Monday, June 25, 2007

Monday, June 25, 2007

-- The Protest that Will Fail.

-- Penguins get something old, something new.

---Protesting the Protest---

From The Average White Guy:

Pirates Protest Information...

Date: June 30, 2007

Info: We're asking all interested fans to attend the rally during the pregame (between 5pm and 7pm). All fans who wish to participate should sport a green shirt to represent the money we fans contribute. Participation is on one of three levels:

1.) For those fans that refuse to buy tickets - They can simply take part in the pregame protest and petition signing.

2.) For those that wish to make a permanent statement - Like the Average White Guy, they can leave altogether, never to return until this team makes a significant transformation.

3.) For those who bought tickets and want to stay but still support the movement - They can leave for an inning, or two innings, or however many innings they feel necessary.

Print Flyer
(and hand it out!)


I suppose I shouldn't complain that there is finally going to be some kind of public protest because of the way that the ownership and management has been running this team into the ground.

The Pittsburgh media outlets have all caught wind of the protest itself, as well as tomorrow's press conference of sorts at about 2:15PM. Other websites that have long been opposed to the McNutting ownership are fully backing this.

The gist: Everyone wears green to the June 30th game against the Washington Nationals. They walk out after the 3rd inning, never to return to PNC Park until there is a massive change in the way the team is run (theoretically, the proof will be when the Pirates are contending again).

Well, their hearts are in the right place, and I suppose this could be considered a first step, but this particular method will certainly fail.

1) While the organizers of this protest say that they will pay for one game's admission, then leave mid-game, they speak for only a few people (relatively speaking) who will do this.

2) The media, particularly FSN and NewsTalk 104.7, are clearly on the side of the ownership. The TV outlets who are following this will mention that it happened, maybe interview a few people on their way out, but the time on the news will be 2 minutes or less. That's enough time for people to miss the story because they were in the bathroom or on the phone. It will not be a heralded story, and, after the All-Star Break, most will have forgotten about it. The movement will gain no further momentum.

3) There are people out there who have suffered through virtually every Pirates home game in person for the last 15 years. They'll continue coming through. There are people like Ron Florian and Paul Wright who will continue to come to the park because they want their kids to see it. There are the businessmen who come to the park and bring clients. They don't give a rat's ass about the game, but have no problem paying $6 for a beer.

4) Fireworks and bobbleheads and Ladies Night and Pup Night and Big'n'Rich and Live will be enough to keep the casual fan from coming into town for the game.

Incidently, June 30th is Bob Walk bobblehead night.

Now, I've always been taught that if you critique something, you have to provide an alternate plan to gain any sort of credibility. So, here's the brainchild, but, first, this preface from the United States Constitution:

Amendment I - Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; OR THE RIGHT OF THE PEOPLE PEACEABLY TO ASSEMBLE, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Envision this. Game going on inside PNC. Thousands gathered in the parking lot, along the Riverwalk, near the Roberto Clemente statue, wherever. Some of them have pocket radios or walkmans listening in. No one is sitting inside the stadium. No one is paying for the overpriced snacks and beer. They're all sitting on lawn chairs along the riverwalk, talking to each other about the game...or, heck, about the weather. They've brought their own food and drink with them. Then, Jason Bay or Adam LaRoche goes yard. And from outside the stadium, the masses cheer.

How surreal would that be?

To me, doing this kind of thing game after game that would be supporting the team and the players, but not supporting the syndicate that runs them.

Now, the reason I mentioned the Constitution is that if people are assembled peaceably, there is no legal reason that the crowd could be dispersed by law enforcement. Know your rights.

I don't remember how much it is to park in the PNC or Heinz Field lot, but how hard would it be to support the struggling PAT transit authority to ride that to the game?

And just think of the creative signs these fans could come up with to carry around?

Final equation, in this case, is that Pirate games are enjoyed (or not) in a crowd setting without money funneling into the syndicate's pockets.

Outside of the obvious names (e.g. "The Plan that Would Never Work" or "Impossible"), what might be a good name for such a movement? You're all creative types out there, especially when it comes to this kind of thing.

A one-day flash-in-the-pan walk out is a fair start, but a day-in, day-out (peaceful) demonstration outside the walls of the stadium that Pittsburghers' tax dollars helped to build... I like the sound of this more and more...

Regardless of how impractical it would truly be.

---Making Strides---

First of all, I'm a jerk for neglecting to mention in my last post my congratulations to Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin for coming home from Toronto with some hardware called "Hart" and "Calder", respectively.

Some were discontented with coach Michel Therrien missing out on the Adams Trophy, but it's kind of hard to win that award when you happen to coach Calder and Hart trophy candidates on your bench. He pretty much would have had to win the Stanley Cup in 16 straight games to win that award.

In other news, it's not surprise that my friends over at ThePensBlog are ecstatic that Gary Roberts is coming back to play for another year.

John Fedko is not out of woods on his call-in show yet.

And, apparently, Mark Recchi will bring us a grand total of 2-to-3 good weeks of hockey as he laces up for '07-'08.

Angelo Esposito managed to also fall to the 20th spot in this year's draft. Eventually, we'll get a top-ranked defensemen, but a left-handed shot is an excellent pick-up.

"Angelo's Italian Army" is already spinning its way through blogdom as the nickname for the fanbase. But if we've got Captain Crosby and Geno, I was thinking Pizan A.E. You that animated movie?

Ok. I know that sucks for a mainstream nickname in an overly P.C. society, but I may refer to him as that on my blog exclusively.

The pick demonstrates Ray Shero's ability to look long term. Esposito wasn't the stud last year that he was the year before, but Shero's vision is able to transcend the "What have you done for me lately" mentality and pick up someone who is more likely than not to help this team soon.

Sky's the limit, baby.

---Thanks and Milestones---

I discovered that other Pittsburgh sports blogs aside from the ones that had already been listed on my sidebar have me on their lists. Sorry, guys! I had no idea. It's been rectified.

Shoutouts go out to the following sites:

- Black&Gold Girl from Nonstop Pittsburgh Steelers.

- ThePacmanJones

- BigBenNews

Thank you very much.

Also, thank you to all the Pittsburgh sports nuts (and google spiders and my own visits) who've helped Steeltown Sports finally surpass the 10,000 visitors milestone in just a little under a year.

I had no idea what I was getting into. While I don't hold a match to some of my favorite sites in a lot of ways, I'm glad you bring me to your screens. Even if it is only to make fun of me, laugh, point, and say, "What an idiot!"

Monday, June 18, 2007

Monday, June 18, 2007

-- Seattle primer.

-- Only show in town.

---West Coast Swing #2---

Not a lot of time to blog on this one. I was actually hesitant to blog at this point, because the Pirates actually had a winning homestand, and I didn't want to jinx it by posting again. Well, I figured I had to put something down, or my few-but-proud loyal readers would forget I was here.

By the time the Bucs take Safeco Field tomorrow night, they'll have been off for over 48 hours. Superficially, on paper, this series could be a good one.

The Mariners are among Major League's best in batting average, hitting .284, while the Pirates are batting a full 30 points lower (.254 for people who hate math).

However, the Pirates have a similar edge in pitching: their ERA is 4.56, vs. Seattle's 4.84.

Looking a little deeper, though, this series could see Seattle mounting rallies in the later innings.

Statistics for innings 1 through 6:

Pirates ERA: 4.35
Seattle ERA: 5.41

Pirates BA: .265
Seattle BA: .288

Good pitching beats good hitting, allegedly. So, give the Pirates the slight edge here with the starters.

Turn the page...innings 7 and onward:

Pirates ERA: 4.96
Seattle ERA: 3.63

Pirates BA: .231 (tied for last with White Sox, Baltimore, and Tampa Bay)
Seattle BA: .275 (best in MLB)

Those who have even only casually followed the Bucs this year know how bad the bullpen has been through most of this season. Throw that bullpen against the best-late-inning-hitting team in ball? You'd better pray that either the starter is still in, or that there is a 10-run lead entering the final 3 frames.

Statistics, of course, only chart tendencies, but when you put the above together, it seems to spell out that the Bucs can get a lead in the early goings, but Seattle will be more than ready to erase that the third or fourth time through the order.

Another stat that does not favor the Pirates at all:

With the bases loaded, the Pirates are hitting .271 (middle of the pack in that stat).

Seattle, however leads all teams with a BA of .439

So, as if trying to predict the weather, buckle down for some cardiac style endings in the Emerald City.

Of course, Seattle has lost 5 straight while Pittsburgh's fortunes have been decent during the past week. Some might say that the Pirates are catching the Mariners at the right time, but I say that the Bucs are usually the cure for what ails struggling teams.

And, any Pirate fans in that area who spot a Seattle fan in the stands complaining about Superbowl XL, kindly remind them that this is baseball.

Then light it on fire. I can probably scrounge up a WMBS T-shirt for you or something.


The statistics heading into the series with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim don't look like they make for an exciting series at all.

The Angels are one point better than the M's with a team BA of .285.

But where the Angels kick Seattle's collective butts are with their ERA: 3.77

For those keeping track, that's over a full run better per nine innings than their divisional counterparts in the northwest US.

The forecast for Los Angeles this weekend looks like an Angels' sweep.

Of course, Ian Snell's recent finger-burning might serve the purpose of having both of our "star" pitchers take the mound during that series to salvage at least one victory out of Angel Stadium.

T-minus 52 wins
T-minus 43 losses
with 93 to play.

---Baseball Only---

With the conclusion of the NBA Finals last week, baseball season is now the only show in town. Unless you're a NASCAR fan. Or a Golf fan. Or an Arena Football fan.

Heh. I didn't think so.

Steelers training camp begins in 5 weeks.

Penguins training camp isn't even on the calendar yet, as far as I'm concerned.

But about those NBA Finals. I'm not a huge NBA fan, but who the heck do you root for when you're sick of the Spurs, but simultaneously hate Cleveland? I mean, I couldn't root for Tim Duncan to win yet again. If Cleveland has to win a Championship, I'd rather it be in basketball...they can't really lord that over Pittsburgh fans, no more than Penguin fans could brag to Cleveland fans about winning a Stanley Cup.

Well, at least it was over quickly, right?

Monday, June 11, 2007

Monday, June 11, 2007

-- Paulino needs to sit, but I still like him.

-- Offer for Bonds' ballrecord-breaking recordball withdrawn

-- The definition of Fandom.

---Defending Paulino (to a point)---

A little less than a year ago, I wrote an article defending the acquisition of Shawn Chacon for Craig Wilson against hordes of Pirate fans who thought it was the worst of the questionable trades general manager Dave Littlefield pulled off July 31, 2006. Wilson is now with his 3rd team since the trade, which further proves that the Bucs weren't going to acquire Cy Young from the Yankees for him. Chacon has been as up and down as you can be, going 7 strong innings three starts ago against the Padres, allowing only 3 hits (no runs) while striking out 10, a semi-acceptable start against the Nationals (4 runs in 5.1 innings), then imploding against a vastly-superior Yankees team. Akin to how Craig Wilson would have a couple of timely homeruns in a week, then strike out in critical situations for the following three weeks. It all evens out.

But this post isn't about him.

After a 12-12 April, the Bucs are 14-25, and, worse, 3-9 over their last 12. Many players are being held under the microscope, but one in particular hasn't needed a microscope as his miscues and lackadaisical play of late have been glaringly obvious.

Ronny Paulino completely deserves to ride the bench for a while.

Since Ryan Doumit is more used in right field, platooning with Xavier Nady, Paulino and Humberto Cota were the only true "catchers" on the roster. Last week, Cota was sent to AAA Indianapolis to make room for speedster Rajai Davis, leaving Paulino as the undisputed king of the hill. This may have gone to his head a bit.

Since June 4, Paulino has gone 5-for-20 (.250) at the plate, drawing two walks, but striking out 5 times. And that's the good news.

Ronny is infamous for his less-than-inspiring attempt to score from 3rd on a fly ball against the Nationals on Thursday. He tried to score standing up when a slide might have plated him. And it's not like he came into home plate like A.J. Pierzynski did against Michael Barrett in that (in)famous collision last season. The Pirates won that game, but the fact that people are still talking about it shows exactly how that kind of effort (or lack thereof) will not be tolerated.

As Pirate fans, we'd rather see a team that loses 105 games while putting forth 100% pretty much every time they take the field than a team that goes 77-85 going through the motions. (I'll admit, theoretically, if a major league team is putting 100% effort day in, day out, they won't lose even close to 100 games, but just go with me here)

And then there's been his play behind the plate. Surprisingly, he's only been charged with 4 passed balls, which means that official scorers at Pirate games enjoy charging wild pitches to anything thrown in the dirt. He has the third lowest fielding percentage among qualified catchers (.985), ahead of only Kansas City's John Buck and Atlanta's Brian McCann, and he is tied for 2nd worst in number of errors committed (5). Only McCann has committed 6.

Compared to last season, however, his fielding percentage was .988, 11 errors, and 9 passed balls in 124 games played. He's more or less the same defensively as last year to this point.

The reason that the grumblings have become so loud is that his offense has plummeted at the same time. We'd still be hearing things like, "Paulino should be learning from these mistakes in the field by now, shouldn't he?" instead of, "Put him in front of a firing squad and hold the blindfold."

All this said, Jim Tracy cannot be afraid to either bench Paulino for an extended period (a week, at least), only bringing him in during a rout either way, as an occasional pinch-hitter, or in case of injury. This won't happen. No doubt his benching of Jack Wilson and Paulino on Sunday was to, effectually, give each of them two days off with today's off-day.

Paulino is a young enough player (26?) who made an unexpected surge into the Majors that such a benching might be able to teach him some unspoken lessons.

Recalling Cota, or perhaps Einar Diaz, however, will bring the one thing back to Pirate fans' memories that Paulino is superior at than either of his two counterparts: the man is a much better game-caller. Check it out:

Team ERA: 4.62
Team ERA with Paulino behind the dish: 4.14 (last season, 4.13)
Team ERA with Cota: 5.71
Team ERA with Doumit: 6.29

Wow. And that 4.14 mark is in the top half of the qualified leaders, per ESPN.

And to the folks who claim that Paulino can't throw anyone out have failed to notice that he is 3rd among the qualified leaders, throwing out 38.1% of base-stealers (David Ross of Cincinnati leads all qualifieds with 46.2%, followed by Seattle's Kenji Johjima with 39.3%, so, if Ronny's not throwing anyone out, then neither is anyone else, really.

The Pirates are paying about $5M for Oakland's Jason Kendall to be throwing out 11 of 56 base-stealers (19.6%) on the year so far.

Paulino has enough tools that he can be more than serviceable if he can smarten up behind and at the plate. Whether the coaches can help may be the biggest question of all.


Freddy Sanchez is now in the batting average lead. Of the Pirates, that is. He's now batting .296, which is good for 24th in the National League. Ryan Doumit technically has a higher batting average, but has significantly fewer at-bats.

Salomon Torres' rubber arm has apparently, and finally, snapped. At least a little bit. His injury will help to demonstrate how truly shallow our middle-relief pool is, both in the minors and aboard the mothership.

Portent of interleague doom: Bucs start off 0-3. Will likely not go 12-0 over the rest of their schedule against the junior circuit. Heck...will not likely go over 6-6. ... Anyone else think 6-6 is still overly optimistic?

---Offer Withdrawn (but so what?)---

Heritage Auction Galleries has withdrawn their $1 million bid for the home run ball that breaks Hank Aaron's historic record over concerns for the safety of the person who will successfully (initially) obtain it.

So what?

Like HAG is the only organization that's going to be willing to pay 7 figures for the ball?

Like people aren't going to kill each other for what will be considered a huge piece of baseball history, asterisk or not?

If there happens to be a game at AT&T Park when Bonds is sitting on 755 (presuming he doesn't hit 755 and 756 during a road swing), those kayakers are going to be packed in like sardines in the bay. And should there be "splashdown", someone may very well be drowned.

Human greed knows no bounds. I wouldn't even feel safe in the presence of the security guards if I were the successful one to come out of the melee.

I'll be more interested to watch the human drama play out when that ball is hit than the actual home run (whose legitimacy will always be questioned, anyway).

---Leave Your Keys---

I don't think there was one person outside of the Pirates brain trust who had a positive outlook on their selection of a relief pitcher in the first round. Dejan Kovacevic's June 8 Q&A featured 100% negativity. I suggested in my last radio broadcast that had one person leaped into the fray saying that he didn't think it was as bad a pick as everyone else says, that letter would have made it into the column for variety's sake, if nothing else.

Essentially, that was a long preface which could have been truncated by saying:

No one is happy about our top draft pick. No one is happy about the direction the Pirates are headed in this season. No one is happy about the no-end-in-sight to the losing situation the current ownership has us mired in.

However, something that gets my hackles raised is when people relinquish their fandom. There are people who say these things half-heartedly and in jest to emphasize their displeasure with this or that (and there is certainly a smorgasbord to select from). Extreme displeasure in many instances.

And people are entitled to say, "That's it. I'm done with team."

I have trouble rectifying the above statement, though, when there is an implication that they'll be back when certain conditions are met. "I'm done with this team until there is a new ownership group." "I'm done with this team until they start spending some money on quality free agents and top prospects." "I'm done with this team until..."

Look. You're done with the team, or you're not. I have even less patience for fair-weather and bandwagon fans than I do for, say, Cub fans, or Chad Carroll.

Look at the Penguins this past season. Their attendance only went up 600 or so per home game this season, but the interest was all over the city. People you never suspected were fans of the Penguins (or sports in general), were all of a sudden "Wooooooo"ing it up and showing up to work emblazoned in black and gold and growing playoff beards.

It's easy to support a team that is closer to success than failure year in and year out. Fans of teams like the Yankees, the Atlanta Braves (of late), and the New Jersey Devils who are perennially at the top, they're called "spoiled". Steeler fans could be lumped in with this group, too. I firmly remember the playoff game against Cleveland in 2002 when the Browns had a huge lead late in the game, and I was sure I could count the people who were left in the stands.

During the eventual rally, those that left early tried to fight their way back in, to no avail. They are not fans.

They do not get to enjoy the perks without suffering embarrassment. The Steeler victory that day, for me, was nearly eclipsed by the shame that I felt for all the so-called die-hards who left "their team" for dead. I hoped that my co-workers in Chicago at the time would comment on the great comeback that Monday, rather than on the lack of intestinal fortitude my fellow "fans" displayed.

That's a loose analogy as to how I view the Pirates situation. Things are just not going well on any front. It's hard to watch. Worse, it's hard to imagine things going much better at any point in the foreseeable future.

I understand if you're not strong enough to handle the constant disappointment. Feel free to leave. Just leave your keys at the door on the way out. If and when the Pirates emerge from the doldrums and start playing competitive baseball, you are not welcome back.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Saturday, June 9, 2007

---Today's Broadcast---

...And the audio from my on-air chat with Pat Lackey of Where Have You Gone, Andy Van Slyke?

Right click to download, if you wish...

I thought it went well. Only self-critique I have...I have to learn to stop stepping on my guests when they're trying to speak. Shame on me...

Thanks again, Pat!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Thursday, June 7, 2007

-- Pirates brain trust screws the draft pooch yet again.

-- The Ducks are the Champions. How ridiculous does that sound?

-- Broadcast reminder.

---Frugality Rules the Day---

I don't know why any of us continue to be surprised by the players the Pittsburgh Pirates select in the annual Amateur Draft. Pat Lackey, my guest this coming Saturday during my 12:05PM - 12:40PM show, wrote a short play back in April that pretty much defines how the Pirate front office is run.

High school and college players are people I haven't really paid much attention to, so I can't claim any real insight of my own, but I highly recommend reading WHYGAVS and Honest Wagner for thoughts and comments. Steve at The Parrot isn't a happy camper either.

And even couldn't really sugarcoat the pick:

The Pirates used their top pick in the First-Year Player Draft, No. 4 overall, to select Clemson Tigers closer Daniel Moskos on Thursday. The southpaw has potential as a starter, but Moskos' big-league future likely lies in the back end of the bullpen.

I wonder if the most-projected and wished-for pick, high school 3B Josh Vitters, had not been picked up by Chicago in the round before if the Pirates would have still made the same selection.

So, the Pirates first pick is a left-handed relief pitcher, spot-starter at best.

In the second round, they take a right-handed starting pitcher, Matthew Welker, out of Arkansas/Fayetteville.

In the next three rounds, they selected three right-handed hitters...a shortstop, a centerfielder, and a catcher, respectively. By name, they are Brian Friday, Frederick Latimore, and Andrew Walker. I wonder if Creechlefield think that the 5th round pick is some kind of mixture of Neil Walker and Andrew McCutcheon.

Somehow, I think this was a Photoshop of Ed Creech
and DL in the War Room. Look at those game faces...

This seems to be the reason why there doesn't seem to be many options under the age of 25 to call up from the minors. The young stars-to-be are passed on in order to save a buck or million down the line.

Bryan Bullington, the top pick of the 2002 draft, has been universally evaluated as no better than a 3rd or 4th starter in a Major League rotation. Then he got hurt, but that's beside the point.

Seriously, if the front office is going to skimp on first round draft picks like this, they will truly never compete. They could at least be thinking about grooming a top prospect to at least trade for MLB-ready veterans if they want to avoid some kind of 2003 Aramis Ramirez "salary dump" situation.

Again, you get what you put into it. As the focus of the team is strictly on "profit", the status quo...the needle-eyed approach to the draft and the trade more than good enough.


The Anaheim Ducks are the 2006-2007 Stanley Cup Champions. It's no secret I am not a fan of this outcome. I feel, somewhere, some of the integrity of the game was lost when a team called the "Ducks" earned the right to have that moniker engraved on Lord Stanley's Holy Grail.

Some might argue that had Ottawa rallied, that the Alfredsson "kick" goal that pretty much would have started that hypothetical rally would have also demeaned the game. And having a player responsible for the death of a former Atlanta teammate on their roster...whose last name was briefly and comically censored by have done the same for the sport. To the first, I am forced to point out the Senators won that game by 2 (without the benefit of an empty-netter). To the second, well, I can't argue...he should be in jail. But he scored all of one goal and no assists.

I suppose I can sit back and concede that at least the Stanley Cup remains in the United States. And chuckle that Anaheim's victory was quickly overshadowed by a snooty heiress who lives nearby.

---Listen on Saturday---

I mentioned this earlier in the post, but if you live near the Pittsburgh area, there's a good chance you can pick up 590AM, WMBS out of Uniontown during the daylight hours. Mr. Lackey and I will sound off on all things Pirates that we can cram into, essentially, a half hour of air-time.

If you're out of the area, you can listen online through the station's website (works best with IE Explorer 6.0 or better) and selecting one of the two options under the "Listen Live" label on the left.

Steeltown Sports: Live! Saturday, June 9. Noon until 12:40PM.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

-- The importance, or not, of the long-ball.

-- Who's most at fault?

-- Quack attack is whack, Mac.

-- Nonsense.

-- Next broadcast.

---Going Yard---

There's no doubt that whatever they did to the ball a few years ago has helped re-energize fans' interest in the game of baseball overall. Bleacher/outfield seats are almost as popular as trying to get as close to behind the plate as possible because fans want the chance to catch a ball that counts for points.

Or, in less-intelligent cases, to throw it back if the other team hits it. Some guy did just that at PNC Park during the recent Dodgers/Pirates series. Long-time Pirates broadcaster Lanny Fraterre called him out on it, too, saying something to the effect of, "I don't know why you'd want to copy anything they do at Wrigley Field..." I missed the rest of his statement because I was simultaneously choking on my water and realizing that Lanny is my new hero.

There've been a lot of complaints from fans I talk to about the Pirates not hitting enough balls over the fence. They're toward the bottom of the league in that stat, only 10 homers better than the last place team in that category, the Washington Nationals.

But does it really matter how many they hit as a team if only a small percentage come with anyone on base?

The Pirates entered the 3-game mid-week set against the Washington Nationals (I team I feel they must sweep in order to not declare the season over) with the lowest on-base percentage in the National League. Only the Chicago White Sox's is worse. The Nationals have only a .001 edge on the Bucs in that category.

Regardless, Pittsburgh batters are toward the top of the league in strikeouts, and among the bottom in walks taken, contributing in no small way to the abysmal OBP.

While going yard can obviously be of help, they're not the be-all and end-all.

Check this out.

Jason Bay hit 32 home runs in 2005. Of those 32, 17 were solo, and 11 were with one man aboard. He hit no grannys. Do the math. (I'll help: 4 three-run shots). In games where he did hit a homer (2 multi-HR games), the Bucs went 18-12. Not bad by itself, but the Pirates managed to win 49 more games that year.

Last season, Bay mashed 35. Only one of those was a grand slam. And the Pirates lost that game. He hit 22 solo shots, 7 two-run blasts, and clubbed 5 three-run round-trippers. He had 3 multi-homer games, but the Pirates record in those game was 16-16. Again, the Pirates ended up with 51 more victories.

In last season's playoffs, something the black and gold never even caught a whiff of, only 8 out of the 34 players who hit 30 or more homeruns appeared in the playoffs. Of those, only one appeared in the World Series. You may have heard of Albert Pujols.

As teams, 3 of them were in the top 10 in HRs, 3 in the middle 10, and 2 in the bottom 10. No real indicator there of how good the teams as a whole were.

This season, 10 different Pirates have at least one home run. The team has had 33 games in which at least one of those 10 have homered. Of their 241 runs scored, 64 (26.6%) have come by way of home runs. A total of 45 Pirate long balls have been hit this season. Guess how many of them were solo.

Thirty-two (71%).

Seriously, regardless whether the ball is juiced these days or not, I'd rather see a team manufacture runs to earn their wins more than slug their way to them. And only when the Pirates start doing that will I begin to think that their offense might be coming around.

While I was excited to have instant-offense potential with the Adam LaRoche deal, I would rather see him be more like a Freddy Sanchez of 2006 than an Adam Dunn of 2006. Or a Jeromy Burnitz of 2006.

Dingers are nice. The ability to string hits together is far better.


- Jose Mesa is available after Detroit released him. Don't tell anyone in the Pirates' front office, regardless of how bad Salomon Torres has been lately. And speaking of closers and former closers...

- Despite the impending suspension of Matt Capps, I am glad he was named the closer. Not necessarily because I thought Torres was a bit too "Mr. Drama", and sometimes, "Mr. Choke" (although that was part of it), but because we should be grooming a youngster to take on that role. Of course, if he succeeds wildly, he'll be gone as soon as the Pirates' rights to him are up...which I think is actually still a ways off.

---Blame Game---

I could probably make this into a poll of some sort, but I would like to see open-ended answers from those few, but proud who read this blog.

If you could make a pie-chart indicating how much blame should be placed on various individuals in the Pirates organization, past or present, for their current state of overall ineptitude, where would you put it?

How much goes on Dave Littlefield? How much goes on the ownership group? How much on Jim Tracy? Jeff Manto? Jim Colborn? Ed Creech? Brian Graham? Cam Bonifay? The players? The fans? The weather?

And feel free to throw in any other individuals or entities you can think of. I haven't thought this all the way through yet, myself. But I would like to see the differences (or similarities) in the way people perceive why the Pittsburgh Pirates organization is the grounded vessel that it is.


Dude, this series is weak as hell. I'm not sure what bothers me more...that it's only a matter of time that a team called the "Ducks" wins a major sports championship, or that most of the people I read/talk to seem to be wanting this.

I am forced to ask the question: Is it rooting for the Ducks? Or is it rooting against the Senators?

Of course, if the Ducks win, J.S. Giguere will likely win his 2nd Conn Smythe trophy. And, I do believe, he will be the first player ever (and at least since 1965) to win the Conn Smythe as a member of a losing team and a winning team.

I haven't watched much TV about this, so my little "revelation" may be being beaten to death by the NHL pundits.

Still hoping for a 7-game series. Nothing like a Game 7 in hockey. Nothing.


My favorite Steeler quote of the past week or so comes from O-lineman, Chukky Okobi. Not because it's anything necessarily insightful, but it seems like, under Tomlin, players aren't afraid to air a bit of dirty laundry or whatever. With regards to the 2006 offensive line, Okobi said to the media, "No, we were not as good a group as the year before." No further explanation or defense. This is very unusual in Steelers coverage (even rarer in Pirates coverage).

Runner-up: When new O-Line coach Larry Zierlein sent those ill-advised porn e-mails to all the NFL officials, Okobi also said something to the effect of, "Around him we don't say anything, but we're human. That was pretty funny."

Congrats to Captain "Sid the Kid" Wizard-of-Crosby (or whatever his nick name will become) on his newly-bestowed captaincy. Is that even a word? Is that even a nickname? You know what, ignore this paragraph.

And finally for this section, during the 6 innings of no-hit ball pitched by Derek Lowe against the Pirates, someone posted on a message board this thought:

"Come on guys, kick it in... playoff bound teams do not get no hit during the same season."

And I thought my expectations were high...

---June 9, Noon - 12:40PM---

My scheduled guest is Pat Lackey of "Where Have You Gone, Andy Van Slyke" for his second foray into the world of "Steeltown Sports: Live!". With the Pirates due to be hovering around 10 games below .500 in the middle of the interleague stretch of the season where they've never done well, there'll be plenty to bitch about of high comedy.

Be sure to join us at the aforementioned time by either tuning in your AM-Radio dial to 590, or by clicking one of the links below "Listen Live" at the WMBS website -