Thursday, August 06, 2009
What the hell happened to the Pirates?
The following is written by David Kamoe, a life-long sports fan whose sister is a close friend. David is an avid A's fan, wen to to high school with Drew Gooden and can't believe that Giants commentator Mike Krukow used to refer to the right-centerfield expanse at Pac Bell Park as "Finley Alley," referring to Steve Finley who remarkably wore a Giants uniform for a season. David will likely be stopping by these parts a few times a month, so treat him right. And no sister jokes.
I once rooted for Barry Lamar Bonds. Sounds weird, huh? Allow me to explain. The year was 1992 and the Atlanta Braves were back in the playoffs after losing the World Series in seven games to the Twins. That’s right, the Twins. The Braves opponent in the 1992 NLCS? The Pittsburgh Pirates complete with Andy Van Slyke, Bobby Bonilla, Doug Drabek, and two young guys named Barry Bonds and Tim Wakefield. Seriously. I can recall that I rooted for the Pirates because they were underdogs and I like rooting for underdogs. That and the A’s had lost the ALCS to the Blue Jays. Clear in my head is the memory of Barry Bonds trying to throw out Sid Bream at home and believing he was out. He was, by the way, very much safe. This would not matter so much as the Braves went on to lose to Ed Sprague and the Blue Jays. Oh well.
The point of this is not to laud the once mighty Blue Jays and their excellent uniforms. What we are dealing with here is the once mighty Pittsburgh Pirates baseball club. The Pirates came into being way back in 1887 and have one the World Series five times in their history. This year, for example, is the thirtieth anniversary of the “We Are Family” Pirates headed by Alameda-native Willie Stargell. This wouldn’t be so bad if 1979 was the last time the Pirates had won the World Series.
The current version of the Pirates will not win the World Series this year. Yesterday, they traded off their double play combination in Freddy Sanchez to the Giants and Jack Wilson to the Mariners. ESPN did something interesting yesterday when they laid out the 2003 Pirates lineup. Not a one player was still on the team and two thirds of the outfield is in Boston and Atlanta, respectively.
I have no rational explanation for the Pirates misery. The Marlins have won the World Series twice for crying out loud. The goddamn Devil Rays were in the World Series. Yeah, that’s right, Devil Rays.
The only possible hope for the Pirates is for MLB to introduce a salary minimum like the NBA and NHL that forces teams to spend a certain amount but not above the already established salary cap. That or transfer ownership to one of the other current Pittsburgh sports team owners. I’m not sure how much either the Rooney’s or Sir Mario Lemieux know about baseball but it’s got to be better than what the Pirates have now.