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Morning Java: When the headline says it all …

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

Morning, Lunatics …

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>> What, you want more than just that outstanding front page by the Trib sports staff and on-site photographer Christopher Horner?

OK, we’ve got more on the Pirates and the P-word from Wrigley …

‘This is something we haven’t done in a whole generation.’ Rob Biertempfel has an above-and-beyond game story from the Confines.

‘Something told me to go there.’ Travis Sawchik breaks down Justin Morneau’s brilliance on the final out. And that’s not hyperbole.

Wait up on that playoff rotation. Sawchik has the news.

An extensive photo gallery from Horner, including this toast to A.J. …

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And these matching fist-pumps from Jason Grilli and Russell Martin

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And this leaping high-five from the home-run hero …

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A video of a hoarse, soaked Clint Hurdle

And a fun talk with franchise lifer Jeff Banister

Here’s our full Pirates coverage.

Here’s Cubs news from the Chicago Tribune.

Here are official game highlights from MLB.com.

>> I’ll be fascinated today by Mike Tomlin’s news conference, and that’s not something anyone says too often. Here’s why: When a reporter asked him last week what would change with the Steelers at 0-2, he tersely responded, “Nothing.” I’m off today, but I’d imagine he’ll get that same question again from someone else.

Digging into the ‘deep hole.’ Alan Robinson brings the shovel.

Ben Roethlisberger felt the Bears’ heat. Mark Kaboly dissects it in another excellent Steelers Film Session.

Takeaways, anyone? Ralph Paulk counts to zero.

Here’s our full Steelers coverage.

Here’s the latest on the Vikings from the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

>> Robert Bortuzzo is getting lots of ice. Can he stick with the Penguins? Josh Yohe reports.

Kris Letang was a two-goal force in beating the Blackhawks. Rob Rossi covers.

Here’s our full Penguins coverage.

Here are official game highlights from NHL.com.

>> I’m off again today, back at it tomorrow with the radio show, then boarding a plane for a very, very long flight to a very, very special stadium.

Author: Dejan Kovacevic

Dejan Kovacevic, a lifelong Pittsburgher, is an award-winning sports columnist for Trib Total Media covering the Steelers, Penguins, Pirates, Pitt and more, including his fourth Olympics in Sochi, Russia. He also appears on WPXI-TV's 'Subway Final Word’ and hosts a weekly show on TribLIVE Radio. For 2011, he was named one of the top four columnists in the country -- highest circulation category -- by the AP Sports Editors. For 2012, he was named one of the top three columnists in the country by the National Headliners Awards. For 2013, he was named top columnist in the state by the Keystone Awards and second-place by the Pennsylvania AP Managing Editors.

513 Comments

  1. + Absobucnlutely!

  2. Here are the current up-to-date standings.
    This includes the Monday game as well as the 2nd Half of the season total wins line.

    THANKS AS ALWAYS TO ALL WHO HAVE PLAYED THIS YEAR
    YOU ALL ROCK!!

    Go Bucs!!

    TOP SCORES IN SEPTEMBER
    stuart66 ~ 500
    RobertoForever ~ 250
    TCB ~ 250
    cherokee23 ~ 250
    Dom ~ 225
    bman ~ 200
    kr70 ~ 200
    Jandy ~ 200

    CURRENT PARTICIPANT TOTALS
    bman ~ 2905
    JRay3 ~ 1875
    War Horse ~ 1565
    Nor Cal Stlrfanrc (Ryan) ~ 1475
    JUCOFan ~ 1300
    Nate83 ~ 1025
    blazer ~ 950
    Dadtackular ~ 900
    KJX ~ 750
    RobertoForever ~ 740
    fellocolonial ~ 700
    TCB ~ 650
    stickyweb ~ 650
    Ermine ~ 600
    Chico ~ 600
    theplanisworking ~ 525
    Irish ~ 425
    cherokee23 ~ 400
    JohninOshkosh ~ 335
    EricBowser ~ 325
    OZ ~ 300
    kr70 ~ 300
    Bill Born ~ 230
    Hal Smith ~ 200
    Evan ~ 200
    Boise Bucco ~ 200
    tdb1977 ~ 185
    steelercrazy ~ 100
    PetroSteel ~ 100
    Damon ~ 100
    A1C McG ~ 100
    mlrgenuine ~ 50
    MarkV ~ 50
    Vette60 (Randy in RVA) ~ 0
    stuart66 ~ 0
    pants-n-at ~ 0
    Fish ~ 0
    Dom ~ 0
    Big B ~ 0
    Ruffian706 ~ -40
    Pucknutz ~ -50
    JoeyBats ~ -75
    Ben ~ -80
    Kevin S ~ -100
    John in WM ~ -100
    Dcpinpgh ~ -100
    Brian ~ -100
    Alexandre Giesbrecht ~ -100
    Matt hoffman ~ -150
    Ghost ~ -150
    buggee ~ -150
    buffalo_bob ~ -150
    TJ ~ -200
    Ryan76 ~ -200
    Rick in Crete ~ -200
    DormontGeorge ~ -200
    Arriba Wilver ~ -200
    tmp444 ~ -225
    BDHumbert ~ -225
    Patrick ~ -250
    Frankie ~ -250
    Drew71 ~ -250
    toochca ~ -300
    Steve J. Smith ~ -300
    Joey Mellons ~ -300
    cmat0829 ~ -300
    absolute59 ~ -350
    DemonDachshund ~ -450
    TK ~ -500
    The Gunner ~ -500
    Keith ~ -550
    radio wave ~ -575
    Jandy ~ -575
    JaxBuc ~ -650
    Jason81 ~ -700
    Karen22 ~ -950
    Brandie ~ -975
    cosmo ~ -1000
    pattonbb ~ -1050
    JMB ~ -1350
    Kevin ~ -1535
    Lad9 ~ -2100
    JD ~ -2275
    Bizrow ~ -5000

    ***The Most Points for the end of SEPTEMBER will win:***
    (1) PITTSBURGH PIRATES BUMPER STICKER
    https://twitter.com/TheBuccoWindow/status/323996932466962432

    First Place at the end of the season will win:
    (1) BRAND NEW PITTSBURGH PIRATES FITTED NEW ERA 59FIFTY HAT
    https://twitter.com/TheBuccoWindow/status/323994233155485698

    Second Place at the end of the season will win:
    (1) BRAND NEW PITTSBURGH PIRATES EARTH DAY GIVEAWAY HAT
    https://twitter.com/TheBuccoWindow/status/323994373731794947

    Third Place at the end of the season will win:
    (1) PITTSBURGH PIRATES LICENSE PLATE FRAME
    https://twitter.com/TheBuccoWindow/status/323994796970627072

    Fourth Place at the end of the season will win:
    (1) PITTSBURGH PIRATES BUMPER STICKER
    https://twitter.com/TheBuccoWindow/status/323996932466962432

    Fifth Place at the end of the season will win:
    (1) PITTSBURGH PENGUINS BUMPER STICKER
    https://twitter.com/TheBuccoWindow/status/323996735837982720

  3. Great stuff.

    For the past hour I’ve been thinking, “I’ll just stay up five more minutes.”

  4. It’s finally come. After 21 long years. Playoff baseball again for the Pirates. No more hearing jokes about how pathetic the Pirates are. No more agonizing over yet another losing season. Even if it ends up being just one game, that one game will be a vindication of sticking it out all this time.

    I really was going to quit following this team after last season. I’m glad I stuck around for the ride, how ever far it may go the rest of the way.

  5. So Mark Melancon blew another save. I tell you what, though: Melancon stood in the breach when Grilli went down and we needed Melancon the most. I hope he gets straightened out for the playoffs and we have our dynamic duo back in full force. But if not, Melancon has sort of been like that police cruiser in the Blues Brothers. Elwood and Jake beat the h3ll out of it, yet it held together all the way until the very end. And only then, when it was no longer needed, it collapsed into pieces. Grilli is back. Melancon held together for us till now.

    • Grilli is back… yet it was very telling that they sent Watson out for the first batter in the 9th. I understood the reasons. In fact, it made total sense to do that.

      Another thing… Charlie was absobucnlutely fantastic last night. And yet he doesn’t get the win. In fact, we almost blew up and threw away another game. We won anyway but I’d rather see our star pitchers get credit when they keep the other team scoreless for 7 innings.

  6. In late September 1938, Gabby Hartnett’s “Homer in the Gloamin’” at Wrigley Field derailed the Pirates’ pennant chances. 75 years later, the Pirates exact some measure of revenge by popping Champagne in the Wrigley visitor’s clubhouse. A great night for all Pirates fans!!!

  7. Thanks to Dejan and everyone on this blog. I have been negative a lot but tonight erases everything. I was 12 when the bucs last made the playoffs. I work at 9am today but it hardly matters.

  8. It’s been a long time coming.
    Each and every Pirate fan should enjoy it!

  9. It’s almost embarrassing how lucky we are as fans of Pittsburgh sports.

  10. OH HE!! YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  11. Now that the Playoff stigma is gone, and the Pirates are in, I’m hoping they will make one final relaxed push to close out the season and see what happens.

  12. CONGRATS to ALL of our Pirates….around the country & around the world…. :-)
    .
    Beat Em Bucs !

  13. “Boarding a plane for a very, very long flight to a very, very special stadium.”

    McKechnie, huh?

    Great. Look me up.

  14. Isn’t hitting the cutoff man about as common anymore as the two handed catch?

    Good for them. Knickers, knee socks and playoffs.

  15. JAL’s Rain Dance Morning Links

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=223ge81zXMk

    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 Pittsburgh Pirates Stats

    https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AsjN0zO-DxI0dHVOMzdPYm9wUEJtdVJ0WWUzVWhFc2c#gid=0

    BLOGS and such

    4—Pirates Prospects

    First Pitch: Proud to Be Part of an Amazing Pirates Community

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/09/first-pitch-jeff-lockes-season-should-be-over.html

    A Marte Partay, a Block, Electric Stuff, But Morneau’s Defense Was the Key

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/09/a-martepartay-a-block-electricstuff-but-morneaus-defense-was-the-key.html

    The Pirates Want to Keep Burnett, and They Have the Money For It

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/09/the-pirates-want-to-keep-burnett-and-they-have-the-money-for-it.html

    5 Bucs Dugout

    9th-inning drama leads to Pirates win, playoff berth

    http://www.bucsdugout.com/2013/9/22/4759732/pirates-disappoint-in-final-home-game-of-regular-season-drubbed-by

    A guess at the Pirates’ roster for the one-game playoff

    http://www.bucsdugout.com/2013/9/23/4763036/a-guess-at-the-pirates-roster-for-the-one-game-playoff

    6 Rumbunter

    ABSO-BUCIN-LUTELY! The Pittsburgh Pirates Are Back!

    http://rumbunter.com/2013/09/24/abso-bucin-lutely-pittsburgh-pirates-back/

    W’sup with Backend of Pirates Bullpen ?

    http://rumbunter.com/2013/09/24/wsup-backend-pirates-bullpen/

    7 WHYGAVS

    The Pirates are going to the playoffs

    http://www.whygavs.com/pittsburgh-pirates/september-2013/the-pirates-are-going-to-the-playoffs.html

    8 The Green Weenie

    Bucs In Playoffs With Big Finish 2-1 Win

    http://oldbucs.blogspot.com/2013/09/bucs-in-playoffs-with-big-finish-2-1-win.html

    9 Raise the Jolly Roger

    Pirates 2, Cubs 1

    http://raisethejollyroger.com/2013/09/pirates-2-cubs-1-2/

    10 City of Champions

    Russell Martin holds on as Starling Marte homer lifts Pirates to playoffs

    http://cityofchampionssports.com/2013/09/23/martin-holds-marte-homer-lifts-bucs-playoffs/

  16. NEWSPAPERS and MAGAZINES and Other Media

    11 Chicago Tribune

    Cubs’ 2-1 loss helps put Pirates in playoffs

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/baseball/cubs/ct-spt-0924-cubs-pirates-chicago-20130924,0,256244.story

    12 IS Sports

    Pittsburgh Pirates: Did A.J. Burnett make his last start at PNC Park?

    http://isportsweb.com/2013/09/23/pittsburgh-pirates-did-a-j-burnett-make-his-last-start-at-pnc-park/

    13 Washington Post

    Nationals vs. Cardinals: Washington eliminated from playoff picture with 4-3 loss

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/nationals/nationals-vs-cardinals-washington-eliminated-from-playoff-picture-with-4-2-loss/2013/09/23/a0b242ca-24be-11e3-b3e9-d97fb087acd6_story.html

    14 Cincinnati Enquirer

    Extra innings win sends Reds to playoffs

    http://news.cincinnati.com/article/20130923/SPT04/309230150

    15 Globe and Mail

    Blair: Pirates emerging from the shadows in Pittsburgh

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/sports/baseball/blair-pirates-emerging-from-the-shadows-in-pittsburgh/article14489427/

    16 CBS Sports

    Pirates v Cubs Game Preview

    http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/gametracker/preview/MLB_20130924_PIT@CHC

    17 St Louis Post Dispatch

    Cards keep two-game edge

    http://www.stltoday.com/sports/baseball/professional/cards-keep-two-game-edge/article_3e4a6dc2-a0d6-5450-9eda-3d20ca0bdf3a.html

    18 PBC Site

    Raise the Jolly Roger! Pirates return to playoffs

    http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/gameday/index.jsp?gid=2013_09_23_pitmlb_chnmlb_1&mode=recap_away&c_id=pit

    Bucs celebrate, then resume pursuit of Central title

    http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article/pit/pirates-celebrate-playoff-berth-then-resume-pursuit-of-nl-central-title?ymd=20130924&content_id=61545120&vkey=news_pit

    SPORTS WEBSITES

    19 Baseball Prospectus

    Pedro Hernandez and the Rashomon Project

    http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=21864

    20 Fangraphs

    Stealing a Base, with Billy Hamilton and Jose Molina

    http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/stealing-a-base-with-billy-hamilton-and-jose-molina/

  17. Steelers Blogs

    21 Behind the Steel Curtain

    Bears vs. Steelers: reflecting back on a butt-kicking

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2013/9/23/4762438/steelers-bears-game-recap-analysis

    Antonio Brown got the damn ball

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/latest-news/2013/9/23/4761682/steelers-bears-week-3-nfl-statistics

    22 Steelers Gab

    Jerome Bettis Tells Steelers Fans To Not Give Up Hope

    http://www.steelersgab.com/2013/09/23/jerome-bettis-tells-steelers-fans-to-not-give-up-hope/

    Soccer(football)

    23 London Evening Standard

    Jose Mourinho hails Sir Bobby Robson’s influence

    http://www.standard.co.uk/sport/football/jose-mourinho-hails-sir-bobby-robsons-influence-8835127.html

    24 World Soccer Daily

    World Soccer Daily: 10 stories you need to read, 23rd September, 2013

    http://www.worldsoccer.com/247/world-soccer-daily-10-stories-you-need-to-read-23rd-september-2013

    PENGUIN BLOGS and NHL Links

    25 Pensburgh

    Penguins’ Zatkoff, Letang Steal 3-2 SO Win from Blackhawks’ B-Squad

    http://www.pensburgh.com/2013/9/23/4764086/penguins-zatkoff-letang-steal-3-2-so-win-from-blackhawks-b-squad

  18. I have been extremely busy lately, so I haven’t been able to post. I am halpy we made the playoffs, but still holding out hope for the division!

  19. Wearing my Pirate shirt with ALL KINDS OF PRIDE today.

    And yes, Caps were needed.

  20. With five games left, the Pirates have clinched the second wild card, their magic number to host the wild card game is 6 (vs. Reds), and to win the division is 8 (vs. Cardinals).

  21. “for an organization as storied as ours…”

    Very happy for Jeff Banister.

    Nice work by Rob Biertempfel

  22. Ill take Frankie in one game any day of the week. If we lose it’s still the sweetest year in a long long time. That monkey crawled off the Pirates back at 82 wins…The rest is Gravy

  23. Love the irony that the playoff curse was broken by a play at the plate involving their best player.

    • This looks slightly familiar…………… like someone posted this before……… ;)

        • Hello quiet Nun. Shhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

          Glad the drama is over. Great last play of the game last night.
          Nice job done by ROOT last night with the celebration in the locker room. Caught the emotions of the players very well. Very cool that the Fort, even though he is on the DL, is included in everything the team does.

          One thing I didnt see last night was AJ on Twitter……….. ;)

          ROOT should have made the long-suffering Pirate fans as players of the game………. for sticking with the team for 20 years of ugh.

          I watched The Blacklist last night……. when it was over, I watched the 9th inning. :)

          • Quiet? me? ;
            Yes, a GREAT win for our boys. Happy for them, but happier for US, especially the fans that suffered thru 20 consecutive losing seasons.

            Fort should be included, he helped get them where they are. Same for Lunchbox an Harrison, and all the gang.

            Now, on to win the next game. and the next…

            • Yeah, I forgot you are never quiet…………..

              I wonder if Milo got to drink his 21-year old LaBatt’s last night ;)

              Hey, behave yourself if you can……… I am outta here. See you later, troublemaker (and you get a pass today, I think DK is flying to London)…………. ;)

              • haha the Boss was on a roll yesterday. And I escaped a bold reaming last night…lucky me…
                but behave? H*ll no! :P
                Enjoy the day, Hipposter :*

  24. Love David Schoenfield’s line…

    “Just your typical 9-8-3-2 putout.”

    • Kinda funny the 9-8-3-2 was your franchise player and three guys who weren’t on the roster last year. Somehow, someway ‘winners’ always are in the mix and figure out a way to win.

      • These Buccos have been pulling wins outta their behinds all season long. A different hero every night…and last night featured several. ;D

  25. Ray Srearage had the best reaction to thee champagne shower…saw that on MLB TV’s quick pitch.

  26. Happy Tuesday Morning! A thought I had last night after the clincher: How ironic is this that the final play WAS AT THE PLATE? Hmmmm… Wonderful game…wonderful win…wonderful team…wonderful fans who stuck through things for 20 years… Congrats to All!

  27. In the last few years, the Brewers, Expos/Nationals and Orioles have ended long droughts without playoff appearances. Now it’s the Pirates turn.

    Toronto and KC fans have to watch their respective teams’ long streaks continue.

    Congratulations to the PBC! Last time they were in I wasn’t married, had no kids, did not own a house, drove a 1978 car and thought my current age was over the hill!

  28. Some sombering thoughts…

    As good as life is to be a Pirates fan…we also now have the Steelers. They of the 0-3 lousy line, no pressure defense Steelers!

    As good as life is to be a Pirates fan…Pitt gave up 55 points to DUKE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    As good as life is to be a Pirates fan…Fleury still resides between the pipes and the Pens safety net is in the hospital.

    I hope the Boys of Summer enjoyed their bounty last night and get right back on the horse today. I hope Cole doesn’t let off the gas.

  29. No more worst anything. Pirates playoffs, no more Slumber and Frightening. Long standing Pirate fans can now have peace.

  30. What is “playoff?” Is it something new?

  31. Woohoo, the Pirates have clinched a single playoff game that may not even take place at PNC Park!

    Sorry to be a downer, but while I enjoyed watching the celebration, that was my first thought afterwards. Hopefully the Bucs will not fall victim to the absurdity of this playoff system and will at least get to participate in a real series. It will be fun to watch.

    • You’re only downing yourself, friend. We choose to be happy. Those who don’t, lose out :D

    • I’m w. Scott. The play-in game isnt really the playoffs.

      I’m happy for the shot, but getting into the NLDS will be what makes me really excited.

      I saw all the talk of how the Braves felt like it wasnt really the playoffs last yr, so I’ll defer to their exp.

    • Can’t say I haven’t thought the same thing, but right after it dawned on me that it is WAY better than what we got for twenty years! :)

    • I don’t mind this current playoff system. And actually, I am tired of hearing players and commentators whine about the one game wild card game. Lots of teams are sitting home while the wild card teams still have a shot.

      And it would be nice for another home game, but if the Steelers make the playoffs and don’t have a home game, fans are disappointed but still seem to happy they’re in.

      • I’m with you, TC. It’s just like previous division ties were settled with a one game playoff. Red Sox / Yankees comes to mind. I bet that felt like the playoffs. Embrace the system, have some fun, and see how many games the Pirates can win. If the Braves are so snobby that it did not feel like the playoffs, that’s their problem.

      • Not the same thing at all. In football you get a maximum of four playoff games, and one of those is a neutral site. There is never a guaranteed expectation of a home game. Baseball provides a chance for up to 20 playoff games and has a lengthy history of best of 7 series that shift back and forth between the teams’ parks. Getting a single playoff game in a road ballpark would be a cruel joke. I’m thrilled the Bucs are in but we didn’t wait 21 years for a mere nine innings of playoff baseball!

        Imagine if the NFL added an extra wild card team but decided that the bottom two wild cards would now play a single quarter of football to determine who moves on to the next round. That’s what this play-in game is like.

    • Well the other alternative with the old playoff system could have the Pirates outside the playoffs looking in. The 5th place team will be happy the 4th place team not so much.

      Could you imagine if this was happening under the old system. The next 5 games would all feel like playoff games.

    • I agree with Scott. I’m reveling in the joy of a playoff appearance, but in the back of my mind, the stupidity of MLB management in having a one game playoff is throbbing away. I like the second wild card concept to balance out the one wildcard, but why not make it a 3 game series?

      • It makes winning the Division more of a priority. If you’re not going to win the Division, ” here’s what you got.” I don’t have a problem with it. And it was collectively bargained.

  32. I like this one too

    • Benny Benack band, 1960

      • Thanks for posting this. Five-year-old me rode around Kinloch in the back of my Uncle Lou’s truck in ’60, me singing this as loud as I could. I think I’ll share it with the sixteen-year-old when he gets home tonight.

        Sweet memories made sweeter by the intoxicating possibilities of the future.

  33. I am of the opinion that there is no reality like a 1 game playoff! The ultimate in adrenalin boosts.

  34. Driving south on A1A. Next stop Vero Beach.

    Ghosts of Dodger Town. The Boys of Summer.

    Reese and Robinson and Furillo are long gone, but Vero Beach and Brooklyn have come back.

    And so too have the Pirates.

    It’s raining. It’ll pass.

    Halfway there. Enjoying the ride.

  35. I highly recommend the link above to the article on Bucs Dugout that attempts to predict the playoff roster for the play-in game. Since you can change your playoff roster for each round, the roster for the play-in game is going to be really weird. AJ Burnett and Gerrit Cole won’t even be on it, since you don’t need 5 starting pitchers for one game, and that opens potential roster spots for guys like Felix Pie and a third catcher.

    Hopefully Clint and Neal have been studying this stuff and will maximize the roster to have pinch hitters and pinch runners and defensive replacements available for every possible scenario that could come up in the game.

  36. BTW, I always knew Adam LaRoche would have something to do with the Pirates reaching the playoffs. Just, of course, not this way. Thanks, Adam, for the popout!

  37. Wow…21 years ago, I was still working my first job (as a budding journalist, no less), engaged to be married, watching Sid hit home plate. Now, watching Nate Schierholz get blocked by Russell Martin…married, w/ 2 kids & nowhere near the journalism field…don’t care if they only make the “wildcard” game; it’s a playoff game. I’m thrilled.

  38. Did you all see what few fans the Reds had at their game yesterday? Going into last night’s game, the fans knew that their team could have and eventually did clinch a playoff spot, just like the Pirates did and they not only didn’t sell out but it didn’t appear anywhere remotely close to that. I know Cinci is more of a football town but sheesh, the stadium didn’t even look ½ full. Stan Savern even made a sarcastic remark about this in the post game coverage.

    Was there a reason for this?

    I assume it was cold there but IMO, unless there a very unseasonal blizzard in September or an untimely earthquake there shouldn’t be so few fans in their stadium on a night a playoff berth is possible.

  39. Questions: Think the pressure is on the Cardinals now? Reds? Think the Pirates are more relaxed now that they have a spot in the post and can finish the job (division title)?

  40. We were babysitting our nieces that fateful night 21 years ago, and I remember my wife got a little upset because I was watching the game instead of playing Monopoly. I remember telling her “Dear, this is the playoffs. You never know when we’ll be back in again.”

    What a sweet ride this year has been, And being with you Lunnies has made it even better. And it ain’t over yet. We will play at least one very meaningful game in October.

    Go Bucs!

  41. Actually, Dom, Cincinnati is more of a baseball fan. If the Bengals don’t have high hopes for a season, they never sell out. Cincinnati being a football town is a total myth. Now, if the Bengals start stacking winning seasons, then every NFL city is a football town.

    They have averaged over 30,000 this year, but I agree with you about last night and down the stretch. The excitement does not seem to be there for Reds fans this year. Heck, Wrigley Field was pretty packed last night even and the Reds had a ton of empty seats. I wonder what the atmosphere will be like in Cincy this weekend.

    • Thanks for the info. I had no idea. I assumed they were a football town b/c of last night’s attendance.

      • I would say Cleveland is definitely a football town – win or lose. But, Cincinnati is more known for baseball. They produce a ton of MLB talent down there, and the fan support is traditionally pretty good. I agree with you about down the stretch, though. The Reds fans have not shown up in big numbers. I guess it is more of an expectation that the playoffs were a given.

        I would also say that I think Bengals fans are excited now.

    • Cincy’s been there before. I doubt a wildcard play-in game thrills them. If they still have a shot at the division this weekend the atmosphere should be fine.

  42. Fox Sports’ Jay Glazer is reporting that Le’Veon Bell will play on Sunday in London.

  43. Starling Marte returns … in a very big way!

    I know all we clinched last night was 1 more game on Monday. I know that game might not be at home. I know it could all be over on Tuesday. But, I am thrilled. I expected a winning season this year, but I did not expect 90+ wins. I thought that would come next year or the year after when some of the other young stud pitchers and Gregory Polanco joined Cole on the Bucs. This team is way ahead of my schedule. 90+ wins is quite an accomplishment. And it is not over yet! I never count them out because they never allow themselves to be counted out.

    Most likely, it wil come down to whichever team wins the series in Cincy will get the 1 game playoff at home. This will be very interesting to see how Clint sets up the rotation. Great week ahead … followed by hopefully more great weeks ahead! One thing is for sure, this team will battle to the end. Go Bucs!

  44. Matt Hoffman – I saw you posted earlier today. As we get closer to the end of the week, if the Bucs get that home game, and if you are still going to PNC to see them … we still have our deal so maybe you can give me a work address. I hope you are jacked up!

  45. I’m all verklempt this morning. That is all! :)

  46. “Teams like the Pirates make the playoffs every year.” Maybe I can put that one away for a while.

  47. Breaking news: In honor of the pirates first trip to the post-season in 21 years, the steelers will lose the rest of their games to win the #1 overall pick in the 2014 draft.

  48. Temper your enthusiasms bucco fans! Ebrybody knows the pirates should have 100 wins already. I don’t blame all the losses on Hurdle maybe just 10 or so that should have been wins. 10 more wins and we win the division handily and have home field advantage throughout the playoffs. Instead, we are battling the Reds right down to the last game to see who gets to play the wild card at home or hoping the cards will stumble (they wont).

      • Well…? even 5 more wins ties us for the best record in baseball with the socks. We’ve blown 3 games in the past week… only one which I would label as Clint’s fault. And blown games happen… I just think.. we were 19 games over .500 by the all star break… since then we’ve only improved to 23 games over .500. I firmly believe this team has the capability and the talent to win more games… With the margin of victory being so small in most of those games, they could have easily won 5 more. Although I guess it balances out, they could have also lost 5 more pre-allstar break.

      • The troll is strong in this one.

        • bah.. not trolling.. just looking back with my 20/20 vision and wondering what if this or that went differently… it didn’t so not much use to it. But its still fun to wonder.

          • Sorry, Kev. We can disagree without calling you a troll. I honestly thought you were trying to rile up the Clint Hurdle fans, as sometimes happens on the blog.

            I’ll agree that it is interesting to look back on the missed opportunities.

            • Good points, Kevin. At the same time, most teams (except maybe that Yankees team that won 114 games) could find a few missed opportunities during the season. Perhaps it says something about this team that we can remember and single out the missed opportunities rather than have all memories roll into one, leaving us shaking our collective heads and lamenting the season that got away.

              • I agree Tom. And I’m lamenting that we are settling and celebrating a wild card slot. It would be much sweeter if we were celebrating a division win. But also it is much much sweeter compared to last year and not even caring at this point in September about the coming weekend.

            • NMR, Hurdle turtles think he is the reason they have their first winning season since 1992. Whereas I think Hurdle is the reason we are not winning the division since 1992. Not really much difference. I think a true Hurdle hater still blames him for all 67 losses. blaming him for 5-10 losses is alot more reasonable IMO.

  49. My first analysis of that final play was, “Well isn’t that perfect! After 20 years of bad luck, they get lucky in about 4 different ways on that play. It’s some sort of perfect symmetrical symbolism that it ended that way!”

    But then I thought more about it and figured it this way. It wasn’t luck. It was having good players all over the field. Cutch is right there and, with haste throws a low, one-hop strike toward home. Morneau is where he is not out of luck but out of being a smart player. He makes a perfect pivot and throw. Martin is right where he should be, catches the ball and slaps that tag.

    It wasn’t back luck for 20 years, and it wasn’t good luck last night. It wasn’t Adrian Brown throwing that same ball halfway up the first base line, and Big Country standing at first watching the play unfold, and Ryan Doumit dropping the throw. It was quality players making winning plays. For the 90th time.

    The play represented one thing. Good players win. Way to go, Huntington.

    • On that 4-3-6 double play, I loved the way Morneau calmly took two steps to the left before completing the throw to second to improve his angle and avoid the runner. Most FBs would have rushed the throw and maybe hjit the runner. Veteran play.

      Stuart

      • Thought the same thing.

      • I was thinking the guy some on this blog did not want retired with his steady play the guy so many on this blog were clamoring for before the trade deadline. Weird, wonderful play.

      • He also deftly handled a pretty tricky hop off the mound.

        • That was my first thought. His short-hop pick of Pedro’s low throw earlier was also All-Star caliber. Funny that I guy the Pirates acquired for his bat has amassed only 2 RBIs this month. Yet, he still finds a way to contribute. That’s what winning teams do (or at least as I remember. It has been 20 years, after all), finding a different hero every night.

    • Love the Adrian Brown and Big Country references, scapper.

    • A sign on the locker room wall when I was in junior high school said, “Luck is when preparation meets opportunity.” That play was several years in the making.

  50. My youngest was not quite one year old when Sid slud. Now he’s a senior at Pitt & saw more games at PNC this year than his dad. I’m glad I was able to pass on my love of the game to him.

    Now all of us Long Suffering Fans are at the final base camp before the summit. Lets keep climbing!

    Stuart

  51. There is a cosmic beauty about baseball, unlike any other sport.

    The 84 Cubs broke a 39 year (!) playoff drought at-wait for it-TRS in Pittsburgh.

  52. I haven’t read the above comments yet, but anyone else not have the video of the “hoarse, soaked Clint Hurdle? I have two videos back-to-back with Jeff Bannister, and …

    Something I read by another Pirates fan, posted on my Facebook news feed: PLEASE don’t tell me anyone else in Pirate World has said the play at the plate last night was not ONLY sweet irony for the play at the plate in 1992 (I can see that) but that “two years ago a play at the plate after 19 innings cost the Pirates another season.” PLEASE, GOD! That is SO way, way over the top of reality!

  53. I know it was only against the Cubs last night, but I thought last night’s play by the Bucs was playoff baseball. Great pitching, great defense and a couple of homers for offense. Who knows?

    • Anything can happen, Arriba!

    • One thing I do know is that the Bucs have hit each one of the Reds starters, even as recently as last weekend.

      The Reds cannot say the same about Francisco Liriano.

      The Pirates are not the team that should be overly worried about a one-game playoff.

      • It is a weird dynamic this weekend. You play 3, and then either stay put for another one or head to the other town. If one team sweeps the other one, does that mean anything? If the Bucs take 2 of 3, and get the home game, that hardly ensures a victory in PNC after last weekend. Do the small skirmishes from the brush backs and HBP last weekend play into it? Does Dusty say something stupid leading up to Game 1 this weekend? Or, should I say WHEN Dusty says something stupid, does that mean anything?

        This will be fascinating.

        • Jim, I was thinking this morning that this weekend’s series may be a best of three series to decide which team gets home field advantage for the one-game wild card playoff. Or, depending on how things play out with the Cardinals, a best of three series to decide who gets to host a one-game playoff for the division against St, Louis. Fascinating.

          Makes me wish I lived in the Central Time Zone so that the games would end earlier and I could get to bed on time.

      • I agree NMR but it is still scary. I will say this. It will be extremely exciting. Even more exciting then playing an entire series. It immediately has a feel of a final game of a series.

        The wildcard play-in game is new and we don’t really know how it will affect the playoffs but I definately think it can give the team that wins that game momentum going into the next series. Especially in the NL where it looks like the 5 playoff teams will finish within 3 or 4 games of each other. The teams should in theory be pretty evenly matched and momentum could be a huge thing.

  54. On the 9-8-3-2….Cutch made a nice throw to the infield…Morneau…by God’s design and his own instincts at the right place (where he normally wouldn’t be) snags that catch and in turn, makes a perfect throw to Martin…who by God’s design and by his own admission on both knees to block the runner…makes the catch and holds onto the ball…my question is…does any of our other catchers finish the play???
    Amazing.

  55. I hate to get too optimistic after one swing of Marte’s bat, but after seeing Tabata completely give up an at bat, IMO, after he didn’t like the check swing call for strike two last night, and seeing him lollygag after a bloop shallow and to his right on Sunday, I’m ready to just go back to Marte for the duration, assuming his hand can absorb that kind of activity. And he was doing some pretty aggressive high fiving with that hand after the game.

    • Yes yes yes..Marte looks ready.
      Tabby filled in well, and hate to just drop him but, what’s a manager to do??

      • Tabby is just never going to win at this point with the fans.

        Marte got picked off first – twice – as a pinch runner since returning. And some are ready to put Tabby on the bench for “lollygagging”.

        People are going to see what they want.

        • Tabby has had a bunch of big hits, especially the last month. I feel like he is maybe turning a confidence corner. He just had a bad night against a pitcher with nasty stuff last night.

        • Let’s be clear instead of reading what you want to read. I don’t want Tabby on the bench for “lollygagging.” I want Marte starting, assuming he’s healthy, because I think Tabata sometimes gives poor effort and I really think he quit in that at bat that I mentioned. I also think Marte is a better defensive player, never gives less than 100%, runs faster and can steal bases, and if he can get his bat going, I think he brings more to the team than Tabata. I’d like to see Marte get a lot of at bats before we get to the playoffs because I think he’s the better option overall.

          I don’t like that Marte has gotten picked off and I have criticized him for it although sometimes, when a lefty is on the hill, a manager will give an instruction to just go as soon as the leg moves. It’s a risk. Maybe that ‘s what happened maybe it didn’t. But do not categorize me as a fan that sees what I want see. I criticize players when I think they deserve it as well as praise them. And I’ve praised Tabata and he has done great at times but sometimes I think he slips back as soon as he gets a little miffed about something not going his way. I think Cutch is our best player and one of the best players in baseball but I don’t think he’s a very good outfielder. He doesn’t come in well on line drives, he still makes throws on a fly, and as we recently saw, he didn’t get behind a routine flyball so that he could make a better throw home.

          I don’t get emotionally tied to players because that can cloud objectivity.

          • Oh boy, another unemotional, objective observer.

            But are you dispassionate?

          • I agree with you on Marte bringing much more to the party (or should I say Partay?), 21. If both guys are going right, I think Marte is the guy. He does everything better than Tabby except for patience at the plate (which is a huge component of hitting, btw). Tabby has done well in Marte’s absence, IMO. But, I think he’s a 4th OF on this team, now and after Polanco arrives.

            I also agree that Tabby is not as mentally strong or focused, or whatever you want to call it. He seems to still have the occasional lapses – or so it appears to my eyes. Doesn’t mean he isn’t a viable major leaguer. Just means, IMO, he has a ways to go maturity-wise. I think he is more confident, though, than he was a month ago. He has come through when they really needed it several times.

            • Agreed. You know, when I saw him what I think was lollygag Sunday after that bloop, I really didn’t think anything of it. But last night when he quit and I really think he did after they called the check swing on him for strike 2, that pushed my button.

            • Not as mentally strong as Marte?

              Starling Marte?

              Whew.

              • This is just speculation based on what I see and read. But, when I saw that AB in Wrigley in July, I thought it showed that Marte has some serious stones. He flails at a lot of pitches, but my take is he stays pretty determined. When he screwed up the fly ball in St. Louis, he came right back and had a big night the next one, if I recall. I don’t know for sure if that equates to mental toughness. But, that’s what I see. He doesn’t seem to let bad plays get him down for long.

                To me, Tabata is just very immature. I know the whole thing with the older wife was not on the field, but I think it pointed to some serious maturity issues. I won’t rehash his most embarrassing moment of his life, but how could a guy be so taken in? And I think he does have some mental lapses. It just seems like there are balls hit where he doesn’t move for several seconds. I think that is focus-related. He seemed to let his frustrations get the best of him last night, as 21 said. I was sitting at home thinking he was just giving at bats away because of frustration.

                So, I don’t know for sure if it is mental toughness, focus, immaturity, effort .. a combination of all 4? I will say that something is lacking mentally in his game at times. Too many people see it to just dismiss it.

                I’m not a psychologist and I didn’t stay at Holiday Inn Express last night. Just trying to articulate what I see. A lot of others apparently see similar things.

              • Let me start by saying I personally think Marte does bring more to the team then Tabata.

                I think this is a case where we have fairly labelled Tabata as being unmotivated at times. Unfortunatley I think that label has unfairly constantly been used against him by many. Everything he does is under a microscope because of that label. I’m not sure he mentally is any less strong then Marte. I know perception is that but Marte has had is fair share of mental lapses this year.

                I’ve seen Tabata come out of the batters box and leg out a double that could have been just a single many times this year. I’ve also seen him be aggresive on the basepaths while on second or third taggin up or getting a good jump on infield grounders. I’m just saying in this case I”m not sure perception is reality.

              • Not defending Tabby at all, Jim.

                I just see a ton of mental weakness in Marte’s game, as well.

                The difference? He’s fast. Really fast.

              • Wish I had typed that Jim.

                And if Marte starts playing and doesn’t have good enough at bats, back to Tabata AFAIC.

              • You could be right, NMR. With Marte, I see some mistakes of youth. I don’t see many “effort” mistakes with Starling. When he didn’t run out a ball, Sanchez jumped on him and he reacted by apologizing and saying it would not happen again. I don’t know that I would expect that level of maturity out of Tabata. But, maybe he would surprise me. Things are not always what they appear in these small snapshots we get to see.

              • Thank you for that response, Jim, and good talking to you again.

                You can read just fine. :)

              • Are we talking hustle or mental. Big difference. It’s just my personal opinion but Marte has made more mental mistakes then most on the team this year. His focus seems to go for long stretches of time at the plate as well.

              • Not only does Jim read fine, he also doesn’t put words in people’s mouths.

        • Agreed.

          If Marlon Byrd isn’t re-signed, I, for one, would like to see Tabata get another crack at the RF job next spring. Might give them a chance to move Marte down in the order.

    • It appears to me, 21, that Marte is healthy. I could be wrong about that, but I think the hand is ok. It is just so hard to get the timing and pitch recognition back without the benefit of rehab. I am hoping last night was the start of him being back 100%.

    • You’re right. One at-bat is far from enough.

      But ya gotta like him staying back on a breaking ball in a hitter’s count.

      • Yeah, the curve had made him look silly over and over until that one.

        Wasn’t his reaction awesome? I can only imagine what that feels like. One second you are so frustrated and maybe wondering if you will be a factor in the post-season at all, after having such a great season. The next second … well, maybe your frustration, fears, reticence, lack of confidence, whatever you want to call it, is gone with a thunderous bomb to the LF bleachers. Then, you are practically hopping down the first base line.

        I was at the game there on the Sunday in July when he battled and battled with 2 outs in the 9th, fouling off pitch after pitch, then BOOM! It sent chills up my spine that day – even though we eventually lost. Starling has a flair for the dramatic. He is a special talent, warts and all!

        • His reaction made me think how awesome it must be to play in Wrigley.

          That ball would’ve certainly been out in PNC, but not a “no doubt” shot. Very few to left are.

          The conversation seems based around Tabby or Marte starting, but Marlon Byrd has quietly been pretty awful for the better part of this month. He’s gonna start in the playoffs, but maybe it wouldn’t be a bad idea to rest him for a few games and get Marte his ab’s while still playing the hot bat in Tabby.

          • I’ve been thinking that as well. Marlon is scuffling. I thought he had a cookie last night that he rolled to SS.

            • But I’ve never seen anyone go into the corners to get hits like he does. That barehanded one last night was pretty slick.

              • It was. He goes hard on everything. But, he did botch the last play. Thankfully, Cutch was waiting.

              • And you could just see that ball going under Marlon’s glove from a mile away.

              • Maybe lifted his head just a bit to peak at the runners? Happens to everyone.

              • Hard to reach down over that barrel chest.

                Pretty sure it was his first game where he tracked down a fly in the corner and launched a missile to Walker backing up 1B to almost double the runner off.

                One of those “wow” throws that translate even over TV.

              • I was at the Fri and Sat games of the Cards series at PNC over Labor Day weekend. On one of the nights we got seats over the Clemente Wall. I love that view of the park. When Byrd was warming up between innings, my son was watching closely. I remember him telling me to look down and see what a cannon Byrd has. He was throwing so hard in warm-ups. I don’t know if he has a great OF arm, but it is definitely above average.

  56. Congrats to everyone here on the blog! Been a long time since we rock & rolled!!!

  57. Work is pulling me…later Loonies!

  58. Well, you asked for it …

    • Excellent, Milo.

      Please forward to Tabloid.

    • “How’d we ever win 8?”

      Great line delivered by actor, Trey Wilson. He tragically died from a brain aneurysm a year after this movie was released. He also starred as Nathan Arizona in the great, “Raising Arizona.”

      That’s why I sent my thoughts out to TV. Don’t mess around with blood issues. Serious stuff.

    • Awesome. Both of my fantasy teams are named The Lollygaggers (and they did this year but that is another story). Just one of the best movies ever…. Thanks Milo

  59. Anybody find any of the celebration interviews on the web? Looking for the Jordy interview specifically. Dude has got to have a lamp shade on his head this morning!

  60. He was definitely one that stood out. I thought maybe it was the contrast because he seemed so calm and conservative throughout the year.

  61. Anything interesting happen last night?

    1) Probably a good thing that WGN didn’t have the game last night or I’d probably be shopping for a TV after the eighth inning and missed everything! All’s swell that ends swell though.

    2) I would have been glad to wait a day if Washington had beaten St. Louis . . . it would be better to only be behind by a game.

    3) Turns out that Morneau was a pretty good pick-up after all.

    4) Marte’s back.

    5) McCutcheon for MVP!

    6) Hurdle for Manager of the Year. It looked like McCutcheon, kids, and spare parts after spring training. And somehow every time it looked like the team was going off the rails, he found a way to put it all back together.

    7) More heart than talent. Best story in baseball.

    8) Ray Searage. What else is there to say?

    9) I’d like to end the season with a 19 game winning streak.

    10) I would propose a scoring rule change that gives the win to the pitcher who exits with a lead which is given up by a reliever, but regained before a second reliever comes into the game. There’s something wrong with getting a blown save and a win in the same game.

    11) I hope we get Boston in the World Series. About time we made up for that first one.

    12) Who’da thunk it?

    13) Whew!

    • I totally agree with #10. Something wrong there, especially if the starting pitcher didn’t put the runner on base. Maybe we can petition Bud?

      • I’d also like to get rid of the dropped third strike rule.

      • + a million – at least, Arriba.

      • Or make it easy and just get rid of the stupid stat all together.

        Wins and losses only make the slightest bit of sense as a measure of TEAM success.

        • You don’t think a pitcher’s career W-L can be a meaningful stat NMR?

          • Meaningful, in what way?

            As a judge of the pitcher’s ability? Not at all.

            As a barometer of the teams he played for? Sure.

            • I think it’s a meaningful stat and indicates ability and durability but obviously doesn’t tell the whole story.

            • “As a judge of the pitcher’s ability? Not at all.”

              So if a pitcher wins 300 games over his career it means nothing at all about him, just the team he played for?

              Methinks you are overstating your argument,

              • You can’t be selective in your example, AW.

                The purpose of statistics is for comparison, right?

                The guy who wins 300 games probably doesn’t need any statistics to tell you he was pretty damn good, which is as detailed of an analysis as a stat like “wins” allows you to make.

                It’s not even the wide tipped marker of statistics. It’s like taking the gallon of paint and throwing it on the canvas.

                If that kind of information is useful to you, then so be it. Everybody is different.

              • We’ll just disagree on this. I don’t think it’s the whole story, but to attempt to relegate it to being irrelevant is going too far IMHO. Same with other statistics you don’t like, like RBI’s. But we’ll continue to disagree. No harm, no foul.

              • No problem there, AW. Thanks.

                And fwiw, talking with you and Milo has changed how I look at stats like those. Like I said to 21 above, it depends on context.

                Using a stat to judge the ability of a player that is heavily influenced by factors he cannot control does nothing for me, especially when there are a bajillion other stats to choose from. Same with comparing one player to others.

                But using the stat to judge what a player did as part of the game, on the whole? I definitely agree that those stats mean SOMETHING. Those runs really did come in, his team really did win the game. I can’t call that meaningless.

              • I looked at the list of 300 game winners. They were all very good. The HOF seems to think so.

        • That’s a can of worms. There’s no single stat that can tell you all you need to know about a player in any position. You just have to put everything you know about the player and team and circumstances together — and you still don’t know what the guy’s doing tomorrow.

          Melancon’s 1.41 ERA is an excellent case point. Looks tremendous until you discover it was around 0.85 four or five innings ago and if he’d stayed consistent we’d be in first place.

          But without stats you’d miss a lot of players who played very well but “don’t look like a ballplayer.”

          The important thing is knowing what they really mean. Wins are important relative to the team’s overall performance, but obviously a 15-12 win may represent a much worse pitching performance than a 1-0 loss.

        • I agree with NMR on this one. It is way down the list of stats that I would look at to determina how good a pitcher is. Not useless but way overrated. Chris Sale is obviously a better pitcher then his record. Same goes for King Felix every year.

          If not for his HGH hiccup Pettite would be in the discussion for being a hall of famer based mostly on his wins and some post season games. His career ERA is 3.87. On the other hand I have actually heard some say Pedro Martinez should not make the hall of fame because he only has 219 career wins which is just crazy. His ERA is a full run lower and he completely dominated the AL for a 3 year period.

  62. Now that Monday night’s cathartic celebration has turned into Tuesday morning clarity, a few thoughts from this very-happy Pirate fan:

    1) Playoffs are PLAYOFFS, regardless of format. Not really sure what perspective folks are coming from that are viewing the 1-game wildcard format as somehow ‘not real playoffs’. In many ways, it is MORE REAL…it’s an instant “GAME 7″ and that is why MLB has designed it that way. I would do something different if I were commissioner, but I AM NOT. Also, let’s remember that the wild card, even in the old format, is ONLY GUARANTEED ONE HOME GAME in a best of 5 series. Some on here feel like a different format would afford multiple home playoff games… yes, it’s possible to get 2 if the series goes 4 but that is hardly a huge delta in home field chances for the wildcard (and even the division team with the lessor record).

    2) Melancon is still a damn good relief pitcher. He was felled last night by Pedro’s inexplicable defensive positioning on the base hit that drove in the tying run. Not saying he hasn’t slipped a bit but I still want him in there….

    3) Like the way Clint managed the pen last night, using Watson vs. Rizzo. I think we are in for more of that as we move forward… wouldn’t surprise me to see Watson in the set up role some, and also to close some, depending on the lineup/matchups. At this point, not sure Watson isn’t the ‘most sure thing’ of the 3.

    4) Morneau’s defense is superior, and made a big difference last night. Still want him to hit for impact, but his D is great.

    5) So happily surprised that Marte went deep in the 9th… was bracing for another strikeout and he mashed that ball. I think he should be in there tonight, see if he can string some good atbats together…but I’d keep Tabby close if that was a one at-bat wonder last night.

    LETS GO BUCS… maybe this team can exhale, relax and put a beating on the Cubs tonight…. I predict the Nats will beat the Cards and the Bucs will be just 1 game out heading into the matinees tomorrow.

    • Great stuff, cmat!

      Couldn’t agree more with #2. Not one XBH against Melancon in the entirety of the 3 blown saves, right? Very few hard hit balls, in fact. He has not been at his usual level of sharpness. But, not knocked around by any means.

      I have to disagree on how Clint used Watson/Grilli last night. I don’t think it suited either guy. Let Watson go at all of them. I think he gets righties out as well as lefties this year. And, Grilli would probably have preferred to come in at the start of the inning. It all worked out, and that is what matters. I would have done it differently, but if I were manager I’m quite sure we’d be something much less than 90-67 right now.

      The real head scratcher, for me, was not allowing Ground Chuck to pitch the 8th. He was rolling. Maybe he told Searage and Clint he was running out of gas?

    • It’s still a little hard for me to comprehend that the Buccos are in the playoffs.

      The idea is just so foreign.

      It’s almost like saying, 2 + 2 = 3.

    • +1 for use of “delta”

      2) http://pittsburgh.pirates.mlb.com/mlb/gameday/index.jsp?gid=2013_09_23_pitmlb_chnmlb_1&mode=recap&c_id=pit#gid=2013_09_23_pitmlb_chnmlb_1&mode=video

      I keep watching the replay and can’t imagine what could possibly be wrong with Pedro’s positioning. That ball was the definition of a seeing-eye single.

      3) VERY much agreed on Hurdle. Many of us have been critical of his refusal to play matchups. This change bodes well.

      4) Remember this game next time somebody says “anybody can play first”.

      • How about the play Pedro made barehanded at 2b on the shift? I just assumed it was Walker, and I remarked to my kids how nice of a barehanded stab that was by Walker. My daughter said, “Dad, that was Pedro.” I said, “Oh, yeah, he does that all the time.” Funny.

      • On #4, I believe everyone but ex-1b have said that at one time or another. We really take that position for granted … until someone strings together 3 or 4 plays in a short amount of time like he did.

      • If we’re talking about the same play, he moved in like he was protecting for the bunt, but there were 2 strikes. If he had been anywhere near normal depth, even just in line with the base, he could have caught it. And that was the Rock’s argument.

        • Sorry, that link was supposed to be to the video. You can still see it if you scroll down to Murphy’s RBI.

          Freeze it at the five second mark.

          With all due respect to Rock, Pedro playing in line with the base would’ve made it an even harder play considering the ball would’ve been further away and the time difference would be just a fraction of a second.

          • I saw it a bunch of times last night, and I agree with the Rock. And absolutely NO reason to be in that far.

            And, later, he was positioned perfectly on the line to prevent a double.

            I’m not a Pedro hater, even on defense, but this was a brain fart.

            • I defer to Rock, who played the position in the majors, and his opinion on this play. No offense to the rest of us, but we are far from expert. We won the game, Pedro’s positioning was incredible on the Rizzo 9th inning double—–I mean OUT!!!— so c’est la vie.

            • We can agree that he was positioned too far in, but on this specific ball, I just cannot see how it would’ve mattered.

              Even if we conservatively agree that ball was travelling at 60 mph – which is likely slower than it was at that point – that equates to 88 feet per second.

              Even if we conservatively agree that Pedro should’ve been twenty feet further back when the ball got to him, that’s a quarter second of time savings.

              On a play in which he had to take AT LEAST one step across his body, dive, and land, I just don’t see how a quarter second helps.

            • I was wondering if he was instructed to be where he was, Arriba. The coaches need to be watching that stuff as well.

              • I think he definitely was on the double protection on the line, but on the other play he moved in as the pitcher was in his throwing motion, so I thought that may be on him. But I obviously don’t know for sure.

              • Every infielder will take creeper steps as the pitcher is in his delivery.

                Judging by the last replay, it looks like Pedro was shading toward the bag to make sure the runner didn’t get too big of a lead and had to his position quickly. This probably drew him in closer than he wanted to be.

                I will say that I always would rather have an infieilder moving forward than sideways before a pitch.

        • exactly… he was in about 6 feet or so on the grass in front of 3B cutout… the ball as sharply hit and if he were back even with the bag (not even the normal 3B position which is well back) he would have easily grabbed it… and either held the runner or thrown the runner out at home.

          Now, I’m not saying Melancon hasn’t been slightly off his game but just pointing out he is still a very good bullpen option for us.

  63. We all witnessed Morneau play stellar defense in the late innings last night. He made a very nice play on the DP grounder, and he made a nice stab and throw on the Schierholtz grounder in the 9th. He made a terrific pick on the first out of the 9th. And, of course, his throw home for the last out was perfectly placed.

    The other side is … he just is not hitting. He’s not hitting for a great average. But, the real tough part is he is not driving the ball. He is not hitting LHP at all. Clint seemed to be finally coming to the conclusion, as I had predicted, that the experiment with Morneau vs. LHP had run its course. Gabby seemed to be back in the platoon and late inning PH for Morneau mix.

    So, did something change last night because of Morneau’s defense? Will Clint now say that Morneau’s defense is too important to be taking him out of the lineup? if so, where do you stand on that issue?

    1) Who starts at 1b vs. LHP going forward?
    2) Does Morneau hit for himself late in games that are tied or if the Bucs have a slight lead?

    • On Question 2, I meant does Morneau hit for himself vs. LHP late in tie games or games where the Bucs have a slight lead (1-2 runs)?

      • I actually think Gaby’s D is good also, maybe not quite as good as Morneau’s but plenty good….so personally I don’t think you hesitate to play Gaby vs. LHPs and as pinchhitter late in games.

        • Agreed, Gabby plays good D, and his hitting is as good as, if not better than Morneau’s.

        • I think the difference defensively between Justin and Gabby is in their arms. I don’t trust Gabby or Jones with throws. But, Morneau is smooth and accurate.

          I still would not hesitate to pinch hit for him in a tight spot vs a LHP. I would also still start Gabby every game vs. LHP going forward.

          And, I think Morneau has to be moved out of the #4 hole even against RHP.

          But, he was Keith Hernandez-like in the field late in that game.

      • I agree with cmat. Other than having the inherent advantage of being left handed, I don’t see any visible difference in their defensive play. And the “asvanced metrics”, taken with a large grain of salt (IMO), favor Gaby.

        Clint is human. He’s far from beyond using a nice narrative to justify his decisions.

        Maybe he’ll adjust as he’s done with the bullpen.

  64. A couple of things I like about the 1 game WC playoff.

    1. Sudden death playoffs are great. The NFL and the NCAA’s teach us that.

    2. It sort of acts as a penalty for winning a WC. I always thought it was a bit unfair that WC teams essentially stood on the same level as division winners before the second WC was added. Now, you win a WC and that is great, but no guarantees you will play in a divisional series. If you want the division title, go out and win it, and be rewarded for it with extra time off and no elimination game!

      • But football is geared towards one game playoffs. There’s never been a multi-game series to determine a champion in those sports.

        Baseball has never been about a single game. I agree that the WC team(s) shouldn’t have the same benefits as a division winner (discounting the argument that a WC team from a strong division could have a better record than a division winner from a weak division, see Broncos, Denver 2011), but I think it’s patently unfair to the fans that a team can make it to the playoffs and not even play a single game at home.

        • If teams have been tied in the past, they have had a one game playoff to decides who makes it. Not the norm, but not unprecedented. And we’ve actually only “clinched” so far, the playoff spot that didn’t exist 2 years ago. I don’t see it as a fairness to the fans issue.

          • The one game playoff that you’re referring to was to decide the division, correct? I wouldn’t have a problem with that as I couldn’t think of a better way to determine the division winner if the two teams have the same record.

            I think MLB added the 2nd WC to increase the chance that a low payroll team could win the WS. The more playoff teams, the more likely that a small market team would be included. IF this team gets hot and win the WS, Selig will arrogantly and ignorantly proclaim how level the playing fields are.

            • Dom, I always felt that the 2nd wild card was added just to make things a little more interesting regardless of which type of market is impacted.

        • Yeah, I agree. I was afraid to bring this up as I thought it would kill the mood.

          I’m not saying that the 2nd WC team is an illegitimate playoff team but the playoffs w/o it were far superior.

          It makes little sense to play a 162 game season end on a one game playoff.

          • Disagree on that, Dom, that they were superior. Maybe goes back to your perspective. My perspective goes back to the only “playoff” being the World Series. So “new” stuff doesn’t offend my sensibilities. It’s all good.

          • This year, the 2nd WC team will be just as legitimate as the first one. The Reds and Pirates have identical records, and could end up that way. They will most likely finish within a game or two of one another, and the season series will probably end up 10-9.

            I am ok with the Wild Card at 1 game. I think 2 of 3 would be better, but that would just prolong things – unless they didn’t get to 4 of 7 until the WS. But, that’s a financial decision that is not changing.

          • I like it a lot better than playing 162 games and then going straight home and getting ready for next season

        • In a single game series you have to put your best line-up out there against the other guys best. The winner goes into the next round tired and without the services of their ace and possibly with an injury. If the wildcard team can then beat two division champions after starting at a disadvantage, they’ve proved they belong in the World Series.

          Like I said above, I hope we get Boston.

    • I will reserve judgment on the 1-game playoff until late in the day a week from now. Then, I’ll let you know what I think of it. It is going to take me precisely that long to decide. :-)

    • I would prefer a best out of 3 match up…

  65. Dejan,

    14 hours Dulles to Beijing is “very, very long”…7 hour hop across the pond is nothing.

    DK: Got me there. I swore after Japan to never complain about antihero flight length.

  66. I see that David Schoenfeld of espn is joining the “Morneau is not a cleanup hitter” bandwagon… I guess I just don’t see what options we really have in the lineup considering Morneau will indeed play vs. RHPs. I see only 2 real options:

    1. Marte LF
    2. Walker 2B
    3. Cutch CF
    4. Byrd RF
    5. Pedro 3B
    6. Martin C
    7. Morneau 1B
    8. Mercer SS

    OR

    1. Marte LF
    2. Mercer SS
    3. Cutch CF
    4. Byrd RF
    5. Walker 2B
    6. Pedro 3B
    7. Morneau 1B
    8. Martin C

    I suppose you can swap Martin and Mercer in this lineup if you want…….

    The problems with these lineups are:

    1) Martin isn’t exactly tearing the cover off the ball, so what value is he hitting ahead of Morneau
    2) I don’t like Pedro/Morneau hitting back to back

    You can get more radical by moving Cutch, etc. but I dont see Clint making that many moves this late in the season.

    • That “bandwagon” loaded up two years ago for anybody watching Morneau play.

      The whole idea of putting power in the middle of the order is so that there is a greater chance of runners being on base for a homerun or extra base hit while still optomizing the total numbers of plate appearances per game.

      Granted, lineup construction is probably discussed more than it actually matters, but if you believe it does, then there is a reasonable argument to be made (IMO).

      Either of those lineups are fine options, as is hitting Morneau second.

      • Right now, I prefer Walker batting 4th to Morneau. I would probably swap them to try to get Walker up with more guys on base.

        I think Russell is wearing down, as do all full-time catchers in Sept. His bat is not nearly what it was a few months ago. I think he’d be an ideal 8 hitter. I would look to move him down and Jordy up.

        • With Pedro not quite in full-on breakout mode, I’m happy with Walker hitting fourth or fifth. All but one of his recent homeruns have been solo (and no, I don’t believe because he can only hit them when there isn’t any pressure).

          I agree that Martin isn’t prime for middle of the order at-bats, but I’d be worried that he may be TOO patient to hit 8th. I could see him getting nothing to hit, just simply prolonging the inning. Which is only really a good thing if Marte/Tabby start swinging a power bat.

          • Love the line about Walker only being able to hit HR when there is not the pressure of runners on.

            • Adam Laroche??

              • I think the point was he was NOTmaking the Adam Laroache argument about only being able to hit them when the pressure was off. He hit one in his first at bat yesterday. And Neil has a clutch rep anyway.

              • yea, i got the idea

              • I was actually being facetious because I think in a large majority of the cases, over time, how many runners that might be on base when a guy hits a HR is mostly a function of the circumstances. Lou Gehrig and ARod are #1 & #2 on the all-time Grand Slam list. I bet if we checked, they are also pretty close to the top of the list of # of times coming up with the bases loaded out of the top HR hitters.

                Spots in the middle of the lineup are more likely to have runners on when they come to bat, I would say. And guys who bat in the middle of the lineup on good offensive teams end up with a ton of guys on base, over and over.

                I keep hearing how great Phillips is this year because he has 100 RBI as a 2b. But, he has had 2 of the top batters in terms of OBP (Votto and Choo) batting in front of him. #4 hitters dream of that situation.

              • I cannot stand Phillips >:<

        • Walker is on a nice HR streak, but I like him batting in front of Cutch. I’d hate to lose that.

          I do like NMR’s idea of putting Morneau there. Could get his bat going.

          • And it ain’t like Walker or Mercer are stealing any bases in front of Cutch.

            Moreneau’s bat is perfect for the “classic” 2-hole hitter.

  67. I think I have this right but somebody please correct me if I’m wrong. If the Pirate and Reds both win or lose tonight it doesn’t really matter what either team does tomorrow because they will be within a game of each other no matter what going into this weekend. Since we are 8-8 against each other the team who wins the series will win any tie-breaker because of their 10-9 record against the other team and earn home field.

    More then likely they will be playing a best of 3 series to see who gets home field advantage for the 4th game.

    • Yes. Of course, if St. Louis loses tonight and/or tomorrow, while one or both of the Reds/Bucs win, it changes the whole dynamic potentially.

      But, it is true that if the Reds and Bucs are within a game of one another going into Friday, leaving St Louis out of the equation for this exercise, the team that wins the weekend series gets the home game.

  68. So I guess that stuff about LeVeon Bell being out longer than expected was just that, stuff.

    • I think Lisfranc injuries are unknowns……….. like “lower-body” injuries in hockey sometimes lead to a week out, instead of 2 days.

      But you are right, it may have been just “stuff”.

    • I hope this isn’t some sort of a panic move in some effort to “save” the season. I have to imagine having 2 more weeks off with the bye week would be the better long term move for this young mans career. By all means if he is ready to go suit him up, but if he’s playing through pain just wait the extra two weeks.

  69. I guess we’ll find out for sure…soon…

  70. Awesome, awesome night.

    I admit, I didn’t get to see the final play live…….or the Marte hit, I saw all the Root coverage afterwards.

    IT. WAS. AWESOME!!

    Marte’s HR reminded me of Barry Bonds’ HR. Threw the arms up and celebrated.

    We all have given a lot of crap to Neal Huntington, but the guy deserves alot of credit, so does Nutting to sticking with him through the process.

    The process itself, I never had a problem with. The early execustion of the process, is what bothered me.

    Either way…….congrats to the organization, the writers that follow them, and of course to all of us.

    What a glorious feeling it is, I’m still in shock.

    • A few beers will ease that shock ;)

    • Well said Ryan. I always thought that the process was more important then the execution because without the process you have no chance. Also I thought the execution would get better as NH and company learned from past mistakes. I was willing to be patient because I feel like some of the good things happening wouldn’t be noticed at this level for 3 or 4 years after the changes were made because it takes that long to rebuild a farm system.

      Hopefully this has more to do with the process then just getting lucky with a few trades, free agent pick ups. I guess we probably get at least a few years to find out because this front office probably bought themselves 2 years with this season.

      • Thanks Nate.

        I do think this is what the process outcome is supposed to be.

        I remember some wanting him fired because he was working on 2013 instead of the the present. I was never one of those, but at times the current was so terrible, that I thought he should’ve been booted.

        I always liked what he had to say about things, even when others differed in that regard.

        I especially liked the interview he gave with Root last night. Seems to be a very humble guy.

        • I unfortunatley live outside of Pittsburgh so I didn’t get to see that interview. I will have to look for it on line. MLB network did a good job of showing 5 or 6 different quick Root interviews done in the locker room during the celebration last night.

        • “Seems to be a very humble guy.” I think this is an interesting observation, Nor Cal. I actually have thought the same thing, although not living in Pittsburgh I get far less exposure to NH than locals. So, I could be way off base. But, some of the things I have heard him say, this year especially, have led me to that conclusion. He seems to spread credit unselfishly, which I find to be a very honorable trait for a leader. One of my favorite all-time quotes is one used by both Harry Truman and Ronald Reagan: “There is no limit to what we can accomplish together as long as no one cares who gets the credit.” He seems to be living by that right now. I know it has not been fashionable to give NH a lot of credit until recently, and that has been for good reason. I don’t deny all the mis-steps and screw-ups. But, as I have said all season, I believe he is now doing a very good job. I think his job is more than secure for at least the next couple of years.

          I also have thought he has done a good job of not lashing out at those who disagree with him. Take a Brian Cashman, for instance, as a counter-example. You cross that guy even a little bit, and he comes after you, guns blazing. Cashman is very accomplished, for sure. So, maybe he is comfortable confronting every detractor. But, NH strikes me, at least at this point in time, as someone who is now comfortable in his ability and his performance.

          Like I said, I don’t get to hear his show every Sunday. I’m just going by what I have heard and read about him since last off-season.

  71. Maybe, I wouldn’t have a problem with both the Buccos and Reds in that game as they’re identical record wise.

    However, here’s my rationale why I am against the additional wild card team:
    Let’s say going into the last week of the season, the Rays and Royals are the only teams in contention for the two WC spots in the AL. The Rays are far ahead of the Royals in the standings so the Rays do not have to worry about the Royals overtaking them for the top WC spot. Now, let’s say the Rays are just 1 game behind the Red Sox in the AL East. Meanwhile, the Royals are far behind the Tigers. Since the Rays have a chance to win the division, they’re of course going to be playing their #1 pitcher in the last few games of the season in order to increase their chances of winning the East. If they fail to win the division, they’re going to have to use someone else in the one game playoff as he would have pitched less than 5 days ago. Meanwhile, since the Royals never had a chance to win their division, they tweaked their rotation so their #1 will be used in the WC game and therefore have the advantage over the superior team. The Royals had the advantage being an inferior team.

    • You bring up a good point, Dom. It could easily happen. But, I guess that’s just the breaks of what the teams agreed to. I’m like you, though, in that I’m always trying to even the playing field.

      There is an intersting debate taking shape again about schedules. With each team playing 19 games vs. teams in their division and only 6 or 7 vs. all others, plus the randomness of inter-league play, it can really make one team’s path to the playoffs a lot easier than a competitors from a different division. Personally, I would like to see a few less games vs your own division and a few more vs other divisions. And, I really can’t stand this whole “natural rivalries” BS. We get stuck with the Tigers every year while the Cubs get the White Sox, the Brewers get the Twins and the Cards get the Royals?

      There is no way to ever make the schedules completely fair, I guess. But, some things don’t strike me as fair at all right now.

    • The reason Bud went to this format was because once a team secured the Wild Card and didnt have a chance at the division, they rested their star players. Lessoning the point of the final few games.

      Yankees GM publicly made those comments. Bud didn’t like it.

      I see the reasoning behind and it is making these games more exciting.

      I would’ve rather have seen a best of 3 series, but I’m sure that messes the scheduling up even worse.

    • “Since the Rays have a chance to win the division, they’re of course going to be playing their #1 pitcher in the last few games of the season in order to increase their chances of winning the East.”

      But that is their CHOICE. Nobody is forcing them.

      If they are so confident in said pitcher, then start him in the WC game and end up in the LDS with the Division winner.

      • But, the logical choice would be to go for the division, right? Anything can happen in that one game and it’s best to avoid it completely.

        If the Rays would rest their #1, we’d all know they’d get an angry call from Bud the next morning.

        • And that’s the point of the new system. It makes winning the Division more important than getting the second best record. No system is perfect, but I’m content for now.

          • In my opinion, only one team should be allowed as the division winners are usually the best teams and one 2nd place team stands out as a possible division winner if they were in another division.

            I knew one guy who despised the addition of the first WC. He’s a Giants fan and win his team won the WC for the first time, he told me he actually rooted against them as they were an illegitimate playoff team. Not only that but he didn’t feel that the Marlins were legitimate WS winners a decade ago as they ticket to the playoffs came via the WC. In his mind, he felt only the teams that could be considered the best should be in the playoffs and at best the WC winner was the second best team in the league. If they were possibly the best team, they would have won the division.

            • Why not just go with the top 4 records and forget about divisions and Wild Cards?

              I’m not suggesting that, but just pointing out there are lots of ways to do this.

              • Then the schedules would have to be much more balanced.

              • There are too many teams to not have division races, but there should be a reward for finishing with a good record. Why not have divisions and “Wild Cards”, but seed the playoffs with the best record?

                So, if Team A wins the division, but has a worse record than Team B, who won thew wildcard, Team A is seeded below Team B.

              • Of course I wasnt nor would I propose that but I suppose that might be more fair.

            • See, I can’t delve into that logic without breaking down the divisions all together.

              How does it make sense to judge a team as “the best” by arbitrarily putting them against a different set of team than another?

              If you want to go with the “best” teams, You play an equal numbers of games against everybody and take the top X teams into the playoffs. No middle ground for me.

              • Well, if the Rays in my scenario had like a 10 game lead over the Royals, then it would seem apparent that they’re the better of the two.

              • Maybe, maybe not, Dom.

                Think about the difference in division opponents when one team gets significantly more games against a team like the Astros. What if TWO teams in a division were rebuilding at the same time?

                IMO, I can think of a senario where even your scenario doesn’t work. Obviously, both are hypothetical.

              • I heard a couple of startling stats this morning.

                Texas, I believe is 13 games over .500 vs. Houston and something like 1 game over .500 vs. everyone else combined.

                Cleveland is 16 games under .500 vs. teams that are over .500 and 32 games over .500 against teams that are below .500.

                Schedule difficulty plays a huge part in which teams win the WC slots.

        • In all cases? No, I wouldn’t even come close to calling that “logical”.

          In reality, there is a very small window where the difference between Starter #1 and Starter #4 decides the Division in just a single start.

          The “logical” decision, IMO, would be honestly evaluating that window instead of just going with the division-at-all-costs narrative.

          • But if they’re just a game behind going into the last few games of the season then they’d have to go for it right?

            The other issue I have with the WC is that it puts both participants at a disadvantage, since they’re going to be using their #1 in this game, the winning team will have to use their #2 against their new opponent’s #1.

            Plus, I don’t think more is better when it comes to playoffs, especially in MLB.

            • Not to be stubborn, Dom, but if that is the decision they’ve left themselves in the last two games, they have only themselves to blame for not doing one better over the first 160.

              I don’t know if the system is to blame for that.

      • Let’s just go back to the way it was…

        Two divisions in each league, East and West. One winner from each division advances to playoffs.

        And get rid of the darn DH!!

        This is all sarcasm!! Except for the DH part anyway!!

  72. I dont know if anybody brought this up or not, but I’m going to attack it anyways.

    Now that the pressure is off of the team. I think Marte should be out in LF for the remaining games.

    he’s more valuable on the field than he is on the bench. Aside from last nights heroics of course.

    They’re in. Yes I want the division and I’m sure the team does as well, but let him work his kinks out.

    As long as he’s healthy enough to play. Let him play.

  73. Congrats to the Houston Astros, who clinched the 1st overall pick in the draft for the third consecutive year.

    As a true long suffering Pirate fan, one of my first thoughts (after the laughs) was what an incredible opportunity that is for them. I mean, seriously!

    For you guys, now that “the plan” has produced a playoff team, are you happy the team did it primarily through draft and development? Or would you rather have done it through payroll? I don’t mean this in absolutes, as no “plan” is all or nothing, and certainly not the Pirates. But is this feeling any better with 7 of 8 position players, 4 of 5 starters, and all of the pen coming by means of “small market” planning?

    • Gee, I dont know about “draft and development” as the main means for this playoff team….

      Lets look at that:

      D&D :

      Marte,
      Cutch,
      Pedro,
      Walker,
      Morton,
      Cole,
      Locke.

      Trades and FA signings:

      Byrd,
      Barmes,
      Morneau,
      Burnett,
      Liriano,
      Rodriguez (injured),
      Martin,
      Melancon,
      Grilli,
      Gomez.

      Now, yes, over the past 5 years there were more bodies drafted and developed, but this year team seems to have benefitted much more by player acquisitions.

      • Real quick, plan. What did the team trade to get those players?

        • Quick NMR, every franchise has chips to trade.

          I would say until the Byrd and Morneau deals, not much was given up collectively. Yes Hanrahan was traded, but he wasnt being brought back anyway.

          So I really dont understand your response to me…….. you said mainly draft and development was key, that is true of most teams, except the big spenders. I just pointed out that trades and FA signings seem to be more involved. Every team drafts and develops, to varying degrees.

          • Plan, we’re arguing the same thing.

            Teams use prospects they draft and develop to acquire others players via trade. That’s what Huntington, et al have told us all along.

            That has always been part of “the plan”.

            • “the plan” appears to be working. ;)

            • Sorry, I was reading your original post as D&D “vs” trades.

              Thats where my responses were going.

              Of course, you do know that every team except the Yanks, Sox, and Dodgers use the “plan” we speak of. It isnt something exclusive to the Pirates.

              Heck, the Astros have their payroll down to $10 million, I think. Their prospects better be world-class.

              • plan, you’re reading way, wayyy too far into this.

                I don’t know what your post has to do with my question. I specifically tried to state this in a way that DID NOT turn it into a pro or anti Front Office conversation.

                This is about YOU. Does it make a difference to YOU how they did it? Would YOU rather they do it like “every team…” or the exceptions?

              • NMR, I am not turning anything into Pro vs anti at all. Havent we all had enough of that?

                Sorry for the confusion I caused. I was just pointing out the 2 ways, thats all.
                And, it doesnt matter one bit how they acquired the players, so it isnt about me at all. Please.

                We are agreeing on some points here.
                To say it is about me is confusing at best.

                Have a great day, maybe catch you later. :)

              • Ha, thats my fault plan. I meant “you” as in each of you guys, personally.

                Taking the specific front office out of it (which you have), would you guys rather have done it one way or the other.

                No right or wrong answer, obviously. Just wondering if it matters to anyone how it was done.

              • Ok, I will catch you later, lol.

                I dont care if the Pirates acquire players by picking names out of a hat, playing cards for them, sending smoke signals to their agents, having to chop down trees, playing checkers, or any way possible.

                As long as the results are there, I am good with it.
                When the results arent there, then let the second guessing begin.

                Oh, and i am partial to draft and development, as long as the results are there. :)

              • Haha, awesome answer!

                Have a good evening, plan.

        • The one and only Alex Presley was sent away…….Pirates are missing the boat with that guy.

    • Yes, draft and development has to be the first part of the plan. Then, use trades and free agency to put the finishing touches on and keep it rolling.

      BTW, regarding Houston, if they become a good team in the next few years, I’m sure Dusty Baker will be there to mention that with all the top picks you expect them to win eventually.

    • I’m just happy I lived long enough to see it ;-)

    • Draft and development. There are no gaurentees with either method but doing it through payroll could just destroy a medium/small market team for years with just one bad move. I know Swisher and Bourn have been OK for Cleveland but those are the type of contracts I hope the Pirates avoid going forward.

      Cleveland is good this year more because of the continued improvement of players like Kipnes and Santana and a starting staff that has young players they developed and some reclaimation projects that are much like Liriano. The Swisher and Bourn contracts could come back to hurt them in 2 or 3 years.

      • Honestly didn’t read your last few sentences of your original question NMR. I was one of the ones that got caught up in the weeds. So my revised answer is Draft and development. You get to know the team better. Easier to root for players that are more relatable.

        I actually didn’t mind the Yankee teams with Paul O’Neill and Bernie Williams to much. Those guys were easy to root for. I know they started their careers elsewhere but they were differant then the Texiara, A-Rod, Sabathia contracts.

        • “Easier to root for players that are more relatable.”

          My thoughts exactly! I don’t have any issue, personally, with the Yankee/Dodger/Angel way. But I just can’t imagine being more personally invested in those teams compared to ones built like the Pirates.

          Watching guys start as a name on draft day, to putting a face with that name, and so on.

          I’ll be the first to admit that you wouldn’t hear me complaining one bit if the Pirates went all Blue Jays or Marlins to get to where they are this year, but the fact that they stuck to the plan – and it actually freakin worked – feels great.

          • Nope. I think that’s why many wanted Mark Cuban to buy the club.

            How well has that worked out for the Angels over the last 2 years, BTW.

            Sucks, because they’ve developed many of their players.

            • Angels, Texas and Boston are the 3 big spending teams I respect the most. They do draft and develope players well. The Angels got a little greedy and they could be in some tough times with the Pujols and Hamilton contracts. Boston got fortunate that 2 or 3 of their players still had value and the Dodgers where willing to take some other bad contracts of their hands to make a big splash with new ownership. You can see how quickly they rebuilt because of their good farm system. A lot of their current players were developed internally. You have to like the way Ellsbury and Pedroia play the game.

            • It would make me sick to waste Mike Trout’s prime years if I was an Angels fan.

    • No, I am glad that the pirates are not the LA dodgers… or did I misunderstand your question?

      • No, thats exactly what I was asking.

        I specifically qualified the way I asked the question as not to get caught up in the weeds, but apparently that is too hard for some.

        Crudely, does it feel any better being the Rays instead of the Yankees?

      • If only we could pick up a byrd and morneau every year. Seriously though, I’m still waiting for Morneau to crank one… whats happened to his power? I thought he had one last night but it musta caught a stiff head-wind.

        • Runs per game – April through August – 3.93

          Runs per game – September – 3.50

          • yes, that is an interesting stat. Wondering whats the bigger cause of that slight decline… I want to blame Alvarez slump.

          • Minus Locke and 1 bad start from AJ and Liriano this month the pitching has been tremendous. The offense has not been doing it’s job. I’m not saying that is Byrd and Morneau’s fault but they are part of the everyday lineup that is not producing enough. Martin’s and Alverez both have horrible batting average since the All-star break. Morneau and Byrd have gotten on enough to make a slight difference but they are being stranded on the bases to often by the 6,7 and 8 hitters.

          • Yeah, for all the excitement, Byrd and Morneau haven’t done much.

            Derrek Lee in ’11 and Wandy last year both seem to have worked out better.

            • disagree. Byrd has most certainly been better than the RF combo before he got here, possibly full season stats but most definitely the few weeks right before he was acquired.

              Both players have been good defensively and have spread the offense out in the lineup….

              but no doubt, Byrd has cooled since his hot start (and those games count, right??) and Morneau has not been a big upgrade offensively… but I prefer seeing Morneau trying to get it going than Jones flailing away… if only for my frustration factor, the pickups have been worth it!!

              • I shouldn’t have included Byrd. He has been an upgrade.

                But the only thing Morneau can say is that he’s been better than the worst Garrett Jones has played in his entire time as a Pirate.

                If one believes that Jones would play even slightly closer to normal, which is an obvious possibility, then Morneau has been a wash. At best.

        • The real question is what happened to his power in August. That was the month that was out of character. The Morneau you are seeing is the Morneau that has been playing a majority of the last 3 years. Not a bad player. Definately can and has contributed in other ways but I didn’t expect more then 1 or 2 home runs over the 25 games he would play for us.

  74. Gotta get some stuff done…catch Yinz later :)

  75. Here’s the Pirates’ lineup …

    Starling Marte, LF
    Jordy Mercer, SS
    Andrew McCutchen, CF
    Marlon Byrd, RF
    Gaby Sanchez, 1B
    Russell Martin, C
    Pedro Alvarez, 3B
    Josh Harrison, 2B
    Cole, P

  76. So I’m driving home listening to Sirius XM radio and Chris “Mad dog” Russo has a problem with us celebrating last nights win. Go shove it Russo you don’t have a problem with LA jumping in AZ’s pool, but you do with the Pirates celebrating making the playoffs for the first time in 20 yeah 20 years. OMG I wanted to call into his show and cuss his dumb A$$ out. I’m glad people from Pittsburgh are calling in and letting him know about himself. Basically said were celebrating an extra 27 outs next Tuesday, yeah what’s your point idiot! “If the Reds are up 6-1 next Tuesday are you going to celebrate?”. No, I’m not but I will still cheer for the Pirates regardless, and what they accomplished this year. Sorry for the vent I feel better now. GO BUCCO’s.

    • All my friends who have know the Pirates struggles because I’ve been a fan for 45+ years called me last night to congratulate me and the Pirates. They also said “Did you see them celebrate last night, that’s awesome!”.

      And I live in Southern California!!

      • That’s AWESOME. Heck even 2 die hard Philly fans told me first thing this morning congrats, were pulling for the Bucco’s to raise the Jolly Roger.

    • I dunno, I noticed something different.
      - at win #81 or 82, clinching 1st non-losing or winning season in 20 years… little to no celebration
      - at win #90 & clinching playoff berth, huge celebration

      I don’t understand how the two events are different. If anything, the #81 win should have been celebrated more. Also, the ultimate regular season goal would be winning the division. I would much rather see that celebrated.

      • I personally feel as if it would be lame for any professional team to celebrate .500. It was fine for the fans to celebrate and the media to talk about it but the players should do nothing more then acknowledge what it means to the fans and city.

      • The ultimate regular season goal is to win the World Series!! Not to just go 500 or garauntee a winning season. I believe it was important to the Pirates players, staff, etc. but not the goal. Yes, it was very important to the fans. Judging by the players that actually posted something on twitter after the game by the players, it was acknokledged by them as well.

        They may have had a celebration for those wins (81 and 82), but we may not know about it.

        • Well fine but Searage said it best. It’s just the next step. And I agree celebrating .500 is silly even if you’ve never seen it in 20 years of losing. I’m trying to think of another sport where they celebrate clinching a playoff spot. I can’t think of one. Most teams just acknowledge it and then admit that there’s more work to be done.

          • Why does it have to be ONE OR THE OTHER? Seems to me the Bucs players and organization enjoyed a celebration of their accomplishment SO FAR this season. I also noted that EVERYONE had the right perspective…this is one step, still work to do, focus is on the division, etc.

            Baseball is different due to the long season, the grind, etc… I think we are getting caught up in the format… would you say that if the Bucs clinched the division title, that they also should not celebrate? Since there is ‘more work to be done’?

            Would you say clinching a wild card in the old format, when they advanced to the NLDS instead of a one game wild card game, would or would not justify a celebration?

            Where is the bar set, according to you?

      • I would have been a little embarrassed if they had pulled a Milwaukee Brewers celebration of breaking the streak. I had no problem with last night’s celebration for this team in these circumstances. And they all know they aren’t done.

        No problem whatsoever. About time.

    • talk radio is designed to be provocative…no one has ever accused Russo of either (1) being above average intelligence or (2) having any sort of balanced perspective …too many years in NY following the Yankees……

      that said what the TEAM does to either celebrate or not celebrate is THEIR BUSINESS. If the Pirates had celebrated on the field win 82 and with champagne, I would personally have disagreed with it but it is UP TO THEM. As to last night, the Bucs CLINCHED A PLAYOFF BIRTH. I love how everyone is using the format — one game and done — to somehow minimize the accomplishment of making the playoffs.

      But good job for Russo to stir up some interesting conversation to fill the airwaves.

  77. Being six hours ahead in time zones, I woke myself up this morning at around 0330 in time to watch the 8th & 9th innings at Wrigley live on MLB-TV. When the Cubs tied it in the bottom of the 8th I felt so depressed I thought seriously of going back to bed and watching the rest of it later in the morning. But I couldn’t. I’ve been a Pirates fan since 1947, when I was a kid growing up in Ohio, and I had to see how this one turned out. Not because it could have clinched a WC spot, but because of the competition among the top three in the NL Central is so intense and the quality of the baseball so good.

    When Marte hit his HR in the 9th, I clapped my hands over my head and cheered out loud in front of the computer screen, though there was no one to celebrate with other than my three cats who are definitely not baseball fans.

    Thirteen seconds elapsed between the time Grilli let go of the final pitch to the moment the ball had come all the way back and Russell Martin raised his hand with the ball in it and the umpire called the runner out. In that time, my emotions went from low (on the hit) to lower (as Byrd missed the ball) to hopeful when Morneau caught McCutchen’s throw and turned to relay it home to ecstatic when the call was made. My spirits have been higher than a kite all day today, which was an absolutely beautiful, warm Indian Summer’s day in southern England.

    I remember watching the 1960 WS and the feeling at the end was something like that this morning…not as high, but close. The truth is: when the Bucs win the World Series, you feel good for months and months and months. I am lucky that it’s happened three times in my lifetime and I’m grateful there’s now a chance for another.

    DK: You coming to the game Sunday, War Horse?

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