I haven’t written anything on this blog for nearly a month. Honestly, I’ve been waiting to eulogize the 2012 Pirates season. And it seems I could have (should have?) written the obituary a few times already. I had an angle I was going to work, and I think it’s a good one, but I might be guilty of a little early bridge diving.
My first angle had to do with two rookies: Brock Holt and Starling Marte. (By the way, are people exploring mocknames like ‘Startling Fart, eh’? He’s got a good one to work with… would love to hear more.) So there were two games, and I won’t even check the dates on them – the details are less important than the tone of each.
The first game was Brock Holt’s backwards #2 game. The Pirates lost – I think it the final was 5-1. By all accounts the Pirates looked like a beat team. The effort was poor. Batters were bored at the plate. The defense was sluggish. AND Brock Holt’s #2 was on the wrong side of his jersey. The whole thing was an embarrassment, but the uniform gaff was an inexcusable lack of attention to detail. Or worse yet – it was a blatant sign of organizational apathy for a team seemingly on the verge of taking the next step. And taking the next step doesn’t just mean 82 wins. It means a run of winning seasons and possible playoff births. It means being taken seriously in the NL Central. It means getting scheduled for nationally televised games. It doesn’t mean Little League style mismatched uniforms. It reinforces the image that the Pittsburgh Pirates are a joke. They’re not, but their seamstress isn’t doing them any favors.
The second game was that magnificent 7-error debacle. The one where Starling Marte threw the ball over third and botched another play shortly thereafter. (And remember, left fielders generally don’t make errors. There’s not a lot to do out there.) If two errors by your left fielder in less than 20 minutes isn’t bad enough, the Bucs officially screwed up five (5!!!!!11!!!1) more plays in the game. Seven errors, folks. Seven. More Little League comparisons can (and should) be made. Do the players get orange slices in the clubhouse after the game? Does Josh Harrison’s mom take everyone out for ice cream on Saturdays?! Does Clint Hurdle do the ol’ cup-tap with a bat in the dugout?!! Come on!
The demise of the 2012 Pirates isn’t complete. But there’s a lotta ‘splainin to do. The late-summer downfall probably has more to do with early season over-performance of the starters, bullpen, and Andrew McCutchen; and some injuries and inconsistencies – specifically involving Neil Walker and Travis Snider. The regression we’re seeing is just the reality of 162 games making its balance known. Pedro Alvarez and Garrett Jones have proven that they are legitimate offensive threats and point to a deeper line-up than we saw in April. That said, the difference between 1-6 and 7-9 is godawful. The Barajas-Barmes-pitcher black hole is a rally-killer no manager can be expected to work with.
OK. Deep breath. 2 1/2 games out. Tell me that in March and I’d be pretty darn happy. The problem is that the Little League games and inability to beat the Padres and Cubs are emerging at the exact time you’d hope to see the exact opposite. And in September, the difference between our current reality and the exact opposite… is game #163.