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 -



Anonymous emma said...

Owners! Owners owners owners. Consistently throughout the Dark Ages they have gone out of their way to hire inept yes-men rather than knowledgeable people who might, god forbid, disagree with them sometimes.

I mean, look at the hiring of Jim Tracy. (However much importance you want to put on the role of manager, I'm making a general point.) Leyland wanted to come back to Pittsburgh a couple years ago and we didn't even approach him. Joe Giradi is UNEMPLOYED, a fact I find kind of astonishing. Macha's still kicking around somewhere and he got the A's to the postseason last year. And who do we hire, and keep? Meek little traditionalist Tracy. Littlefield is the same way--both of them just strike me as being so damn spineless and excuse-making.

What sucks so hard, especially these days, is not that the front office tries and fails but that they seem to have given up altogether and just wander around trying to look effective. At this point I'd almost welcome one of Bonifay's old five year plans. The players are doing it too to some extent--Gonzo and Jason Schmidt both say the losing atmosphere of the Pittsburgh clubhouse is pervasive, which is scary, because how do you turn that around? So I blame the players a bit too, because none of them have really been in it for the long haul yet (except for Jack) and there's no excuse for pity-partying around bringing everybody else down when you've only been around for a couple years. Jason Kendall was allowed to be depressed by the time he left, but X-Man sure isn't.

I also blame fans for being bobblehead sheep. Especially casual fans. Shut up, casual fans.

Okay. I am totally incoherent. Basically I blame everybody. But the owners most of all.

Looking forward to the next broadcast! :)

6/06/2007 3:43 PM  

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