Saturday, July 09, 2005

Seven in the seventh

Fuck yeah.

Craig Wilson: "Glad to be back."

Humberto Cota: "Glad to still be here."

Freddy Sanchez: "I can lead off like a champ, at least against lefties and the Mets bullpen."

Mike Restovich: "Walk's as good as a hit."

Jack Wilson: "Look what I found under the bed -- my old bats!"

Dave Williams: "Zach who?"

Ian Snell: "I lowered my ERA to 10.50!"

Game 86: Mets at Pirates

Ishii and Williams. Tonight at seven.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

All hail Kip

Maybe we keep this guy.

Game 82: Phillies at Pirates

It's Jon Lieber, former Bucco, and Kip Wells, soon-to-be-former Bucco, in an hour.

Ron Zook's column today appears under the headline, "Pirates all but done at season's midpoint". Sure, it must be embarassing, as a fan and as a newspaper man, to remember that the Bucs' 30-30 record earned front-page status. Zook's disappointment resonates with what we all feel.

It's not true, of course, that the season is all but done. They have 81 more games to play. They can play them like exhibition games or they can play them to win. Odds are, they will do some of both.

With the Pirates out of playoff contention, fans are robbed of some of the pleasure that comes with following a team on a day-to-day basis. The individual games can be worth something, however, especially if the team plays gamely, maybe wins, and does not embarrass the person who spent his hard-earned free time paying attention. If the team approaches each game as an exhibition, forget it -- fans won't watch a week of these games and come back. Until next year, maybe.

The Bucs have some interesting decisions to make about the allocation of playing time over the rest of the year. Some Pirate fans and non-Pirate-fan baseball writers now urge the team to dump the vets and start whatever rookies have promise. The theory seems to hold that playing time is the team's most valuable resource; it is something that should not be squandered on players who won't be here in 2006 or 2007. Therefore the guys with the most promising minor-league numbers must start every day, regardless of what failure they might show us, in the hopes that they get through the growing pains. Only playing time develops big-leaguers, the theory holds.

I have no problem with these arguments provided they come from fans who watch the Pirates on a regular basis and will continue to watch the Pirates on a regular basis. Beat writers who must watch the Pirates every day, regardless of their performance, are obviously more willing to endure the potential horror of all rookies, all the time: they will be there regardless.

Take Ryan Doumit. Should the Pirates eat half of Lawton's contract to give him more playing time? I can see how that makes sense, but I do note that most of the baseball writers who hail him as the second coming of Craig Wilson are not writers who buy Pirates tickets or follow the Pirates or no other baseball, night after night. If Doumit can play well enough to warrant all the playing time, I say give it to him. If he doesn't start hitting, I say we let the people who watch the team day after day decide what's best. It's easy to preach that Ryan Doumit should get a position and unlimited PT the rest of the way. It might be much harder to watch. Folks willing to preach and not watch will kindly stop preaching. This is our baseball team, the summer's not half over, and I want to enjoy what games I can. I also happen to think that this is the best attitude management could have for long-term growth, but that's another series of posts.

I'm definitely leaning toward giving Doumit the rest of the season to show us what he can do, but I can't promise that I won't change my mind if his play becomes unbearably bad. I can promise, however, that I won't have an opinion about a team I'm not following night after night.

The way I see it, one day at a time is best the Pirates can offer. Any given baseball game can be a great entertainment. For the sake of the fans who turn on a game or go to the ballpark, I hope the Bucs play well, or as well as they can, day after day. If this means some slumping rookies need to be benched before their failure demoralizes the whole team, then I'll go easy on the manager who keeps him on the bench.

There's a lot of baseball left in the season. I'm fine with any allocations of playing time provided they respect the present moment. I'm not young enough to think I'll live forever. If I watch the game tonight, I'd like for the Pirates to play like it counts.

Lawton on the block

He has good things to say about McClendon, too.

And get well Craig Wilson, whose return is also covered in that DK notebook. We need the Jim Thome edition.

John Perrotto says we shouldn't expect much until the winter meetings.

Sell out

From Dejan Kovacevic's recap of yesterday's drubbing:

Despite no tangible improvement in the on-field product -- the team fell to 35-46 at the halfway mark, a season-low 11 games under .500 -- average attendance is 23,193, which is 3,517 higher than it was at the same point in 2004.

The crowd yesterday was the fourth sellout of the season and the largest for a Fourth of July at PNC Park. The Fourth drew 19,029 last year. And the walk-up sale was only 4,676, meaning the impact of revelers descending on Downtown for fireworks was minimal.

It's good news, I think.

Is attendance up this much all over baseball?

Monday, July 04, 2005

Game 81: Phillies at Pirates

Half-way through the season now. Cory Lidle and Dave Williams at 4pm on July 4th.

Good to see the Phillies. Of all the former NL East division rivals, the Phillies are the team I miss seeing regularly.

Trade everybody

No, seriously, that won't happen.

My guess: unless the Bucs manage a mega-deal with one team, sending a whole slew a players to one new city, there's little chance of acquiring the kind of good, young hitter the Bucs need. We'll still be waiting for one of the young hitters we now have to become that person.

If 2005 goes like 2004, the team will play well in July. Fan interest will mount. Trades will go down. Fans will be disappointed. The Bucs will fade, and the football season will be upon us.

Mike Prisuta has it about right. The Bucs have been thoroughly eliminated from playoff contention. And I was happy to bump along with a 10% chance.

Joe Rutter has more dope. Most interesting latest rumor? The Yankees want Tike Redman to man center.