Monday, February 23, 2009

Oh, yeah, good times are right around the corner

You have to love the management of the Pittsburgh Pirates. They're clearly convinced that they can continue to feed the team's fans chicken poop and make them believe it's chicken salad. The latest evidence of that is the team's decision to pick up the option on manager John Russell's contract, keeping him in the fold through the 2010 season. I have no issue with teams taking the steps necessary to keep their field leaders from being lame ducks. Players tend to mail in their performances more often if they think the manager has one foot in the figurative grave. But the comments that accompanied Russell's contract extension were hilarious. General manager Neal Huntington said "J.R. met or exceeded expectations in his first year as the Pirates' manager." A little background here. The Pirates finished 67-95 in Russell's first season. The year before, they finished 68-94. Sorry, but I'm having a tough time seeing the progress. Oh, wait, here's more from Huntington: "His club worked hard to play the game properly and battled from the first out until the last." Oh, I get it now. They lost in the "proper" manner and tried really hard. Here's the bottom line: The Pirates sucked last year, just as they did the year before that and the year before that and ... I could go on and on, 16 seasons' worth of losing. And in the offseason, here's what the Pirates did to improve the team for 2008: absolutely nothing. The notion that Russell has some magic pixie dust that he can sprinkle on the same collection of average and below-average players and turn them into contenders is laughable. The owners of this team refuse to spend money on the product they put on the field. They'll toss you a few bobbleheads and have the occasional fireworks display, but the baseball itself, well, that appears to be a secondary consideration. Remember how this was all supposed to change when the taxpayer-funded PNC Park opened? Happy days were here again. The owners would have the money to buy some real players. Or fill their pockets while putting a Triple-A quality team on the field. Hmmm. Wonder which one they chose. I went to the first night game at PNC Park. Until the day comes when baseball restructures its salary system to include a salary cap that's fair to all teams, and until the day when the current owners of the Pirates sell to someone who does more than pay lip service to putting a major-league-quality team on the field, I won't spend another dollar there. Anyone who does is a boob. But you'll have the Nutting family's undying gratitude. So there's that.



Blogger Ellipses said...

The chicken salad/chicken poop line... I heard that once at 2am in an Eat n Park... a very old man said it to his companion at an embarrassingly high volume level. I didn't know it was a common phrase (common enough to be echoed by someone completely different 6 years later)...

Also, last I heard, the Bucko's were the 8th MOST profitable team in the league... there are a few people here at work who go to Pirate games occasionally... if you asked them the top 5 reasons they go, "To see the pirates play" is not one of them :-)

That said, they might be one of my clients soon... so, if that ends up happening, make sure you go see the pirates play some baseball! :-)

February 23, 2009 at 12:00 PM  
Blogger Mike Jones said...

I'm not so much shocked about the contract extension, but that it's an actual story in Pittsburgh. Why isn't this a brief on page C5? Who in town really cares? They're going to suck with him this year ... and they'll suck without him after he's fired in August 2010.

February 23, 2009 at 3:14 PM  
Blogger Ellipses said...

They should hire Emilio Estevez or Walter Matthau...

February 23, 2009 at 3:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I confess, I spend $$ every year at PNC cheer on the Atlanta Braves when they come to town.

The last couple of years haven't been golden ones for the Braves, but they're more likely to be in contention again before the Buccos.

That line about "play the game properly" is odd...Are we supposed to applaud the fact that the Pirates know they have to run to first base rather than third base after they make a hit?

--Brad Hundt

February 23, 2009 at 4:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We have a professional baseball team in Pittsburgh? I thought they left in '93.

February 23, 2009 at 6:06 PM  
Blogger amom said...

I love the Pirates. I love PNC Park. If I could, I'd go to every game. I have Pirates baseball ingrained in my blood. I realize they are a bunch of overpaid, not very good player knuckleheads, but "good times are right around the corner." LOL

February 24, 2009 at 7:53 AM  

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