Rob Biertempfel writes about the "adjustment period" experienced last year.
The adjustment period carried over into the regular season, hampered perhaps by the Pirates' 30-60 start.
The "adjustment period" or "transition period" talk annoys me because it's just an excuse. Whenever there is an ownership change or a managerial change, this excuse will be handy. And excuses are much too tempting for professional athletes and coaches. These people are not so hardy any more. They are soft. Put an excuse within reach, and they will grab it.
There's no excusing the historically bad start. It is possible that the coaches and the team will learn from it. It is not likely they will repeat it. They were that bad.
I understand the need to put a good spin on the end of the season. Everything depends on selling tickets. And it's not deceitful to point out that the team's record in the second half was not bad. I sympathize with Tracy and Littlefield and everyone else who wants to talk pretty about 2007. I hope they sell a lot of tickets. I know I will be buying some.
But I think it's cowardly to say anything less than, "I made mistakes. We made mistakes. We screwed up." And it would be refreshing to say, "We made so many mistakes, we can't be sure exactly which ones caused such losing of epic proportions." The team's owner, for better or worse, has confidence in the manager, the general manager, and the players on the 40-man roster. That's all they need--his confidence. They are not politicians. The people will not vote to keep one or the other before the season begins. If I was partly responsible for the horror of 2006, and people were asking me those questions about "What happened," I'd say, "We did not win games. Obviously, I made a bunch of mistakes. There is plenty of blame to go around when there is so much failure but obviously, when there is that much losing at the start of the season, obviously I made a bunch of mistakes. That said, I am working as hard as I can to not make those same mistakes. I talk to people all the time about those mistakes. I am gathering what I think to be very good advice about those mistakes. I will not make them twice. And I think I know what we need to do to win games. I have a plan for success in 2007. And I am grateful that I still have a job and the oppportunity to execute that plan."
That's the speech I would write.
Meanwhile, when they blame the team's first-half failure - their complete, consistent, and thorough failure - on the turbulence of an "adjustment period," it does not make me, a regular-old, lifelong fan of the team, any more confident in their ability to pull themselves together and win many ballgames in April.