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Pittsburgh sports talk with the Trib columnist

Wakeup Call: Shirley, Squiggy, Jethro and Vladimir

MILWAUKEE – Some sporting thoughts before sunrise …

>> On the road to writing a column, there are plenty of terrible ledes that get scrapped. And, more unfortunately, at least a couple that make into print.

However you might feel about my Fonz intro to the Friday column about Pirates-Brewers, I can assure you that you would have hated the one I had on my screen before it. Some nonsense about Laverne and Shirley in their Milwaukee apartment, saying something derogatory about this or that, only to have Squiggy burst through the door with his iconic, “Hel-lo!”

Don’t ask. It’s a long season, as they say.

>> The series this weekend obviously doesn’t carry the weight it could have pre-plunge, but I still find it interesting for angles that will become clearer with the coverage you’ll see the next couple days. There are many, many parallels between these two franchises, some good, some bad.

>> Omitted from the column because … well, it didn’t fit in as well as a Potsie reference: Nyjer Morgan repeatedly referred to his friend Jeff Karstens as “Jethro” in our talk yesterday. No idea what that means, but it was too good a nickname not to share.

>> The Pirates will raise ticket prices across the board in 2012, per this exclusive news from our Rob Biertempfel. Some will blame Bob Nutting’s greed. The other extreme will say that all of Neal Huntington’s trades were good. The rational middle, I’m guessing, will realize it’s not very practical for any business to keep its prices the same for more than a full decade.

The Malkins in their element.

. The Malkins in their element.

>> Player to watch in the Steelers’ exhibition tonight: Antonio Brown.

He’s done some terrific things in Latrobe — I saw him leap for a deep ball with a DB to either side, land on his back and still hang on — and he has a chance to render the Jerricho Cotchery signing moot before the ink is dry. I like Cotchery as insurance for Emmanuel Sanders’ foot or Hines Ward’s age, but it would mean a whole lot more to the team if Brown can make big plays and take some of the heat off Mike Wallace.

The way Wallace was covered in the Super Bowl, you’d swear the Packers still have a man on him.

>> Your cheap smile for the day: Evgeni Malkin’s parents have 117,746 Facebook friends.

>> Outstanding reader input on the chat yesterday. Fonz would give two thumbs-up. So would Vladimir and Natalia, for that matter.


  1. Baywatch says:

    Don’t know how many here REALLY follow the progress of our minor leaguers – and since I don’t check in as often as some, perhaps this has already been noted before. BUT …

    If anyone remembers, the Pirates drafted a guy a couple years ago, Wesley Freeman, out of a Florida private school. There were YT videos of long, long bombs he was hitting at a tryout of some sort. For the best part of two years, he’s done nothing but stink it up between GCL and State College. But for the past several weeks, he’s done very well at State College, his average now up to .298 after going 4 for 5 with three doubles in a win tonight. He’s also made the New York-Penn League’s All-Star team … this after the kid seemed to be on his way out.

    Also, Daniel Gamache, the Pirates 6th Round draft choice in June, out of Auburn, was promoted from the GCL Pirates to State College, and played his first game tonight, registering a hit. The guy Dickerson, Pirates 3rd round pick this year, the University of Indiana triple crown winner, seems to have given State College a lift, too, and they’re winning some games of late!

  2. pghboyinca says:

    D.K., I hear you on Wallace at the Super Bowl, I pointed out to my son how they seemed to be rotating all the coverage his way. They were also doubling Miller a lot and basically daring Ward to beat them and he could not. I think when Sanders went out early it was devastating because he could have worked he seams and had 7- catches. I was hoping they would sign Plax and offer Hines a huge cut and if he refused let him go. I think he is the most over paid guy on the team factoring pay versus production. He is getting by on reputation and being a fan favorite and team icon. A healthy Sanders along with Brown and Wallace wouldbe fun to watch.

  3. Manny Sanguine says:

    Surely you don’t think the Bucs can take 2 of 3 from the Brewers.

  4. dwh0401 says:

    Depending on the health of the trio of the future (Wallace, Sanders, Brown), Ward will be pushed out to limited 3rd down duty by the end of the year. He will be asked to take a pay cut next year, if he doesn’t retire. This may be his last year, if they win the Super Bowl. Go out as champ.

  5. Dave G in Mason, OH says:

    Ironically, Fonzie was also associated with the phrase “jump the shark,” a reference to a show where Fonz, on water skis, jumped over a shark to prove his mettle. This marked a turning point in the creativity of the writers for “Happy Days” and defined the beginning of the downhill slide as far as scripts for the show.

    From Wikipedia:
    The usage of “jump the shark” has subsequently broadened beyond television, indicating the moment in its evolution when a brand, design, or creative effort moves beyond the essential qualities that initially defined its success, beyond relevance or recovery.

    We all hope the Pirates haven’t completely ‘jumped the shark’ on the 2011 season and that there is still relevance to the remaining games, beginning with this series in Milwaukee.

    It’s time to refresh this script and slay this ‘Brew-headed monster!’

  6. JAL says:

    JAL’s Lets Get It On Morning Links


    1- MLB Transactions

    2-MLB Trade Rumors-Pirates

    3-Pirates Prospects

    Draft Picks Signing Tracker

  7. JAL says:

    The Green Weenie

    A Dozen Reasons To Believe


    Pittsburgh Pirates Caffeine: Looking Back at Brewers Beat Downs

    Ohio Valley Athletics

    Crotta Resigns With The Pirates


    Pirates Batters Count Analysis

    Hyzdu Headquarters

    Weekly Farm Report

  8. JAL says:

    Beaver County Times

    Perrotto: Miller Park is field of screams

    Charleston Daily Mail

    W.Va. Power: Dodson makes most of second chance-

    Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

    Pujols helps Cards avoid sweep by Brewers

  9. Curt says:

    I am overly optimistic on this beautiful Friday morning! A SWEEP would be awesome! I’m not ready to write this team completely off, even at 10 games back.
    I just keep thinking the Pirates will go on a tear!
    Here is my other overly optimistic thought: Ludwick goes yard tonight.

  10. JMB says:

    The ticket price increase makes sense.

    The team is on pace for 2m in attendance this season, so the combined extra revenue and the proposed increase needs to lead to a $60M payroll in 2012 and some real FA signings (not the usual bums & has-beens off the bargain rack) –otherwise the Nutting is “greedy” crowd will have a reason to complain.

  11. JMB says:

    On a side note, Rangers @ A’s is my Fox game tomorrow. :-(

    I read most of the country is getting Yanks / Rays, but I should have known that the Fox games would lead to me not seeing the games on West Coast.


  12. Happy G says:


    My dad is in visiting from Pittsburgh and he called a sweep yesterday. I hope both of you are right. We’re going to the game tonight and we hope to get the sweep started.

  13. vandelay industries says:

    Love the Fonz opening. How could anyone not?

    I shudder to say this, but is our rivalry with the Brewers akin to the Browns (from their perspective) rivalry with the Steelers?

  14. Bizrow says:

    Isn’t Lenny connected to the Burgh and the PBC in some way?

  15. Bizrow says:

    Or is it Squiggy? The shorter guy

  16. JohninOshkosh says:

    I’ve lived in Wisconsin for 16 years now and I have endured great distress for several years when the Pirates visit the Badger State. I regard this weekend’s series as perhaps the most important the Pirates have played in Milwaukee in a long time. Not only can the Pirates repair some of the damage of the recent “plunge” but they can inflict significant pain into the Brewers division title drive. A sweep would be sweet!

  17. CDBrewer says:

    @Happy G

    Good luck and have fun tonight…
    You and JoeBucco were talking about Milwaukee on the last thread…wife and I went to a couple games about 3/4 years ago – DURING the state fair on purpose. She is from Queens and thought pigeons and squirrels were livestock. Unbelievable experience for her – and took me back to some childhood 4H Fair memories.
    That said, the Giants announcers were joking about the Pirates having an off day in Wisconsin – and Kuiper is from there.

    Have a blast and get us a win…

  18. Naterosboro says:

    @ JMB

    Certainly hear you on the $60mm payroll, but what if they can’t make signings to bring them to that level?

    I mean, there’s only going to be so many players on the FA market who are worth a decent amount of money.

    Yes, some players are due arb. raises, and there’s the possibility they sign Cutch to a long term deal and pick up Maholm’s option, but I don’t see them bringing back Snyder or Doumit (so there’s like $11mm off the books).

    Are you suggesting that they throw money around for the sake of it? Or are you saying you’d like to see them overpay to get a major name in here (hey, if we threw $20mm/year at Prince, I think he’d come……)?

    If you’re saying overpay, I’m with you, b/c eventually they’re going to have to unless they can start winning consistently with the guys that they have (which I don’t see happening), but if you’re saying you want them to spend for spending sake just to reach a payroll number, than I couldn’t disagree more.

  19. Bunch of fair weather fans... says:

    3 days until Cole and Bell have to be signed.

    I’m not sure about anyone else but I would rather see (if only one gets signed) Bell get $10 mil and let Cole walk. It likely won’t happen that way but I’ve been watching as much video as possible (as much as you can find on the internet) and his upper body is very inconsistent in his delivery. His slider is very consistent and very good, but his fastball gets elevated and flat quite often. He tends to try to overthrow with his arm and stays upright instead of driving the ball down with his shoulders like he does consistently with the slider. Don’t get me wrong, the guy has Josh Johnson (Marlins) written all over him. Their mechanics are nearly identical. It’s just that consistency is usually the hardest thing to establish for a power pitcher.

  20. Happy G says:


    I feel for you. I live in Northern Illinois and had to endure pain from not only the Brewers fans but the cheese heads that live down here. The day after the Super Bowl I awoke to “Packer Country” spray painted on my snow bank in front of my house. I guess my “you’re in Steelers Country” banner I had hanging on my porch for two weeks stirred them up.


    Sorry, I can’t call you CDBrewer this weekend. Thank you for the well wishes. I’ll be wearing the Neil Walker jersey that I wore to 2 games when I was visiting my parents the week of the 4th of July. So far it’s 2-0 and one of the wins was the McKenry home run against the Cubs. Let’s hope it stays lucky.

  21. Drew71 says:

    I hear you Bunches, but wake me up in 2 days.

    Make that 2 days and 12 hours.

    THAT’S when we’ll first learn anything meaningful about the future of these two guys.

  22. JoeBucco says:

    @CDPirate – Yep, their state fair is pretty fun, as far as those sorts of things go. Lots of healthy fried things on sticks, turkey legs, and other foods that are always interesting. I’ve made a stop two years in a row, despite actually living 10 minutes from the Ohio State Fair in Columbus and not going there in about 10 years.

  23. Happy G says:


    How many different kinds of fried food did the Wisconsin State Fair have? When I lived in Indiana they had fried gizzards, fried chicken livers, fried Twinkies, fried Hot Pockets, fried Snicker bars, etc. It was simply amazing.

  24. JoeBucco says:

    @Happy – from the other thread, yea I see what you mean about Milwaukee. I’ve actually had really good response attanding Pirates games in Miller Park with my Bucco gear on. Never an issue aside from one time, this young girl comes at me with a “Pirates suck, followed immediately by, just kidding, I was just messing around”. Thought that was funny.

    But yea on the Harley tour (H-D)is what puts me in Milwaukee all the time). Never did do the Miller brewery tour yet, even though it’s across the street from my office there. Very funny about how they all think Philly and PIttsburgh are two hours apart. Same with Columbus, Cleveland and Cincinnati being about a 15 minute drive to each.

    On the fried foods, in addition to what you mentioned, every candy bar imaginable is fried there, I prefer Snickers. And of course, the chocolate covered bacon is something else. And cheese curds. Lots of cheese curds at the fair.

  25. cfjohnsn says:


    Any word on a Tabata reunion with the parent club for this series?


    David Lander, better known as Squiggy, is a CMU grad and die-hard Pirates fan like the rest of us.He’s also served as an associate scout for the Mariners and has had some classic one-liners about the Pirates including this one from 2005:

    “When I watch Jack Wilson play, I know he’s not a homegrown Pirate,” he said. “He’s too fundamentally sound.”

  26. pattonbb says:

    Happy Birthday to Jose Tabata today. Hope he’s back in the lineup soon.

  27. JoeBucco says:

    Pirates are 0-28 in Milwaukee since May 4, 2007 when I am not at the game. The good news, I guess, is that they are 2-2 when I am. Warning to Zack Greinke, I’ll be there tonight.

  28. Happy G says:


    The Miller Brewery tour is free and I enjoy it for two reasons.
    1. Obviously, the free beer at the end of the tour.
    2. You get to tour the caves where they kept the beer cool during the pre-refridgeration days. Lake Michigan freezes a few feet thick every winter so they would cut blocks of ice out of the lake and move them into the caves. I believe the caves are from the mid 1800’s.

    Cheese curds…pure Wisconsin.

  29. JMB says:


    Good to see you on here!

    We are in agreement. They will have to overbid for a big time FA like Prince just to get into the convo, who may not even decide to come. I’m even ok with losing Maholm, RC, Doumit, Snyder, and Overbay if that $30m-ish gets thrown back into the team somehow. CarGo’ing Cutch & buying out a couple of PRNW’s arb years also will go a long way in showing commitment.

    I have to believe if they show agents that they are willing to go above their seemingly self imposed $5m a year FA # that they will get get some phone calls returned, or they might be able to get into some trade talks.

    I wouldnt mind taking on Iannetta’s contract for $3.6m for 2012 and pairing him w. MM. The $4m there will be a much better value than the $12+m going to Snyder & Doumit this season.

    I think the team has less than $10m in current commitments for 2012.

    OTOH, I will be completely disillusioned if they decide to raise ticket prices and end up below $30M next season. I will be all for keeping NH if it means that it wont give the new guy a chance to cut & gut the team to the bare-bones for ANOTHER rebuild.

    NH year five has be an ALL IN season.

  30. JoeBucco says:

    Yes, indeed a happy twenty-something-ish birthday to Jose Tabata. It’s not a long drive from Indy to Milwaukee. Just sayin…

  31. JAL says:


    David Lander (Squiggy) has siad the Pirates are his favorite team. He and McKean (Lenny) both attended Carnegie Mellon University

  32. cfjohnsn says:


    All accounts are that they offered JDLR $10/yr for 3 years last off season. I don’t think that there is a “self imposed $5M a year” cap if those reports are even remotely accurate.

  33. JMB says:

    Tim Williams did a nice write-up back in April on the 2012 payroll.

    He estimated at the time around $35m for 2012, so maybe we keep Maholm and jettison Snyder (the opposite of what Williams rec’d at the time). There is no way CS is worth $7m in 2012.

    Even if you throw Prince in there at $20m, the Pirates are around $55m, which is right in the ballpark of where they should be going forward.

  34. JoeBucco says:

    Question to the group – if you were buying a Pirates authentic jersey today, and because you don’t want to be like everyone else and get a PRNW or Cutch jersey, who would you get?

    Is there anyone else that you think will absolutely be on this team in 3 years? Don’t want to spend that much on a jersey and have him not be on the team.

    I’m thinking Hammer might be the #3 option. Would have thought Pedro, but that isn’t looking as great. Thoughts?

  35. Arriba Wilver says:

    It would appear the $5 mil per year cap applies to position players. They didn’t pursue Lee, Berkman, etc last off-season and settled on a $5 mil (Overbay) and $4 mil over 2 years (Diaz), and Neal has said that part of the reason not to go after Pence was the potential arb hit, which from what I’ve heard was expected to be about $9-10 mil.

  36. JoeBucco says:

    @JMB – I kinda liked Chris Snyder. No way to know he’ll be the same guy in 2012, but there’s probably a decent chance we could get him back for a lot less money. No way he gets the option. But maybe $1.5m or so? Maybe.

  37. Arriba Wilver says:

    JB–while not likely to be a star, the Fort will probably be around for a while, even if Sanchez turns things around and justifies the # 1 pick.

  38. Happy G says:


    That’s a tough question. I’m down on Pedro right now but I think he’ll still turn into a legitimate middle of the lineup hitter. So here it is:
    1. Pedro Alvarez
    2. Jose Tabata
    3. Joel Hanrahan

  39. Happy G says:

    @Arriba Weaver,

    I like McKenry a lot and hope he stays around for a while. I think he is the better option at Catcher right now, over Doumit who’s defense is a liability.

  40. buckeyehba says:

    Alvarez will be around….go with that Jersey. Any pitcher risky. Presley maybe?

  41. Naterosboro says:

    Question to the group – if you were buying a Pirates authentic jersey today, and because you don’t want to be like everyone else and get a PRNW or Cutch jersey, who would you get?

    I bought my Petey Alvarez and still wear it proudly. Not necessarily saying you should get Petey, just saying is kid’s having a tough year. He’s 24 years old in his first full MLB season. His story is more likely than those that succeed and never look back….

    Petey will get it turned around this offseason and will be there for us in 2012.

    But if I were going to get another jersey, I’d prolly go Hanny or Morton. Chuckles has fantastic stuff

  42. Happy G says:

    Just commenting on Doumit brings back a Miller Park memory from about 4 years ago. Doumit was playing right field at the time and I was sitting in the bleacher seats in behind him. The entire section of Brewers fans started chanting “Dou-Mit” similar to the “Dar-ryl” chant we used to have for Darryl Strawberry. The funny part is they were pronouncing his name wrong. They were calling him Doo-Mit. It was hilarious.

  43. DMac says:

    @JB…On jersey…Hanrahan’s maybe, or Tabata. Until my jinx wears off, I won’t even bother though. ;-)

  44. JMB says:

    I’m with the El Toro crowd jersey-wise. By 2013, he will be at least in the Mark Reynolds scale of 30+ hr’s and a bunch of K’s.

    AW, the fear of the Pence arb hit was frustrating.

    The 2010 Rays (a team we are often modeled with) had a few guys making $8-10m, so I think even a small market team needs to not be scared of a $10m salary for a position player.

    We are years at three yrs away from the Giants model of having 3 SP’s making $10m plus (Cole, Heredia, Jamo) and a bunch of lower paid position players to augment a devastating SP staff.

    I know we wont even approach Prince, but it is fun to dream.

  45. Bizrow says:

    Thanks for the info on Squiggy, I think David Lander also owns or owned a minor league team for a bit, he was a scout and has an illness that has not stopped him one bit.

    Any word on maybe Jose showing up tonight in Milwaukee?

    Like, what do we have to lose?

  46. pattonbb says:

    Not sure I’d buy that Hanrahan jersey. I could see a scenario next year that might get him moved. For all the griping (justified in my opinion) about Alvarez, he’s not going anywhere. If I was a betting man, I’d say Tabata is a safe bet too.

    Nate’s suggestion about Morton is probably a safe one as well.

    I told myself I wouldn’t buy another jersey after my last one (Wilson), but I’m dying to add a Karstens to my collection.

  47. Drew71 says:

    With this team’s history of player turnover, it’s just safer to go with a retro jersey, don’t you think?

  48. JohninOshkosh says:

    @JoeBucco and @Happy G

    Enjoyed your posts. Anyone coming to Milwaukee (Tabata e.g.) from the south on West I-94(figure that out!) must stop at the great Mars Cheese Castle on the WI/IL border. Get yourself some cheese curds and, perhaps the only place on earth you get can such a thing, a summer sausage sandwich.

  49. JoeBucco says:

    Good input on the jersey. I’d bean leaning Tabata too, but with depth in the OF I could see him being a trading chip. I’d be not happy about that at all, but it’s a reason I haven’t bought one of these myself.

    BTW – I really think that if Pedro knocked off that tucking his ears under his hat thing, I’d go buy his jersey tomorrow. Man, that annoys the heck out of me. :)

  50. Drew71 says:

    Thanks John. Now i’m hungry. And the diners don’t open for another hour & 45 minutes.

  51. JoeBucco says:

    @patton – I’m with you on the Karstens. And the Fort too from the earlier mention.

    @Drew – yea, I could see retro, but not mainstream. Lots of Roberto’s around, even some Van Slykes. Can’t do a Bonds or Bonilla. Perhaps a LaValliere, but isn’t he just the Fort reincarnated?

  52. Drew71 says:

    Maybe I can get in line for a good counter seat.

    It’s Friday so Flo and Patty are working the counter.

    Which means they’ll save the biggest piece of lemon meringue for me

  53. JoeBucco says:

    While I’m throwing out questions to the group, I’m bringing a bunch of the Harley guys I work with to PNC for the doubleheader on the 22nd. When I go to games, I usually just park in teh garage across the bridge and walk over. But these guys are more the tailgating type. I know that’s not as good as it was at Three Rivers, but does anyone have any suggestions for pre-game (where to park for tailgating?) or should we just walk across teh bridge and hit a bar like Firewaters or something on Federal St?

  54. Drew71 says:

    LeValliere could hit ok during his prime, better than Fort likely can.

    He had a couple of years over .300 with PBC. Near the end of one of those seasons, Leyland complimented LeValliere. Sort of. While mentioning the BA, Leyland said something like, you know it’s a REAL .300 because, look at his legs, he’s not running ANYTHING out.

    Great line.

    In 89 he was sharing time with Nicosia and hit .316. Only 10 doubles. No triples, though i didn’t really need to write that. i’m SURE no infield hits. I’m not even going to bother listing stolen bases.

    During his prime, he was a contact machine. His first year of real work, 1986, he had 37 K’s. And NEVER that many again. Usually 20s and 30s. Sure, he only broke 400 ABs once, but it’s not like he was just a backup.

  55. JoeBucco says:

    True, I guess I was referring to build and mentally, toughness. I hope Fort turns into the player Spanky was.

  56. Drew71 says:

    OOPS…wrong era. Nicosia shared time with the OTHER fat boy almost a decade earlier. That was mainly Ortiz who split time with LeValliere in 89

  57. Happy G says:


    I forgot about the tucking the ears under his hat thing. Please remove Pedro from my list.


    The Mars Cheese Castle is definitely the place to go. They relocated into a new building in May and the food is just as good. All of their sandwiches are excellent, I haven’t had a bad one.

  58. CDBrewer says:

    Just read through…couple comments (and sorry about my name for the weekend):

    @JoeBucco: I would go retro too. I kinda respect that they have to turn over the roster even if they see success. I would say Tek and Walk are the two most likely to be with the team in 3 years. Maybe go off the board with a Leyland.

    JMB brought up Ianetta and McKenry as the 2 catchers. LOVE IT. Shouldn’t be too much.

    Glad to see there is some optomism that we might actually bid on Fielder. I would rather throw $20M at Albert (Fielder’s weight does scare me), but I really think we might have to just put one HUGE bat in there.
    How much better would our table setters look with Fielder? How much less pressure would gap guys like Walker (and even Jones if he is here) have? And Pedro…could relax and hit where he should as a newbie…

    I really do think this might be the year for 1 BIG splash and then the Ianetta and Diaz type moves. Really, Diaz has been EXACTLY what he was supposed to be…that just doesn’t really help us.

    Yeah, $60M is about what we should look for – no less than $54M. This is a team to support. NOT with Lee or Overbay or any other also-rans.

  59. Drew71 says:

    i agree. ears make the man.

    – Ross Perot

  60. pghboyinca says:

    Some people are suggesting that with the increase in ticket prices we can “go into” the 55 million range payroll wise. I have news for yu we can go into and beyond that now and still be proftiable. There are teams in our market size with slightly elevated attendance spending 80 million. Also it was proven this year with even with the hint of a contender that attendance and televison viewing spiked so this ownership group knows that if they spend the money to improve this team it is a sound investment. Let’s see what they do.

  61. Drew71 says:

    Boy – indirectly, that is why i DON’T want management to mail in the rest of the season and play their 14 year old prospects. And reject that let’s-see-what-they-can-do loser mentality.

    Because: if they go back onto a .600+ pace that they played for 10+ weeks before the swoon…heck, if they just finish above .500, there will be a NATIONAL perception that the Pirates have turned the corner.

    Why do I care what is written and spoken nationally?

    Positive perception dramatically increases the chance that more of the (at least) “B” free agents will be willing to sign with Pittsburgh.

    That’s the positive way to say it. The cynic in me says: And it will remove an excuse if they DON’T sign decent free agents.

  62. JMB says:

    Im with ya’ Drew.

    Finishing at 82-80 forces the team to “go for it” in 2012 since the perception will be that we have arrived. If Pujols & Fielder leave the division, the central could be wide open!

  63. Bizrow says:

    We need that old hidden vigorish tonight.

    We can’t lose to the Brewers forever, can we?

    Get this one, we are much overdue

  64. JoeBucco says:

    Interesting that Ohlendorf was activated from the DL today and optioned to Indy.

  65. CDBrewer says:

    Drew, JMB,

    I don’t think it needs to be 82-80 for them to know fans expect to compete. ONe two week span derailed us – almost NEVER is a span that short to blame for a baseball team’s demise. I don’t think they can be dumb enough to not see the opportunity provided by renewed believe in the fan base. Maybe they are that dumb.

    They know we have turned a corner, and they know Overbay and Diaz were cheap “we can’t compete no matter what” signings.
    I think they know, those signings won’t be tolerated…but it doesn’t mean they will go get the big fish.
    It only takes one, but one big fish and we are THERE.
    Completely agreed.

  66. Pig Legs Robinson says:

    Drew71 –

    Being the warrior of the 70’s that I am, I caught your Nicosia slip immediately and I’m glad you caught it too. But I think you have mistakenly identified Ed Ott by how he may look now, rather than during his playing days, in calling him a “fat boy”. It’s true, Mike L. was a roly-poly kind of guy, but Otter was in good shape, kind of short and stocky but with a wrestler body, not fat.

    And as anyone else who lived the 70’s ‘ott’ to remember, Otter famously ended the career of Mets 2nd baseman Felix Millan with his wrestling background.

    Millan took exception to being slid into hard by Ott breaking up a DP, and slugged Ott in the face while holding the ball in his hand. Ott couldn’t believe what just happened, and simply reached out and in pure Bruno Sammartino style (or Stonecold style, whatever your era is), body slammed Millan onto the hard dirt. Millan didn’t move again on the field that day, and was stretchered off the field with a broken collarbone. He never played again in the majors.

    But I still appreciate your propensity to read about the Bucs of old, something I did as well with the older Bucs of the 50’s & 60’s when I was growing up in the 70’s. There is a lot of cool history there to take in, (and it’s far easier to do now with the internet than when I was a kid reading old yearbooks and the backs of baseball cards.)

  67. Bunch of fair weather fans... says:

    Where did everyone get this idea that more TV viewers means more money in a given year? A TV contract is not filled with bonus incentives. They sign for years, games/year, and dollars; period. Stronger ratings may provide leverage for both getting more games aired and later at the negotiating table but doesn’t affect revenue much from year to year.

    Here’s an article posted by this website about the financial(s) last August. They are putting money into where they need to based on their revenue stream compared to other teams (low cost, high potential players that are under control long term).

    Here is another article proving that point, in part, based on their MLB leading spending the draft from 2008-10.

    So let’s look at the facts. The Pirates opening day payroll from 2008-10 has been higher than the previous regime’s average payroll from 2004-2007. Meanwhile BN, NH, and FC have increased spending in all other areas including development, scouting, technology, the draft, foreign signings, and facilities. They’ve said they were trying to build the team from the ground-up. I’d say they’ve “put their money where their mouth is”.

    I’m assuming pghboyinca is referencing teams like Milwaukee and Minnesota is his claim about teams of similar market size spending more. Let me point out, for example, that Doug Melvin (Mil GM) took over in 2003 and dumped Milwaukees payroll down to under $30 Million and began rebuilding through the draft (R.Weekes in 2003, Y.Gallardo 2004, Braun 2005, etc) and began acquiring talent like McGehee, Greinke, Marcum, Betancourt, etc. by trading off other players from those drafts.

    Now, Milwaukee (like Minn and others) has increased revenue from more national TV games, tickets, merchandise, etc and, as a result, spend more on their MLB payroll now that they can afford it. That’s the model and the Pirates are attempting to follow it.

  68. Bunch of fair weather fans... says:

    The track record of Pirates moves since the new “regime” has taken over shows as much.

  69. Bunch of fair weather fans... says:

    By the way, it wasn’t until the Brewers fifth season under Melvin (2007) that they ended their 15 year losing streak. The Pirates have a chance in year 4 of NH, FC, and BN.

  70. pattonbb says:

    Pig Legs – As a kid, Ed Ott was my favorite Bucco. People always seem so surprised when I say that.

    In 1977, my Dad took me to a double header against the Cards. These are the first two games I actually remember being at. I think I was 8. In game 2 Ott hit a hr with Oliver on base to tie the game. Parker hit one in the 9th to win it. As we were leaving Three Rivers I made my dad buy me a pair of #14 wristbands. From that moment, I was #14 on every baseball team I ever played with.

    A few days later, with help from my mother, I wrote a letter to him. A couple weeks after that I recieved a handwritten reply and an 8×10 autographed glossy. I’m looking at that letter and autograph, framed on my desk, as I write this.

    Another Ott highlight has to be the brawl with the Reds when he was coaching with Houston. Ott put Dibble in a headlock after Dibble threw behind an Astro (can’t remember who). Dibble’s face was turning blue when they finally pulled Ott off of him.

  71. Pig Legs Robinson says:


    That’s great stuff!
    I also remember begging my Mom to get me the wristbands each time I went to the games. I had all my favorites, especially my John Candelaria 45’s. I think everybody had to have the obligatory Willie Stargell 8’s as well. (and the Parker 39’s too). You’d see them in little league games always.

    I loved the doubleheaders too. How could you beat two games for the price of one? My Mom hated sitting through them, but I loved every minute of them. We always sat on the left field foul line right above the live Goose in the cage in the bullpen (from 1977 when we had Goose Gossage). I even got me a couple BP homeruns with my trusty baseball glove in tow. I actually caught a Bill Madlock BP homer when he was on the Giants (Maddog got traded to the bucs later).

    I should have said earlier that I got most of my historical reading from my baseball cards AND my beloved monthly subscription to Baseball Digest.
    We also had The Sporting News every 2 weeks, which gave all the box scores. That was all there was for baseball fan back in the 70’s.

    I noticed that you can actually read all the back issues of Baseball Digest online at Google (, which I have spent a couple weekends reliving my youth reading, and catching up on earlier 60’s & 70’s issues I never though I’d get to see. You can see every cover and every article inside! That is some awesome reading!

  72. CDBrewer says:


    I agree completely that we have been doing a good job improving the overall structure of the franchise. I also agree the revenue will come from tv and merchandise sooner than later, but not tomorrow. Stay the course…

    I do have a series of question – not just for you, and not to be snarky.

    How long does it take for a facility like the one in DR to start to show something? And what exactly does it look like? Does it look like what Gayo has done by himself? Does it look like the minors having 1/5 of its players being from Latin America? Does it save the franchise money by allowing them NOT to sign draft picks when agents hold them hostage?
    None of that is to be skeptical, it is just to get a frame of reference…

    Now, for my skepticism…I am completely okay with the questionable FA signings recently because there wasn’t much to support, BUT…this season I want a big one. This season I want the front office to support the core with the complementary piece they have earned. A big piece – like Fielder or Pujols or something major.

  73. Bunch of fair weather fans... says:

    The facility in the DR, just as an example, likely would take 4-6 years to show some dividend at the Major League level. Most signings in the region are 16-18 year old kids. The overwhelming majority will take 5 years or more to reach a MLB roster.

    Even Miguel Cabrera, who is one of the best players of this generation, took 4 years to make his Major League debut at 20 years old. Aramis Ramirez (a Pirates example) also took 4 years for his debut (also 20). Few make it faster than that.

  74. CDBrewer says:

    Thanks, I just wasn’t sure what they were looking at for that whole project.
    I love the idea of it…and I know a little of the dreams the kids have down there (in Brooklyn we had a couple kids skip out on the end of the school year – sabotaging the baseball team – to go to those types of camps).
    I just didn’t really know the timeline – like if it was starting from scratch.

  75. Pig Legs Robinson says:

    Smart move optioning Ohlendorf to trip-A. Too bad they dfa’d Tim Wood though to activate him. I’d be very surprised if some team doesn’t grab him.

  76. Pig Legs Robinson says:

    Pirates should have hired Srap Iron Garner and got him in the fold. Too bad the A’s got him. Now they’re gonna have to trade Manny Sanguillen for him.

  77. The NFL season is finally upon us! I’m ready to see some dramatic hits and well drawn plays. Who is my pick for the Superbowl winner? Right now I would have to say that I think the Steelers or the Eagles look like they have the best shot. My favories part of the NFL is that you never know who is going to be victorious. Drama and excitement, welcome home Football!

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