Thursday, May 13, 2004

Darren Perry

Nice article by Ed Bouchette on Darren Perry, and how Cowher is grooming him for a second career as a coach. I wish nothing but good things for Darren Perry. During his last two years as a steeler safety he had the condo next to my mother's in wexford. Though he lived in the offseason in Virginia I think, he brought his whole family to live with him in the burgh during the season. No Donzi's for him. All reports are he was nothing but cool and polite. Also mature--unlike another player (don't recall who he was) who spent the entire offseason riding an ATV from morning until night around the same quarter-mile loop he'd carved out around the complex. You would think after the 5,000th lap it might get stale, but it seemed every circuit was new to him...anyway Darren has always had his head on straight and no doubt cowher recognized that early on.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Getting the big hit

Drove home last night and caught some of the game (the 5-3, 6-5, 8-6 part) as we pulled into the area. Lanny of KDKA was going on about Craig Wilson not getting the big hit with runners in scoring position. During the losing streak Mac went on a couple times about we didn't get the big hit when we needed it, etc. etc. It's friggin' demoralizing to play every game like the Bucs can't win if they don't bat .800 with RISP. Wilson had two strikes and it was looking dark and darkest before dawn dark again etc. etc. etc. Bucs will never win another game etc. etc. etc. That kind of dark. And Wilson crushed the next pitch for a three-run homer.

When reporters asked Coach Cowher about the Steelers' struggles in the red zone, he said that he thought those problems would straighten themselves out so long as the Steelers kept getting into the red zone.

The Bucs should take the same attitude. The runs will take care of themselves if the Pirates worry more about getting into scoring position and less about getting an RBI every time they bat with a RISP.

No more posts from me until Monday next week as I'm back out the door. Scoop's gonna put Honestwags on his back and carry us Craig Wilson-style.

Roster moves

Chris Kahrl's right about Bobby Hill.

Put Hill in the same category as Hee Choi: he was an uberprospect before Dusty Baker got a hold of him. He's also thriving under Mac's play-for-play platoon system. He's made the most of limited time, so he's earned all the PT the Bucs can find for him.

Paul Meyer notes today that J.J. Davis would have to stay on a big-league roster if claimed off waivers. That makes it less certain he'll be claimed if he's waived. If he can't make a push for more playing time in Pittsburgh, where half the starting spots are pretty wide open, where else could he go? Still, that won't stop a team that needs help yesterday from making the claim and giving him a chance. Odds are he would get claimed, and odds are he'd get waived again, and odds are he'd bounce around and not do much of anything for anyone.

Hearing Ward at 1B last night as I swung home surprised me a bit; I imagined Mateo would be up to replace Mondesi. On second thought, it makes a lot of sense. It tells us that the Bucs would like to find more PT for Craig Wilson in the OF. Rivera had a chance for a 1B job. Now Ward gets it. Odds are he won't set the world on fire and he can be returned to Nashville when Simon's ready.

For Sale

Game worn pirates jersey. "Mondesi 43" stitched on back. Very slight tear on back where player slid while being thrown out at third base with no outs. Great for taking kids to school in, which maybe you've never done before, even though you have six months of the year off. Paypal or money orders only.

Gildon vs. Rocket?

Sweet extra inning win. Man, the Bucs needed this after the last week. The losing streak is ended at 6 and Bucs improve to 13-17, only 4 games back of .500. Again, Craig Wilson carried us on his back with sick line of 5-4-4-7 with 2 HRs and 2 BBs. Mesa closes it out with a flawless non-save opp. Mackowiak gets the GWRBI hitting fourth.

So who needs Mondy? With Simon coming off the DL, the OF logjam, and Mateo poised in AAA, there are other options. What hurts is the vanishing option of trade booty for basketcase.

I've been thinking a lot about ways the Bucs can manufacture a few wins here and there. This idea is admittedly out-of-the-box, but why don't MLB teams hire goons like in the NHL? Picture this: Bucs sign Ty-Domi-type-expendable-thug (I keep picturing Jason Gildon). In first inning of crucial NL Central match-up, leadoff hitter Gildon leans into a Rocket heater then rushes the mound. (Or Rocket angrily and unexplainedly scoops up piece of Gildon's broken bat and murderously chucks it at Gildon) Gildon rolls on the Rocket's ankle, then in the ensuing melee manages to strain Bags' back and spike Biggio. Before the MLB fines+suspension land, in the next series Gildon rolls on Kerry's ankle. The Pirates apologize, fire Gildon, pay fines, and rake in increased ticket sales and win an extra 6 games down the stretch, taking the NL Central by half a game.

Monday, May 10, 2004

Mondy takes the money and rests

Breaking news says Mondy will take the rest of the year off. Mondy's quote to AP:

`I won't play another game this season. I can't concentrate well enough to play baseball. I don't want to become a distraction for the team. This is the best for the Pirates, for myself and my family...I've played 20 straight years of baseball all year round. I deserve a rest even if it's only a few months. Today I took my children to school for the first time in my life. It was an amazing feeling.'

Have fun with the family, Mondy. Good luck supporting them in a few years when you're out of work and begging Carlos Rivera for that watch you bought him.

Meanwhile, back on Earth: Wells vs. Elarton tomorrow - favorable matchup to stop the bleeding.

Haynes on R & R

Guess who just arrived for the beach party ... Jimmy Haynes. Looks healthy, too. I'm raising a drink to that as I speak.

Sunday, May 09, 2004

The real story behind Mondy--An Honest Wags Exclusive!

Just flew in from Santo Domingo (note to self--never, never choose cabrio at an airpoirt tacqueria) after a nice sit down with Mondy. It seems the personal issue that has taken el canon away from the bucs when they have needed him most has nothing to do with that guy who taught him how to throw a curve ball when he was 11. It seems he's been giving career advice and sanctuary to another professional athlete. He told me there is a lot of disrespect in professional sports--that often teams ask you to do things you don't want to do, and what greater show of disrespect is there? I mean, what if it were your turn to hit and the manager told you to sit down? I'd never ehard of such a thing but Mondy assured me it goes on all the time. Also he said that sometimes when players disaffectedly coast through bad years the teams they play for think it is okay to take such performances into consideration during contract talks. Imagine! I almost spit out my mojito.

Anyway Mondy said he has a lot of experience with being disrespected and that his counsel was needed too badly to be in pittsburgh with his teammates. He would not divulge the name of his ephebe, nor how he came by his michigan state trucker's cap.

Growing up

Five straight hurts, but note the silver lining:

RV rebounded nicely from the first inning Green jack: 'I threw the pitch I wanted to against Green,' Vogelsong said . 'I wanted to go inside on him and he still got to it. It's one of those things where you just tip your hat to him...I felt I learned a lot about myself tonight on the mound. I think I grew up a lot tonight. The rest of the night I was just trying to locate my pitches, trying to keep the ball down.' After the jack, RV two-hit the Dodgers for 6 innings and left with the game tied. Nice work RV.

In other good news: Mac finally acknowledged that Craig has earned the right to play everday. And the 20 inning scoreless streak at PNC is over, thanks to Tike's first jack of the year.

Of the loss Mac said:'This hurts. Certainly we had some opportunities to push that go-ahead run across and couldn't get it done.' I don't know if I'd call Nunez and Tike vs. the Beast (73 for last 73) 'opportunities' but the pain is real: The Dodgers have pistol-whipped us at PNC, taking 12 of 14.

Fogg vs. Odalis Perez today, could be a tater-fest.