Wednesday, July 04, 2007

If you're wondering about the Tuesday Pirates Rant™...

...and I'm sure you are...

I'm trying something new as a sports fan. As long as I've been a Pirates fan, I've also been a Portland Trail Blazers fan. Over the last 15-20 years, they've tortured me exactly as Pittsburgh has. Recently, they've stunk just as badly, only they stunk with criminals and unlikeable players. But they've turned over a new leaf; they're doing things the right way, and their luck has turned. They have the brightest future of any team in the NBA, and since I never jumped off the bandwagon, I have a pretty good seat.

With this change in luck, I'm attempting to change my outlook as a sports fan. In other words, I'm attempting optimism. It's a sparkling, new concept for me, and I don't really know what I'm doing, but...Portland has a "gotta wear shades"-level bright future, Mizzou football is in the Top 25 in many preseason magazines...

...and I really don't have the energy to rant about a hopeless franchise like Pittsburgh. I still read the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette every morning and visit my favorite Bucs blogs, but it's just too depressing. The GM is a) the worst in the majors, and b) under no pressure whatsoever of losing his job, and the owners say they're "as frustrated as anybody" with the losing, and they say it with the same genuineness as Bushnev saying he cares about the plight of the American middle class--you know, that "I care, just not enough to do anything about it" level of genuineness.

And I'm telling you, it's getting harder and harder to care enough for a heartfelt Rant™. I mean, I care enough to still pay attention after 14+ years of losing, just not enough to get worked up about it. I'm beaten down...and when another franchise of mine is actually doing things the right way, gets even harder to get worked up.

But because I know how much you, the loyal GN reader, lives and dies with what I think about the Pirates (uh huh), here are some quick bullets...all you need to know currently about the Pirates:

  • The guy who, 18 months ago, was seen as the future of the franchise and possibly the best rookie pitcher in the game--Zach Duke--is 3-7 with a 5.79 ERA and an unbelievable .364 batting average against, and he just went on the DL with possible elbow problems. But here's the best part: he trusts the Pirates front office so little that, when he was evaluated by the Pirates' medical staff this week and given a positive diagnosis, he decided that he'd independently get a second opinion from Dr. James "God of Baseball Elbows" Andrews.

  • The guy who has, for the last few seasons, been the happiest to play in Pittsburgh--Salomon Torres--has not only asked for a trade, but filed a grievance against the Pirates. He apparently took a 'hometown discount' to re-sign with Pittsburgh with the gentlemen's agreement that the Pirates would buy into Torres' Dominican baseball academies. Well, a year has passed, and the Pirates have instead shown no interest whatsoever in Torres' baseball academies. Between that, and the fact that he feels he was lied to about his current recovery schedule (he's on the DL at the moment), he's had enough.

    And the best part about the whole thing is...THE PIRATES HAVE NO PRESENCE IN THE FRICKIN' DOMINICAN REPUBLIC. THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC PRODUCES MORE PROSPECTS (cheaper ones, too) THAN THE UNITED STATES, AND THE PIRATES HAVE DECIDED THEY DON'T NEED A DISCOUNTED BASEBALL ACADEMY THERE. There's stupid, there's really stupid, and there's UNBELIEVABLY, UNFORGIVEABLY STUPID. Again, these guys have absolutely no idea how to run a baseball franchise, and they're under no pressure whatsoever to figure it out at the moment. Any wonder why the Portland Trailblazers are commanding more and more of my attention? Unbelievable.

    See, I don't even enjoy ranting about this team anymore. I embraced the frustration and had fun with it last year. Now it just makes me angry.

  • The Pirates didn't even have the decency to play poorly last Saturday night, when a group of Pirates fans planned a 3rd-inning walkout to express their contempt with management and ownership. When it came time to walk out, many fans decided to stick around since the Pirates were up 6-1. And the best part was, a lot of folks booed the fans who actually had the balls to walk out. Debate how smart it is or isn't to walk out after having paid for a ticket, but that's just ridiculous. Here's how Charlie from Bucs Dugout (who had this to say about the idea of a walkout) reacted to the booing:

    I don't understand this; I just can't process it. Not only did only about 1,000 of the 22,000 or so in attendance walk out, but many people actually booed. Who the hell are these people? They can't all be members of the Nutting family. Maybe they didn't understand what the protest was for, but it was well covered in the local media, so that seems unlikely. As far as I can tell, the protesters only wanted to send a message that they were unhappy with all the losing and that they held the ownership responsible. I just don't see how anyone but a Nutting sycophant, a hopeless ignoramus or a complete moron could disagree with that message.

    It therefore appears to me that there is a huge population - a majority, perhaps - of PNC attendees who either are so reactionary that they hate protests of any kind, or are happy to have the Pirates playing Class AAA baseball as long as major-league teams show up to play them and bobbleheads of past stars are distributed at the gates. Or maybe they honestly believe that the owners are honestly doing their best to turn things around, in which case they're just deluded beyond repair. Of course I knew that there were a lot of people like this, but I had no idea how many. It makes me very sad to be a Pirates fan and it makes me question what I'm doing here. If the people of Pittsburgh are content with 67 wins a year, then who am I to write angrily about every busted draft pick or stupid transaction? I mean, who cares, right?

    What a stupid, pathetic scene this was. 1,000 people showing some guts and protesting, and 21,000 more paying $20 or so to collect a bobblehead and say, "Thank you, sir, can I have another?"
    That's a better rant than I'm capable of at the moment...though you can see that everybody's feeling hopeless nowadays. Go Blazers!
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