After a week of soul searching, I can’t blame fans of the Pittsburgh Pirates if they feel like Clark Griswold in Christmas Vacation.
Feeling excited about their Christmas bonus but instead, their cheap boss mails them a “jelly of the month” certificate.
Truth is, Pirates fans proverbial bonus should have come either in the middle of their 98 wins during the 2015 season, or in the offseason following. Instead, the 2015-16 winter saw Pedro Alvarez walk out of town for nothing, and Neil Walker traded for Jon Niese, added to the back end of the 2016 rotation with Ryan Vogelsong.
Not exactly the number four and five starters of any championship rotation in recent memory.
The Pirates finish under .500 in 2016 and out of the playoffs for the first time in three years.
Same with 2017.
However, the last two mediocre years were a drop in the bucket compared to what transpired last weekend. Gerrit Cole, traded to Houston last Saturday. The weekend yard sale was not over by a long shot. As on last Monday, the face of the franchise, the player who fans could count on to patrol center field and be penciled in the three hole in the batting order, Andrew McCutchen got unceremoniously shipped to San Francisco for two minor league players.
Darker days not seen since Sid Bream in 1992 for Buccos fans. Why did this happen you ask? Bob Nutting and Neal Huntington.
Nutting — the current pariah of Pittsburgh — is the unquestioned black sheep among men who own sports franchises in the city. The Rooney family (Pittsburgh Steelers) and Mario Lemieux (Pittsburgh Penguins) have deep roots in Pittsburgh. Lemieux and the Rooney’s know first hand what fans in this town value.
Hard work, effort, and consistency are just some of those values. The Penguins and the Steelers are the epitome of those values.
Nutting and Pirates management knows those traits bleed from the veins of the city of Pittsburgh as well. Unlike Lemieux and Rooney, Nutting just doesn’t care.
Over the years, people who call Pittsburgh home have watched trademarks of the city shipped away. The steel industry, H.J. Heinz and even Primanti Brothers do not make it’s home entirely in the city.
The one constant has always been our sports teams. No matter what happens through the week, we have always had the Steelers, Pirates and Penguins to cling too.
With Cole and McCutchen departing for greener baseball diamonds. Pirates fans should rightfully feel like Nutting and company have condemned everyone to Davey Jones’ locker.
Huntington, the Pirates general manager, deserves blame as well. Huntington could be a World Series caliber general manager anywhere else in baseball, by doing world-class job steering the team to success since 2013, with the budget he has to strictly adhere too.
However, he has reduced himself to a mouthpiece of propaganda Nutting. Just this week, Huntington preached to Pirates faithful.
Not “rebuilding but retooling.” He continued to say that the 2018 team can “compete for a World Series.”
Quite frankly, Huntington needs to stop insulting fans. Here is a solution, Huntington should wake up one morning and go into Nutting office and resign.
Than, Huntington should take a year off and get another general managers position within baseball. I would respect and cheer him for that.
Players on the Buccos roster past and present know the reality of the situation.
“It’s refreshing to come to an environment where the team is willing to put money into the club and continue to move forward,” Cole said in his introductory press conference with the Houston Astros.
A subtle shot or a shot right on the mark?
Josh Harrison reaction to Cole and Cutch leaving is that he wants to follow them out of town and on the roster of a contender.
All reactions, players and fans alike, are warranted. The most die-hard fan may turn their back on the Pirates this season.
Thank Bob Nutting for that.
He is the gift that keeps on giving.