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I have a confession to make. I stopped believing in the Pirates. The team that had for a few years played well and were finishing .500. The team that I have stuck with for 30 years through the very few good times, and prominent losing streaks. Why? After a couple of years of rumors, management had finally done it. They broke the will and good faith of thousands of fans. They traded Andrew McCutcheon. The face of the franchise for many. Clutch Cutch to others. A light in an organization full of darkness, bad decisions, and overall bad management.
With this trade, and with the trading of Gerrit Cole, Pirates fans lost their minds. Many, myself included, were calling for the head of Bob Nutting. I spoke with a friend and discussed the fact that Neil Huntington should also be to blame. I decided that I was going to try to stay out of the park, but root from the sidelines, to show my disapproval of the organization’s management style.
Going Back for More
That didn’t last long because keeping me out of PNC is like asking a penguin to fly. It isn’t going to happen. Being that I travel constantly for work, I rarely get to go to games anyway. So when I have the opportunity to return to the beautiful example of stadium perfection that is PNC Park, it’s all I think about from the second I buy the tickets, till the last out of the 9th.
I went to the second game of the season. I snuck into town and didn’t try to round-up the usual gang of yinzers, but rather went without telling most of them. And immediately after being reintroduced to the smell of the hot dogs, the fresh-cut grass, and the very not discernible accents of Yinzers selling beers, I was hooked again. I had gone back to Church. The belief was back.
A New Hope
So let me delve into the last couple weeks of play. The Buccos currently sit in the top spot of the NL Central and are 24-17. They are 10-3 in their division, compiled of a sweep of the Cardinals, and series wins over the Cubs, Reds, and Brewers. This team is hot. But why is that?
A team that plays together, wins together. There may not be any mega stars on this team, but there really isn’t a soft spot in the lineup. Gregory Polanco whose batting average is low, but has an OPS .784 and 7 Homers. Behind him, we have Starling Marte, Josh Bell, Corey Dickerson, Francisco Cervelli, and Colin Moran. All these guys are ripping the cover off the ball. Respectively, their RBIs are 19 (Marte), 20 (Bell), 26 (Dickerson), 22 (Cervelli), and 20 (Moran).
Shiver. Me. Timbers.
These six players have 17+ RBIs. Most teams don’t even have half that. The Bucs batting average with men in scoring position is .285, putting them at 6th in the MLB.
But in true pirates fashion, something is amiss. Why is Adam Frazier still in the leadoff position? Dude is hitting .214 in the last month, and .111 in the last week. Put Marte in the leadoff position. Frazier needs to be batting seventh. Please.
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Why doesn't everyone do this?