Saturday, May 19, 2007

Game 42: D'backs at Pirates

Micah Owings and Tom Gorzelanny. Arizona color guy Mark Grace adores Owings. (Well he adores everything and everyone, but he seems to extra adore Owings.) Owings looks like he'll stick around. I've seen a few of his starts. I'm not sure he'll be better than league average, but he does play like a guy who belongs in the big leagues.

For some reason, I think the Pirates will hit him tonight. He looks pretty hittable to me. If he was a Pirate, I'd expect him to get knocked around at least half the time. To his credit, though, he's smart and unusually ballsy and self-confident for a young guy. He appears to think like a veteran. We'll see if he can fool and trick his way through the lineup.

The D'backs have a younger team than the Pirates. They are starting far more rookies than the Pirates. The Pirates do not often play a younger team; they should beat up on these guys pretty good.

If the season is a quest to finish so far above .500, then tonight's another must-win game. Every game's a must-win game. There can be no great margin of error with this team. The team can win tonight, or they can win two later. Either way they make one step toward that goal.

It's always easier to win one now than it is to win two later. Snell and Gorzelanny are not going to pitch any better than they have the last two months. Some players are going to come around, but there's not so much hidden vigorish that anyone should expect the Pirates to be dramatically improved in a month or two. So here's hoping that the team plays error-free ball with sustained concentration and no stupid mistakes.

Ten up and ten down

The Reds have been as bad as the Brewers have been good.

The Pirates are 9-12 at home (and 10-10 on the road). They can finish .500 at home--yes?

Friday, May 18, 2007

Game 41: D-backs at Pirates

Snell vs. Davis, starting now. Bautista returns, hitting second. Doumit's on the bench again.

The red and the black

Milwaukee still owns first with the 26-15 record. The Pirates hang back at 18-22.

A losing record is like a negative bank account. It's like debt. Every game, the team can pay down say $10K in debt or they can charge another $10K to their account. There is no breaking even. Had they lost yesterday, they would be six games under today. But they won. So they are four games under. This means they must lose two to be where they would be had they lost one yesterday.

There is a psychology to getting out of debt. I enjoyed this film linked from the Consumerist blog. And I wonder if the Pirates should have some kind of graph or chart in their little moleskin notebooks.

This is a corny idea, sure, but the old respect for the present moment is one of the things that the team needs to get out of the red and into the black.

Selling tickets

The P-G Q&A is all about why folks don't buy tickets. The Pirates will sell out consistently if they establish a winning tradition. It's not enough to be on the upswing; it's not enough to play .500 ball. They need to play better than .500 ball for two or three years straight. They need to be in first or second place in the NL Central for two or three years straight.

Four games under .500 will not bring the crowds. Fans identify with the team. Right now the team is a Loser fourteen years straight. There is nothing cool about that kind of losing. No one goes to the movies to watch stories about how it is exciting to blow out your knees and back while working, without insurance, for minimum wage, or about how great it was when a poor victim filed a fair lawsuit and was denied justice, or how it was cool when this plain-looking guy asked six girls to the prom and was rejected every time. The Pirates are Losers until the standings say otherwise not for one day, or for half a season, but for several years running. Only then will the attendance come back. Only then will large numbers of fans identify with the team.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Game 38: Marlins at Pirates

Mitre vs. Maholm. "The Thing That Should Not Be" leads off for the Fish.

17-20

The Bucs are three games under and seven plus back of Milwaukee. The Brewers are on pace to win 106 games. That's not going to happen--but they could win 90+ easily if guys like J.J. Hardy keep it up and stay healthy. The Astros are in second despite the 0-6 showing, this year, against the Pirates. The Reds have imploded. At 15-24, they are nine games under .500 and ten plus out of first. They are on pace to win 62 games. How'd that happen so fast?

GORE-zuh-LAWN-ey

Here's the recap for last night's game.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Game 37: Marlins at Pirates

Willis and Gorzelanny. Half an hour.

Good teams get the calls

This came up in Dejan Kovacevic's chat:

Vito_Jr: Doesn't it seem like the Pirates are the vicitims of bad calls every night? Take Friday for instance. How is interference not called on Chipper Jones at 3rd base?

Dejan Kovacevic: Good teams get the calls. True in every sport. When the Pirates get good, they will get calls. One does not come before the other.

I've been meaning to comment on this.

As someone who watches or listens to a lot of Pirate baseball, I've gotten the strong impression the last year or two that the umps despise the Pirates.

It does no good to complain about officiating. But I will anyway.

Not only do they despise the Pirates, the umps do not seem to be as impartial as they were, say, ten or twenty years ago. Gone is the idea that they are fair and kind and above the passions of rooting. Now they are more like a bunch of evil prison guards. They make one bad call Everyone protests. They stand up for each other and the call, stupid as it was, stands. They make a virtue of being stubborn. This would be OK if they were more fair-minded. It is important to respect the rule of law in any game.

But instead of making the call up by giving the injured team the next borderline call, or by outright blowing another call in their favor -- something I remember seeing more often in the 1970s and 1980s -- now then make another lopsided call against the complaining team. And then they swagger about like conceited jackasses. How dare you call us wrong, they seem to say, now watch us get medieval on your ass.

The first time this really hit me in the face were the back-to-back series in Boston and New York that year, I dunno, two or three back, when they clawed back to 30-30. Now it's routine. It's part of what really sucks about being a Pirates fan.

When McClendon was fired, I wondered if all of the animosity of umps was not directed at him. But they do the same thing to Tracy. So it's not McClendon they hate.

Whatever's the source of the problem, I wish the league would find a way to improve the quality of the officiating. Those guys need to be more impartial. The prison-guard mentality of the umps impairs our ability to enjoy MLB's product, and it only discourages the fans from bothering to follow this team.

Condensed game

I just watched the "condensed game" for yesterday's blowout. If they could somehow mute the announcers - who speak in gibbers and squeaks - but keep the in-game sounds (ball off batt, ball into glove, crowd, etc.) - then these things would cause less motion sickness.

It looked to me like the Pirates did some aggressive baserunning yesterday. I saw a lot of guys getting tagged out all over the place. I saw a lot of hitting the fastball to all parts of the field, too. That was a lot of singles for one game.

Also, since the red vest has us talking about uniforms, I will add that the pinstripes are sweet.

Armas not a good starter

In today's PG notebook, Dejan Kovacevic indicates that Tony Armas might be looking at real estate in the bullpen.

For the love of God, get him out of the rotation.

Not unravelled

Dejan Kovacevic reports the clubhouse is down but not out.

How they teach hitting

I was not aware that all of our players could hit the fastball to any field. I will have to pay more attention.

16 and 20

10-10 on the road, 6-10 at home.