Big Lead Sports Bar

8/10/2006

Shawn Chacon is Now a True Pirate

Alex Rodriguez is the reigning American League MVP. He's played in the big leagues since 1994, is a career .305 hitter, and has 452 career home runs at the ripe age of 31. He has a contract worth over $250 million dollars. By all accounts, he will be a first-ballot Hall of Famer, lest his named be soiled by some sort of illegal substance in the future, which is doubtful.
Go back to Texas, or better yet, just drop dead

This is his third season as a member of the New York Yankees, where he moved to third base in order to facilitate a trade from the Texas Rangers in 2004. Yet, to this day, he is still not acknowledged as a "True" Yankee. He wasn't drafted by the Yankees, he wasn't developed by the Yankees, and he hasn't won a World Series with the Yankees. As far as Yankee followers go, winning the MVP doesn't count for anything. That was an individual honor. His presence has not equalled Yankee postseason success, so he is basically worthless until the point that he kisses a World Series trophy. Charlie Hayes would be a better third base choice if you asked Yankee fans.

Wednesday, August 9, 2006 was an eventful day. Maurice Clarett apparently was set to
kill or be killed in Ohio; SI writer Rick Reilly stirred up talk shows nationwide with his column about a Pony League championship in Utah that involved the walking of the star hitter in order to face a cancer survivor; and the Pittsburgh Pirates lost to the Houston Astros by a count of 14-1.
If I was at the NFL draft and heard Denver make that pick, I would have thrown the old fantasy football classic "Coulda waited on that one" line to Mike Shanahan

But something bigger happened during the course of that game. What has eluded Alex Rodriguez for three seasons, Shawn Chacon was able to achieve in just his second outing as a Pirate starting pitcher.

Shawn Chacon became a True Pirate.

His statistics from this memorable outing? 1 2/3 innings pitched, 6 hits, 4 walks, 7 earned runs, and 3 home runs served up. 14 batters faced, and 10 of them reached base (.714). One of the home runs allowed was to pitcher Roy Oswalt, who received a curtain call. And now, according to Dejan Kovacevic,
he is getting his knee examined.

Some of the True Yankees are usually identified as Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada, Bernie Williams, and before he left for the greener pastures of Houston, Andy Pettitte. These were the homegrown boys that did New York proud by bringing title after title home in the mid-to-late 90s. The aura surrounding the Yankees is that anything less than another World Series ring is a wasted season.

The Pirates have a bit of a different aura. Once players arrive from other MLB teams, or even from their own minor league system, they seem to fall victim to some sort of infection (often diagnosed as "losing") that sucks them in and depletes all discernable baseball skills. At that point, and only that point, can we recognize them as True Pirates. I believe Jason Kendall was usually the bearer of this news when he would welcome new players to town with his famous line of

"Welcome to Hell". This is the occasion we can now celebrate with Shawn Chacon's performance last night. Xavier Nady, you're next. Don't say we didn't warn you.



A True Pirate can have initial success, but eventually, they all come around. Zach Duke looked like a lefthanded Greg Maddux when he burst onto the scene in 2005. 8-2 in 14 starts, with a ridiculous 1.81 ERA! Fast forward to 2006, where he currently sits at 7-10, with a 5.36 ERA. Some theories blame pitching coach Jim Colborn for Duke's woes. But the true culprit is the infection.
Zach Duke, already showing the symptoms of being a True Pirate


Oliver Perez was the next Sandy Koufax, posting a 12-10 mark, with a 2.99 ERA and 239 strikeouts in 196 innings, in 2004. In 2005, the infection kicked in: a 5.85 ERA, 7 wins, 97 strikeouts in 103 innings, and one broken toe courtesy of a laundry cart that looked at him the wrong way. 2006 was even worse, with a 2-10 record and 6.63 ERA before being sent to the New York Mets. His
current stats, even though he is no longer a Pirate, are even worse. But the infection is still in his system. Someday, he may be well again. But it may take a while.
Note the enlarged head, disproportionate to body size. Always a telltale sign of a True Pirate.

Chris Duffy had an amazing 2005 season. He batted .341 and had the look and feel of a guy who could lock down center field for a long time. He was a young, marketable player who the team thought so much of that he was the subject of the incredibly rare triple bobblehead doll earlier this season.


What happened next? He had a disappointing start to the 2006 campaign,
went AWOL, talked about retiring, wished he was traded at the deadline, and currently sits with a .169 average at the exact same point (39 games) that he played in last season. Again, many fingers point to manager Jim Tracy for tinkering with Duffy's swing, but we all know that he may never recover from the infection. It affects you mentally as well as physically.
A porcelain memento of three True Pirates

I know that I'll read comments saying "What about Jason Bay?" or "You're wrong...just look at Freddy Sanchez!". And you will be right, because they have played at an All Star level. But trust me, sooner or later, they will all succumb. This is a Jedi-like force. It is strong. And we can only hope that one day, we will have a cure. Until then, imported players will all eventually earn their badges as True Pirates.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

THe Pirates all suffer from the disease Baseballsuckitis

Mini Me said...

Just found this blog...nice stuff!

steelerfn8286 said...

It's always great to see our "future" wear a permanent marker mustaches