Monday, August 28, 2006

The forbearance of the Pirates fan

My keyboard player and I did an unplugged gig at Atria's next to the stadium after Saturday night's game, and after we were finished, I engaged in a friendly but heated discussion with a Pirates fan who disagreed with my propensity for going on the radio and berating Pirates management. To this guy, it seemed patently obvious that the Pirates are now doing things right, that they have finally distanced themselves from the mistakes of the past, and that with the young players now on the field, they are poised to contend in 2007.

I find this point of view startling. It seems that, by now, I should hardly have to verbalize a statement such as "We have the worst general manager in baseball," much less justify it with examples. That we have the worst general manager in baseball should be obvious to anyone paying the least bit of attention. 14 losing seasons. Craig Wilson for Shawn Chacon. Ed Creech. Brian Bullington and B.J. Upton. Tell me when to stop...

I have a sick sense, though, that what is obvious to me and, I suspect, to most everyone who reads this blog, is far from obvious to a lot more people than I would ever imagine. Littlefield bloviates on his show every Sunday, Tracy struts and gushes, Lanny prattles on about Chester A. Arthur and Rutherford B. Hayes to avoid describing the disaster that unfolds in front of him, and many of the consumers of all this hot air are intoxicated by it.

I don't claim any superior intelligence here. At best, what I have is a higher level of interest and engagement with the game of baseball than the average person, which may have as much to do with pathology as it does with intelligence, and the interest and engagement, I daresay, result in my paying closer attention and therefore being better informed than the average fan.

I had a similar experience at a preseason event at Atria's in March, in which KDKA ran a marathon pre-season talkfest in which I was asked to participate. The room was abuzz with optimism resulting, as near as I could tell, from the acquisitions of Burnitz, Randa, and Casey, and the consensus was overwhelmingly in favor of the notion that the Pirates were about to end their long run of futility. When I got up to the microphone, like Tobermory in the short story by Saki, I silenced the room when I said, "If the Pirates play .500 ball this year, I'll walk from here to Philadelphia."

If the Pirates continue their post-All-Star-break run of mediocrity (when compared to abject ineptitude, mediocrity impersonates success), look for the post-season optimism to arise again, defying all sense and reason.


Anonymous Bern1 said...

Let’s see … They entered the All-Star break at 30 games under .500, and they’re now at 31 games under .500.

Yup, things are looking up.

Has anybody else noticed that Dejan has been using the word “inexplicably” a lot lately when writing about the exploits of a certain second baseman? ...

“In the fourth, Jose Castillo inexplicably swung at the first pitch just after a four-pitch walk to free swinger Ryan Doumit.”

1:23 PM  
Anonymous KPatrick said...

(a) Welcome back, you've been missed.

(b) The silver lining in the truth you so eloquently state is that it goes some distance to debunk the idea that this is a shitty baseball town. I mean, fireworks can't be THAT big of a draw, in and of themselves, can they? You can sit in Point State Park and see those for free. Ditto for the stadium: how many one-time visitors will bear witness to its greatness before that market disappears?

Even that loyalty is dumb on some levels when it isn't rewarded by the people running the franchise. But the loaylty, in and of itself, is only arguably a bad thing.

The optimism, on the other hand, is just a failure to pay attention.

5:53 PM  

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