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(SB Nation)   Pirates become the first MLB team to win 50 games this season. Or as Pittsburgh fans used to call their 50th win, September   (sbnation.com) divider line 41
    More: Spiffy, Major League Baseball, MLB teams, Pittsburgh, Michael Cuddyer, pirates, Justin Morneau, first team, Francisco Liriano  
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493 clicks; posted to Sports » on 01 Jul 2013 at 9:01 AM (1 year ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2013-07-01 09:04:10 AM
For every day the Pirates are in first place, the Doomsday Clock is moved up 30 seconds.
 
2013-07-01 09:13:06 AM

WTF Indeed: For every day the Pirates are in first place, the Doomsday Clock is moved up 30 seconds.


I thought the Mayans had the world ending last year.

I didn't know they were just talking about the Pirates's two decades of futility.
 
2013-07-01 09:19:44 AM
This year's collapse is really going to hurt, as they have more than one player contributing now and should be serious contenders.   They only need to win 31 of the next 81 games, yet somehow they will figure out how to keep that from happening.
 
2013-07-01 09:27:10 AM
I always thought that when they broke the streak it would be a bit of a whimper, just a game or two over .500 and well out of the playoff hunt. Wasn't expecting this.
 
2013-07-01 09:43:00 AM

Twonk: I thought the Mayans had the world ending last year.


They forgot to carry the 1.
 
2013-07-01 09:44:52 AM

Lost Thought 00: I always thought that when they broke the streak it would be a bit of a whimper, just a game or two over .500 and well out of the playoff hunt. Wasn't expecting this.


God, I hope they can pull it off.
 
2013-07-01 09:47:21 AM
Nicely done Pirates.
Time to dust off your "We Are Family" 45s...
 
2013-07-01 10:00:16 AM
They have an interesting lineup-- they can field 7 guys with virtually identical offensive lines.  Not a great line, mind you, just a steady stream of guys with .340 OBPs and 8 HR.  They play the best team defense in MLB.

But look again at that pitching rotation and tell me it's going to last.

A.J. Burnett: 36 years old.  Two years ago, he was one of the worst pitchers in the American League.
Francisco Liriano: One year ago, he was one of the worst pitchers in the American League.  Gets hurt doing anything more strenuous than brushing his teeth.
Wandy Rodriguez: I actually like this guy.  An annual lock to be about 10% better than league average.  Skillfully avoids being noticed by fans by hiding in Houston and Pittsburgh his whole career.
Jeff Locke: In 2011, Baseball Prospectus thought he was the Pirates' 12th most promising minor leaguer.  Their review: "This southpaw has good command of an average three-pitch mix. He could fit the fourth- or fifth-starter profile."
Jeanmar Gomez: Pitched too poorly to remain in Cleveland.  Last year, Baseball Prospectus thought he was the 9th-best young player in the Indians organization, with the review "Gomez has been inconsistent, and might work best in a Ramiro Mendoza swingman type of role."

Throw in a bullpen anchored by Jason Grilli, who's a 36-year-old journeyman who made 330 appearances for six different teams before this year, and you never heard of any of them.  Suddenly, he's lights-out for three months.

Granted, all of their ERAs are suppressed by the fantastic defense behind them.  Maybe they have the best pitching coaches in the history of baseball.  Otherwise, it's a staff with a combined 3.13 ERA (best in MLB, average is 3.93) made up entirely out of 2012 punchlines and "Who?" guys.  If the Pirates implode, the rotation will be Ground Zero.
 
2013-07-01 10:17:06 AM
these are truly end times.
 
2013-07-01 10:21:52 AM

Primitive Screwhead: Nicely done Pirates.
Time to dust off your "We Are Family" 45s...


This team seems to really gel together nicely and I think that has a lot to do with A.J. Burnett helping change the attitude in the clubhouse over the past two years. If I were the type to buy jerseys, I'd have a number 34.
 
2013-07-01 10:54:39 AM

buckeyebrain: Twonk: I thought the Mayans had the world ending last year.

They forgot to carry the 1.


I was told there would be no math.

chimp_ninja: They have an interesting lineup-- they can field 7 guys with virtually identical offensive lines.  Not a great line, mind you, just a steady stream of guys with .340 OBPs and 8 HR.  They play the best team defense in MLB.

But look again at that pitching rotation and tell me it's going to last.

A.J. Burnett: 36 years old.  Two years ago, he was one of the worst pitchers in the American League.
Francisco Liriano: One year ago, he was one of the worst pitchers in the American League.  Gets hurt doing anything more strenuous than brushing his teeth.
Wandy Rodriguez: I actually like this guy.  An annual lock to be about 10% better than league average.  Skillfully avoids being noticed by fans by hiding in Houston and Pittsburgh his whole career.
Jeff Locke: In 2011, Baseball Prospectus thought he was the Pirates' 12th most promising minor leaguer.  Their review: "This southpaw has good command of an average three-pitch mix. He could fit the fourth- or fifth-starter profile."
Jeanmar Gomez: Pitched too poorly to remain in Cleveland.  Last year, Baseball Prospectus thought he was the 9th-best young player in the Indians organization, with the review "Gomez has been inconsistent, and might work best in a Ramiro Mendoza swingman type of role."

Throw in a bullpen anchored by Jason Grilli, who's a 36-year-old journeyman who made 330 appearances for six different teams before this year, and you never heard of any of them.  Suddenly, he's lights-out for three months.

Granted, all of their ERAs are suppressed by the fantastic defense behind them.  Maybe they have the best pitching coaches in the history of baseball.  Otherwise, it's a staff with a combined 3.13 ERA (best in MLB, average is 3.93) made up entirely out of 2012 punchlines and "Who?" guys.  If the Pirates implode, the rotation will be Ground Zero.


I can't argue with any of this.

As someone who has watched most of their games this season, I will say it pleases me that they are able to find ways to win.  A few years ago, a 3-run first inning from the Brewers, like they had Friday night, would have had everyone (players, fans, announcers, hotdog vendors) thinking "oh no, not this crap again."  But the team plays like they're having fun out there: witness the "Zoltan" every time someone does something good on offense.

Hurdle started something great in 2011 by turning around the attitude of many of the players.  AJ Burnett came in last year from the Yankees, which sent a couple of interesting messages: 1) the front office was actually going to find proven winners (yeah, I know Burnett had his problems in New York), and 2) proven winners were willing to come to Pittsburgh, which  nobody wanted to do.  He's helped mentor the younger kids in the rotation.  This year, it's been Russell Martin who's been the surprise pickup.  I mean, the Bucs needed someone to actually throw out basestealers, but he too has been great with his attitude and mentoring of the younger pitchers.  The occasional game-winning pinch-hit in the bottom of the 14th doesn't hurt, either.

People are talking playoffs.  I'm not that optimistic: I'll take a winning season and be happy, especially since the Pirates are fighting off the Reds and Cardinals.  I'm also willing to take a full PNC Park where most of the fans are wearing Pirates gear, instead of Steelers or Penguins.
 
2013-07-01 11:18:43 AM

Twonk: This year, it's been Russell Martin who's been the surprise pickup. I mean, the Bucs needed someone to actually throw out basestealers, but he too has been great with his attitude and mentoring of the younger pitchers. The occasional game-winning pinch-hit in the bottom of the 14th doesn't hurt, either.


Martin was underappreciated in NY.  He was a durable catcher who gave you a league-average-ish bat, good baserunning for a catcher, and controlled the running game well enough.  That's actually a very scarce commodity, even if it doesn't pop off the stats page.

This year he has been hitting a little better, but still nothing amazing.  Remember above when I said the Pirates' offense was a steady stream of guys with .340 OBPs and 8 HR?  Martin has a .341 OBP and 8 HR.  You know how many catchers are outhitting him (by OPS, min 200 PA)?  Eight.  Nine if you count the Braves' tandem of Gattis/McCann.

He's a top-10 guy for his position, and he was invisible in NY, because he was a low-AVG guy playing a position where defense comes first.
 
2013-07-01 12:00:56 PM

Twonk: People are talking playoffs.  I'm not that optimistic: I'll take a winning season and be happy, especially since the Pirates are fighting off the Reds and Cardinals.  I'm also willing to take a full PNC Park where most of the fans are wearing Pirates gear, instead of Steelers or Penguins.


I hate to use it, but: This.  Just get to .500.  Playoffs are nice, but not the goal.  Just win the season.  We can do playoffs another year. (And Hutch needs to stop over using Grilli or he's going to go the same route as Hanrahan.)

That said, it's nice to walk around town and see McCutchen shirts, see Alvarez and Grilli (with cheese, please).  We're always going to be a football first kind of town, but we've got three major league sports.  I'm glad to see us showing that again.
 
2013-07-01 12:10:02 PM
As a lifelong Lions fan, I'm really rooting for Pittsburgh to go all the way.  Yes, I also root for the Tigers, but I know what it's like to be a fan of a horrid franchise for decades and not get anywhere.

I gave up on the Cubs, however.
 
2013-07-01 12:45:18 PM

chimp_ninja: But look again at that pitching rotation and tell me it's going to last.


Liriano will go down with strained eyeball muscles or some shiat at some point, guaranteed. But they've gotten 8 solid starts (including about 3 great ones) out of him, which is a hell of a lot more than I ever thought anyone would get from him ever again.

Gerrit Cole being in the mix should be interesting. I haven't watched him pitch, but he seems like a decent arm at this point. Seems to give up a fair amount of hits without a lot of Ks, but his .305 BABIP and .340 slugging against seems to suggest guys are getting lucky with squibs and infield singles against him. Not sure if this is true though.
 
2013-07-01 01:09:49 PM

Cagey B: Gerrit Cole being in the mix should be interesting. I haven't watched him pitch, but he seems like a decent arm at this point. Seems to give up a fair amount of hits without a lot of Ks, but his .305 BABIP and .340 slugging against seems to suggest guys are getting lucky with squibs and infield singles against him. Not sure if this is true though.


Absolutely.  Cole will likely be an excellent pitcher some day, but he's 23 years old and the usual disclaimers apply.  We might also see Jameson Taillon in 2013 if someone gets hurt.  He's even younger than Cole, but he's looked good at AA (2.68 ERA in 100 IP to date, 99 K, 32 BB) so far.  Former first-round pick with a nasty fastball/curve combination.

The other possibility is that they move Taillon or one of their many other prospects (Gregory Polanco looks like McCutchen Lite, which is still very good) to add an outfield bat.  The Pirates have a lot of minor-league depth, which is good because their major-league bench is awful.
 
2013-07-01 01:40:50 PM
It's really going to suck for Pirates fans if they make the playoffs, but slip to the wildcard.  I could see them losing the 1-game wildcard round, because they don't have a dominant starting pitcher to use for that game.
 
2013-07-01 01:48:18 PM
The Pirates are making me pay attention to baseball before September for the first time. I don't want to get my hopes up too high, but I am going to call this much: they are going to have a winning season.
 
2013-07-01 01:48:26 PM
The Pirates' problem is that they have the most utilized bullpen in the majors.  May and June will come to roost in late July and August for that group.
 
2013-07-01 01:53:14 PM
I can't believe Pirates fans are so skittish that the best they'll allow themselves to hope for is .500.

The Pirates are for real.  So they have areas of weakness, but so does every other team.
 
2013-07-01 01:59:29 PM

Slow To Return: I can't believe Pirates fans are so skittish that the best they'll allow themselves to hope for is .500.

The Pirates are for real.  So they have areas of weakness, but so does every other team.


It's been  over 20 years since the team had a winning record, and just in the past few years they've started out strong and then imploded in historic fashion. I think you can forgive a little skepticism at this point (though you're right, this year's edition looks much less like a mirage).
 
2013-07-01 02:05:30 PM

Fast B: It's been over 20 years since the team had a winning record, and just in the past few years they've started out strong and then imploded in historic fashion. I think you can forgive a little skepticism at this point (though you're right, this year's edition looks much less like a mirage).


As a Dallas Cowboys' fan, I understand the frustration.  However, I still go into every season with Super Bowl hopes.
 
2013-07-01 02:07:37 PM

Slow To Return: I can't believe Pirates fans are so skittish that the best they'll allow themselves to hope for is .500.

The Pirates are for real.  So they have areas of weakness, but so does every other team.


Speaking for myself, I think the Pirates are doing very well right now, and I'm enjoying the ride while it lasts.  I'm hoping it continues into October, but I'll be satisfied with 82 wins.

Regarding our skittishness, I refer you to 2011 and 2012.  We've been at the top of the mountain before, only to see them slide down in the last two months of the season.  20 years of losing sets your expectations lower: I just want to see improvement, and no collapse.
 
2013-07-01 02:09:54 PM

Slow To Return: I can't believe Pirates fans are so skittish that the best they'll allow themselves to hope for is .500.

The Pirates are for real.  So they have areas of weakness, but so does every other team.


I wouldn't call ourselves "skittish". After the last two seasons, it's not difficult to be sitting here wondering when (and how) the other shoe will drop. I'm a little more optimistic than most Pirates fans, and I do think they are a better team than the last couple seasons, but I'm at least half-expecting another collapse. I see hints that it may well not happen this time, though.
 
2013-07-01 02:19:56 PM
i1182.photobucket.com
 
2013-07-01 02:20:59 PM

hp6sa: It's really going to suck for Pirates fans if they make the playoffs, but slip to the wildcard.  I could see them losing the 1-game wildcard round, because they don't have a dominant starting pitcher to use for that game.


The Orioles won their play-in game last season starting Joe Saunders. Teams fighting for wild-card slots will more likely than not be jockeying for position up till the last few games of the season, and thus will not have a chance to set their rotation.

I think the dominant postseason pitcher thing is more important in 5-7 game series because of the likelihood that they'll come up twice. The one-game playoff is the ultimate in postseason crapshoots.
 
2013-07-01 02:24:20 PM

hp6sa: It's really going to suck for Pirates fans if they make the playoffs, but slip to the wildcard.


Are you kidding me? We'd be ecstatic with a postseason berth this season, even for just one game...
 
2013-07-01 02:26:42 PM

CommiePuddin: The Pirates' problem is that they have the most utilized bullpen in the majors.  May and June will come to roost in late July and August for that group.


They have the depth in AAA to make up for it, they have a few other guys that throw 97-98 waiting in the wings (Duke Welker and Vic Black).
 
2013-07-01 02:26:44 PM

hp6sa: It's really going to suck for Pirates fans if they make the playoffs, but slip to the wildcard.  I could see them losing the 1-game wildcard round, because they don't have a dominant starting pitcher to use for that game.


I'd have no problem with a healthy A.J. Burnett taking the hill for that game.
 
2013-07-01 02:30:09 PM

Hillbilly Jim: hp6sa: It's really going to suck for Pirates fans if they make the playoffs, but slip to the wildcard.  I could see them losing the 1-game wildcard round, because they don't have a dominant starting pitcher to use for that game.

I'd have no problem with a healthy A.J. Burnett taking the hill for that game.


He's earned it and if he starts to falter, they can always have the Shark Tank throw 7 innings of shutout ball...
 
2013-07-01 02:41:19 PM

Slow To Return: I can't believe Pirates fans are so skittish that the best they'll allow themselves to hope for is .500.

The Pirates are for real.  So they have areas of weakness, but so does every other team.


You've obviously not been a Pirates fan during the past two decades.

/been one since birth
//attended 1979 World Series
///seen inept management for decades
////82-80?  Good enough
 
2013-07-01 02:50:55 PM

Slow To Return: I can't believe Pirates fans are so skittish that the best they'll allow themselves to hope for is .500.


OH, BELIEVE IT! .500 IS ALL I DARE ASK FOR!

Seriously, this.... for every bit of good news that comes out of PNC these days, all I say is "Just keep it over .500" anything else is a nice afterthought.  I've seen the collapse, the collapse II, I don't wish for anything except that we don't three-peat that performance.

Not tempting fate aside, I'm having fun listening to games for once because I have confidence we can win even if we don't score first.

4 or 5 seasons ago, this is the time of the year that I'd be upset, legitimately upset, that they were pre-empting canned sportstalk from the ESPN national feed to put Pirate games on because they were just THAT frustrating to listen to.  As soon as the other team got to 4 runs, you could turn it off, you had no hope.  Maybe you'd get a homer in the late innings off a tired starter, but with nobody on base because the offense just loved the foul-out THAT much, all it meant was a 5-1 final, as that "big" 3 run 3rd the opposition put up on 2 infield singles and a throwing error had already doomed you.

It got even worse as July turned to August, the "GB" stat in the sports page had mushroomed to 18+ games and the flashy radio intro from April was mentioning players that had since been traded or busted down to AAA and you found yourself looking at the schedule and musing that maybe, just maybe, if you just string a few wins together, you could at least get ahead of the Cubs and  not have to be in the basement.....

By September, the only way you'd be in the bylines of anybody's sports page was when you lost your 100th game and finally got to end the suffering with a split of a meaningless 4 game series against the Astros, by which time the color guy sounded positively suicidally depressed with each meek pop out.....

This may sound like a line of dialogue from Major League, but I swear, I heard it happen on the radio.

-For those of you interested, the official score has been amended.  The error charged to the Pirate 3rd baseman in the 4th has now been credited as an RBI single, so adjust your scoresheets accordingly.
-Doesn't matter, I know where mine's going as soon as the game's over.

If I can just avoid another year of THAT, I'd be happy.
 
2013-07-01 02:59:05 PM
Really feel bad that we not only lost for twenty straight years but we lost twenty years worth of fans.

I'm "have a picture of my Grandpa taking me to Forbes Field" old and Pittsburgh rivaled Cincinnati and St. Louis at huge baseball towns.

Just so happened their other professional teams sucked on a continuous basis so baseball stayed king.

Not complaining though - love all the Pittsburgh teams - and it's at least nice to know we have a summer to look forward to sportswise.
 
2013-07-01 03:15:31 PM

hp6sa: It's really going to suck for Pirates fans if they make the playoffs, but slip to the wildcard.  I could see them losing the 1-game wildcard round, because they don't have a dominant starting pitcher to use for that game.


Do you really think a city that hasn't had a winning record in 2 decades will really mind it if their team is a wildcard?
 
2013-07-01 03:38:33 PM

LTRM35A2: This may sound like a line of dialogue from Major League, but I swear, I heard it happen on the radio.

-For those of you interested, the official score has been amended.  The error charged to the Pirate 3rd baseman in the 4th has now been credited as an RBI single, so adjust your scoresheets accordingly.
-Doesn't matter, I know where mine's going as soon as the game's over.


I can totally hear Bob Walk saying that.
 
2013-07-01 04:02:58 PM

LTRM35A2: This may sound like a line of dialogue from Major League, but I swear, I heard it happen on the radio.

-For those of you interested, the official score has been amended. The error charged to the Pirate 3rd baseman in the 4th has now been credited as an RBI single, so adjust your scoresheets accordingly.
-Doesn't matter, I know where mine's going as soon as the game's over.


That's awesome.
 
2013-07-01 04:37:20 PM

bborchar: hp6sa: It's really going to suck for Pirates fans if they make the playoffs, but slip to the wildcard.  I could see them losing the 1-game wildcard round, because they don't have a dominant starting pitcher to use for that game.

Do you really think a city that hasn't had a winning record in 2 decades will really mind it if their team is a wildcard?


Especially when you realize that the division's #3 team (Cincinnati) has the 4th best record in the NL and the 8th best in MLB.  If the Pirates are a Wild Card, that's still better than I expected to see going into the season.
 
2013-07-01 07:50:00 PM

Lost Thought 00: I always thought that when they broke the streak it would be a bit of a whimper, just a game or two over .500 and well out of the playoff hunt. Wasn't expecting this.


The pitching staff is playing way over their heads and the hitting is uniformly consistent in its mediocrity. The saving grace is team defensive play.

As a long-suffering Pirates fan I hope they can keep it up, but I'm dubious. I'll settle for 82 wins. Anything else is gravy. Wouldn't it be a hoot if they took the Series, though?
 
2013-07-02 02:24:48 AM

Adolf Oliver Nipples: Lost Thought 00: I always thought that when they broke the streak it would be a bit of a whimper, just a game or two over .500 and well out of the playoff hunt. Wasn't expecting this.

The pitching staff is playing way over their heads and the hitting is uniformly consistent in its mediocrity. The saving grace is team defensive play.

As a long-suffering Pirates fan I hope they can keep it up, but I'm dubious. I'll settle for 82 wins. Anything else is gravy. Wouldn't it be a hoot if they took the Series, though?


It'd be a bigger hoot if they took it in a Series matchup with Baltimore.

But everybody will stop paying attention once the NFL preseason starts.  Mark my words, if there's a Series game the same day as a Steelers game, even if its a road game, PNC will be half capacity.
 
2013-07-02 02:43:59 AM

downstairs: LTRM35A2: This may sound like a line of dialogue from Major League, but I swear, I heard it happen on the radio.

-For those of you interested, the official score has been amended. The error charged to the Pirate 3rd baseman in the 4th has now been credited as an RBI single, so adjust your scoresheets accordingly.
-Doesn't matter, I know where mine's going as soon as the game's over.

That's awesome.


Bob Walk doesn't keep book.  Greg Brown jags him about it all the time.
 
2013-07-02 04:51:42 PM

bluorangefyre: Adolf Oliver Nipples: Lost Thought 00: I always thought that when they broke the streak it would be a bit of a whimper, just a game or two over .500 and well out of the playoff hunt. Wasn't expecting this.

The pitching staff is playing way over their heads and the hitting is uniformly consistent in its mediocrity. The saving grace is team defensive play.

As a long-suffering Pirates fan I hope they can keep it up, but I'm dubious. I'll settle for 82 wins. Anything else is gravy. Wouldn't it be a hoot if they took the Series, though?

It'd be a bigger hoot if they took it in a Series matchup with Baltimore.

But everybody will stop paying attention once the NFL preseason starts.  Mark my words, if there's a Series game the same day as a Steelers game, even if its a road game, PNC will be half capacity.


The obvious reason for that is that there are only 16 games in an NFL season, and by the time baseball reaches its playoffs people have baseball fatigue and simply say to themselves that they'll catch the next game. A single football game, barring series elimination games, is 10 times more important than a single baseball game.

I suspect that people will pack PNC as long as the Pirates game is a night one, though. But that's all a pipe dream for now. Let's just hope for 82 wins and let the rest take care of itself.
 
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