Big Lead Sports Bar



The worst part of last night's Penguin game, other than the crushing defeat and the end of the Mellon Arena Era, was what it leaves us with in terms of Pittsburgh sports at the moment.

The Steelers have had their worst offseason in club history, dealing a Super Bowl MVP receiver and having their quarterback benched for 4-6 games for behavioral reasons. For curiosity purposes, it should be an intriguing season, but that's just about where it ends. I'm certainly not anticipating any members of the Black and Gold hoisting a Lombardi Trophy at the end of the season. So unless anyone else does anything dumb, it should be a quiet couple of months on that front. 

Which brings us to the Pittsburgh Pirates, Major League Baseball's version of the D-student and our only active sport at the moment. Just when you thought that maybe, maybe, they might be on the right track after a three-game sweep of the Cubs, the Cincinnati Reds come to town and embarrass the Bucs in three consecutive games. For the series, the Pirates had 10 hits - 10! They also were outscored by a combined total of 16-1, and drew a paid attendance of less than 10,000 for two of the three games, with one of the crowds estimated as closer to 3,000. Worst of all, it seemed like the team wasn't even trying, as indicated by Homer Bailey needing just 90 pitches to blow through the Pirate lineup in Wednesday's 5-0 Reds win, and Johnny Cueto limiting the Buccos to one hit in Tuesday's 9-0 Reds romp. And in case you were wondering, Bailey and Cueto's respective ERAs coming into those games were 7.24 and 5.18. It wasn't like the Pirates were facing the second coming of Drysdale and Koufax.

As we check in on their rankings in relation to the rest of MLB, the Pirates rank 29th in runs scored, 27th in team batting average (.232), 29th in on-base percentage (.303), and 28th in slugging (.353). As far as pitching, their team ERA is still the worst of any organization, at a whopping 5.86. Of their 20 losses, 12 have been by six runs or more, and as a team, their run differential is an insane -97. How five teams have a worse record than the Pirates completely boggles the mind.

So here we are in mid-May, wondering where this team goes from here. In the coming games, they'll be at Chicago for a three-game series starting Friday, and if there's one team that's as pathetic as the Pirates, it's the Cubs, who are just 1/2 game better than Pittsburgh despite a payroll of $146 million, third in MLB. Our old friend Aramis Ramirez is hitting .159 for his $16 million-plus salary, while former Pirate fan fave Xavier Nady is at a robust .186. And for salt on the wound, $18 million man Carlos Zambrano has been exiled to the bullpen. Enjoy those Lovable Losers, Chicago. 

So the Pirates might have a shot to slightly redeem themselves against the Cubs, but how about that May 17 matchup looming on the horizon, pitting Roy Halladay (6-1, 1.59) against Charlie Morton (1-6, 9.19) in Philadephia. Yikes and gadzooks. You might want to hold onto your ticket stubs from that one, because there's a chance fans might see the first 100-0 game in league history that night. 

Long story short, the Pirates are playing horrible baseball but are in an equally awful division where they've racked up all but five of their 14 wins thus far. Remember, it wasn't so long ago that the Pirates were the ones sweeping Cincinnati, April 16-18, so I guess anything is possible over the course of a 162-game season. But basically, we're left with what we're left with: a bad team that can't hit or pitch in a divisional race that St. Louis should lock up fairly early, as long as an anvil doesn't fall on Albert Pujols. 

We've been lucky the past two years, as the Penguins have played into June in both 2008 and 2009. Unfortunately, their premature exit this year means one thing: we get two to three extra weeks of focusing solely on the Pirates. Is it too late to get a do-over Game Seven with the Canadiens?

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Someone Somewhere said...

I'm just glad Jeff Karstens was relegated to the bullpen so Charlie Morton could keep his spot in the starting rotation and the dream of a 30 loss season alive! Come on Chaz, we're counting on you to make this season a memorable one.

Chad said...

call up neil walker! he's tearing up aaa. give us someone to root for

BAMAQT said...

Aye!! What does the Pirates and the Penguins have in common????

THEIR SEASONS END IN MAY!!! Halak.. Halak.....

Can't take credit.. Heard it on The Fan radio today.

Chip said...

Good grief. If you're going to inflict Pirates articles on us, at least offer relevant info. Going on and finding out where the Pirates rank in batting or pitching is meaningless. This is a REBUILDING year. Nobody is pretending otherwise so writing an article where you all but criticize them for not competing for the pennant totally misses the point.

What you SHOULD do is spend a little time and do a little research about the minor leagues. The Pirates have one of the deepest and richest systems in baseball. There are tons of fantastic prospects at all levels. These guys are the future of Pittsburgh baseball and they are going to be the guys who lead the Pirates back into the good graces of all the fairweather bandwagon jumping Yinzers.

There is no point in following the Pirates now since most of these guys are going to be gone in the next couple years. But wait until August and September when future All-Stars like Jose Tabata, Brad Lincoln, and Pedro Alverez get called up. THAT is all you need to worry about in regards to the Pirates in 2010.

Anonymous said...

Keep drinkin' the kool aid, Chip. I'm sure no one expects the Pirates to compete for anything but a quarter-century of losing baseball..

All the people in the farm system that develop? They'll be traded away for a popcorn fart.

I'm stunned that people like you and my father still believe in this "Rebuilding" crap. They've been rebuilding since I was in kindergarten. I was four when they last had a winning season and I was in the fourth grade during the "Freak Show" when they last showed any fight. I gave up on them a long time ago.

Unknown said...

Actually the point of the article is that the Pirates suck RIGHT NOW and they are generally awful to watch RIGHT NOW. Regardless of whether you buy into the rebuilding effort (I do), you can't argue that watching a pitch-to-contact staff in front of a defense that generally sucks with an offense that's fortunate to score three runs in a game is not a fun time.

That said, let's go Bucs!

Steve said...

"This is a REBUILDING year."

PAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Ahhh...the more it's said the funnier it gets! The Pittsburgh Pirates, rebuilding since 1993. It's so easy to spot juvenile naivety with comments like that. It ranks right up there with "someday there will be world peace" and "size doesn’t matter".

Hahaha!, Excuse any typos please, my fingers are slipping from wiping tears of laughter from my eyes! Good one Chip!

okel dokel said...

Rebuilding year? They eclipsed that long ago.

Hey, I have an idea for a new marketing slogan. "Come join the Rebuilding Generation"

They could give away silver coated Bobbleheads on the 25th anniversary of consecutive losing.

Get Bob Nutting on the phone...this is gold.

JRW said...

If I could try to be serious about the Buccos for a second; what can really be done? Is there anything as fans we can do to change this team or get them sold to owners that want to win? The walkout failed, boycotting only increases their chances of moving out of town...what do we do???

My dream is to catch an opposing team's home run ball at PNC and throw it back into the outfield. Maybe everyone can start doing that? Sadly there should be no shortage of opportunities.

Raise the Jolly Roger!

Steve said...

Jim, they can't move out of town. They are obligated by contract to stay in Pittsburgh at least until the lease at PNC Park expires. I don't know if that 's good or bad thing anymore.

JRW said...

So we all go to Washington Wild Things games as a symbol of protest instead? Im tryin' here...

BurressWithButterflywings said...

This is a rebuilding year?!?!?!?

This is nearly 2 rebuilding DECADES!


McCutchen is miraculously as good as expected and the rest of them are low-ceiling has beens or never weres.

Anybody who says otherwise is kidding themself.

Chip said...

Blaming Neal Huntington for dumb trades made in 1997 is ridiculous. He's been on the job three years. Not 17. You can't blame him for the mistakes of the past. Live in the here and now, please.

I agree this team stinks. But I repeat, THIS ISN'T THE TEAM THAT WILL WIN THE PENNANT IN 2015. That team is in AAA and AA right now. Two years from now, all these guys on the big league roster (except for a few like Cutch) will be gone. Aki isn't part of the future. Jones and Church aren't part of the future. They're not part of the grand plan. They're temporary fixes.

Again, instead of silly "Get rid of the owner!" or "It's been 17 years!" nonsense, try spending 10-15 minutes to actually learn what you're talking about. Work the google on your internet machines. Type "Pittsburgh Pirates prospects" and look at how deep and rich their farm system is. They have a ton of prime talent which will make them one of the best young teams in baseball over this next decade.

And I'm saving this thread to my thumb drive because I want to remember this when they're battling for the title in 2015 and all you yinzers jump back on the bandwagon pretending like you believed all along. "Pittsburgh sports fans"--what a laughable concept that is.

okel dokel said...

Ah here comes "Lord of the Pittsburgh Sports Fan" Chip to question peoples fandom.

You went at me a few weeks back for doing the same thing you POS.

I have been a Pirates fan for a long time. I have witnessed two World Championships and follow their prospects. They certainly are building a better farm system and have given themselves more options than they ever had under the Bonifay and Littlefield eras. I am not ready to claim they will win the pennant in 2015.

I enjoy making fun of their plight because it is fun. And will continue to do so whether you like it or not.

You are a know it all prick who comes on here with your proclamations and suppositions as if your opinion is that of all Pittsburgh sports fans.

I will say one thing about you. You are the Pittsburgh sports fan who is most resembles a Philly sports fan.

BurressWithButterflywings said...

I really don't know what Huntington has done to make Chip think he is some great baseball mind.

Let's see what we got last year:

Milledge- .241 with ZERO home runs and 11 RBI out of the 3 spot.

Iwamura- can't hit and is so bad at playing 2nd he makes Soriano look like Maz.

Morton- On pace to lose 30 games and be the only full-time MLB starter with an ERA about 10!

Hart- couldn't even get out an innning in spring training

Clement- shouldn't have even made the roster out of spring training.

Hanrahan- has been serviceable and has better than 3 to 1 K to BB ratio. So thats good

But Matt Capps has a 0.93 ERA ( or 1/10 of Chaz Morton) with 14 SVs.......

JRW said...

This is all great stuff fellas, but what can we do? Seriously?? Pen a letter??? Doesnt Leyland still have a house in Upper St. Clair? Someone plese mow his lawn for free or something...

Chip said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Well Chip, even if they do compete in 2015, watch me not care. I won't ever watch another baseball game until they have a salary cap like football and hockey. I stopped watching hockey after I had been devoted in my younger days when there was a fact that the Pens would not be competing until a cap was instituted. Until that day, I have no use for baseball. Even if they did compete in 2015 and history has shown us, they probably won't, within the next couple years they'll go back to tanking again. So what's the point?... I refuse to have my intelligence insulted by buying into the Pirate optimism.

Nate said...

While I do (and this is rare) agree with Chip that, in general, the Pirates are on the right track, I also agree with the rest of you that he's being a real douche about it.

Burress, a few questions for you:

Milledge, Hanrahan - Who would you have gotten for Nyjer Morgan and Sean Burnett? Morgan is a 30 year old Juan Pierre wannabe, Burnett is a lefty who can't get lefties out. Hanrahan is a good reliever.

While Milledge hasn't worked out, he's a guy who at one point was considered to be one of baseball's best prospects. The Mets were once offered Manny Ramirez for him, straight up, and they refused. They were offered Rich Harden + more, they refused. If you can take a chance on a guy like that for a guy who doesn't fit into your long-term plans, you do it.

Iwamura - Alright, he's been beyond terrible. Who would you have gotten for Jesse Chavez? At the time of the trade, Iwamura was a guy coming off three consecutive seasons with an OBP of .350 or better, and played a pretty competent second base. We needed a stop gap at second base because Delwyn Young definitely didn't work out there. Who would you have gotten instead, o wise one?

Morton - Has made 3 consecutive quality starts, has a 2.70 K/BB ratio. I agree that his first few starts were terrible. He's looked much better since then.

Hart - Sucks. Point conceded. Who would you have gotten for John Grabow and Tom Gorzelanny? (Keep in mind that when Gorzelanny was traded, he was pitching poorly in AAA, not pitching well in the Majors.)

Clement - He's had 339 plate appearances in his career, scattered across three seasons. Clearly that's enough time! Time to write him off forever!

Capps - Releasing him was a mistake, and I said as much at the time. Not sure what they were thinking there - he was coming off a bad season, but he'd had four good ones as compared to his one bad one.