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Looking ahead to ‘Subway Final Word’

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

subway-tfw

The joint venture between WPXI-TV and Trib Total Media continues Sunday night at 11:35 p.m. — right after the Channel 11 News — with a live edition of The Subway Final Word.

>> Who’s on the panel: I’ll join Rob Biertempfel, the Trib’s Pirates beat man, and Mark Madden, top-rated radio host of 105.9 the X. The host will be WPXI-TV’s Alby Oxenreiter.

>> What we’re talking about: Pirates, Penguins, Steelers, you name it.

>> How to participate: Each week, we also take comments that viewers submit to The Final Word’s Facebook page and Twitter account.

>> Where to watch: In addition to the broadcast on WPXI-TV (811 on Comcast), we have WPXI’s online stream for Pittsburgh’s many out-of-town sports fans.

Here’s last week’s full episode.

Really hope to have you along, not only watching but also joining in!

 

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, recently, 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 country's top four columnists by the AP Sports Editors. For 2012, he was named one of the country's top three columnists by the National Headliners. For 2013, he was named the state's top columnist by the Keystone Press Awards and top columnist in Western Pennsylvania by the Golden Quills.

Comments

  1. Dejan Kovacevic says:

    As a final thought from yesterday …

    People really, really hate facts that don’t fit their narrative. Funny, but if I wrote a piece that simply called all these people idiots for believing and parroting so much of that garbage — without bogging it down with numbers, just straight insults — it actually wouldn’t get anywhere near the reaction. But throw out real, verified information, and the blood boils in 0.6 seconds.

    What’s wonderful about the instant personal attacks — and I mean this — is that they’re instant validation that reasonable counters can’t be produced to the actual info. It’s a concession. It’s punting.

    And it’s also a powerful sign that, in fact, the people believing and parroting so much of that garbage really are, by and large, idiots.

    Seriously, read some of the comments here yesterday or the replies on Facebook or Twitter — one guy hilariously wrote that ‘facts aren’t as important as common sense’ — and you’re about ready for the big asteroid to send us all to that big forum in the sky.

    Point out that the Pirates’ payroll rank matches their revenue rank, and the idiots then want deficit spending. LIKE MARK CUBAN OR MARIO WOULD DO! Except that neither has or ever would!

    Ask how many owners in any sport are known to engage in deficit spending, and you’ll get a blank stare.

    Which is just about right.

  2. Daquido_Bazzini says:

    Dejan – I think what you need to realize is (and I’m sure you do to an extent) is you are (as you have said) a columnist.
    No matter how much you try to see the fans point of view (and you do try) ……It’s a whole different ball game.

  3. Wild Bill says:

    There is something qualitatively different about the way the Pirates are viewed among the fans of Pittsburgh from the way the Steelers are viewed, for example – or even the Pens. Those teams are criticized for decisions they make, but there is a basic trust that they try very, very hard to win each year. And they have won championships. The Pirates of this era have no such reserve of trust.

    It’s the drafting of a Tony Sanchez when obviously better players were there to be taken. It’s contract “offers” that will not get the job done. It goes all the way back to dumping Aramis Ramirez for a bag of baseballs. And it’s off seasons of inactivity like this past one. The point is made that the economics of the game of baseball is different, and that’s true. But there is an old saying “perception becomes reality”, and that saying also has validity. The Pirates are viewed differently from our other teams. Maybe if we had the Pittsburgh Browns or the Pittsburgh Senators things would be different.

  4. Wild Bill says:

    The Pirates schedule so far has done them no favors. Besides a lot of games with the Cards and Brewers, they’ve played series against the current top team in the NL West, and against all three top teams in the AL East. Now they are playing the Nats, and have won both.

    The schedule – out of division at least – shouldn’t remain so tough.

  5. kr70 says:

    Opinions are like butts….everybody has one.

  6. Naje says:

    Thanks for saying it so well. In the column, here and on social media.

  7. Brandie says:

    People will cling to narratives like drowning rats will cling to pieces of flotsam. The Pens debacle should prove that spending money to spend money does not necessarily produce championships.

  8. chethejet1 says:

    Nutting has been in a position to build the franchise and has made baseball decisions that were necessary to compete in MLB. No one is suggesting that a Mark Cuban would throw money into the abyss, or Mario would do so as well. But I do believe the type of owners they are things would have been promoted better and the standards of play and decision making would have been better. Do you think Matt Morris at 20 million would have been acquired? Nutting was out to lunch and allowed Littlefield to not only take a crappy Left handed at best reliever but passed on Wieters. So the ramp up was a disaster when Nutting took over. And they are still paying for those incredibly bad decisions.

  9. 21sthebest says:

    Agree DK. And the Pirates tried deficit spending until Nutting took over.

  10. 21sthebest says:

    Those decisions we’re recommended by Littlefield who was hired by McClatchy.

  11. Leo Walter says:

    +++++ ! Could not have said it better myself DK.

  12. DJ says:

    Good comments, WB.

    Drafting Sanchez doesn’t bother me as much as the pick of Moskos over Wieters, but we can’t blame this front office for Moskos. Had they picked Wieters, no need for Sanchez. Ripple effect.

    Bucs’ front office had a plan to upgrade this off season. It was a reasoned plan. And even with the benefit of hindsight, which is how fans love to measure, I don’t see one move they failed to make that now appears glaring. And there are a couple we didn’t make for which we should thank our lucky stars (or asteroids).

    Team is now playing pretty well. Guys are getting healthy. The Big Guy is on the way. Let’s all enjoy the summer.

  13. Jandy says:

    I can understand the frustration the fans have with the Bucs, but when common sense and logic are pushed out in favor of rant after rant and wallowing in the misery, well, it’s like cutting off your nose to spite your face.
    I’m off to get groceries for macaroni salad and pasta salad, and goodies for the grill. I’m grillin this weekend :)
    Everyone, have a great day :)

  14. hockeymonster says:

    So the pirates raise their payroll by a few million from last year and that’s acceptable with increased season ticket sales? Even after they got a larger influx of revenue from mlb and cba than they spent on payroll increase? Wow the pens must be sharing their Kool Aid recipe with the bucs and nutting. And DK, nice try but those revenues ranking are probably from last year, this year’s numbers aren’t in yet, right? Tax payer funding for pnc should be halted till they open their books. Or until they stop serving kool aid.

  15. Baywatch says:

    I think there’s the DISTINCT possibility that Sanchez was the perfect pick for the Pirates. They SPECIFICALLY wanted a catcher, and they went out and got what looked like at the time the best one they could find. This stuff is DYNAMIC; it’s not set in stone. Like this: His defensive skills were strongest at first, then he gets in a stupid bar fight and breaks his jaw. His development is interrupted and progress thrown out of whack. Now he’s 26 and still developing.

    It’s life. Draft choices go south – even the best of them. And neither Huntington OR Nutting can be blamed for that.

  16. Justin says:

    most of the fanbase has been brainwashed. Reading responses to your stuff on Twitter… it’s insane and sad.

    I’m excited to year you on Madden this week. Be prepared for him to start shouting to prevent you from talking haha.

    Maybe ask if AJ HAD chosen to come back to make payroll ~90 mil, is that an acceptable level? That would put them at the ~2/3 mark in payroll which sounds just about right for Pittsburgh as a market, especially with so much young, cost-controlled talent.

  17. hockeymonster says:

    Oh and by the way…the Pens are one step away from being a Laughingstock. Mario, call me: (412) Mon-Ster

  18. DJ says:

    Only wish they had “specifically wanted a catcher” two years earlier.

    Still waiting for Sanchez to get through 3 innings without dropping 5 pitches.

  19. Jim S says:

    It’s true, Wild Bill. Reservoir of trust is a good term. The Steelers, in my view, have not done much right in the past handful of years. I contend that, right now, if they did not have a Top 5 in the NFL QB, and instead had a middle of the pack or lower QB, they’d be about a 3-4 win team. They have no depth of talent, and their starters at most positions are not all that good. But, still, a large % of fans refuse to offer much criticism of them.

    If you bring up that the Pirates are planning for the future well because they have invested in the draft and have a very highly ranked farm system, that is met with ridicule by some, as though it is not a good thing. Well, unfortunately, no experts are proclaiming the Steelers as a talented organization right now. But, they have a very successful past, and many (certainly not all) fans stubbornly cling to it. I even notice among friends here in Chicago who are fellow Steelers fans. The general view is the Pirates are awful, and there is no hope for the future, while the Steelers are poised for another Super Bowl run.

  20. Naje says:

    Here’s a few more facts if your narrative is making your eyes see differently:

    PNC attendance 2012: 2,091,918.
    PNC attendance 2013: 2,256,862.

    Increase in tickets sold: 164,944 … multiply that by average ticket cost of $17.21 = $2,838,686.24

    Yeah, just as DK wrote in his story yesterday… that $2.8M sure can buy a lot in MLB.

  21. Baywatch says:

    Yeah, I know, DJ. But I think they at least built in the possibility/probability of Sanchez going south and drafted the kid McGuire last year. Be interesting to see what they do next year, and until Reese gets up.

  22. hockeymonster says:

    How bout the 25M from mlb?

  23. hockeymonster says:

    And didn’t read the column.

  24. Right now, he’s got a glove. But Sanchez did, too, at one time.

    McGuire should be the real deal.

  25. DJ says:

    Blog Etiquette Rule #1: Read first, comment second.

  26. DJ says:

    They need to get the right GM.

    Otherwise things could get ugly (See Pirates).

  27. The Pirates’ ownership needs to realize that you can’t compete on the cheap in this day and age.

  28. DJ says:

    Gentlemen, start your engines . . .

  29. SeanAY says:

    And there you have it.

    Almost as good as BFD’s assertion yesterday that interviewing the people you intend to write a story about is not necessary.

  30. Naje says:

    The $25M from MLB probably went to a number of areas including paying down debt.

    Remember Howard Baldwin and what he did to the Penguins? Well, in 2003 the PBC were about one month from having MLB come in and take over the front office because the PBC’s debt-to-earnings ratio was at the MLB threshold (I believe that was 68%). The Pirates had to dump Aramis Ramirez and Kenny Lofton because of that. The PBC had been grossly mismanaged for several years.

    Maybe you can do some digging and find out what they did with that $25M.

  31. TJA says:

    Elsewhere in Baseball: Can you imagine what the cries and hollering must be like in Boston where the Red Sox are on an 8 game losing steak and are in last place…?

  32. DJ says:

    Some spectacular saves by Tristan Jarry in Memorial Cup Semi. A few screened get through but kid is making nice progress.

    http://www.mastercardmemorialcup.ca/

    Big decision ahead on Fleury. New GM may need to roll dice and let him play out his final year, even if Jarry two years away. Don’t think Fleury would re-up for 3 years.

  33. Sarah says:

    Yeah maybe they get a vet for 2 years for cheap like Uncle Fatty Brodeur to mentor Jarry…..they definitely should not toss him into the fire at this early age.

    I even thought about them bringing Heddy back early this year before they went with Zats.

    There are probably many cheaper options than re-upping MAF…..that will bring equally avg goaltending in playoffs.

    But it would be nice to have great goaltending in the playoffs…..

  34. Arriba Wilver says:

    Justin—my guess is most of the fan base doesn’t care about this stuff one way or the other. I think you’re way off-base in any event to suggest most of the fan base has been ” brainwashed.” That seems a bit presumptuous, if not pretentious.

  35. Arriba Wilver says:

    Chet—some people suggested exactly that yesterday on this blog, regarding Cuban and Mario throwing money in. Sounds like maybe more did on Twitter.

  36. JC in Ross says:

    Given the Pirates Struggles this year I am surprised not one has mentioned several of their “star” players routinely jogging out ground balls some of which were difficult plays for the infielders. Specifically Marte not running hard on a play where the shortstop had to make a 360 spin before making the throw. Mccuthen on a difficult play on a ball hit to the shortstop the night before. And no one seems to question his mysterious one game leg/foot injury which was so bad we played a first baseman in right field yet quickly healed so that he has not missed an inning since. Could that have been a one game benching because the night before he dogged it fielding a base hit which turned a single into a double for the Cardinals? I think at least a few of these guys are still coasting on last season.

  37. DJ says:

    Yeah, trick will be getting solid G combo to bridge the gap.

    Several VERY tough judgment calls to make this summer. So getting the GM right is HUGE.

    Hey, no pressure.

  38. Arriba Wilver says:

    And DK said the actual number is about half the $25 mil this year. Not chump change, but $25 mil makes it sound worse. ;-)

  39. Arriba Wilver says:

    +1

  40. hockeymonster says:

    Bucs haven’t been in that kind of crunch since. And i know exactly what they did with the 25M. They paid down debt like you said resulting in the city, fans and tax payers subsidizing the continuing Market Cap increase of the bucs for the nuttings. Congratulations DK and anyone else carrying water for the nuttings. You’re putting money into their pockets and rubber stamping their fleecing of the tax payers just so they can pay increasing dividends for themselves and their investors.

    Then when they pay down debt they say any FA signings would be deficit spending. It’s brilliant really, unless you have some understanding of the corporate world and their tactics. But that would involve presenting accurate info.

  41. hockeymonster says:

    DJ, in case you haven’t noticed I’m allergic to kool aid and have had my fill from the pens. Enough is enough.

  42. hockeymonster says:

    It’s already ugly based on their criteria and what the job description will be. No GM of any import will want to be a Millhouse ‘yes man’.

  43. DJ says:

    Since Pens spend to the cap, there’s no relation.

    On Pens’ player decisions / scouting / coaching, different “ball game” altogether.

  44. DJ says:

    Have concerns as well but let’s see how it plays out.

  45. Sarah says:

    Interesting question asked of DK on triblive this week: what’s more important, right GM or right Coach?

  46. Arriba Wilver says:

    Can’t tell if you are really serious, HM, or just parroting.

  47. Arriba Wilver says:

    You know when “kook-aid” is brought up, it’s time to buckle your chinstrap. ;-)

  48. Thundercrack says:

    Do we want our owners involved with player decisions? Between the Pirates and now with the Penguins, I can’t keep it straight.

  49. hockeymonster says:

    The Bucs and nuttings can tell just fine…

  50. DJ says:

    For me, GM, given required reshaping of roster.

    And not close.

  51. Thundercrack says:

    I’m going to tonight’s game. I’m sitting in the all-you-can-eat seats and they’re giving away a bobble head.
    Call me brain-washed!

    I hope they serve corn-dogs in that section…..

  52. Thundercrack says:

    I mentioned that the other night I was talking with some Orioles fans that were seated behind me at the game. Here was a snippet of my conversation:

    Me: yeah, fans around here are still steamed that we didn’t draft Weiters. We took a left handed pitcher who stunk and is no longer with the team.

    Orioles fan: That happens. We passed on drafting Jeiter because we still had Cal Jr.

    Not exactly the same thing….so after that one I turned back around to watch the game.

  53. Thundercrack says:

    +1

  54. DJ says:

    Always wondered if Kool-Aid was happy with the association.

    No one says they are tired of drinking the Hawaiian Punch.

  55. Arriba Wilver says:

    Holy cow. Maybe you should change your handle to nuttingmonster for baseball discussions.

  56. DJ says:

    Duck, HM, here comes an asteroid.

  57. Arriba Wilver says:

    That “kook-aid” was unintentional, but it might have been a Freudian slip. ;-)

    HM obviously wasn’t watching the KDKA Showdown the night Filliponi suggested to DK he was drinking the Steeler Kool-Aid. The Boss didn’t particularly care for it.

  58. Daquido_Bazzini says:

    I heard DK on David Todd’s radio show yesterday afternoon, and I have to say I was bowled over by some of the money they were talking about that is landing in the hands of the Regime.
    At one point Todd (whose past was with Bucs Dugout) described the Pirates and MLB in general as dripping (or some similar term) with money.
    I found the whole talk to be extremely eye opening to just “how tough” the Nutting Regime has things.

  59. SeanAY says:

    Got to be the person that buys the groceries, right?

    If you bring in a GM that has a clear vision of how he wants to construct the roster, as well as what style he wants the team to play … and, of course, it’s an effective method to begin with – you trust that they’ll find the right coach to get it done.

  60. Dejan Kovacevic says:

    Right. In its first year, per my understanding, it’s in range of $13M.

  61. Dejan Kovacevic says:

    As others suggest here, HM, the Kool-Aid charge isn’t something I take lightly. It’s implying that I don’t take my profession seriously. Sure hope you’ve got something to back that up.

  62. Reading says:

    I thought that my comment yesterday (the blog opener) was rather perceptive making explicit what was implicit in DK’s column: since Polanco was not here, and Nutting was not blocking him, and Coonelly was not blocking him, then obviously Nutting and Coonelly had also not ordered Huntington to promote Polanco. Otherwise, Polanco would be here. No vile. No nothing.

  63. Reading says:

    When the Saints were still terrible and had never won a playoff game, it would be interesting to hear the radio talk show hosts rant and run off a litany of HOF draft picks the Saints had passed on over the years for guys who lasted a few years in the League. I suppose you could make such a list for every team in every sport, but your story puts it in perspective.

  64. 21sthebest says:

    ¥1

  65. 21sthebest says:

    +1

  66. 21sthebest says:

    :-)

  67. 21sthebest says:

    +1

  68. Arriba Wilver says:

    I don’t think many are suggesting they have it “tough,” or even that they are spending to their limit. I know I’m not. Neal said they had $17 mil more to spend than last year (budget wise). Not clear if that is over the final number or not. I presume it was. $13 mil from MLB and $2.8 mil from attendance increase last year pretty much gets you there. Don’t know what the actual increase in season ticket sales and increases in ticket prices works out to, but they aren’t hurting and could spend more. Plus, they have more money that used to go to the draft.

    I still think Neal is too risk averse on money. And one of the things that hasn’t been talked about, but I think was made even clearer yesterday, was that Neal has quite a bit of say in how much money is spent (e.g., the Polanco discussion). And I’ve maintained that for years. Just not sure that’s miserly as much as not knowing how to spend it.

  69. 21sthebest says:

    The thing about paying down debt is that it doesn’t really matter. It’s all revolving credit. There’s no term debt. So when they pay down revolving debt which is smart to do with excess cash because you’re saving interest, you’re just creating borrowing capacity under the bank agreement. So if there’s little cash left after you’ve paid down the revolver, you bring some back if you want to sign a player. Someone also needs to tell me wish the interest rate is on the debt and what they’re earning with the cash they gave sitting around.

    Bottom line: Paying down debt doesn’t mean you’re losing the ability to get that cash back.

  70. DJ says:

    Touché.

  71. 21sthebest says:

    Ha. Filliponi came to mind.

  72. hockeymonster says:

    I have math on my side to back it up.

    Debt reduction with increased revenues = Increased Market Cap(IMC)

    IMC = ability to borrow with greater ease

    Borrowing flexibility + increased ticket/beer sales = greater dividends for nuttings and investors

    Following that up by saying signing FA’s = deficit spending isn’t false, just disingenuous i.e. Kool aid

    Using numbers from previous fiscal year = kool aid

    Or in other words their urinating on the city and telling us it’s raining. People are free to believe that just like I’m free to call them on their BS. So how much have the nuttings received in revenue sharing vs payroll increases? Now that’s a homework assignment worth doing.

  73. hockeymonster says:

    Who?

  74. Arriba Wilver says:

    I was going to ask you how you got the Playboy Bunny. ;-)

  75. Arriba Wilver says:

    Filliponi’s on the Fan, and has become a frequent contributor to the Showdown. Young guy, not afraid to ruffle feathers. Can be very annoying. He ended up taking Vinnie’s place with Cook. (God bless him for that).

  76. Daquido_Bazzini says:

    I’ve been told (by a good source) that there are no corn dogs sold at PNC Park.

  77. DemonDachshund says:

    While I fully agree that the Polanco situation is a no brainer, I honestly cannot tell for certain whether Nutting is cheap or not. I can tell that one of two things is true:

    1) NH is extremely thrifty and is USUALLY not willing to go over his set price. See the AJ situation… If they’d offered him the QO for a whopping $2M more, he either signs without hitting FA, the Bucs get a draft pick, or AJ retires. AND I’d fully agree then that the Bucs had made a reasonable effort to keep AJ regardless of which of those three outcomes happened. But as it stands, the Bucs lost a #2 or #3 level starter (or a draft pick) over $2M, which is unacceptable to me. I do not agree that offering him $12M was proof of trying… That seems to me like the exact sort of penny pinching that the Pirates are known for, and sent a message to AJ (known to be proud) that they didn’t really want him. As crazy as it sounds to the rest of the world, by MLB standards, a $12M offer WAS kind of insulting. And for a team built on pitching, and with risks with pretty much every starter other than Cole, I REALLY wanted one more top-to-mid rotation guy at the start of the season.

    2) NH is that way because Nutting makes him be that way.

    Given that there are examples (Liriano, Martin, Wandy trade) where the Bucs have spent to improve competitively when they could, I tend to believe 1). And I also can’t be overly critical of 1), since they made the playoffs last year following that strategy.

    By the way, the Pirates did not spend millions to release Wandy. They spent $500K for his replacement. They’d already spent Wandy’s salary… They were on the hook for it either way. Attributing the entire salary would be falling for the sunk cost fallacy.

  78. Sarah says:

    Yeah I leaned GM too….but we’ve seen what dumb schemes and poor on ice roster choices can do to a team with plenty of talent.
    And we’ve seen coaches take marginal teams and win with scheme (see Guy Boucher and TBL)….

    So I guess I have to chicken out and say, Both….HCs can sometimes make lemonade out of lemons….but even the best choices a GM makes can get screwed up by an idiot behind the bench that loses the team…..see Torts, and…..others…..

    Both need to be on the same page.

  79. Andrew says:

    Complaining about payroll is part of baseball, and discussion becomes more heated, partisan, and vitriolic in the fan bases of unsuccessful teams. I don’t have a strong opinion other than the Pirates situation is not unique. But if anyone wants to revolt about Bryan Morris being used in tight spots, I’ll grab a torch and pass the pitch.

  80. Andrew says:

    I think GM by far, coaches receive too much credit and blame, we can debate systems and ice time all day but if you don’t have the talent put out on ice, the discussion is academic.

  81. Arriba Wilver says:

    I believe the revenue sharing numbers are released by MLB. If not, the Yankees will always release them, so that’s essentially public knowledge every year.

    I really don’t think math addresses the issue of what they are in fact doing. I mean, the fact someone could be doing something doesn’t mean they are doing something.

  82. Sarah says:

    Certainly with that perspective it is all the GM. If he completely drops the ball and gets you a bunch of Pony League players no coach will win the World Series.

    Just sayin it is more complicated than that and I think if they aren’t on the same page (see Iggy trade) it’s all moot…..

  83. Arriba Wilver says:

    Good post, DD. Said it better than I could have. And, it’s 1. ;-)

  84. Arriba Wilver says:

    As Biz said, the pitchfork crowd is sometimes unfairly maligned. ;-)

  85. Thundercrack says:

    Good points DD. But I still don’t think that they really knew if AJ was coming back (in the early months following the season) and that they didn’t really want him back.

    I’m not sure I think the $12M offer was insulting, but I also feel that the offer he got from the Phillies was way above what the ‘market’ felt AJ was worth. More money and a chance for a second year.

  86. Arriba Wilver says:

    Biz—check your E-Mail.

  87. hockeymonster says:

    They can do as they please. But considering the subsidies they’re getting, the least they can do is not insult our intelligence.

  88. Arriba Wilver says:

    TC–he got $16 mil. That WAS what the market said he was worth. It was also what he had been getting under his previous contract.
    Also, they had a bird in the hand with the QO. They passed. Them’s facts, my friend.

  89. hockeymonster says:

    Hmmm…well perhaps dejan should investigate who has been parroting who lately…

  90. Arriba Wilver says:

    ?

  91. hockeymonster says:

    Or is it whom? English is my 2nd language you know…

  92. Arriba Wilver says:

    ?

  93. Thundercrack says:

    You’re right. But I hold the opinion that Philly had a need because of injury, panicked, and overpaid.

    Nobody was offering a chance for a second year …and I don’t know how many others offered $16 mil

    Now, for my own sanity I have to stop talking/debating about AJ Burnett. :-)

  94. Free market.

    ;)

    What HM is describing above is what banks do with the Federal Reserve. I spent 9 years in the S & L business many years ago.

    Not sure a major league baseball franchise has the same power to expand money as the banking industry.

    But, I have to mow lawn and sharpen pitchforks today, so I’ll see some of ya’ all on the game thread.

    And FWIW, for DK, I never liked Kool Aid.

  95. Andrew says:

    Having a consistent plan is definitely important. I think coaches matter at the margins and margins are certainly important but if you don’t have the talent marginal improvements are just making a team less bad.

    Also the expendability of NHL coaches speaks to their value, if you hire a bad coach he can be fired quickly if you sign bad contracts and draft bad players those mistakes aren’t so easily corrected.

  96. Morris

    Stinks

    Signed,

    MH

  97. Arriba Wilver says:

    By the same token, AJ’s stance on where he would play, and that he was going to retire or play for the Pirates hurt the offers he might have received. He was still a good pitcher.

    Have no idea about the second year thing. Not sure how anyone could know. Baltimore was rumored to be interested in AJ.

    But, if you don’t want to talk about him, how about Perry Hill?

    :-)

  98. Arriba Wilver says:

    I thought of banks, too, Rev.

  99. Andrew says:

    Sometimes you have to grab the pitchfork, but the payroll/Nutting discussion is too political for me, people are obviously free to rant and/or rave, I just don’t have much to say.

  100. 21sthebest says:

    So we’re back to Nutting taking dividends.

  101. Arriba Wilver says:

    I was thinking tonight’s game should be on national TV, with Strasberg and Cole.

    Duh, it is, on Fox.

    I hope none of the announcers make any errors.

  102. Arriba Wilver says:

    Actually, I was referring to the part of your post about Morris. :-D

  103. 21sthebest says:

    And his contract with the Phillies can also go as high as $33M through 2015.

  104. Andrew says:

    I clearly missed that; barricade the bullpen and don’t let him out unless bases are empty and at least a 3 run lead.

  105. Arriba Wilver says:

    Right. Didn’t think that was materially different than $16 mil per. But he has to perform the first year.

  106. Arriba Wilver says:

    I’m right behind you, pitchfork in hand. ;-)

  107. 21sthebest says:

    Absolutely. He does have a player option for 2015 for $7.5M.

  108. Arriba Wilver says:

    So, he’s guaranteed $7.5 next year?

  109. Jake says:

    Nutting isn’t a bad business man from the aspect of making money but putting out a quality product is not something he’s interested in if it takes effort. You see this in his newspapers which are filled with underpaid and overworked staffs. Abusive, clueless yesmen walk the halls of the Ogden media empire. Management’s vision extends to ideas that were cutting edge five to 10 years in the past. The Seven Springs properties also have crucial problems with safety and cost cutting. There is no way this culture does not extend to the Pirates.

  110. Baywatch says:

    Last man of good ball park taste! Corny Dogs! Just brought Mrs. Bay one home from lunch, compliments of the local church bazaar!

  111. Baywatch says:

    LOL! I do believe I would fly – no, drive – to Miami, buy a nice first-base box seat, for the soul purpose of ANTAGONIZING that kumquat Perry Hill the entire game, INCLUDING telling him his mother wore army boots!

  112. Arriba Wilver says:

    :-)

  113. Wouldn’t be the first business to act that way. Did you ever eat a Hot Pocket?

  114. Right. How’d that work out?

  115. Why look forward to a radio sequence next week? I’ve done four since the column ran, there’s the column itself, there’s been blog discussion, and we have Subway Final Word tomorrow night. Not going to say anything different.

  116. It’s incredible. Really is.

  117. Thanks for reading, HM! All this stuff has been in the past two columns. All of it. Factually supported.

  118. If Huntington is ultra-frugal because Nutting ‘makes him that way,’ please explain going above market to get Russell Martin. Out-bidding the Yankees. An offer well above anything else out there.

    Honestly, this parroting just takes on a life of its own because no one ever gets challenged.

  119. Baywatch says:

    So … does this thread not bring us around to the inevitable fact that facts aren’t as important as common sense? LOL TO THE THIRD POWER!

  120. Thundercrack says:

    DK,
    thanks for jumping on the blog today!

  121. Daquido_Bazzini says:

    Come on….Nutting doesn’t “make” him that way.
    Most of these decisions are company policy decided way in advance.
    Sure…..They can’t go out of the box occasionally.
    How many times has that happened in the past 18 years?
    The column was fine, but I’m a little baffled why you’re driving this home

  122. Daquido_Bazzini says:

    Correction….”Can” go out of the box occasionally.

  123. Daquido_Bazzini says:

    Leo – That’s what I said about the “Hoka Hey” column.
    Could DK have not said that one better than you?

  124. Arriba Wilver says:

    One example is just that. An example. It’s the exception without more. Don’t get the point. And, I agree they made the right choice on Martin. (If you recall, you mocked it)

    And I believe you put everyone who disagrees with you on one point in the same box as the crazies. And I think you are totally overly sensitive to any criticism of what you believe. You have your view, probably based on more direct info than us plebeians,.

    But, dang, none of us know everything, even you.

    It’s hard to support you sometimes, DK. Your ego takes over.

    No wonder Drew left.

    And, I agree with you for the most part.

    Dang.

  125. Arriba Wilver says:

    Yeah. I know. Can always go elsewhere.

  126. 21sthebest says:

    Yes.

  127. 21sthebest says:

    Yeah but it seems like you’ve cut way down on interacting with us. You seemed to a lot more on the blog at the PPG and that was fun stuff.

  128. The point, AW, had nothing to do with whether or not they made the right choice to go above-market with Martin. (And you’re right that I was dead wrong in my assessment of that at the time, even as I’m emphatic now that they were right.) The point was that they were ALLOWED to go above-market.

    Some specific arguments become exasperating, and I’m sure you can understand that. When you hear someone repeatedly state that the Pirates are making extra parking and merchandise revenues, and you know it isn’t true, and you cite evidence to that effect, and that person still comes back with, well, that’s just a lie or you’re just a shill or didn’t you criticize these guys one time for something else … that’s frustrating. I don’t ever pretend to be anything other than human here. When I’m frustrated, you’ll hear about it.

    Some people who think this way — and I always emphasize some — are stupid. They are. Willing ignorance of established, recognized fact is tantamount to stupidity.

    Does that mean they’re stupid to hate Nutting or which someone else owned the team?

    No way! That’s anyone’s right, including mine or yours.

    But I’m talking about specific, verifiable examples that just get tossed out because they don’t fit the broader narrative. That’s stupid.

    My only point there. No need for any other drama.

    And the reason Drew left, which I’ve mentioned a couple times, is that he was upset that I wasn’t writing enough about the Pirates while I was covering the Sochi Olympics on the other side of the world. That wasn’t an argument I could — or would have wanted to — win.

  129. Leo Walter says:

    If a $ 12 mil a year offer to Butnette was ” kind of insulting “, what was an $ 11 mil per year ( for 2 years ) contract ? That he accepted.

  130. Leo Walter says:

    You certainly aren’t allergic to clichés !

  131. hockeymonster says:

    How can you say you’ve verified anything when they’re a private co.? Have you seen their quarterly report? Can I buy a call spread? Cuz it would be a sound investment. And I just read the myth column. Totally called last year’s numbers being used. Classic…

  132. hockeymonster says:

    And resorting to name calling is always a sign of strength in any argument where the facts are in dispute.

  133. You asked me on twitter to bring this discussion here so that is what I’m doing. I’m sorry if you felt I was attacking you. That wasn’t my purpose. I want a fair, truthful, honest debate, because honestly the way you posit your argument comes off a little less than that for me. You claim that people hate that the facts that don’t fit their narrative, but a lot of what you are doing is framing your opinion as facts. For example, there is nothing factual about saying the Pirates netted an additional $2.8 million at the gate last season. That is a severe underestimate. You dismiss any argument that uses Forbes or Bloomberg estimates yet you base a a stated revenue increase in your article off of the state Team Marketing Report avg ticket price data that admittedly does not include premium seating of which there is almost 8000 seats in PNC Park that fit that criteria. You also make no mention of additional revenue from concessions or playoff revenues. I’ll state this clearly. I think the Pirates should be spending more on payroll. What exactly that payroll should be I can’t say for certain. I think 40% of revenues is a fair expectation. But I don’t have access to the books and the Pirates don’t open them, so it is just a guess on my part that the Pirates are below that. You feel the Pirates are spending appropriately. I’m cool with you having that opinion. I’m cool with you writing an opinion piece in which you support that opinion. What nerves me is you taking your narrative and claiming it is anymore factual than mine. I think you are a great journalist. I generally love your work. But parts of this article and the stance you’ve taken I found to be really off putting.

  134. hockeymonster says:

    Yes anyone on the blog will confirm how cliche i can be.

  135. Guilty as charged. Until cloning becomes a little more advanced, I’ve got to pick my spots. Twitter brings in roughly 30 percent of all traffic to the columns, and the figure keeps climbing. That’s impossible to ignore.

    I never lose focus from the columns. They’re what matters most.

  136. Thanks for coming over. This is much better.

    I’ll tackle this in pieces:

    >> Didn’t feel I was being attacked. Not sure where you got that.

    >> The gate figure, by the very way it was stated, wasn’t intended to imply being to the penny. There are tons of variables in that, not least of which are tickets that are given away for free or severely discounted if you want to go in the other direction. It was simply to provide a parameter to illustrate that, no matter what the figure is, it doesn’t amount to much. And it doesn’t. Any sports exec will tell you that.

    >> Forbes estimates information it can’t begin to access. Team Marketing Report works off easily obtained ticket prices. Moreover, teams have no issue disclosing details about their various prices. Apples and oranges.

    >> Concessions are an odd animal. Aramark pays rent to be in PNC Park. Aramark then makes the money off concessions. So if there’s any bonus cull there, it’s Aramark’s.

    >> All playoff games are controlled by Major League Baseball, including revenues, which oddly, are used toward the player payments for winning each round. Doesn’t mean the team doesn’t get something. But it isn’t quite like a regular-season home gate. I discussed that, then realized I didn’t have enough info to do anything but muddy up a clean number.

    And to repeat, the point there was to show that even an increase over 81 dates only amounted to paying Tony Watson’s salary. Another three games wouldn’t do much more.

    >> The info that I have that’s supported by numbers, if taken in the right context, is most definitely more substantive than throwing out some random opinion. I have NOT said the Pirates are spending all they can. If you’ve read my work carefully — and there’s nothing I hate more than repeating the same lines again and again and again — I’ve written that the Pirates absolutely should wind up 2014 at $90 million if they’re being responsible. We’ll see about that. Season has a long way to go.

    I can’t go and read my stuff out loud to every reader. That line right there has been in print twice in columns, at least once in a chat.

    If you find information off-putting that’s counter to whatever narrative’s been built up, I won’t apologize for that or for the tone. I do have a lot more info than most, and I’m not going to characterize it any other way to keep people’s feelings from being hurt.

    I also thank you for the kind words about the journalism.

  137. Dom says:

    I know you know the answer DK but it lead to the Buccos making a ridiculous trade to rid themselves of Aramis Rameriz’s contract and Bob Nutting bailing out the team by giving them a $20 million dollar loan.

  138. Dom says:

    Forbes’ final estimate is BEFORE interest, taxes, and depreciation. It says this in the asterisk at the bottom. I’d also think that it is before debt is included as there is no way they would know that. Furthermore, if the Pirates were unable to pay debt, which is typically six million a year then it would obviously accrue the filling year.

  139. We have some common ground in that I agree $90 million this season is a fair payroll. but here is REALITY. The Pirates are not going to get to $90 million. I doubt they get to $85 million. They aren’t not going to add $10 million between now and the end of the season, and the way this season is going they are just as likely to go backwards with payroll as they are forwards. Do you really see this team being a buyer? Yeah, they added $8 million last season but that was as a buyer at the end. It was also misleading as a nice chunk of the additional payroll was easily achievable bonus money to Liriano that they certainly knew they were going to have to pay. All he had to do was come off the disabled list. If the Pirates don’t get that payroll to $90 million are you prepared to call them out for that?

  140. Dejan Kovacevic says:

    ‘Misleading?’

    You do understand the difference between payroll and money actually paid out, right? The only figure in discussion here is the latter. They signed Liriano to that contract. They knew it was easily achievable. They budgeted accordingly. That’s Exhibit A for why Opening Day payroll means nothing. But you paint it like some PR maneuver.

    How in hell does anyone have a serious conversation with you after that?

    Look, man, hate them all you want. I don’t care. I don’t work for them. Not affiliated with them in any way. They’re evil, vile, diabolical, whatever you want them to be.

    Just don’t pretend to be discussing actual information after writing something that fantastically asinine.

  141. Dejan Kovacevic says:

    Forbes has no access. Means nothing. It’s guesswork.

  142. Yes Dejan, All that matters is payroll at the end. So tell me how the Pirates are going to add another $10+ million in payroll this season to get to the level that you admit they need to get to if they’re being responsible? Keep in mind last season they added only $5 million from this point forward and that was with them being a contending team and being a deadline buyer. I don’t hate the Pirates at all. I actually think Nutting is a good owner. He doesn’t gouge the fans and he stabilized the organization. But that doesn’t give him a pass for not spending at appropriate levels with what should be a contending team. And stop with the spin and trying to twist words. Bucs got all this credit for adding close to $10 million (more like $8 million) on payroll during the season last year, but a large chunk of it was really bonus money they knew was going to come due. That isn’t the case this year. So again, where will all this additional inseason spending come from this year?

  143. Dom says:

    Do you feel that Nutting is pocketing that extra $10 million profit?

    If so, what are you basing that on?

  144. DemonDachshund says:

    I’m confused as to what I’m “parroting” here. I cited 3 cases where they spent money that they didn’t have to… Including Martin.

    But the bottom line is they don’t seem to go above the minimum cost option very often, which implies that either NH isn’t asking very often or Nutting isn’t saying yes very often. Which leads to my personally-thought-out-all-by-myself conclusion that I stated above.

  145. DemonDachshund says:

    Burnett is making $15M this year, according to baseballreference.com, with a $15M mutual option for next year plus a $7.5M player option.

    That’s not $11M/year, unless AJ triggers that $7.5M option, which will only happen if he’s hurt or awful this year. In which case it’s basically a 1 year, $22.5M deal, since the Phillies would likely release him next season.

  146. Dom, no I don’t believe Nutting is taking extra profits from unspent payroll. Maybe in the future he and the minority owners will. I don’t know exactly where it goes. Maybe it sits in the coffers. Maybe they pay down additional debt. Maybe they have plans to build another Latin American academy or some other infrastructure improvement. What I do know is it isn’t being spent on payroll and with draft slotting and international spending pool limits it won’t be going there either. And there is no evidence that dollars saved from budgeted payroll are being rolled into future payrolls. All I’m saying is there was a promise to spend when the team was ready to contend. The team has reached that point and I don’t feel they’ve spent to an appropriate level to support such a team. I’m a fair an reasonable fan. I don’t expect a $100+ million payroll. $90-95 million seems about right. Others, including Dejan have mentioned that $90 million number too. They are going to fall significantly short of that figure.

 
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