Friday, April 21, 2006

Dark thoughts

Evidently, it's not just me who is feeling despondent about the Pirates.

I walked into a meeting at work the other day that was attended by one of the other guys I share a season ticket plan with, and after a little talk about the All-Star Game and what we're going to do with the tickets, we got into some banter about the team--the lousy starting pitching, Craig Wilson's hot start, Casey's injury, and so on. As we continued to talk, I suddenly looked around the room and noticed that everyone else in the room was staring at us like we were conversing in Swedish. Someone said, "I know a little bit about the Stillers, but not the Pirates." Another person in the room was a fanatical Penguins fan with no interest in the Pirates, and she steered the conversation to Sidney Crosby. Everyone else just wanted us to shut up so we could start the meeting.

For the few people left who still do care about the Pirates--and by that I mean the baseball that the Pirates play as opposed to the PNC Park experience--these seem to me to be unusually dark days. There are lots of reasons for this:
  • The poor start

  • The growing realization that Tracy is not much different from McClendon, particularly in his overvaluing of veterans, of defense, and of speed and undervaluing of on-base percentage and power

  • The cynical, public-relations-driven acquisitions of Randa, Burnitz, and Casey

  • Determination of the team to continue following the failed (from a baseball point of view) policy of one-year rentals of veterens on the downside of their careers

  • The increasingly clear signs that the McClatchy-Nutting ownership is not interested in selling the team, no doubt because of their success in fleecing the other owners (via Bucs Dugout)

  • The palpable evidence of the organization's disfunction provided by Chris Shelton, along with clear evidence that the organization has not learned from this mistake (for example, the recent statement by Brian Graham that Adam Boeve "needs to work on his defense"--precisely the rationale given by Graham when we lost Shelton in the Rule Five).

Most depressing of all, though, is the extension granted to Littlefield at the beginning of this year. All of the reasons for despair that I've cited here might be tolerable if there were at least some hope that we were reaching some cataclysmic nadir of failure that would make the need for a cleansing reorganization apparent even to the McClatchy-Nutting ownership group (something like this). But Dave Littlefield is our general manager for the next three years--the owners are happy with his performance. And, given their goals, why wouldn't they be?

OK, I'm going to stop now, this is making me depressed. I will be away for the weekend and will miss the first two Houston games. The pitching is getting better and Craig Wilson is playing every day. I'm passing the baton to Zeke, which he may or may not choose to carry. I'll be back next week.


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