Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Bucs out of the cellar

Today is a day to stretch out and enjoy the dizzying heights of fifth place. The Pirates suffer from chronic incompetence, but our rivals the Cubs this year are showing what acute incompetence looks like. It's fitting that the winning run came on a wild pitch last night; so many of these games have not so much been won by the Pirates as they have been surrendered by the Cubs.

Remember one-run losses in the first half? The Pirates were 9-25 in one-run games before the All-Star break and are 12-2 in such games since, for a record of 21-27 overall. If you accept as a premise that luck is a greater factor in determining the outcome of one-run games than it is in other games, then what we're seeing has something to do with the tendency of luck to even out over time, as small-sample anomalies disappear. Following that premise, it's possible to believe that the Pirates were not as bad a team as they appeared to be in the first half of the season. However, they are also not as good as they appear to be now. 21-27 is closer to their true abilities than 9-25 or 12-2. Charlie at Bucs Dugout gets it right--the thin air of fifth place should not intoxicate us into thinking that this team is close to contending. It isn't.

That is exactly what the Pirates public-relations machine will assert in the off-season, though. Tracy beats the drum to the press every day, but his relentless optimism doesn't really bother me; as a leader, conveying optimism is central to his job. Littlefield, on the other hand, is a shameless and cynical purveyor of untruths for the purpose of distracting the public and his bosses from his record of incompetence. He is the worst general manager in baseball at building a team and at judging, acquiring, and retaining talent, but when it comes to self-promotion through subterfuge and guile, he is a master without peer.


Anonymous bucdaddy said...

The Cubs sure look bad now, especially Dempster, but a lot of their problems this year have had to do with injuries to Lee and the usual suspects (Wood, Prior) more than incompetence. If the Pirates had lost J-Bay for most of the year and not had, oh, Snell and Duke for all of it, they'd still be on the bottom, looking way up. They've really not had a very significant injury this year (I didn't like Casey and Wells much, so they don't count). The Pirates are bad on merit.

9:52 AM  
Blogger Billy said...

That's an excellent point, bucdaddy. Another point to factor into assessments of this year and predictions about next year is that the Pirates have been relatively free of injuries this season compared to many other teams.

10:00 AM  
Anonymous bucdaddy said...

Thanks, Billy, but now I'm forced to take it all back. That might have been the ugliest inning of alleged major-league baseball I've ever seen (funniest, too, in a "can't anybody here play this game?" kinda way). The only conclusion now, is BOTH these teams are awful on merit.

I lost track. How man blown bunt coverages were there?

12:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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10:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's been ages since i posted here. Been sick, busy etc. There are not many games left this season. It has had it's up's and down's. Meet some new Reds i adore. Meet David Ross again. Knew of him when was a Dodger. Missed Sean Casey a lot. Reds then got rid of Austin Kerns. Seen the Reds 9 times this year at Busch Stadium. Saw the Phillies 3 times. Seen The Astros 3 times. Gonna see the Astros for my 4th time September 13th. Gonna go to games in 2 weeks to see Brian Giles.No idea who will make the playoffs.First Choice Reds. Second Choice Phillies. 3RD Astros. 4TH Choice Padres. Padres just because of Brian Giles, Geoff Blum and Trevor Hoffmann. I hope to at least attend one playoff game. But if the Cards don't make it won't go to any. Because i can't afford to travel. But if i had to choose. I'd rather the Reds win the Central and just have to watch them on tv.Seeing them on tv would be better than them not making the playoffs at all.
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2:00 PM  
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6:59 AM  

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