April 25, 2010

The WFC Is Still On

Let me tell you a story about dedication, perseverance, and the heart of a champion. This story is set in your and my town, Pittsburgh, PA.

Like a growing minority of graduate students, I live in Bloomfield for cheap rent. Bloomfield is a solid working class neighborhood. While situated in the heart of Pittsburgh's East End, architecturally it is basically a late 19th century mill town. Narrow streets are crowded with small row homes, inhabited primarily by senior citizens, cops, and chicks with black spiky hair. There's a pretty good business district along Liberty Avenue. Adding to the feeling of security, I've been here for 1.5 years and only one off-duty cop has been carjacked on my street.

All in all, a decent neighborhood and a good choice for any family. However, one thing you can't get is much space. A typical yard is my neighbors' a block away, which consists of an 8 foot wide strip of scraggly grass, right between the aluminum siding and the 3 feet of sidewalk along a moderately trafficked road.

The type of people who think the Pirates will finish fifth or sixth would have given up, maybe put out some plastic chairs and planted a couple of shrubs. Well, those people clearly don't deserve championships.

I am proud to report that these neighbors are currently installing, on 30% of their remaining land, inches from an urban public sidewalk, a motherfucking 8 foot by 12 foot hot tub. Win. Now as a bonus whenever I walk to any of Liberty Ave's dollar stores this summer, I will be less than 12 inches away from some bikini clad chicks with spiky black hair.

So, Pirates fans, when one can have all the comforts of a 2.5 star hotel right here in Bloomfield, Pittsburgh, USA, why would we let a 7-11 start kill our dreams of a World Championship?

I still believe.

April 22, 2010

May Home Giveaways Preview

PITTSBURGH, Pa. / April 22, 2010

Ah, May, the month when people make generic poetic statements about the season, and none of my friends are getting married on 1960 Commemorative Beer Stein Night. The Pirates are embarking on a 10 game road trip but that's no reason not to get excited about the free stuff you can get in May.

Thursday, May 6 vs. Chicago - 7:05 p.m.
T-Shirt Thursday
Wow, I can't say much good about this shirt. Except that it's a free T-shirt. Wouldn't you feature a black design on grey, not yellow on grey? Nevertheless, you won't get anything else free during the Cubs series, so this is the night to come if you're picking just one. The Cubs have degenerated into 2005 Devil Ray territory, where the manager is the star of the team. Come see an ace pitcher in the prime of his career pitch in relief!

Friday, May 7 vs. St. Louis - 7:05 p.m.
Pirates Established in 1887 Cap
White is a great color of cap for people who choose their hat to match the rest of their outfit. Those people are called assholes. Not because of their hat choice, but they just happen to be assholes. This is a pretty good looking cap and one I'll be glad to have. Also this is a key divisional series, the scrappy band of misfits Pirates against the favored Cardinals. Win.

Saturday, May 8 vs. St. Louis - 7:05 p.m.
Fireworks / Polish Celebration
I am no longer listing Scratch'n Win Saturday as a promotion. I heard an unsubstantiated rumor that a lot of people get shot at Eat'n Park. I'm not yinzer enough to get shot to eat a terrible meal using the excuse of saving $2 off my order because I fake won a fake lottery. I'm not sure what the Polish Celebration entails, but I'll be missing this one to try and spawn, or at least start dating a mom, before...

Sunday, May 9 vs. St. Louis - 1:05 p.m.
Kids & Moms Zach Duke Jersey Strap Bag
Is that one half of Zach Duke's back? No. It's a Zach Duke bag. After May 9, I can't imagine women will get into many trendy clubs without having this bag. I will set aside the question of why the hell anyone would want to go to a trendy club.

Wednesday, May 12 vs. Cincinnati - 12:35 p.m.
Alumni Autographs
This is all we get out of a three-game weekday series with the Reds, including a weekday day game no less? Unless Pie Traynor is signing Pirates thongs, I'm not impressed.

Thursday, May 20 vs. Milwaukee - 7:05 p.m.
T-Shirt Thursday
Now here's a T-shirt I can get behind. Black matches everything. Was that racist? Anyway, I like the shirt. It's not in the top three of this year's Thursday T-shirts, but it is in the top four. If you could figure out what rank that in fact makes it, you could get into WVU.

Friday, May 21 vs. Atlanta - 7:05 p.m.
Andrew McCutchen Photo Wrap
If I could frame a canvas print of just one scene in Pittsburgh, that scene would certainly include the city skyline, PNC Park, and Andrew McCutchen's ass.

Saturday, May 22 vs. Atlanta - 7:05 p.m.
Garrett Jones Action Figurine
Considering that I already own the McFarlane action figures for all of KISS, I clearly need to get this. Garrett Jones would slide right into the band. They're touring without Ace and Peter so there have to be some random guys in there anyway.

Sunday, May 23 vs. Atlanta - 1:35 p.m.
Kids Pierogy Wind-Up Racers
I once got drunk with a former Pirates pierogy racer. Nice girl. Good times. Hopefully at least a few kids can keep these until they're old enough to gamble on the races. Over/under on when your child breaks these: Third inning.

Monday, May 31 vs. Chicago - 1:35 p.m.
Pirates Stars 'n Stripes Cap
Take yourself back to 1814. Imagine that you are at Fort McHenry, under heavy bombardment by the superior British army. For some reason, you are a poet, who is hiding at the fort writing war poems for no reaason. You think the American troops must have given up. But no! You look out your window, which is shaped exactly like the Pirates logo P. And you see a tiny P-shaped sliver of the flag, and you know that not only is America still holding down the fort, but that the Pirates will start playing baseball in 71 years, and that 113 years after that, this event will inspire a great patriotic giveaway.

April 21, 2010

Great Pirates In History: Paul Waner

Before the LaRoches, there were the Waners.

While Clemente jerseys abound at PNC Park (at least to the extent that fans abound), comparatively few Pittsburghers know about the man who was the Clemente of his day.

A 5'8", 135 pound country boy from Oklahoma, Paul Waner dropped out of teaching college at age 20 to play in the old Pacific Coast league. The PCL of that day was near major league quality, and he quickly proved himself to be one of its great pure hitters. The Pirates agreed to pay an unbelievable $100,000 for his rights, the same price that the Yankees paid for Babe Ruth seven years earlier. But when scout Joe Devine saw how small he was, he refused to make good on the offer.

So in 1925, determined to prove himself, Paul hit .401 with an unbelievable 75 doubles and 280 hits. Posessing solid range and a great arm as well, Waner was clearly a natural for Forbes Field's expansive outfield. He got his $100,000.

He didn't break into the starting lineup until late May 1926 but still put together a great year hitting .336/.413/.528 with 101 runs. He could hit almost anything, and his height played to his advantage by resulting in a small strike zone.

Big Poison and Little Poison
In 1927 Paul convinced the Pirates to sign his little brother Lloyd to play alongside him in center. "Little Poison" Lloyd led off and played center field, and "Big Poison" Paul by now was entrenched as the #3 hitter.

While the '27 AL champion Yankees were already a power club, the Pirates had a group of line drive hitters. They had just 54 home runs and 65 steals, but relied on pure hitting skills to nevertheless lead the league in runs - batting .305 as a team. Paul had his finest season, hitting .380/.437/.549 and winning the batting title as the Pirates took the NL pennant. He scored 114 runs and drove in 131 with 42 doubles, 18 triples and 9 home runs. His brother batted .355, scored 133 runs and no doubt would have been Rookie of the Year if the award existed then.

"I saw a lot of good hitters but I never saw a better one than Paul Waner," said Hall of Fame pitcher Burleigh Grimes. "I mean I once threw a side arm spitter right into his belly and he hit it into the upper deck."

Paul hit .333 in the World Series that year but unfortunately the Pirates were swept by the Murderer's Row Yankees. He played 13 more fine seasons but never again led the team to a pennant.

Time Magazine referred to Rod Carew as "Paul Waner incarnate".

In 1928 Paul scored a career high 142 runs while hitting .370/.446/.547. He won batting titles in '34 and '36, and all told had nine 100 run seasons, eight 200 hit years, and hit .300 13 times. He finished in the top five in MVP voting four times. All told, in 15 seasons he hit .340/.407/.490 in a Pirates uniform, colecting 2868 hits. He was rightfully voted into the Hall of Fame in 1952.

The Alcoholic Myth
Throughout Paul's career, he was reputed as one of the great drunks in baseball. He only added to this legend by making claims such as seeing three balls and swinging at the middle one. A Pittsburgh writer named Paul Waner sober as the greatest right fielder in Pirates history; second was Paul Waner drunk. There was a legend that his success was fueled by alcohol; the reason he finally hit below .300 in 1938 was because he stopped drinking.

While these stories may have added to his mystique, I tend to think they are only stories - particularly the ones about him playing games while drunk. Paul later said that he never had more than one drink before a game. In fact, looking at his statistics there's just no way Paul Waner was the alcoholic he was reputed to be. In his career he hit .332 in night games, .351 in day games. He was better in every offensive statistic during the day. Of the ten highest batting average season by Pirates, Paul Waner has five of them. There's no way someone could succeed at such a high level, at this precise of a skill, while drunk. And unlike the short period of greatness you saw from a Sam McDowell, or the mostly wasted potential of a Bernie Carbo, Paul was a truly great hitter for many years, never an off year, almost never a day off. He hit over .300 at age 40, seven years after most players of his day retired.

Like other 1920s stars, he is deserving of a bobblehead. And truly, Paul Waner is a great Pirate in history.

April 20, 2010

Series Preview: Milwaukee Brewers

PITTSBURGH, Pa. / April 20, 2010

Ah, the first of 140 games between the Pirates and the Brewers. The Brewers are Pittsburgh's #1 fake rival right now, and that's big. Somebody hit somebody with a pitch two years ago, I can't remember which asshole did it, and I f'ing hate that guy.

I went 3 for 3 in predictions for the Reds series and the Pirates are now 7-5. 7-5 in the first two rounds of the playoffs gets you to the World Series. But that's getting ahead of ourselves, because the key stretch of the season, the "Final 150", begins tonight.

Milwaukee Brewers - Tuesday 7:05, Wednesday 7:05, Thursday 12:35
How much cooler were the Brewers when they had the baseball glove logo? The answer is a little bit cooler.

The Brewers have fallen off after their glory days, which consisted of three weeks in the fall of 2008. Their "Ironic Pitching Staff" plan won't get them above .500. A quick look at the Brew Crew's pitching staff reveals a list of guys you've never heard of (Chris Narveson), guys you thought retired (Doug Davis, Trevor Hoffman), guys who may have actually retired, but the team didn't bother printing a new jersey (Jeff Suppan) and guys who will get hurt in the next 30 days (Yovani Gallardo). The lineup still has Braun, Weeks and Fielder, enough to have an average offense, but the supporting cast is unimpressive. Gregg Zaun.

Tonight the Pirates go with Charlie Morton against the Brewers' Dave Bush. A potential slugfest! Morton has gotten rocked in both his starts, yet it's only two starts. I still think he'll come around and be a solid #4 starter. Dave Bush has is way more talented than his 6.38 ERA in 2009. He got unlucky and well deserved a 6.37. My pick is the Pirates.

Tomorrow night the Pirates will give the ball to Zach Duke. After three games I'm willing to say Zach Duke will clearly win the Cy Young Award. He pitched seven innings Friday against the Reds and uncharacteristically allowed more than zero runs. Although to be fair to Zach it was one run, a batter which he left on first base only to be forced to second, third and home by relief pitcher walks. Yovani Gallardo goes for the Brewers - a great stuff guy, hard thrower, but also a guy the Pirates can hit. Not that they have hit him, but they can hit him. My pick is the Pirates.

Thursday afternoon, let me reiterate that the Pirates are giving away a green hat and a green and beige Pirates shirt. The shirt is pictured here. The Goodwill store on Carson Street is closing so it's going to be important for South Side residents to start getting ugly new clothing now. Without that Goodwill, potentially this could be the only way to have ugly 15 year old clothing in 15 years. My pick is the Pirates.

April 16, 2010

Sports Criminals: Cesar Cedeno

PITTSBURGH, Pa. / April 16, 2010

Very few things have annoyed me as much over the past five years as steroid speculation. It was virtually unbearable in 2005, a year which otherwise was the Golden Age of my life. Steroid stuff is still pretty goddamn annoying.

Also, I was actually alive in 1998 and everybody knew then that guys were on steroids. Christ, they were common and accepted in high school football at the time.

Well anyway, back in the golden age when players Played The Game The Way It's Meant To Be Played, people got away with fucking homicide.

Cesar Cedeno hit an unreal .373/.402/.691 in AAA ball at the age of 19. You want to talk about a prospect? Wow.

Brought up by the very new and very awful Astros, Cedeno hit .320/.385/.537 at age 21. He scored 102 runs and drove in 82 from the #2 spot in the order. This happened in a pitcher's era in the greatest pitcher's park in modern history, the pre-fence moving in Astrodome. Add in 55 steals and a Gold Glove. No offense but Andrew McCutchen didn't do that.

After a quite similar season at age 22, Cedeno went back to his native Dominican Republic in the off-season. December 11, 1973, the married center fielder was hanging out with his auxiliary girlfriend at a seedy motel. I love the word "auxiliary." In another solid decision they got out Cedeno's loaded gun. While she was looking at it he attempted to wrest it away from her and shot her. She died in the ensuing hours.

Now I only got a B+ in Criminal Law but this sounds like a textbook case of negligent homicide already. And it isn't even a figure of speech. I actually read the textbook.

OK, so let's assume you're a typical good guy, and it just so happens that you shot your girlfriend through no fault of your own. I would think you call an ambulance. Cedeno waited eight hours before alerting authorities to the situation.

How much is a life worth? Dominican authorities fined Cedeno 100 pesos and he spent 20 days in jail. Compensation for a non-famous 19 year old life lost. The Astros didn't suspend him at all or even mention the "incident", in fact he reported to spring training as if nothing happened.

Cesar batted third and played center field in the Astros '74 opener. Cedeno was a positive contributor on the field and an above average center fielder for most of his career - but he was never again the same player he had been at ages 21 and 22. It was a DiMaggio to DeJesus transition.

Also employing Cedeno later in his career, in addition to the Astros, were the Cardinals, Dodgers and Reds. More reason to dislike a couple of the Pirates' division rivals.

So 37 years after Cedeno's bad winter, I see a reason to look at it. Look at his career stats. It's a great career, not Hall of Fame, short of Reggie Smith among non-Hall of Fame center fielders, but better than most. But the trajectory. It was interrupted at age 23 by horrible guilt, horrible shame, I hope a little self-loathing.

This is what Ben Roethlisberger has in store. A whitewashed case, a starting job kept. And a lost career. We saw it in the 8-8 season. I actually thought the first accusation was false but in the wake of the second one, no way. He didn't go 8-8 for no reason. Games Ben fucking wins at the end just weren't won because he's not Ben anymore.

It'll be worse now. Yeah, he'll have a decent QB rating and some 300 yard games. His days as an elite QB are over. The human psyche can only deal with so much. It's not justice but it's not nothing.

April 15, 2010

Series Preview: Cincinnati Reds

PITTSBURGH, Pa. / April 15, 2010

As we reach the ides of April, it seems like a week ago that the Pirates were off to a great start at 2-0. They've won a couple thrillers out West but come home 4-5. An ugly blowout loss, an ugly blowout loss, an ugly blowout loss, a ugly blowout loss and an ugly blowout loss conspired to hurt the Bucs' record.

I still believe in this WFC season. The 1979 Pirates started out 4-10. It happens. Unless you're 0-9 right now there's no reason to worry.

Someone asked if I've blogged about the inside the park home run. By writing stuff like that I can make it seem like a lot of people ask about the blog. Nope, it was only one. Anyway, I didn't see the home run. What a great story.

Cincinnati Reds - Friday 7:05, Saturday 7:05, Sunday 1:35
What's the point of living in a really dangerous city when you don't even have a good baseball stadium. Baltimore, Cleveland, St. Louis, you're all better than Cincinnati.

The Reds have an interesting combination of 2005 All-Stars and promising young players who aren't hitting. Scott Rolen, meet Drew Stubbs. It could all click but it probably won't.

Friday the Pirates go with their ace Zach Duke. You know what Duke does. Steady, goes deep into games, seven innings, three runs. The Reds counter with Mike Leake, who was unbelievably rushed to the majors without any minor league time at all. They must think he's ready for anything after conquering the scorpion/anti-intellectualism combo at Arizona State. Leake only gave up one run in his major league debut though he walked seven Cubs. He'll give up a lot more here. My pick is the Pirates.

For Saturday the Pirates have scratched Ross Ohlendorf again. One would think he should go on the DL. It is almost always a lie when a pitcher misses a start and it's immediately announced that he'll make his next start. Brian Burres wasn't sent down after his start in San Francisco so I assume he'll start here. He'll be better than he was, while still sucking. Think 5.2 innings/four runs. The Reds counter with Johnny Cueto, a middling 24 year old waiting for his breakout year. Cueto has a good slider and the Pirates lefthanded hitters can't hit the slider. Nevertheless my pick is the Pirates. They're a good home team.

Sunday is Bronson Arroyo against Paul Maholm. Bronson Arroyo has five 200 inning season and in a little known fact, has the same last name as 1961 Yankee closer Luis Arroyo. Toss up. My pick is the Pirates.

April 12, 2010

Ohlendorf Hurt / Penn Gone

PITTSBURGH, Pa. / April 11, 2010

No longer wanting to pitch batting practice during actual games, the Pirates designated Hayden Penn for assignment today. Penn now has a 9.51 career ERA making him a contender for worst Pirates pitcher ever. His 30.86 Pirates ERA should actually be worse, but the Dodgers stupidly made their first out against him at home plate.

I would have to think Penn clears waivers but I can't imagine it would be a good idea to keep him in the organization.

Unfortunately the reason for the move is that Ross Ohlendorf was scratched from tonight's start. Not much word on the injury but the Pirates claim he will start Sunday.

For this World Championship run the Pirates will need their top three starters to stay healthy all season, and at least one has to have a big year. Hopefully Ross only misses the one game because the rotation takes a big hit if he's replaced by anyone. Without even considering the World Series, he'll be needed to start Game 2 and a possible of the Division Series against Colorado.

This injury comes at the worst possible time, with Brian Burres the only rested starting pitcher at either Indianapolis or Pittsburgh. So Burres it is. Rather than starting at Toledo tonight he'll start at San Francisco, the Toledo of the West.

Burres has a 6.08 career ERA and gave up more than ten hits per nine innings in the Pacific Coast League last year. He was last seen giving up a three-run homer to Jason Michaels at Camden Yards in June 2008. Is it too early to get nostalgic for Jeff Karstens?

Finally, Joel Hanrahan came off the disabled list. He'll take the spot of Daniel McCutchen, who is back in Indianapolis since the Pirates won't need him again until April 25th.

Hanrahan should really help to solidify the back end of the bullpen. Hopefully Hanrahan is really healed because he's back much earlier than expected... Anyway, he's a much better 7th/8th inning option than the likes of Penn and Jack Taschner. I think the Pirates would like to go Hanrahan, Donnelly, Dotel in the last three innings. The problem right now is getting there.

April 11, 2010

Alternate Pirates Reality: Pirates Players As Obscure Female Celebrities

After a 3-3 opening week, I feel like it's time to address one burning question that's been on fans' minds: If the Pittsburgh Pirates last names were women's first names, who would be the hottest?

Before you get too excited, I have to say that I was disappointed with the number of hot women on the roster in this alternate reality. I mean these four are quite attractive, but we could use an extra Teixeira and one less Doumit. Maybe a need the Pirates could fill at the trade deadline.

Can you imagine how unbelievably hot a woman named Church would be? This is the type of name no one could pull off unless they were supermodel hot. But not like a cocaine supermodel, more like the supermodel next door. My mind is so unbelievably blown by how hot this babe is. Notice how my writing style got worse because I'm around these fictional babes.
Obscure Celebrity Resemblance: Bianca Lawson

As most of my readers are no doubt aware, there's a per se rule of hotness for any woman whose first name begins with a vowel, then ends with a different vowel.
Obscure Celebrity Resemblance: Anzai Hiroko

She probably went to high school with you and no one thought much of her. Then when you saw her at your five year reunion, you were blown away. You could have dated her when you were 16; you have no chance now. She is probably married and it wouldn't matter if she wasn't.
Obscure Celebrity Resemblance: Agnes Szavay

Raynor would be so hot that I would be kind of afraid to talk to her even if I was actually married to her. Raynor is so beyond the scope of anyone that I can't imagine what her interests would even be. Certainly they would be things I've never heard of. A great Rule V pick.
Obscure Celebrity Resemblance: Taís Araújo

April 10, 2010

Alvarez Has 3 Homers in 2 AAA Games

PITTSBURGH, Pa. / April 10, 2010

He didn't get much love in our World Series MVP poll, but Pedro Alvarez is already making a strong case for a McCutchen-like promotion this year.

In AAA Indianapolis's first game Thursday, he had a home run, two RBI, a walk and two runs scored. Friday night, he hit two home runs, drove in five and also walked.

Basically the main thing keeping Pedro Alvarez in the minors right now is his service time. If he stays in Indianapolis for the first 50 games or so, the Pirates will keep him under club control for another season and also push back his arbitration date by a year.

Andrew McCutchen was in the same situation last year and was brought up June 4 after the Nate McLouth trade. Cutch was a fixture in the lineup the rest of the year, missing only one start.

I think the Pirates will do the same thing with Alvarez. There's no point in keeping him in the minors beyond June unless they intended to wait until June 2011 to bring him up, which seems ridiculously long right now.

It is also apparent that Alvarez will play third base in Pittsburgh. He's playing third at Indianapolis and certainly the Pirates would be using him at another position if that's where they expected to use him here. Andy LaRoche is a decent player but there's no way he should block a prospect who has major league 30 home run power right now. I also don't think LaRoche would move to any position other than shortstop, since the Pirates have a better hitter than him at every other position.

I'm targeting June 4 again as Saviour Day. The Pirates start a three-game weekend series against the Giants that night. Predicted lineup:

Iwamura 3b
McCutchen cf
Jones rf
Doumit c
Milledge lf
Alvarez 3b
Clement 1b
Maholm p
LaRoche ss

Yes, I did line up the entire rotation until June 4 for this post. Enjoy it.

April 9, 2010

Thoughts On The First Series

PITTSBURGH, Pa. / April 9, 2010

This Pirates-Dodgers series was my first career three-game series as a fan. Although Thursday's game was obviously disappointing, I can't say that I've been swayed from my belief that the Pirates will win the World Series. Here's what I saw:

All the starting pitchers threw well. The top three of Duke, Ohlendorf, Maholm all put together solid starts against one of the league's best lineups. While none was overpowering, that's not their game. They kept the team in each game and were able to recover from setbacks. Duke in particular pitched great with men on base and could have pitched at least one more inning if he hadn't been pinch hit for. Ohlemdorf and Maholm were victimized a bit by their defense. Maholm was charged with four runs but I was pleased with his pitch economy.

The top half of the lineup looks good. Akinori Iwamura has a lot of patience and is well suited to the leadoff spot, a role he filled for a pennant winning club in Tampa. Cutch is Cutch and Jones is the MVP. Doumit already has a three-run homer which is what you want in a cleanup hitter. And Milledge has been hitting the ball well even though he has only two hits to show for it. "Even though" is one of the few connecting words that requires a comma before it, yet I still omitted it.

Teams shouldn't run on the Pirates outfield. Aside from Ryan Church the other four outfielders all have strong and accurate arms. Dodgers 3B coach Larry Bowa seemed intent on challenging them today and was rewarded with two outs on plays at the plate. Expect that to continue until teams wise up.

Hayden Penn could not be released soon enough. Penn had an awful career, an awful spring, and was released. The Pirates picked him up and after an awful performance for them in the Grapefruit League, he made the team. Surprisingly, his performance in the first game was awful. He now has over a 9.00 career ERA. There is no "He has a 9 ERA but a lot of talent" or "He has a 9 ERA but it would be 2.25 with good luck." He can't pitch in the major leagues.

April 7, 2010

An Ode To John Raynor

Even though I just wrote the current date, rewind to March 12, 2006. Bush was President and the Pirates were not in a World Championship year. And for no particular reason, I moved to Wilmington, N.C.

While not lacking for palm trees, cockroaches or drunken 19 year olds, Little Vegas had quite the lack of sports. My biggest ticket score in a year and a half was premier seats to an exhibition soccer game. In the spring, the only sport other than waiting for the water to get warm was college baseball.

Luckily, UNC-Wilmington had an unbelievable team that year, leading the nation in offense with 560 runs in their 64-game season. The Seahawks hit .322/.400/.501 as a team on their way to a CAA championship. Six players got drafted. It was $5 to get in and apparently legal to sneak in alcohol. And incredibly, every game was on the radio. College baseball! Of the games I didn't attend I doubt I missed more than four broadcasts.

The all time star of all time - in a city which also included every actor on One Tree Hill - was a speedy outfielder named John Raynor. Here were his senior year numbers:

64 Games
63 Runs
97 Hits
12 Home Runs
69 RBI
42 Steals (of 46 tries)

Aluminum bats of course, but aluminum bats didn't steal those 42 bases.

Four years later, John Raynor is poised to make his major league debut at PNC Park. Not only is he the Pirates 25th man, but they acquired him via the Rule V draft. Do you know what other outfielder the Pirates got in the Rule V draft? Roberto Clemente.

So when John Raynor comes off the bench to pinch run for Jeff Clement, I'll be wearing orange, but I'll be wearing Seahawks teal in spirit. In spirit because teal is ugly.

Other Sites Have Irony Too

PITTSBURGH, Pa. / April 7, 2010

The Pirates juggernaut lineup gets a challenge tonight against Clayton Kershaw, one of the best young starters in baseball. This is the annual "Buc Night", $1 tickets, so I will be there of course. I'm predicting John Raynor makes his Pirates debut tonight.

I had a discussion the other day about whether a post consisting only of links is a legitimate blog post. You only get this stuff at a Top 71 law school in the country. I contended that it was not. If I write a book that is simply a list of the titles of other books, have I written a book? So here is the rest of this non-post:

Incredibly Important
My associate "McMillen" has once again started the project of playing every Pirate game in MLB 2010: The Show and posting results. I majored in Economics so I make an informed statement in saying that there is obviously an unbelievable amount of demand for this information. To check how tonight's Pirates-Dodgers game went, visit his site. Bonus points if he plays all 162 on the PSP and is still married by playoff time.

Unbelievably Important
My associate "Perry" has started a new fan site for Pitt sports, Every Loyal Son, complete with domain name. Currently there is a blog and message board, both of which are unbelievably great, despite the fact that only two people are discussing anything on the board. Visit the blog for some anti-WVU hatred. Or, visit the message board to contribute to our riveting discussion of the Pitt-Pitt State rivalry.

April 5, 2010

Moss Clears Waivers; Will Start at AAA

PITTSBURGH, Pa. / April 5, 2010

I really enjoy the fact of having the location in my dateline, even though I always list it as Pittsburgh including when it's BS and I'm posting from somewhere else. It really keeps me grounded while also providing an alibi.

The Indianapolis outfield got a lot stronger today as Brandon Moss -
pictured here in happier days as a Red Sox and star of elementary school posters - cleared waivers. He's going to be the starting right fielder for Indy.

Is it just me or is Indianapolis an exceedingly random place to have the Pirates' affiliate? Phillies/Allentown, Indians/Columbus, these make sense. I don't think I'll be traveling to the Heartland for any I-Tribe action.

But if I did, I would see an outstanding AAA right fielder. While he has a little bit of a "can't hit" problem in the major leagues, all my Pawtucket readers can back me up on this - Moss is a legitimate #3 hitter in Triple A. It's all about roles. Like Ringo Starr solo as opposed to his Beatles career.

Moss should hit something like .290/.360/.490 in Indy, numbers that would warrant a recall to Pittsburgh when rosters expand for the September stretch run.

Needless to say, this news doesn't say much for the Pirates' talent evaluation. A year and a half after he was the centerpiece of the Jason Bay deal, no one wants to get Moss for the waiver price.

Still, I'm glad to keep Moss in the organization and hold out hope that he can contribute at the MLB level one day, even if that is as a fifth outfielder.

Pirates Treat Dodgers Like An Undefended Oil Tanker

PITTSBURGH, Pa. / April 5, 2010

In a result that stunned no one who has read this site, the Pirates began their championship season with an 11-5 dismantling of the favored Los Angeles Dodgers.

I took some pictures at the game but for now these girls in Jolly Roger flags will have to suffice.

The weather, sunny in the mid-seventies, was quite warm considering my Opening Day ensemble of black Pirates hat, black long sleeved shirt, black jeans, black socks and black shoes.

For me the highlights were:

1. Garrett Jones's first inning home run
One of the longest home runs I've seen at PNC, this hit was an absolute rocket that easily cleared the right field bleachers. Was 2009 actually an off year for Garrett? Also props to Iwamura for forcing a leadoff walk so Jones could hit with someone on base, as he did so few times last summer.

2. Ryan Church's bases clearing double
This was a pretty huge spot for Church's first Pirates at bat: bases loaded, two outs in the bottom of the fifth with a 4-2 lead. Showing why they named a whole Brew Works after him, Ryan cleared the bases with a double to make it 7-2 and chase Dodgers starter Vicente Padilla. It is really nice to have a legitimate pinch hitter off the bench, and actually with Delwyn Young the Pirates have one from either side of the plate.

3. Octavio Dotel's ninth inning
The outcome wasn't really in doubt, but it was nice to see Dotel come in, go right after hitters with confidence, and pitch a 1-2-3 ninth. I hope to see that many times this season. Matt Capps is a great guy and had some good years here, but I really prefer a power pitcher closing.

Honorable mention to the defense, which was solid all day in marked contrast to the Dodgers' sloppy play. Lastings Milledge in particular was impressive with both his range and his arm, and Garrett Jones had a good catch as well in right field.

And the lowlights:

1. The people next to me
In order to get tickets for the sold out Opening Day, this group had to plan at least several weeks ahead and navigate one of the worst traffic/parking situations of any given season. Yet after arriving in the middle of the second inning, they left for good after the fourth. I hope that their kids leave Take Your Daughter To Work Day at 9:15.

2. The batting order
I believe I mentioned on this very site that the problem with batting your pitcher eighth is the possibility of needing to pinch hit for him before you really want to take him out. Pinch hitting Church for Zach Duke worked in the fifth, but Church still would have pinch hit if Ronny Cedeno was batting in the eight hole. This forced Zach Duke out after five innings and 79 pitches when he could easily have thrown another inning.

3. The front end of the bullpen
I thought the Pirates would have an improved bullpen, but what happened today was not confidence-inspiring. With an 8-2 lead, D.J. Carrasco hit and walked his first two batters before giving up a two-run single to Manny Ramirez. Ramirez later scored to make it 8-5. Three runs allowed by Carrasco would have been fine if he pitched the final 3.1 to close it out, but instead the Pirates had to use three more men to finish the game. So really this complaint was just about Carrasco, but I didn't want his first bolded mention to be in a negative light.

Opening Day in Western PA

PITTSBURGH, Pa. / April 5, 2010

Curse the darkness, or light a candle.

The 2010 championship push begins today. One game at a time.

It's Opening Day in Western PA. This blog will be there 26 men (and women) strong, including a sizable contingent who will be wearing black Pirates hats, black shirts, black jeans and black shoes. At least one of us actually looks good in all black. Don't worry, we won't rob you of anything but your Pirates cynicism.

The Pirates have an advantageous pitching matchup with 2009 All-Star and 2010 NLCS MVP Zach Duke against Vicente "Ironically the Opening Day Starter" Padilla.

Here are the Buccos' final 25:
Starters: Zach Duke, Ross Ohlendorf, Paul Maholm, Charlie Morton, Daniel McCutchen.
Relievers: Octavio Dotel, Brendan Donnelly, Evan Meek, Javier Lopez, D.J. Carrasco, Jack Taschner, Hayden "William" Penn "Tavern."

I'm not pleased on the relief front - a couple of gas cans in Taschner and Penn.

Catchers: Ryan Doumit, Jason Jaramillo.
Infielders: Jeff Clement, Aki Iwamura, Ronny Cedeno, Andy LaRoche, Bobby Crosby, Delwyn Young.
Outfielders: Lastings Milledge, Andrew McCutchen, Garrett Jones, Ryan Church, John Raynor.

Has anyone noticed the way Iwamura has seamlessly made the transition from "Akinori" to "Aki"? And is it racist that I think Aki sounds a whole lot like a women's name?

Of course Pirates WFC Blog will have a full report Monday night, complete with our first ever "Pictures Not Stolen from Other Sites."

April 2, 2010


PITTSBURGH, Pa. / April 2, 2010

Opening Day is now three days away. I personally cannot wait.

Yeah, a lot of people have said the Pirates have no chance. They said that about the '69 Mets, '91 Twins, '08 Rays and many others. We are all 0-0 and we all have a chance.

Cy Duke, Cy Ohlendorf, and Cy Maholm anchor an all-Cy rotation. Cy Dotel closes it down. Our lineup includes Babe Iwamura, Babe McCutchen, Babe Jones and Babe Doumit and that is just the first four.

World F'ing Champions. Believe.