There is no joy in Mudville. Or in Pittsburgh, for that matter. Our Pittsburgh Baseball Club closed out the season in the loss column, falling to St Louie 10-4, getting swept in the series and missing the postseason for the first time in 3 years.
Mrs. Black-N-Gold doesn't hide the fact that she loves baseball and would love nothing more than to see our Favorite Black-N-Gold Baseball team win a World Series before she dies (she's not getting any younger, ya know). It's been 35 years since the Bucs have not only won a championship but even a playoff series, for that matter. Believe it or not, some people weren't even alive the last time the Buccos had a victory parade. It's taken her a few days to get over the sting of this SUCKN season, not that she was surprised. She saw the writing on the wall back in the offseaon. But now, it's time for a season review of the Pittsburgh Pirates 78-83 season.
"Bridge" to Nowhere-Mrs. Black-N-Gold had a bad feeling about this season from the get-go. When the Pirates couldn't, or wouldn't, try to keep RH JA Happ. It was like they had to Plan B to replace Happy. When they traded 2B Neil Walker to LH Jon Niese. Mrs. Black-N-Gold isn't blind. She knew the Homeboy's day in the 'Burgh were numbered. Why the were is a mystery. It seems like management had a bug up their ass about him from Day 1. Maybe it's because the Real Deal wasn't willing to take a low-ball offer (what they refer to as the "hometown discount") to stay in the Black-N-Gold. But did they have to get Niese in return? Mrs. Black-N-Gold didn't like that move then, she didn't like it during spring training when the groundball pitcher was giving up gopher balls left and right and she sure as hell didn't like it when Niese was losing his way straight out of Pittsburgh and back to New York. That, to me, is the move that set the tone for the season. Then the front office had the audacity to call it a "bridge" year? Translation, "We may have won 98 games last year, but the Best Organization in Baseball isn't going to pony up the cash to put the team over the top". It was the beginning of the bridge to nowhere.
As Easy as 1-2-3-The Bucs thought putting a band-aid on a bullet wound would help with the arrivals of Niese, Ryan Vogelsong and Juan Nicasio. And the bullpen was no better. It was as if they pitching staff forgot how to count because no one could get any 1-2-3 innings. To make matters worse, RH Gerrit Cole, the man the Pirates were counting on to carry the staff, came to spring training injured and really never recovered. He was as inconsistent and unreliable as the rest of them. The one saving grace was RH Mark Melancon, the closer. But due to his pending free agency, the Shark was shipped to the Nationals at the trade deadline. Another deadline deal was made when they dumped LH Francisco Liriano and his salary to Toronto. Frankie was sent north along with 2 top 10 prospects from the Pirates system, C Reese McGuire and OF Harold Ramierz. GM Neal Huntington hates to part with prospects but had no problem throwing them in to get Toronto to take on all of the remainder of Frankie's salary. These were 2 players the Pirates loved before the trade but then slammed them once the deal was done. Stay classy, PBC.
No Crying in Baseball-Was it Mrs. Black-N-Gold's imagination or did the Bucs do an awful lot of bitching this season? CF Andrew McCutchen led the way. Cutch didn't like the way the Pirates played him in center. Cutch didn't like batting 2nd in the order. Cutch didn't like the way the umps called balls/strikes. That last dislike carrier over to the rest of the team as they spend much of the season moaning and crying about the strike zone this season. Hey, Pirates! Mrs. Black-N-Gold has news for ya! All of MLB had to put up with the crummy umps inconsistent and ever-changing strike zone this season. Get over it!
Put the FUN in Fundamental-The Bucs were certainly lacking in the fundamental department this season. Baserunning blunders, fielding errors, and mental miscues abounded. Considering the fact that the Pirates found themselves without 5 key players from last year's Wild Card team (Happ, Walker, 1B Pedro Alvarez, Liriano and Melancon) it was more important than ever to be a fundamentally sound team. They were not.
In conclusion, Mrs. Black-N-Gold feels that, thanks to owner Bottom Dollar Bob Nutting and his minions, the Pittsburgh Baseball Club has no one but themselves to blame for staying home this Buctober. But, hey, at least we still have "financial flexibility". Nutting is the PT Barnum of MLB because he believes "there is a sucker born every minute". He may be mistaken. The Pirates season attendance dropped some 250,000 this season. Will ticket prices rise while the payroll drops? What spin will NH and the PR staff put on more non-moves? Again, Mrs. Black-N-Gold wants nothing more than to be proven wrong and see our Buccos celebrate a World Series championship. She just doesn't see that happening as long as Nutting is in office. She'll still follow them and root, root, root for the home team. She just has one request. To quote the cinematic masterpiece The Outlaw Josey Wales: "Don't piss down my back and call it rain". Make Pittsburgh baseball fun again. Let's Go Bucs!!!!!