Monday morning means another installment of Reader Submission Monday...when Mondesi lets the inmates run the asylum for a few posts.
The Pirates Have “Nutting” on the Steelers
By WorstAvid (who even provided pictures for his piece!)
I get a kick out of all the weeping and gnashing of teeth that goes on about the Pirates in this city. Some people can be truly pathetic.
Oh yes, I know, we have the Steelers, they’ve won five Super Bowls. We also have the Pirates who just recently edged past the Cubs (at least temporarily) and out of the cellar. But for most of the people going to Steeler games these days shelling out a couple hundred bucks to endure drunkenness at unparalleled levels, they don’t realize that there was a time when the Steelers were the most pathetic laughingstock in football... for forty years!!!
Let’s examine the numbers: Between their inaugural 1933 season and their last season before their first SuperBowl championship,1973, the Steelers had an incredibly wretched combined record of 188 wins, 278 losses and 18 ties. So out of 484 games, the Black & Gold won at a paltry .388%. Their only playoff game during this stretch was a 21-0 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in the Divisional Playoffs in 1947.
Rooney single-handedly kept the Cuban cigar industry employed.
You had this lovable guy, one Arthur J. Rooney, who was loyal to his players and coaches to a fault and who now has a statue in his honor outside of Heinz Field. He smoked very large cigars and bought the team with money he won on the horses. How was it that he managed to lose in Pittsburgh for forty years and wasn’t run out of town on a rail? Think about this O ye Mondesi readers:
Allegheny River kept flowing by Pirates fans never-ending tears.
The current Pirates’ streak that you bemoan is nothing. NOTHING, I say. In fact, the 14 year streak that you "cry a river over" is only 35% as long as the Steelers’ 40 year wandering in the Sahara. The Steelers had nine years where they actually had a winning record, but if you only take in the first 30 years, they only had six!
Moses was also well known for years of wandering
Moses was also well known for years of wandering
You Pirate fans still have another 26 years before you can truly be pitied. G. Ogden Nutting still has 26 years till he hits Art Rooney territory. However, old Art does have one over on the current Pirates. He made the playoffs in 1947, his 14th season. The Pirates have been out of the playoffs since 1992, also 14 years.
Compared to Rooney, these guys are actually doing well
So now that we have that out of the way, let’s get on with the real reason for my “reader submission”. I’m here to announce that if the Pirates make one or two more good acquisitions in the off-season, that they are “this close” to becoming next year’s surprise team in baseball. “This guy’s insane” you say. Just read on, I have a lot of seasons under my belt.
Worst Avid's psychologist...yes, he's the same guy from Terminator 2
Left field is anchored by one of the steadiest players in the game today. True, he didn’t have a "clutch” hitting year and he’d be the first one to tell you that, but Jason Bay is about as good as it gets in the field and in bringing 150% effort every day. The guy is a Rock of Gibraltar. Even not having a clutch year he’s tenth in the league in homers (32) with a .284 batting average and 101 RBI.
Chris Duffy had a near meltdown earlier in the season, but thank goodness he’s back and looking like he did last year. He certainly merits a much longer look in center field. Had this guy’s career been ruined by stupid tinkering at the major league level, it would have been a real tragedy. His speed, defense and base running skills all are at top major league levels. If he can become more consistent at the plate he’ll be everything the Pirates ever wanted from a center fielder.
Right field can be handled competently by Xavier Nady, one of the best acquisitions ever made by GM David Littlefield. But I really like the defense that Nady has flashed at first base, he’s more valuable there. Nate McLouth is good for some spot starts in right, but I definitely see a need for a power-hitting, left-handed-bat in right field. Let’s leave this spot temporarily “open” and see what kind of a deal that Littlefield can put together in the off season.
Littlefield's man crush on Nady finally came to fruition
Now, get ready for some changes. Jose Bautista should be starting at third base now. Every day. Even doubleheaders. Did any of you see the play he made against the Cubs the other night when he fielded a wicked shot and threw out a base runner with a perfect bullet to Ronnie Paulino? This kid can flat-out play...just about anywhere on the field! I’m weary of hearing that Bautista is thee third baseman of the future. Baloney, he’s the third baseman of now.
I’m not a major Jack Wilson fan, but he’s been a solid guy, a good citizen on the team and a very solid shortstop.. It would be nice if he could get his batting average back to two years ago, but he brings a good veteran leadership to the team. We’ll leave him there for now.
Second base. Ah, second base. Here’s where I get creative. If I’m Dave Littlefield, I’d be looking at packaging Jose Castillo and a minor league pitcher for that right fielder. My second baseman? Freddy Sanchez, of course. Sanchez flashes greatness in the field and leads the NL in batting average. Plus he covers a lot of ground. What more do you want in your starting second baseman?
Castillo, on the other hand is a lazy fielder who’s more interested in swinging for the fences than working the count to get his hits. He is a hard head who has ignored the instruction of Batting Coach Jeff Manto all year and is covering less ground than just about any second baseman in the league. It’s time to say “Adios” to Jose.
Not related to Castillo
First base, as I mentioned earlier, should be handled by Xavier Nady. By the way, Nady is batting over .350 since being acquired by the Pirates. This guy is the real deal. Mets GM Omar Minaya must have had temporary insanity to trade away a player of this quality for a near-retirement reliever and a head case starter. Talk about panicking at the trade deadline!
Catcher: Ronnie Paulino is one of the nicest surprises in many years to come out of the Pirates’ system. But be honest, did you EVER hear Paulino’s name mentioned as a “can’t miss” prospect? Did you ever hear him regarded as a possibility? Did you ever hear much about before this year, period!!! Paulino should be the Pirates’ catcher for the next umpteen years. This is not good news, however, for Ryan Doumit or even first round pick Neal Walker.
Speaking of Doumit, I feel the Pirates should have him in winter ball playing right field for the Port Au Prince Storms or the Panama Jacks. If he has a chance to play major league baseball, it should be as a right fielder or as a catcher on another team. Maybe Doumit could be paired with Castillo for that quality right fielder? A guy with the persistent groin and hamstring problems that Doumit has had should be viewed as questionable catcher material squatting for three hours at a time.
Sprinkle liberally where needed
Pitching Staff: As a group, these guys are coming around, but I’ll be honest, I really felt like they tanked collectively. A lot of people say that if the Buccos had that one big name starter to anchor things and take some of the pressure off the young pitchers, that things would have been a lot different. I for one agree. This staff was far too inexperienced to venture out into the major leagues and not get shelled nightly. They were and they did. However, to their credit and Jim Colborn’s tenacity, they have improved…drastically. The bullpen, particularly Mike Gonzalez, Matt Capps and Salomon Torres of late have been very reliable, even more so as the starters improved. If the Pirates can get a game into the 7th inning with a close score, they have a chance for their bullpen to hold off the opposition.
Extra parts: Joe Randa, Jeromy Burnitz, Shawn Chacon, Ryan Vogelsong (yes he’s back). None of these players add anything to the team and I would hope they are not in Pirates uniforms in '07.
So in conclusion, while the Pirates are at least a couple years away from maturing into a contender, they most definitely will exceed the mythical .500 mark next year but still will not win the division or make the playoffs as a wildcard. So it will then be 15 years and counting against the Steelers’ 40 years. They still have a long way to go to pass that mark of futility. So hang tough Pirate fans, better days are coming!