|Pittsburgh Sports Talk
Pittsburgh Sports Talk Pittsburgh Sports Talk
|Pittsburgh Sports Talk
Pirates playing pretty good baseball leading into All-Star Game in Miami.
By Jim O’Brien
We were doing something that was once quite common for Pirates’ fans. We were sitting on our back porch and listening to Sunday afternoon’s game in Chicago.
Once most homes became air-conditioned, porch-sitting lost favor. The majority of fans watch the games on television in the comfort of their homes these days. There was a time they said you could walk through the residential sections of Oakland on the way to a Pirates’ game at Forbes Field and hear the pre-game show as you passed by fans listening to the game on their porches.
I remember that experience. If you parked your car somewhere in South Oakland, near the boyhood homes of Danny Marino, Bruno Sammartino and Andy Warhol you wouldn’t miss a beat on Bucs’ baseball on the radio. Bob Prince, Jim Woods or Nellie King would accompany you on your walk.
It was an idyllic day in Pittsburgh on Sunday, and there was no wind whatsoever where we now live in Washington County, which is uncommon. We sit high on a hill of what was once a horse farm and the winds can get wild and wooly.
It was calm on Sunday. It was also an idyllic day in Chicago, if you were rooting for the visitors from Pittsburgh rather than the hometown Cubs. The Cubs are the defending National League and World Series champions, but you wouldn’t have known it by their performance on this sunny Sunday.
We missed the first few innings, so we missed the fireworks. The Pirates scored ten runs in the first inning off former Pirates’ pitcher Jon Lester. It was 12-2 when we tuned in. “At least they no longer have Bastardo to blow a lead like this,” said Kathie, the knowledgeable fan and critic.
No Bastardo is gone, and so are all the remnants of what we ended up with when we traded Neil Walker to the Mets two years ago.
That’s Antonio Bastardo, an aptly-named pitcher who was just terrible in his stint with the Pirates. And he was making $5.5 million a year. That surely spoils breakfast most days for El Roy Face and Bob Friend and the like, terrific Pirates’ pitchers of the past who now sign autographs at some games at PNC Park.
It was relaxing to a listen to a Pirates’ game when you were quite confident they’d come out winners. They took two out of three games in Chicago and three out of four in Philadelphia in the prior series. So it was a good road trip and a great way to go into the All-Star break.
Wade Davis, the Cubs’ closer, was the only one on his team to be voted into the All-Star Game, and Josh Harrison, the Pirates’ infielder, was the lone Bucco to be voted into the All-Star Game.
If Andrew McCutcheon had started his hitting tear a little earlier he might’ve been chosen for the All-Star Game in Miami on Tuesday. He has been unreal of late.
Yet the trade rumors persist. The trade deadline is July 31. There will be two months remaining in the regular season after that.
McCutcheon, Gerrit Cole and Tony Watson are among those to be found on an Internet listing of 50 players most likely to be traded, and even Josh Harrison, Jordy Mercer and Ivan Nova are mentioned on an extended list.
I hate to hear that. These guys are the current face of the Bucs, but keep in mind that Neil Walker was once the face of the franchise, and he was dealt away – for nothing, as it turns out.
Remember a few years back when a popular theme was that the Pirates had the best outfield for the future? There was Starling Marte in left, McCutcheon in center field, and Gregory Polanco in right field.
For one reason or another, that has changed considerably. The Pirates thought they had a third baseman with power in Jung-ho Kang, but he’s been stuck in South Korea so far this season. It could be worse. He could be stuck in North Korea. Who knew he was a drunk?
There is hope, however, with a young promising player such as Josh Bell. He hit his 16th home run last week, the most by any Pirates’ rookie before the All-Star break since Ralph Kiner hit 15 in 1946.
It would be nice, of course, if the Pirates can put their act together in the second half of the season to be a real contender. Going into the All-Star break they were seven games behind the Milwaukee Brewers and there were three teams ahead of them in the NL Central standings.
Artie Burns, the promising defensive back of the Steelers, was arrested on June 29 in South Florida on a DUI charge, and it turned out he had an expired driver’s license and owed over $1,000 in parking tickets. This happens because ballplayers like Burns think they are above the laws the rest of us must heed.
Athletes often behave this way. They are used to someone else taking care of business for them.
By coincidence, I had to go to the license bureau this past week to get my photo taken for my new driver’s identification card. They send you a notice in the mail with a deadline and you have to do it. It’s simple enough.
When I was walking out with my new i.d., former Steelers’ offensive lineman turned broadcaster Craig Wolfley was coming through the door. He held the door open for Kathie and me. He was coming to get his picture taken for his new i.d. card. Wolfley is mature enough to know that’s what you need to do if you wish to continue to drive a car around town.
I remember a woman asking me during the season, after several Steelers had gotten into one kind of trouble or another, “Do the Rooneys still own the Steelers?”
It’s going to be interesting to see how the Starling Marte story plays out. Some members of the media are urging the Pirates to trade him.