#101: McClouth Could be NL Hero
It's been about 3 months since I wrote anything on this site about the Pittsburgh Pirates.
I have been a guest of the roundtable at The Pittsburgh Lumber Co. since, but not too much else. And I've posted on my good blog buddy Pat's Where Have You Gone, Andy Van Slyke where I mentioned that Nate might be an All-Star in so many words back in May.
Once again, he is the subject of a blog article relating to the professional baseball team in the Steel City.
Take a look at the list below of Pirate All-Stars since the first year of the now-infamous streak the franchise now owns.
2008 Nate McClouth (OF)
2007 Freddy Sanchez (2B)
2006 Jason Bay (OF), Freddy Sanchez (3B)
2005 Jason Bay (OF)
2004 Jack Wilson (SS)
2003 Mike Williams (P)
2002 Mike Williams (P)
2001 Brian Giles (OF)
2000 Jason Kendall (C), Brian Giles (OF)
1999 Ed Sprague (3B)
1998 Jason Kendall (C)
1997 Tony Womack (2B)
1996 Jason Kendall (C)
1995 Denny Neagle (P)
1994 Carlos Garcia (2B)
1993 Jay Bell (SS), Andy Van Slyke (OF)
Those are some pretty lean years, eh? A lot of these players didn't even play all that much. The only reason we saw Jason Bay and Freddy Sanchez so much 2 years ago was because of the game being at PNC Park, and some contend the only reason Bay started and Sanchez made the game at all was because of profuse ballot box stuffing. But I remember one of the Jason Kendall years...he didn't get to play until there were two outs in the 9th with the American League cruising. Then he got to hit.
All I remember thinking was, "Pleeeease, don't let Kendall hit into the last out...our only representative..."
Kendall did get a hit. The next guy made the final out.
Then three years ago, we watched Jason Bay completely choke in the Home Run Derby at Comerica Park...then not even play in the actual game itself. Not sure if that would have been the case had Tony LaRussa not been managing the NL that year.
Mike Williams went TWO CONSECUTIVE YEARS! The first year (2002) he actually pitched one inning and struck out two. The other, he didn't even play.
To the game about to start...McClouth might be the real deal. He has delivered clutch home runs against closers like Takashi Saito of the Dodgers and Jason Isringhausen of the Cardinals this season, both in situations where it looks like the game is over.
We have watched this man work hard and play hard since training camp.
I don't think we'll have to worry about McClouth not getting into the game this year. Further, I don't think we'll have to worry about him embarrassing himself. He'll acquit himself well doing at least one of the following things:
1) Driving in a run or two while the game is still relevant.
2) Making a highlight-worthy diving catch or getting an outfield assist.
3) Battling a pitcher for 12+ pitches before drawing a walk.
I almost think he could be the Michael Young-type player from 2006...a player nobody really suspects who makes an impact at a critical time.
Pirate fans will have a reason to root tonight.
Going on a mini-vacation...not sure what will be relevant for post #102 at this time.