Saturday, September 23, 2006

09/22/2006 Padres 6 - Pirates 2

Well, I was looking forward to watching this game tonight. Since we're falling apart on the mound and getting no-hit, I will talk about something other than what is currently occurring.

Since this blog is in its infant stage, I will briefly tell a bit about myself. I am a lifelong fan of the Pirates, and here is a short history of what I remember (This might be a bit boring for many of you, I apologize in advance):

  • My earliest memory is sitting in the upperdeck of Three Rivers Stadium in 1988 at four years old and watching Sid Bream hit a walkoff homerun on Richard Caliguiri day (checked, it was May 6, 1988).
  • In 1990, my dad got tickets so we could attend an NLCS game against the Reds. That morning I woke up sick, vomited in the school library, felt better, then vomited again during the car ride home and was told I would not be going to the game. Bogus.
  • You might think the next thing I am going to say is how I shed tears after that fateful game in October 1992. I did not. I sat in silence with my dad and uncle in our basement where we watched the game. We were completely stunned, unable to speak for what felt like hours after what we had just witnessed. And that's enough about that.
  • Since I started typing, Joe Randa broke up the no-hitter with a two-run shot. We lost 6-2. Sigh.
  • We lost for some years, starting and restarting a few 5-year plans in the process. 1997 was pretty exciting, as a team in a complete rebuilding year fought for a playoff berth until the final few weeks. There were some fun games that year (no-hitter with a walkoff homerun, striking out overpaid Albert Belle 4 times in one game, the July 4th game in St. Louis, Joe Randa and Mark Smith back-to-back 9th inning homeruns to win against the Dodgers, etc.), but that was the closest we would come to the postseason.

That's about all I can think of to put in my brief personal Pirates history. I should note that I am a steadfast optimist and generally will give players and management the benefit of the doubt. (You will never read anything on this site about how Mark Cuban should buy the Pirates and lead them back to glory. Frankly I am tired of hearing that crap.) This point of view will make it difficult for me to be objective, but I will attempt to avoid being delusional about the Pirates chances for success (see yesterday's post where I basically guarantee that the Pirates will win the 2007 World Series). If you ever feel that I am failing in that attempt, feel free to call me on it. In fact, feel free to comment on anything if you agree or disagree with me. I would love to hear your opinion and discuss a bit.

Discussing the 1997 season has me again thinking about some of the most enjoyable Pirates games that I have attended in my life. Maybe I will put together a top ten list or something in the next week or so.

Friday, September 22, 2006

09/21/2006 Dodgers 5 - Pirates 2

A funny thing happened last night. After sleeping for about two hours last night, I suddenly awoke. A groggy glance at the clock told me that it was 12:51 AM, and I immediately realized that was the perfect time to check the Pirate game. Seconds after turning on the television, the commercial ended and I saw that we were heading into the top of the ninth inning with the Dodgers leading 5-2. I immediately decided that this ending was going to be so glorious that God himself woke me so that I would not miss it. Two K's, a single, and another K later, and the game was over. I realized that this was just another of those moments that I must endure in order to make the 2007 World Championship that much sweeter (I will talk about my unwavering optimism in a post in the near future).

The one interesting thing I saw before falling asleep in the second inning was Jason Bay's single in his first at-bat. The one thing I would like to see Bay improve on for 2007 is his two-strike approach. Too often he still seems to be looking for a pitch to drive in these situations as opposed to simply trying to put the ball in play somewhere. Because of this, his strikeout total is high as he often is fooled by the pitch. Many times he goes down chasing a breaking ball off the outside corner (presumably looking fastball) or is frozen by the heat (possibly expecting something offspeed). I would like to see him shorten his swing with two strikes and react to the pitch rather than guess what is coming. Keeping his hands back and going to right field should decrease his strikeouts and make his game that much stronger. Not to mention he can still hit some homeruns in these situations, with his tremendous power to the opposite field.

Now to get back to what prompted all of that rambling. In the second inning last night, Bay was facing a two strike count (I think it was 1-2). The pitch was a slider, the type of pitch Bay doesn't always seem ready for when behind in the count. Granted this particular slider was pretty poor (flat and right out over the plate), but I was encouraged by the solid single Bay delivered up the middle. His swing was short and he seemed to be looking for just a base hit.

If the Pirates can acquire their power lefty this offseason to protect Bay, he should be able to cut down on his strikeout total. Here's hoping that player isn't a repeat of Jeromy Burnitz.

Looking forward to getting to watch the game tonight. Let's start another win streak.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

09/20/2006 Pirates 6 - Dodgers 4

So this west coast trip is really hindering my ability to see the Pirates play. The 10 PM games don't really mesh well with the 5 AM wakeup. I only watched a couple of innings before muting the television and drifting off to sleep last night. So the only comments I can make come from reading recaps and such:

  • It looks like Shawn Chacon pitched pretty well, making it a couple of solid starts in a row. Is it possible that when I marked that trade down as a bust three innings into his first start for us that I was being unfair? Probably, but was I wrong? Well that's a different story.
  • Freddy Sanchez had four hits, including two doubles, and is baseball's leading hitter. No surprises there.
  • When Jose Bautista batted for the first time in Tuesday's game, I said to those I was watching the game with, "Jose has really been struggling, especially his power." He singled in a run a few moments after that comment. Later in the game, he hit a grand slam. Yesterday he hit another homerun. And that is why people don't often take me seriously.
  • Chris Duffy had a couple more hits as well as two stolen bases. It seems he attempted to bunt for a hit also, which I would like to see more of. I think Duffy's ability to become our everyday centerfielder and be productive will have a major impact on whether a successful 2007 season is coming. (Along with the hits and stolen bases, Duffy also struck out twice last night. That gives him 60 K's with only 16 BB this season. These are numbers he must improve on next season.)

That's all of the thoughts I can pull out of the box score. Look for the same tomorrow if I can find the time. Hopefully tomorrow night I will actually be able to watch the game and get a little more in depth.

Over the next week I plan on putting together some posts about some of the things I regularly daydream about. You can expect some entries about my favorite Pirate games of all time and maybe a Turner Ward reference or something. I would like to tell a little about myself also. We'll see what develops.

Hopefully Shane Youman can continue the bit of success he has enjoyed thus far tonight. Another sweep would be nice.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006


Well here it is, the first post. You may wonder why I am starting a Pirates blog now, with only 11 games left in the season. It looks like I am beginning just in time for a long offseason without any games to write about. Well, this is very true. But it has been an unusual week here in Pittsburgh, so I figured now is as appropriate a time as any.

This past Monday, the defending Super Bowl Champion Steelers were pushed around by the Jacksonville Jaguars, a sight that Steelers fans are not used to seeing. This was obvious by the frustrated reactions of the folks watching the game around me (including myself). However, over the past week the Pirates have won six of seven, including four straight against first-place teams. While much of Pittsburgh has been busy worrying about Big Ben's health, I have enjoyed some extremely fun baseball. After suffering through 90 painful games to start the season, the past 61 have me excited again.

I spend much of my time daydreaming about the Pirates. I think it is time to write some of these thoughts down.