom line - especially at the plate, they let their nerves get the best of them. It's been clear for the past month, and further evidenced by all of the anxious first-pitch swings in critical situations, the lack of barreling the ball with men on base late in close games, and getting shut out by Mexican League cast-offs and Travis Woods.
The good news for half of us is that while they have choked away the play-offs (most likely), that .500+ record is not in as much danger as virtually the entire BD Community seems to think. I am in the half that really doesnt care as much about the .500 record - sure I'm sick of hearing about "20 str8 losing seasons", but all I really care about is watching play-off basball in Pittsburgh.
Why is the .500 record still fairly safe? Because as soon as the Cardinals and/or Dodgers win a few more and stretch that lead to say 5 games, the pressure will dissipate, the spotlight will be turned off, the players will relax, and all the sudden you'll see them having fun again, hitting the ball out of the ballpark, and winning 3 out of every 5 games or so, which should be just enough to put them at about 82-80.
And then we'll have to hear Hurdle spin the positive and tell us how proud he is of his guys for not folding, when the reality is nothing could be further from the truth. 2012 was simply a case of freezing up and panicking when the bullets started flying fast and furious. A true choke-job. And an embarrassing one at that.