Thursday, January 10, 2008

Redbeard and Russell

Two items of note in the Post-Gazette today.

One, the Pirates have approached Adam LaRoche about a deal that covers his arbitration years plus one or two more. With all the first-base types on the team, it is interesting that they are ready to sign up LaRoche for awhile. What are they going to do with Pearce? I thought he played well enough to warrant a clear path to 2008 playing time. Maybe no?

It could mean the Pirates regard LaRoche as a fixture, or it could mean that they believe he will be more tradeable if he came with a fixed price tag. I'm not sure what it means. I guess that's what makes it interesting.

In other Dejan Kovacevic news, it looks like Russell will do his managerial duty of furnishing us with amusing quotes. If Mac's were profanity-laden, and Tracy's were nonsensical, Russell's look to be candid, perhaps. We will see.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Goose Gossage as a Pirate

I vividly remember the Pirates losing Goose Gossage, now a Hall of Famer, to the Yankees for something like $2.5 million dollars.

Free agency was something everyone was nervous about; it was a new thing to baseball. Old farts complained that the family-like continuity of ballclubs was destroyed by the way a dozen or more of the games' best players switched uniforms in the offseason.

The story of free agency in late 1977 will sound familiar thirty years later. The Yankees had just lost Mike Torrez, another 1977 free agent, to the Red Sox. The Red Sox gave Torrez a lot of money. The Yankees were pissed. So they went out and grabbed Gossage and paid him even more money. Torrez was a starter and Gossage was a closer. And the Yankees already had Sparky Lyle, who was also good at finishing games.

The next spring, there was a big picture of Gossage for an article on free agency in one of the annual magazines--it may have been Street & Smith's. I dunno for sure--something like that, however. It had this large picture of Gossage, as a Pirate, throwing hard, shot from a batter's point of view. I was a huge fan of those magazines until the internet arrived with Baseball Reference.

I spent a lot of time looking at that picture throughout the 1978 season. I would get the magazine out and consult the rosters when watching baseball on television. I also read and re-read the preseason predictions as I followed the season by reading at least the standings every day in the newspaper. I can still see that picture of Gossage in my memory.

Don't get me wrong: I was not haunted or all broken up about the loss of the Goose. It's just funny how you remember some things so much more vividly than others.

And yes, I was bummed that the Pirates lost Gossage. And maybe all the free-agency grousing had some role in the Pirates' decision to come together as "family."

Monday, January 07, 2008

Prospects earn lousy grades

John Sickels uses the word "horrible" to describe the Pirates' collection of minor-league talent.

No Dave Parkers on that list.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Dave Parker

Rob Biertempfel takes up Dave Parker's case for the Hall in the Trib.

I don't care much for the Hall of Fame talk; there's too much sanctimonious argumentation. It puts me off. And the whole honor is blown out of proportion. It's not the Congressional Medal of Honor. People should not make such a big deal out of it.

If I had a vote, I would vote carefully but quickly. And I would only concern myself with on-field performance. The fact that Parker did some cocaine and broke some laws does not make him so much less a player. The Hall of Fame is full of scumbags. It's for ballplayers, and not only for Sunday School teachers. I am open to the idea that we should embrace the whole diversity of fools, crooks, jackasses, and boy scouts who worked so hard on their playing career. Everybody has their faults and warts; let's not pretend otherwise.

Anyway, (he said, getting off his high horse,) I've been watching the 1979 World Series over the holiday break. I had forgotten what a tremendous player the Pirates had in Dave Parker. The man was a beast. There was nothing he could not do. He played like Superman. It has been a long, long time since I have seen someone play at that level in a Pirates uniform.

You should watch the tapes again if you get the chance. The recent signings of Kuwata and Dessens bring tremendous excitement for the middle winter, but the average Pirate fan may need more than that until Ronny Ballgame opens minicamp.