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Perrotto: The Hopelessness is Gone

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I really dislike articles like this:

However, there is a different feeling around the Pirates this season. That sense of hopelessness that surrounded the Pirates for most of the 2007 season, when they finished 68-94 is gone.

“I think anyone who has been around our ballclub knows it’s different,” said center fielder Nate McLouth, who represented the Pirates at Tuesday night’s All-Star Game at Yankee Stadium in New York. “We’re playing with a lot more confidence. We step on the field believing we’re going to win every night.

Well whoopiteedoo! I'm sure Perrotto is just reporting on what he sees, but the article is called "Turning Point?"

No. No, it isn't a "turning point." When the "turning point" finally comes, it won't have anything to do with a "feeling." Pirates writers publish articles about how much better the team's attitude is every time a new manager rolls into town, and nothing ever changes. Look:

Sports Illustrated, Spring 2001:

If you go by last year's public comments, the Pirates' clubhouse was full of finger-pointing with a laissez-faire manner. McClendon has vowed that the 2001 Pirates will adapt a can-do attitude and play hard every day.

The Post-Gazette, January 16, 2006:

...Tracy helped to keep the general mood incessantly upbeat, from roaring approval or cracking jokes to the unusual drill conducted Saturday in which he swatted liners and grounders at pitchers with their backs to a fence less than 50 feet away. It was a test of their reflexes that had the group chattering and laughing throughout...

The Pirates' annual minicamp that ended yesterday, Tracy's first on-field experience as the team's manager, left no doubt as to who will call the shots. And the passion with which he will insist that his teachings be taken seriously...

From bunting drills to nearly every aspect of the five days of workouts spread across the Pirate City complex, even those involving injured players, it all appeared to operate with the efficiency of the German train system.

Alles einsteigen! Der Zug nach Ninetyfivelossesstadt is leaving the station!

The Trib, April 6, 2006:

The record may be the same after three games (0-3 last year, 0-3 this year), but these are not the same old Pirates.

"Carelessness is not tolerated here any more," Jim Tracy said prior to Wednesday night's 3-2 loss at Miller Park.

This was more a State of the Union, as opposed to a challenge to a specific individual or an indictment of a previous regime.

Turns out they were the same old Pirates. Oops!

Pirates.com, May 26, 2008:

"It's definitely a lot different around here," McLouth said of the change of culture. "We've had a couple key injuries already. That's not an excuse, but that's something we've had to deal with. We're still in an OK position. I think when those two guys [Wilson and Doumit] come back, we're going to be even better...

"That's been the difference, that never-say-die attitude," Zach Duke said. "It's nice to have around here. The sky's the limit. We just have to decide if we're willing to pay the price to be as good as we can be."

I don't mean to bash writers who are just reporting what they see, and I do suspect that things probably do seem better in the first few months after a manager is hired. I'm sure even the Plymouth Prowler seemed pretty cool for a few months when it came out in '97. And then the people who bought it realized it stunk, and then they probably went out and got a Pontiac Aztek.

The problem is that changes in attitude, however real, don't last if you don't win, and you don't win if you don't have talent. Maybe John Russell will stand the test of time. Who knows. But in the meantime, Paul McKenna couldn't inspire the attitude adjustment necessary to help this team turn a corner.