29 July 2009

Pirates Lower the Flag

My Pittsburgh Pirates have finally traded away the last two starters they had from Opening Day 2008. In a little over a season and a half, they have traded--if not given away--8 players who are (most of them) starting for other teams now. I'll save My wrathful typing to quote James Lebeau from over at Crave Online:

"How much are we supposed to stomach as fans? It isn’t the losing seasons that bother me, we’ve done that for 16 straight (soon to be 17, a record, woo-hoo!), it’s that any glimmer of hope we have is constantly being brushed aside under the promise that ‘tomorrow’ will bring a winner. Well, guess what, I’m sick and tired of waiting for tomorrow.

I’m sick and tired of waking up to trades and I’m sick and tired of seeing guys that played their heart out for us get shown the door when it’s time to pay them. The team likes to call it ‘rebuilding’ but 17 seasons into it, let’s call it what it is, cheap owners who keep slapping new paint on a house that’s practically falling in just to save a buck.

When the 2009 season opened up, Pirates fans knew that it was a long shot to break .500 but we also knew that we had a talented, scrappy bunch that would give anything to do it. We had talent, we had heart, and we were only a few games out of first place in the National League Central when June rolled around.

Then the bomb hit. Nate McLouth, our power hitter and locker room standout, the only Pirate All-Star from 2008, was traded to the Atlanta Braves.

But it didn’t stop there.

Adam LaRoche was traded to the Boston Red Sox, Freddy Sanchez to the Giants, Nyjer Morgan and Sean Burnett to the Washington Nationals. Eric Hinske went to the New York Yankees, John Grabow and Tom Gorzelanny to the Chicago Cubs and the heart of the Pirates, Jack Wilson, was traded to the Washington Nationals.

Enough is enough.

I’m a Pittsburgh Pirates fan and I always will be, but we’re the laughing stock of the league and a sad joke to a community that welcomed two Championship winners in the past year.

And I, for one, am tired of it."

When the latest "5-Year-Going-on-17-Plan" went into nauseating effect, the Bucs were 6 games out of first place in a division where an 8-2 run could have put them in 1st or 2nd place. Sure, they'd have to play through July, August and September to clinch anything, but the team was holding its own. Throwing in the towel, or rather, throwing out the towel, starters and fan loyalty was not necessary.

Some baseball analysts claim that the Pirates' front office is doing the right thing, stating that the team wasn't winning with the players they had, so they went out and found new players. Bullshit. (Two posts with "bullshit" in a row. I must be cranky or something.) If a company's employees are marginally productive, do you dump them all to hire employees whose productivity has never been proven? 

Of course not. What the Pirates should have done is what sport teams have been doing for decades: Keep some core players and find a star or two to gel your team. Winning teams don't have stars at every position, but they do have dedicated, consistent performers willing to play hard every day. The Pirates had that, but instead of following a thousands-times-proven formula, they chose the path of the poverty-stricken whore who gives it away for almost nothing and then wonders why she ain't pretty no more.

My Pittsburgh Pirates will, sometime in early September, lose their 82nd game of the 2009 season and thus officially become the poster children for Capital L Losers. A franchise that until 1992 boasted one of the best winning percentages in pro baseball history and 5 World Series titles is playing the game with "prospects," young players whose primary qualification for becoming a Pirate is that they are cheap.

There are times when being a sports fan sucks. And no matter how well My Steelers do (Super Bowl Champions) and My new-found Penguins do (Stanley Cup Champions), My heart will hang heavy until My Pirates contend for a pennant and baseball supremacy once again.

But that still beats being a Cubs fan by a thousand miles...

The Jenius Has Spoken.

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