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Wakeup Call: Pathetic

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

Brief and to the Point …

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>> That was pathetic.

If anyone can come up with a fairer, more accurate way of describing the Pirates’ effort yesterday against the Astros — their worst all summer long — I’m all ears.

And yeah, the key word there is effort.

That’s not one you’ve heard me raise much, except to laugh off when people applied it incorrectly. Baseball isn’t a run-through-the-wall kind of sport. (Except for the great Turner Ward.) But it is about applying yourself to the task at hand. This group has, for the most part, given its all. Even when it’s struggled, you didn’t question the effort.

Not yesterday.

With apologies to Garrett Jones, who looks like the Pirates’ only everyday player not gasping for air, the effort just wasn’t there. The competitive at-bats weren’t there. The hustle wasn’t there. The focus wasn’t there. The emotion wasn’t there.

Sure, blame Clint Hurdle for that. If the manager’s going to get credit when the team is all energized and doing the Z thing, he’s got to hear it when things sour. I’ll say it plainly: He’s not doing enough right now. Not in lighting a fire. Not strategically. If this keeps going like this, Hurdle will have not one but two collapses to his name.

That fire needs to come from within, too. I’ve praised A.J. Burnett, Rod Barajas, Neil Walker for the team’s leadership, so let’s pin blame on them, too. Whatever they’re doing behind the scenes right now, it evidently isn’t enough.

Overall, though, a game like this is on the athletes involved.

Andrew McCutchen, having an overall MVP-type season but nothing of the sort the past five weeks, went 0 for 4 and saw 10 total pitches.

What’s that?

He wasn’t alone. This lineup allowed Edgar Gonzalez, who hadn’t started in the majors since 2009 and had pitched most of this year in Mexico, to go on cruise control. Hack, hack, hack.

When Brock Holt worked a walk in his first big-league at-bat the other night, Hurdle spoke of it as if Holt had uncovered a solution to future meteor strikes. All he did was see a pitcher struggling with command, then take a few pitches.

Wow. Someone alert Tom Emanski.

Better yet, alert some of Holt’s new teammates.

There was no such thing in this game. Guys strolled in and out of that box like they were paying Turnpike tolls. If not for Jones’ three hits, the Pirates would have had two against a team that gives them out by the bushels.

I saw at least some of this second-half comeuppeance coming. The pitching was due to step back. The hitting was due for for a bigger step back.

But effort?

Man, that word shouldn’t even come into play this time of year.

>> There is no earthly reason for Barajas to keep playing.

None.

I could elaborate, but it would feel like I’m explaining that the sky is blue.

>> Mike Wallace returning to practice for the Steelers yesterday was big on multiple levels, not least of which is that it forces the Broncos to game-plan for him.

Don’t underestimate that. I spent the week leading up that playoff game in Denver with the Broncos, and you couldn’t raise any topic with anyone on their defense without it turning to Wallace. And Wallace wasn’t even playing well going into that game. (Nor did he play well that day, for that matter.)

Players fear the film room. And nothing looks worse in the film room than the big play, than being beaten over the top.

Changes everything.

>> My weekly appearance on TribLIVE Radio was pushed back to later in the week, when we’ll do a segment from that same Denver practice facility.

Tonight, I’m heading back over to the yard.

145 Comments

  1. I can’t wait to read the reaction to this one on here and twitter.

    As for my own thoughts, this team has been extremely lucky the Cardinals and Dodgers have been playing down to the Pirates level over the last few months and if there’s ever an opportunity to take, the 2012 wild card is it.

    The Pirates won’t have the Astros to kick around in 2013 as their Triple-A lineup is heading to the American League and does anyone think Cubs will be quiet with Theo Epstein building that franchise from the bottom on up.

    Clint Hurdle had inexperience, youth as valid reasons for the 2011 Pirates to free fall. Pitching and defense went into the tank and their offense continued its pop-gun attack.

    Over the offseason, Hurdle talked about “Finish” but all we’ve seen since the All-Star break is opposing teams finish them off before the first inning was over. The pitching bad, defense shaky, and offense too dependent on a supercharged McCutchen.

    Today’s performance was bad by all accounts, I only saw the 8th and 9th inning but their approach at the plate was something I would expect kids to do, not professionals fighting for playoff spot.

    Finish was cute, cute doesn’t work now… time to grow up, be men, be winners.

    Or this offseason’s slogan will be “Clean the deck”

  2. A very impressive article on what most ardent Pirates fans had to be thinking today. We have endured too many years of the teams constantly going through the motion. This year was supposed to be different and for the most part has been, but I am glad that today’s lackluster performance was duly noted. Appreciate the honesty.

  3. Has anyone found a missing ‘Z’.?

    The Pirates seem to have lost one – and their mojo with it.

  4. Last year I was not surprised by the collapse. This past month has been shocking.

    If they don’t win at least 82, it will be extermely difficult to convince anyone that they were not flukes. The next 4 weeks are critical for the team and the players.

    Fans no longer trust or believe in them.

  5. Maybe this game was like after a road trip in hockey, teams sometimes have a bit of a letdown… We will see after the next two games.

    Not making excuses, cause the play has been poor except for the brilliant series against STL, which now looks like STL played down to the Bucs level. Yah there was the bad call on the runner out of base paths in the first, but they only gave up one run there. Barmes not turning the DP and then the 3R bomb that followed is just unacceptable. Even beyond THAT, when they get RISP and come up with those crappy AB’s that DK was referencing, it’s just deflating.

    To me that is the difference about being a professional, you take every pitch, play, inning, game and season with care as if you’re a painter and every stroke counts.

  6. ‘Sucked’ also would have been a good word.

  7. The Z was a nice gimmick, but that crap only carries you so far. Look at the BA of the overall position players, 15 batting .250 or less. THAT’S the bottom line. And throw in a suspect starting rotation after the All-Star break and this is what you get, a racehorse with a cute nickname or gimmick that blows out of the starting gate and leads the field by 14 lengths at halfway with almost 3/4 of the race gone it fades bad and the studs who hung back turned on the speed and the jockey put the whip to its behind and usually the favorite will win. The Bucs were the long shot that busted out of the gate.

    In baseball the cream will rise to the top as long as the team stays healthy and the posers fade after the trade deadline, the Pirates needed more than some stupid Z at the trade deadline the bench they have is PUTRID.

  8. — I’m all ears.

    Well, OK. Just remember…you started it.

  9. I think that what seems to frustrate me the most is guys like ‘Edgar Gonzalez’ eat us up all the time. Some starting pitcher that is a scrub, just called up, hardly clinging to life in professional baseball at any level gives us fits all the time.

    Every time. It should be a 6-0 lead in the 4th inning for the Pirates, but it never is.
    And it was this way before Hurdle too. Why?

  10. Pathetic is as good a word as I can come up with. My mom explained my frustration as “almost using words that are rarely used in our house.” Had to turn it OFF before my blood pressure skyrocketed. I think I’m glad to be leaving town Saturday and will be away from the debacle that is the 2012 Pirates, a sad, sad excuse of a baseball team.

  11. Could be an epic fail striving for the .500 season. If they continue to play like this, welcome to year 20 of the nonsense.

    Great article as always Dejan!!!

  12. Don’t let the post-mortems become too suffocating. Keep in mind we were a pretty good team in the beginning, but also very lucky.

    We led the majors in one run victories at one point, and in close victories generally, because of Cutch and some outstanding pitching.

    In the absence of both of those, we have regressed to ordinary, and no one else was able to step up to pick up the slack.

    But as was pointed out, there now is seemingly a lack of interest, effort, skill and hustle.

    Hence here we are where we are supposed to be – and not in the playoffs. We have shown we are not playoff worthy.

  13. After the 3-run homer, I couldn’t watch anymore, or even listen.

    I did tune back in in the last of the ninth. The most depressing thing to me is the give-away at bats. In Little League I was taught to swing at anything near the plate when you had two strikes. I wouldn’t know how to look it up, but I wonder if the Bucs don’t lead maybe all of baseball in taking called third strikes. I remember some notorious bad-ball hitters like Yogi, or our own Sangy. But I guess we have this sabremetric-driven culture in the minors that fine tunes the eye of our hitters to the point when they can make fine distinctions between the locations of fastballs. Distinctions I might add that MLB umpires apparently can’t see. Or is it that our hitters are so low in their own confidence that they are begging to walk?

    Whatever it is, it is indeed Pathetic!

    Stuart

  14. “Why now do you feel like you should beat somebody you shouldn’t beat?”

    Instead of asking the Astros this question, maybe Clint should ask his own club. Did they think the ‘Stros would just lay down? Do they think Houston would not give maximum effort? Do they think Houston would not be ready? They were 3 for 3 in those areas, and we weren’t.

    If you weren’t aware of the standings and records of both teams, you would have thought Houston was the team fighting to get into the post-season and the Buccos were the team 50 games under .500,

    I agree that one loss hardly ends their season, but the lack of effort, the lack of plate discipline, and the overall lack of emotion from our team is what we should be worried about. The Pirates aren’t talented enough to be out-coached or out-hustled. Clint Hurdle needs to change that or be held accountable.

  15. Are the pirates circling the drain?

  16. @radio

    With apologies to Chris Berman & the Buffalo Bills, no one circles the drain like the Pittsburgh Pirates.

  17. Here are some really ugly numbers for the Pirates with 0-2 count

    Player AB HIT SO SO%
    Alvarez 51 5 35 68.63%
    Walker 39 5 21 53.85%
    Marte 17 2 9 52.94%
    Mercer 2 0 1 50.00%
    Barmes 53 10 26 49.06%
    Presley 33 4 15 45.45%
    McCutchen 40 9 18 45.00%
    Jones 39 7 17 43.59%
    Sanchez 21 2 9 42.86%
    Snider 7 1 3 42.86%
    Barajas 47 8 19 40.43%
    Tabata 26 2 10 38.46%
    Harrison 23 5 7 30.43%

  18. Does this mean it’s officially a collapse Dejan?

  19. I was at that Turner Ward game.

    What a great moment. What a great year from a totally overachieving, relatively talentless team. And I mean that as a COMPLIMENT.

    This team ain’t that team.

  20. I was too busy hiking in Yosemite to hear any of this. And yet, being back online, I’m not one iota surprised. Clint Hurdle as an in-game manager is an embarrassment. Great early season play by players hid most of that. But now his bullpen mgmt, lame lineups, and fascination with bunting have blown up in his face. A face on which he’ll continue to act as if nothing is really wrong, explaining things away with a few cliches, platitudes and the like. I love this team, but for everything the FO does right, they do two things wrong. Ugh.

  21. Want to know why I think Brock Holt needs to play SS?

    Pirates are 15th in NL with .281 OBP with the number 1 hitter.

    Pirates are in the bottom 3 for runs, average, obp, etc. for SS in NL.

    Giving away at-bats means giving away games. Clint Hurdle isn’t managing like he’s all in or wants to finish.

  22. @Milo

    No one in pro sports play, commentary or otherwise is worse than Chris Berman. Except for maybe Bobby “chokehold” Knight.

  23. @T.S.

    Berman is the worst but Joe Theismann is a close second, in my opinion.

  24. Please tell me that Pirates will not be bringing Rod Barajas back next year despite the fact that he “works well” with the pitching staff.

    I know the season isn’t over yet but whenever I see opposing teams’ baserunners stealing against him with ease, or his sub-.200 batting average when he’s at the plate I just don’t understand why The Fort isn’t getting a majority of the starts. Not that McKenry has been throwing out baserunners at a better clip than Barajas but at least he can hit.

    I really hope the Bucs can replace him this offseason with a catcher with a decent arm.

  25. Toast, anyone?

  26. 11 – 17 in August
    0 – 2 September

    Not yet a collapse, but the makings of one for sure.

  27. Either Hurdle is managing or the front office is front officing like, if the pirates get their 20th losing season, they can break their lease at PNC Park and move to Mexico City. guess we will find out when there is a twitter pic of a life size cutout where the players can take an item of clothing off for each win.

  28. Word is the BMTIB/BMTIS has sent scouts/cross-checkers to the Mexican League in search of Friday’s starting pitcher.

  29. Before the game, I wasn’t looking forward to cleaning the garage all afternoon (the family project du jour). Looks like I might have gotten the better end of the deal after all.

  30. But I thought they were an absolute lock to get to 82 wins……

    http://triblive.com/sports/dejankovacevic/dejancolumns/2410938-74/pirates-team-game-tuesday-aren-fans-padres-dodgers-games-season#axzz25TNdMCbJ

    DK: I miss something? Did they lose 18 games Sunday or just one? Because if it was 18, then they’ve got no chance at winning 82.

    Hang on, I’ll go check …

  31. 2/3 of our outfield played most of the season in the minors on a good night (Marte, Snider or Tabata…), and now 1/5 of our rotation is the same. This is why experience matters. Huntington is to blame for this too.

  32. @ Eric Bowser

    Just think, the Pirates gave away their best OBP prospect to get Wandy Rodriguez. What a great pickup he’s been.

  33. The Pirates’ players are reading all these negative blogs and have shut themselves down just to pay us back. No major-league team could be this pathetic otherwise.

    They will take Garrett Jones aside and let him in on the plan to make it 20 seasons in a row less than .500. I have been putting in blogs all year for our batters to swing at that first pitch, which is usually right down the middle because a smart pitcher doesn’t like to get behind in the count.

    Now go out and win 28 in a row!!

  34. RELEASE ALL THE PLAYERS

    FIRE ALL THE MANAGEMENT

    OMG

    Pretty sure that all parties know they played awful today, from Cutch on down. I am of a mind that Hurdle would bench a player if he wasn’t trying or hustling; putting forth the effort. Cutch HAS been benched before, and we ALL saw it–it was just last year, so it’s not like he was even a rookie. If they weren’t hustling, Hurdle would be benching players. I read the article, but I really don’t think it’s hustle or effort. So in that regard DK, I must respectfully disagree.

    I’m not a scout, I’m not a GM, I’m not a 3B coach, heck I can’t even watch most of the games–all I can do is watch that stupid ESPN Gamecast AND I’M GLAD TO HAVE IT–but from what I can see, they’re trying. It’s just that the other team is trying a little harder. Maybe there’s a little stat magic to back me up–find twentytwo22 and use his stat powers for good instead of evil, and see if he could find some kind of correlation between BABIP in August vs. July. I have a good feeling that what you’re gonna find is that, basically, the balls are dropping for the bad guys and they’re not dropping for the good guys (yeah no kidding, I know…) But from what everybody’s saying in the posts, the Bucs are hitting the balls hard, they’re just hitting them AT people.

  35. @ Boise – I watched a good portion of yesterday’s game. There weren’t many hard hit balls. Mostly terrible at bats. Presley has absolutely no business being on a major league roster with the at bats he has taken recently. Likewise, I’m pretty sure no other team in the MLB would have Barajas on the roster. This has been a team that has lacked fundamentals all season and it seems as though their fundamentals have gotten worse over the last month.

    I’m not ready to give up yet, but if they continue playing like they did yesterday this could be the most heartbreaking season of them all.

  36. Dejan, you are arguing against something Ed didn’t say.

    Ed’s argument does not appear to be that the Pirates WON’T win 82.

    It is that your column seemed to GUARANTEE that they won’t win less.

    Your response to him seems to argue the first point when he made the second.

    That said… I see Ed’s point but it is just not that important to me. You are a columnist. You gave an opinion. You’re not one of the guys playing like ****.

    That’s why I’ve only played around the last week with the “Dejan’s fault” stuff. That’s what I do.

    But this. This Is On The Pirates. ALL of it.

  37. I’d like to blame Drew. Or try to really pin this on DK.
    That’s what I do

  38. I was actually expecting a big win yesterday.

    Was prepared to call the kid Absolute Locke.

    No chance now.

    Not after you jinxed em.

  39. Someone called into the nightly sports call last night and said that one of his theories of why the Pirates were doing so bad was that Andrew McCutchen was on the juice. And when Melky Cabrerra got busted, he stopped.

    Another theory was that there is a divided locker room. Guys like AJ and JMac want to keep Barajas around and the others don’t want him to play.

    I am still researching the theory that ever since that rocket landed on the planet Mars we haven’t been playing that well. That and DK returned from the Olympics.

  40. :( This is so sad, it’s beyond words.

  41. And I hate stupid concpiracy theories. It’s called accountability and this is what it’s all about.

  42. JAL’s New Mexico Morning Links

    GENERAL DAILY UPDATED BASEBALL SITES

    1- MLB Transactions

    http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/transactions

    2-MLB Trade Rumors-Pirates

    http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/pittsburgh_pirates/

    3 Go Buccos- Pirate News (from external sources)

    http://gobuccos.com/pittsburgh-pirate-news/

    PIRATE BLOGS

    4—Pirates Prospects

    Pirates Notebook: Locke Better Than Line; Pirates Keeping it One Day at a Time

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2012/09/pirates-notebook-locke-better-than-line-pirates-keeping-it-one-day-at-a-time.html
    Indians Win Season Finale; Larish Plays 8 Positions, and Reliever Diaz Steals Third

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2012/09/indians-win-season-finale-larish-plays-8-positions-and-reliever-diaz-steals-third.html

    Prospect Watch: Von Rosenberg Throws Complete Game; Crazy Game in Indy

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2012/09/prospect-watch-von-rosenberg-throws-complete-game-crazy-game-in-indy.html

    First Pitch: Wrapping Up the Minor League Season

    http://blogs.piratesprospects.com/williams/first-pitch-wrapping-up-the-minor-league-season/

    5 Bucs Dugout

    Astros 5, Pirates 1

    http://www.bucsdugout.com/2012/9/3/3289710/astros-5-pirates-1

    6 Rumbunter

    Was That Kenny Powers Pitching Against the Pittsburgh Pirates?

    http://rumbunter.com/2012/09/03/was-that-kenny-powers-pitching-against-the-pittsburgh-pirates-today/

    7 McEffect

    Monday 9/3 Minor League Roundup

    http://www.mceffect.com/2012/09/monday-93-minor-league-roundup.html

    8 The Green Weenie

    Bucs Sleepwalk Through 5-1 Loss

    http://oldbucs.blogspot.com/2012/09/bucs-sleepwalk-through-5-1-loss.html

    9 Raise the Jolly Roger

    Bucs outworked on Labor Day

    http://raisethejollyroger.com/2012/09/bucs-outworked-on-labor-day/

    10 Yahoo Sports

    Astros send struggling Pirates to 4th loss in row

    http://sports.yahoo.com/news/astros-send-struggling-pirates-4th-203507306–mlb.html

  43. NEWSPAPERS and MAGAZINES and Other Media

    11 CBS Sports

    Pirates-Astros Game Preview

    http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/gametracker/preview/MLB_20120904_HOU@PIT

    12 St Louis Post Dispatch

    Bernie: Cards need infusion of youth and energy

    http://www.stltoday.com/sports/columns/bernie-miklasz/bernie-cards-need-infusion-of-youth-and-energy/article_73d1b056-4a8b-560d-80ea-43588c3a94d0.html

    13 Chicago Tribune

    Pirates Report

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/sns-rt-bbo-pirates-teamreportmtze893qvw07p-20120903,0,6147704.story

    14 Houston Chronicle

    Astros get good outing from journeyman Gonzalez

    http://blog.chron.com/ultimateastros/2012/09/03/astros-5-pirates-1-wallace-helps-make-gonzalez-a-winner-in-first-start-with-team/

    15 Altoona Mirror

    Forbes wants to return to Curve

    http://www.altoonamirror.com/page/content.detail/id/563936/Forbes-wants-to-return-to-Curve.html?nav=751

    16 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

    Big inning dooms Fiers

    http://www.jsonline.com/sports/brewers/168374406.html

    17 Examiner

    Marauder drop season finale 3-1 to St. Lucie Mets Sunday

    http://www.examiner.com/article/marauder-drop-season-finale-3-1-to-st-lucie-mets-sunday

    SPORTS WEBSITES

    18 PBC Site

    Bucs go down quietly vs. Astros, drop fourth straight

    http://pittsburgh.pirates.mlb.com/mlb/gameday/index.jsp?gid=2012_09_03_houmlb_pitmlb_1&mode=recap&c_id=pit

    Hurdle fascinated by concept of ‘spoiler’

    http://pittsburgh.pirates.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20120903&content_id=37811352&notebook_id=37811356&vkey=notebook_pit&c_id=pit

    19 Baseball Prospectus

    When Sexism and Home Plate Collisions Collide

    http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=18222

    20 Fangraphs

    Arizona Fall League Breakdown: Peoria Javelinas

    http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/arizona-fall-league-breakdown-peoria-javelinas/

  44. Steelers Blogs

    21 Behind the Steel Curtain

    AFC North News: All Division Defensive Linemen

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2012/9/3/3289769/afc-north-preseason-steelers-browns-bengals-ravens-roster

    AFC North News: All Division Preseason Tight Ends

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2012/9/3/3288997/afc-north-preseason-steelers-browns-bengals-ravens-roster

    22 Steelers Depot

    - 13 New Faces on 53 Man Roster

    http://www.steelersdepot.com/2012/09/steelers-open-2012-season-with-13-new-faces-on-53-man-roster/

    23 Steelers Gab

    Wallace Named the Starter Opposite Brown at WR for the Opener in Denver

    http://www.steelersgab.com/2012/09/03/wallace-named-the-starter-oppostie-brown-at-wr-for-the-opener-in-denver/

    24 Nice Pick Cower

    Steelers Chalk Talk: 2012 Predictions Vol. 1

    http://nicepickcowher.com/2012/09/02/steelers-chalk-talk-2012-predictions-vol-1/

    Pitt Blogs

    25 Pitt Blather

    Much Went Awry

    http://www.pittblather.com/2012/09/03/much-went-awry/

    26 Cardiac Hill

    Tino Sunseri Was Bright Spot In Pitt’s Debacle Against Youngstown State

    http://www.cardiachill.com/2012/9/3/3288034/pitt-football-pittsburgh-panthers-tino-sunseri-ray-graham-injury-youngstown-state-penguins

    WVU Blogs

    27 Metro News

    Film Review: Alston Racks Up Tough Yards

    http://www.wvmetronews.com/wvu.cfm?func=displayfullstory&storyid=54743

    28 WV Illustrated

    Week One Big 12 Recap

    http://www.wvillustrated.com/story/19442368/week-one-big-12-recap

    Soccer(football)

    29 Sky Sports

    Henry insistent over transfers

    http://www1.skysports.com/football/news/11669/8048062/Henry-insistent-over-transfers

    30 Daily Telegraph

    Premier League transfers – club by club

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/football-transfers/9514505/Premier-League-transfers-club-by-club.html

    31 World Soccer Daily

    10 stories you need to read, 3rd September, 2012

    http://www.worldsoccer.com/247/world-soccer-daily-10-stories-you-need-to-read-3rd-september-2012

  45. New Mexico Johnny Cash 1955

  46. Jandy. If I can’t use stoopid conspiracy theories, I got nutting left.

  47. Well, Drew, just for you, just this once, it’s ok dahling.

  48. Maybe its not the teams fault. Not the players fault. No Huntington, Nutting, Coonley, Hurdle, etc.’s fault. Maybe its our fault. The fans fault. Maybe we have to high of expectations running around. Maybe we took the 16 games over .500 for granted. Maybe we were putting all of our eggs in one basket with the game playing well above their heads. Maybe its our fault that we have the expectations of the playoffs. Maybe we are seeing the real Pirates play now. A team of mish mash bunch of players that just should not be playing in the majors. Most of the players on the current roster probably couldn’t make the majors on a fair amount of the other teams in the majors. I don’t know. Just one man’s option on this, dark and dank Tuesday after watching his favorite team get mowed down by a journey man pitcher and a team of no ones yesterday. A team that has no one batter hitting more then 15 HR’s on it. A team that got timely hits against our team that squandered chance after chance with lazy fly balls, looked lazy running out ground balls, and just didn’t look inspired and looking to when they finish up their season in early October.

    *Gets off his soap box and heads to work*

    A co-worker was right – the wheels have fallen right off this wagon. *sigh*

  49. How about these as far as yesterday: Painful? Sorrowful? Agonizing? Aching? Dreadful? Raw? I, like so many others, have stuck with this club for the past years, and years before that, too. Yesterday was ____ (pick a word from above). But, they have given us a great 5 months overall of baseball and I just can’t give up on them until 10/03/2012. Maybe I’m crazy, but….

  50. Oops…I forgot to add 19, when I said “stuck with this club for the past years…”

  51. I can’t disagree with a word of what you posted above about the Pirates, DK, not a word.

    And just to comment on one aspect, without trying to lay the blame in one area, I’ve been a little concerned lately with what I’ve been hearing from Hurdle. References to the past, not being part of it, what they are dealing with because of it (the losing). It sounds defensive and like excuse making, very un-Hurdlelike. And yesterday, pre-game, he sounded like he was taking Gonzalez lightly. Almost mocking him. I worried then that they were taking the Astros too lightly.

  52. @Jandy

    The Hollidaysburg / Duncansville metroplex is lovely this time of year. :)

  53. DK, thanks for the shout-out!

  54. Milo, sorry I missed you there! But I had a GREAT time in Burgettstown at the concert. Godsmack rocked the house! Got a little sun burned, but the entire day was awesome. Shinedown closed, but Godsmack still was the best in my book. Hope you had a good time as well.

  55. Jandy–was DK there? He seems to like that kind of music.

  56. Anyone thats ever been in a position of leadership will tell you that its not difficult to motivate when the sun is shining.

    Why Clint Hurdle gets any credit for having that quality is beyond me.

    The players obviously shoulder the blame. They’re adults, and professionals. But they also deserve the credit for the wins, not Hurdle. I’m sick of hearing all this miracle worker, where would they be without Hurdle talk. He’s a poor game manager, and has shown absolutely zero ability to keep a team together once it begins to faulter. I’m not even sure, after two collapses, that either of those points can be argued.

    This team will win 82 games. They’ll break the streak. Time will work as it does and this season will be remembered fondly. But I’m not sure anyone heads into the off season with a halo.

  57. AW, if he was, I didn’t know it, and with as many people as were there, I sure as heck didn’t see him. He’d never tell me if he was going to be there, anyway ;)

  58. Hey Drew #19, I too was at the Ward crashing the fence game. As I recall it was on a Sunday against the Dodgers, and a really hot day in the stands. I guess all we have left is some minor memories amid the losing. That team did play hard. This one doesn’t.

    Stuart66

  59. Hey, our 2nd or 3rd best player is hurt, our pitching staff is hurting, our most promising rookie pulled the ubiquitous oblique and we have a mgr who makesodd game choices. A recipe for trouble. And we now add to those burdens a seeming lack of effort, not to mention some lousy umpiring. Not very surprising results are rolling in.

    I suspect the team will reawaken a bit. Pray for Karstan,s lower body!

  60. I thought that when we were winning that the players got much more of the credit than the manager.

    AJ
    JMac
    Cutch
    Karstens
    Pedro
    Walker

  61. @Jandy

    Glad you had a good time. We did as well. The people were very nice & it was a very exciting game.

  62. Stuart: Your memory is good. it was a day game. There with my son and his Indian Guides Tribe. Probably all the fathers pointed to that play and said to their little braves, “Son, That’s How You Play The Game. Why, i remember in MY day…”

    Yes it was hot too. I’m sure our hot air didn’t help.

  63. Milo, Hollidaysburg/Duncansville is a nice area. A LOT nicer than Altoona. That’s why the people were nice :)

  64. The Pirates have become very hard to watch. They seem in free fall. This is looking like another losing season.It saddens me because we have seen them play better.

  65. You get off the Plane from a a road trip, get on a bus to go to a fund raiser at Bedford springs when you need a day off and the players think this is mickey mouse. So you get mickey mouse in return. What other crap happens that we don’t know about as fans? This ownership continues to be the problem. Harry Trueman had a sign on his desk, “the buck stops here” Leadership starts at the TOP. Players effort matches their effort.

  66. We still have the schedule to make this happen. And if we roll off the next five in a row then all our days are sunny again. But dang guys, you have to show up and play.

  67. @Ken… seriously? you lose 4 straight against teams playing out the string, and that is on the players and the players only.

  68. DK & Fellow Pirates Fans:

    I have been away since April to places with little communication to the outside world.
    Places that would make a cockroach look for better accomodations.

    I’m pleased to see that the Pirates are only a few games out of the Wild Card.
    I look forward to an exciting September of meaninful games.
    It has been a long time coming.

    Here’s hoping you all enjoy it as much as I will.

    PS: What is this Zorro thing everyone is doing?

  69. FraudGraham Division Standings (Week 1)

    1. Arizona St. 1-0
    2. Pitt 0-1
    3. Rice 0-1
    4. Tulsa 0-1

    I sense a pattern.

  70. Hi Cave, welcome to the real world.
    It’s a Zoltan thing. Even Zorro can’t help these Buccos.

    If the guys play the way they have been the last 4 – 5 games, there will be no wild card, sorry to say.

    Does Biz have your hometown on his DK’s Lunatic Nation list?

  71. Link # 12 give an interesting perspective of the Cardinals.

    Some of it sounds familiar

  72. Really starting to lose faith in PBC (for about the 20th time). It’s hard for a fan to be supportive when it looks like the team has given up. Maybe they haven’t, but that’s not how it appears from off the field. And sorry, but 82 is not a success in my book. If we all got so fired up about mediocrity then there would be no media buzz about whether Pittsburgh is a good baseball town because PNC would be packed every night right now. Just getting downright upset now. And the NHL looks like it’s not happening anytime soon. Great freakin start to the fall.

  73. Dodgers next five series are against Giants, Arizona, Cardinals, Nationals and Reds. We go Astros, Cubs, Reds, Astros, Brewers, Cubs, and Mets. There will be no excuses if we finish behind them.

  74. JoeBucco, I’m sure CH is lining up his excuses already.

  75. It takes the whole club to win, it takes the whole club to go into the tank.

    As far as excuses, don’t see CH doing a heck of a lot of that, he will leave it up to the BMTIB

    Those big shots are very, very good at the excuse thing.

  76. 100% Serious, what would it take to convince Mario to buy PBC? I think he would have something to say to this team that might light a fire under their a$$. Something like “Get it together or get out.” And I don’t think he would even offer Neil Huntington a job cleaning his pool. Or Mark Cuban… just some financial leader that really gives a damn about winning and not just making money. We can say all we want about the players (and right now they totally deserve it). But the fact is they’re chosen by the likes of the FO. Something major has to give for this club to become what it once was. Season’s not lost yet, but it’s heading that way quickly.

  77. On sirius radio they were talking Red Sox.
    They asked a four choice question as to who was to blame;
    Manager, gm, owner, players?
    I ask the same question about the Bucs.

  78. Radio,
    I put most of the blame on the players.

    But I also believe that we are good enough to finish above .500 but aren’t good enough for a wild card spot.

  79. Paraphrasing what Murtaugh said in the pre-game show before Game 7 of the 1971 World Series, if the players need motivation to go out and win a Game 7, they are in the wrong line of work. The same goes for the 2012 Pirates as they come down the stretch. #playbaseball.

  80. Buck Showalter > Clint Hurdle

    Billy Beane > Neal Huntington

    The BMTiB,INAoS biggest indictment is the lack of help that they have provided Andrew McCutchen. He’s trying to carry this team on his back, and the added pressure is causing him to struggle. When a line-up has as many automatic outs as this one, the urge to overcompensate must be massive.

    As Cutch goes, so goes this team. When he was red hot, the squad looked unbeatable, and now that he has chilled considerably, the ball club is looking like the 100 loss team from 2010 and the end of 2011.

  81. As far as selling the club, it will not happen, look at what the value of the franchise has risen to, especially with what the sale of the Dodgers brought.

    I don’t mean to be argumentative nor disagree with the thoughts of some, we all have our two cents, and that is fine with me.

    To simply blame this meltdown on the players, even after that pitiful showing yesterday, is not logical. The players had a bad day and did not show up. The BMTIB has not had days like that?

    Can’t fire 25 (ok, more than that) players, the problem IMO lies well above the dugout.

    Just sayin (as I duck)

  82. Biz,

    Don’t duck for me. I agree that the FO did too little in the off-season for the offense, very little for this year at the trade deadline and nothing at all for the bench. We were fortunate that the pitchers performed way above their norms to start the season, the offense had a way-above-norm spurt for a part of the season, and we had the whole way through August when we had legitimate hope of a playoff spot. Reality has struck. There isn’t enough talent yet. It was fun while it lasted, it lasted longer than last year, it still might last another couple of weeks, we just might break .500 by the skin of our teeth and there’s a lot of hope for the future (at least on the mound). So to me, there’s a lot to feel good about and this year was the best since ’97. The worrisome part is what will happen this off-season. We… need… BATS!

  83. I thought Cutch was struggling because he got beaned by Chapman?

    While Cutch has slumped, Jones, Pedro and Walker have all played pretty well (at times) during that time

  84. Wow! Dejan, you seem to have plagiarized my posts both here and last night!

    Just joshing….But you are DEFINITELY speaking my language!!

    IF (BIG IF) they can manage to win these last two and then take 2 of 3 from the Cubs, I’ll feel better. But I honestly can’t see it.

    To quote Petty, we are “Free Fallin”

    Foo Fallin

    .

  85. “both here and the PBC blog last night!

    I WAS CRANKY!!!

    .

  86. Lee! I think most of us are cranky after the BS we’ve been watching :(

  87. With all the negativity spewing about regarding the Pirates, maybe I can add a positive outlook:

    1. Maybe the lack of effort then losing to the worst team in baseball (plus getting slammed by everyone in Western PA and beyond) will get the team to get pissed and get focused. Not that they should need that, but maybe….
    2. 8 of the next 11 games are against the Astros and Cubs (also 12 of the next 18). Maybe winning some games against bad teams can get them back on track – not just winning a series, but winning 3 or 4 in a row, 8 of 10….
    3. Maybe having Marte and Walker coming back soon will help. Not sure if there is a corralation, but when Marte went down, so have the Pirates. Marte allows Jones to play first instead of Sanchez, and Walker is better than Harrison/Holt.
    4. Maybe getting Marte and Walker in the lineup puts less pressure on Cutch allowing him to prosper.

    Maybe I will hit the lottery tomorrow….

  88. and maybe I’m Mother Theresa… ;)

  89. Having a new owner with deep pockets WILL NOT solve the problem. I love when Yinzers call into sports talk shows and want Mark Cuban or some other “name” owner to buy the team. It could help in the short term to overpay for FA that are not coming here now to discount Neal’s team. But to sustain year over year competitive baseball, and 82-80 is not competitive, the Pittsburgh metro area needs to add about 1 million more headcount to the population. This will drive the local television revenue to a point where they can be competitive. A new “name” owner is not going to lose money year over year. Until there is salary cap, the Bucs will always be trying to catch lightning in a bottle.

    Of course better management decision making can help as well. $5m/yr for a light hitting, good fielding SS is not a smart investment. That’s a luxury for the big spending teams. Obviously, sink that money into starting P. Not having a catcher that can throw out a runner anywhere in the organization is also a big mistake, hello, you’re still in the NL and teams still RUN. Tell AJ to find a personal catcher that can throw out runners. And the bench support is still a mess. Harrison, Presley, Sanchez, Tabata, etc. is just not going to help. Pick one, out of that motley crew, and upgrade that in FA as well.

  90. Marte plays in State College tonight, then moves to Indy tomorrow, according to the Bucs.

  91. DK, great blog today because you pinpointed where the anger/frustration must be directed on the Pirates…and that is the effort (lack thereof) and very poor approaches evident in this game (and in a few others the past few weeks)…. and THAT is something the team (the players foremost with an assist from team leaders and management) MUST correct (and CAN) starting now.

    Unlike other blog posters who have been Jonesing so much to use their cynical armchair quarterback “hindsight is 20/20″ spew-babble, who seem to want to post so many other problems and solutions, I don’t believe that is merited. Let’s just start with the effort and approach.

    With effort and a sense of urgency and a more professional approach, I think then we let the chips fall where they may. ON paper, I really don’t think you can make a claim that the Pirates team has the advantage over the Dodgers/Cards/Braves and so if the Bucs can make the playoffs that would be a great overachievement. If not, and if they give an all-out effort, then so be it. We cheer a winning season and look forward to taking the next big step in 2013.

    But if they suck the air out of the place with their losing effort like yesterday, then clear the deck.. Sack Hurdle and the coaches and build around the players that are there… but we’d need to hire a crusty nadbuster as manager to smack some sense into the players.

  92. So there is a good chance Walker and Marte could play Friday…. I just can’t give up on the season yet….they’ve come this far…

  93. I think Frank Coonelly will resign after the season. It has nothing to do with what’s going on now. Just a feeling I’ve had for a while now. Of course, I also thought Steve Pederson would resign with a wink and a nod last summer. Just wanted to get it on the record in case I get one right for a change.

  94. “The BMTiB,INAoS biggest indictment is the lack of help that they have provided Andrew McCutchen. He’s trying to carry this team on his back, and the added pressure is causing him to struggle.”

    Sounds like MVP material to me…

    *rollseyes

    While poor Andrew has had the weight of the world on his shoulders, all Garret Jones has done is put up the 5th best OPS in the league. Just think how good he could be if Neal Huntington got him some help at the deadline!!!!

    I HATE excuses.

  95. Here is my view on what the FO did at the trade deadline.

    They got a good pitcher for the starting rotation -an established veteran.
    They added a couple of bats. Not great. But Snider is doing better than what they were getting from Tabata & Presley

    I don’t think they were going to significantly improve at shortstop and/or catcher.
    Those are the two thinnest positions in regards to talent.

  96. TC, agreed. Now put Holt at Short and leave him there!

  97. OK! But did you see my post last night —where I quoted some of the stuff on him in Pirate Prospects? SS is not his best position.

  98. then give him second…I’m sure PRNW can play short..agreed??

  99. I didn’t know the saintly mother was also, um, hot.

  100. @NMR

    Do you really think Garret Jones is better than Andrew McCutchen – is that what you are saying? Did you think that back in June and July when McCutchen carried the Pirates? Cutch has slumped over a month, and yet he still has a better average, more HRs, more RBIs – AND his OPS is .964 where Jones is .882. If Huntington had made more deals at the trade deadline, maybe Jones would be almost as good as McCutchen!!!

  101. No. I don’t think Walker could play SS….not for an extended period of time.

    I’m not real big at taking players who are established at one position and moving them to another.

  102. Well, TC, you have a point there. SO there goes THAT solution…down the drain. ::sigh::

  103. @Damon

    Great players rise to the occasion when their teams need them most. McCutchen has proven over the last 2 years that he is not a great player. When the rubber hits the road, your best players have to be your best players. McCutchen has failed this simple test. Twice.

  104. Damon, I believe you’re missing NMR’s point. Everyone has expected Cutch to shoulder the team, but it’s GI Jones who has quietly done that. Walker was on a roll until he hurt his hand as well. ALL without help.

  105. Jandy,
    Part of the problem is that Walker can’t even play second base right now.
    :-(

  106. Drew, whoever told you that…lies! :p

  107. TC, I know and this team REALLY misses him :(

  108. DK,

    Don’t you have to wonder what it is with these guys that they’re playing so poorly at this time of year, when this is the time of year that a team should be motivated to be playing it’s best baseball?? By the by, you left the “PISS POOR” description out of the pathetic part of the effort description. Could this relate back to that issue you mentioned last week about the “voluntary” charity events the players were “volunteered” to attend??

    best regards,

  109. I blame the Home Run Hitting Contest at the All Star Game.

    It made Cutch stink. It made JMac stink. It made Clint dumb.

  110. This team needs to find its intestinal fortitude!

  111. Did the players think that since Labor Day was a holiday that they were being forced to play yesterday?

  112. UGH! I need a break. Later.

  113. I don’t understand the rip on Hurdle with respect to Brock Holt. What Hurdle was quoted as saying was that Holt had an auto-take sign until he saw strike one, which he never did.

    Bottom line, for the past 5-6 weeks the team is playing poor baseball in all phases of the game. This includes most of the wins during this stretch, two of which I witnessed personally at PNC Park.

    Unfortunately, they’re looking more and more like my beer league softball team.

  114. I have no problem with Jones, McCutchen (when he is on), Walker, Snider, McHenry and though I have big problems with Pedro about half the time and most of the pitchers except AJ and a healthy Kartens, plus the bullpen. I think Brock Holt may be a keeper, but where is the rest of the team when these guys are not all on. A major league team cannot have three automatic outs at the bottom of the lineup–when the Killer Bees are both playing–and expect to win games. I also think that Hurdle, while far better than John Russell (who isn’t?), is far overrated as a manager. Too often, he is not putting the most solid team available to him on the field to play competitive baseball. He is not playing cards many days, he is just gambling!!

  115. Bucs are doing same nonsense that made them one of the worst offensive teams in the league at beginning of the year, only now we don’t have studly pitching to make up for it. I like CH, but my patience with him is dwindling nearly to the point of NH. I understand giving credit where it’s due, but talking about how Juan the plumber just embarrassed your lineup because he was hyped up and not getting into trouble and all the other excuses about how he just executed or whatever it is makes me want to puke. If pitching were so easy that you just need to be amped up, no-hitters and shutouts would be a little more common. Why can’t he just come out and say, “Yeah, we played like crap.” This wasn’t a fluke game. Other teams’ Joe Shmo’s are making us look silly too. And I don’t know why, but I get a feeling that NH goes to bed every night thinking, “Meh. Interesting loss. Can’t forget my 10am hair appointment tomorrow.”

  116. One last rant- the ROOT ad that pretty much starts out with “Be Patient” actually made me yell at my television.

  117. So Wandy is on the mound tonight. I sure hope he’s on his game.

  118. @Damon

    That isn’t anywhere close to what I was saying.

    My point was that Andrew McCutchen is to blame for Andrew McCutchen. Any excuse for his performance…pitchers pitching him different, has to carry the team, no good hitters around him, etc…is just that. An excuse.

  119. In other news, as of Friday, negotiations between the NHL and NHLPA appear to have reached an impasse. The NHL did not receive a counter-proposal from the NHLPA, and left the negotiating table frustrated and disappointed. No further talks have been scheduled between the two sides and both sides appear to be unwilling to make the first move back to the table.

    With the deadline less than two weeks away, the possibility of an NHL work-stoppage is increasing by the minute.

    DK: Month to go, RF. I’m not buying anything the owners are selling.

  120. Re – but I get a feeling that NH goes to bed every night thinking, “Meh. Interesting loss. Can’t forget my 10am hair appointment tomorrow.”

    And he slowly closes his eyes thinking, “no big deal, my contract runs till 2015….)

  121. Relentless, no hockey until November. These guys are p*ssing me off gRRR!!!

  122. @Jandy

    Wandy Rodriguez ERA by month…

    June 6.00
    July 4.72
    August 4.05

    It would be nice to get that trend off to a good start with his first outing of September.

  123. Yes, how could a major league team that has been winning all year lose to a no name pitcher? Especially with a pitcher that has pitched like a Cy Young candidate for a large part of the year.

    I am talking about the Reds losing at home to a Triple-A pitcher who throws 90 mph, making his major league debut. Reds got 4 hits, NO walks and struck out 9 times against a pitcher they should have dominated. And Cueto, who had been the pitching equivalent of Day-dro, 11-0 in day games (only 6-6 at night) before yesterday’s loss where he gave up 4 runs in his outing.

    Baseball is a game of 50/50. Teams that win 100 games still lose 4 games out of 10. This Pirate team has still not had a losing steak of more than 5 games this year.

    Maybe the effort was down yesterday. Maybe the expectations were reset based on 6 hot weeks. In a season of 162 games, a marathon, one should expect some dark times. Doesn’t mean the team can’t finish.

  124. NMR ~ sure would! We can hope!

  125. Wish we had the Reds problems.

  126. I got to work early and stopped in here around 7:00 AM.

    It was so depressing I had to leave——I decided to go to a local funeral home to get cheered up.

  127. Groat, did you see dead people????

  128. I’ll be bringing a cardboard cut out of Dave Wannstedt to the next Pitt game.

  129. @Roberto

    That AAA pitcher the Reds lost to happens to be the Phillies top pitching prospect this year. He was a combined 15-1 in AA and AAA with a 2.26 era. Cloyd has dominated for two years now. Not exactly Edgar Gonzalez-like.

    I understand the point you’re making, and actually agree with you. But there is no way you can compare Edgar Gonzalez to Tyler Cloyd.

  130. I wish we could finish like the Reds. From one game up to 11 games out in a matter of weeks.

    11-20 since August 1st. Getting whipped at home by a 42-93 team, having been swept in two of the last four series.

    This is a collapse not a sign of finishing.

  131. @ RF – Post All-Star break has been a dark time for the PBC. The second half of the season has turned into another meltdown.

    You do realize the Pirates are 12-22 since July 28th. 3-10 in their last 13. 7-11 in their past 18 at PNC Park (at one time we used to win there).

  132. @ RobertoForever (124)

    I agree with you, but the point was that it seems to be happening often, not just once.

    Now, whether the numbers actually show this trend are unknown to me and I’m too lazy to look them up.

  133. Milo, try one of Mother Theresa too ;)

  134. Dejan:

    Any idea where Gustavo Nunez is? He last played for Altoona on Thursday, and would seem to have completed his rehab period (which started in the GCL on August 13). Do they have him painting the Altoona ballpark or something?

    Thanks,

    sm

    DK: Was DFA’d.

  135. NMR@#94

    Just imagine if Jones would have been a full-time player all season instead of being a spot starter in CH’s “grand scheme”.

    Or did our crackerjack hitting coach impart some important tips in the art of hitting somewhere along the way, to have created such improvement in Jones.

    He loves – to a fault – that low pitch, and when he makes contact, it is all good.

  136. JandyGirl,

    “I saw dead people but they weren’t walking.”

    There were, however, people less depressed at the funeral home than are here today.

  137. Game thread is up…

    OO0< OO0< OO0< OO0< OO0< OO0< OO0< OO0< OO0<

  138. Groat, no doubt. But I understand the despondency here today. The boys are falling off…yet again…and time is running out.

    Sure, I’m happy withthe improvement over last season, but we got a taste of MORE and now we want MORE.

  139. @DK – I am not buying it, either. Even with salaries capped at 46% of HRR, a significant number of teams would still not turn a profit. In fact, it would take salaries capped at 25% of HRR for teams like Phoenix to be able to see any profit. The league is generating record revenue numbers, but the majority of the revenue is realized by a select few franchises. Unless teams like Toronto, NYR, Montreal, and Vancouver are willing to share a larger percentage of their revenue with those less fortunate, these salary reduction discussions are of little significance.

    That being said, I am not at all pleased with the way Donald Fehr has handled negotiations from the NHLPA’s perspective. It’s one thing to play hardball when you’re representing the MLBPA, but the NHL has no fear of a work-stoppage.

  140. Relentless ~ “It’s one thing to play hardball when you’re representing the MLBPA, but the NHL has no fear of a work-stoppage.”

    Well, maybe they should, because I guarantee you, this time I’m going to take it personal, and quit supporting the NHL. I hope more fans do the same.

  141. There is nothing to fear but Fehr himself.

  142. <>

    That’s a shame. Thanks!

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