Thursday, March 27, 2008

Here's how it would happen: July 2008

I honestly think the Pirates have no chance to contend or even finish .500 this year, but the truth is that there must be some sequence of events, no matter how improbable, that can take place that would bring home an NL Central pennant for the Bucs in 2008. It's probably just because I've watched too much LOST lately, but I'm going to write a series of flash-forwards dealing with the one alternate dimension in a million in which the Pirates win the NL Central in 2008. Someone hit the gas on the infinite improbability drive ...

Holy cow, I wanted to be done with these by the opener. Time to hit the gas. On July 1st, at the halfway point of the season, the Pirates are 41-40. If you've missed the earlier editions and are just starting now, check out April, May, and June.

July 6th- Prince Fielder hits three homers off of Matt Morris, the third of which lands in the Allegheny may have punched a hole in the far wall of Miller Park's roof. The Brewers beat the Pirates 9-2, dropping the Bucs (who have now lost 8 of 9) to 42-44 and pulling themselves one game ahead of the Cubs and six games ahead of the Pirates.
WHYGAVS: You know, we all kind of felt like this ride would end eventually. I mean, in reality the NL Central has been one of the best divisions in the NL this year and I don't know anyone that thinks the Pirates are realy one of the best teams in the NL. If it feels to you like I'm writing a eulogy, well, it feels that way to me too. I think when this season ends, we're going to be looking back on this late June/early July stretch as the one that sunk the Pirates.

July 9th- The Pirates crush the Astros 11-1 to finish a three-game sweep and get back above .500 at 45-44.
WHYGAVS: I honestly never thought we'd see .500 again after Sunday and here we are back above the mark. This team is maddening, frustrating, and inconsistent. At least that's an upgrade over "awful."

July 13th- The Pirates sneak out a 3-1 win over the Cards to sweep their 6-game homestand and go into the break at 48-44, tied with the sliding Cubs and 3 games behind the division leading Brewers.
WHYGAVS: We're four games above .500 at the All-Star Break. I feel like that should be a question, but it's actually a statement. It is the honest, hand-to-God truth. The Pittsburgh Pirates are four games above .500 at the All-Star Break. And in New York on Tuesday, there's going to be three Pirates on the NL side. Three! This is un-freaking-precedented. Jason Bay, Ian Snell, and Tom Gorzelanny are all suiting up for the NL, and Adam LaRoche would be there if first base in the NL didn't have Prince Fielder, Ryan Howard, and Mark Teixeira all at the same position. This has literally blown my mind.

July 17th- The Pirates elect to go with Paul Maholm in Coors' Field to kick off the second half of the season, since both Snell and Gorzo pitched in the All-Star game. The result is an insane 17-15, 12 inning win for the Buccos that sees homers from Bay (21), McLouth (11), Doumit 2 (12), and Pearce (5).
WHYGAVS: Holy freaking crap. Was that a baseball game? I mean, Maholm got shelled, Burnett came in and got shelled, Osoria got shelled, Marte pitched well, then Capps came out to HOLD THE LEAD that we somehow had and got REALLY shelled, then Evan Meek and Tyler Yates shut the highest scoring team in the NL down for three full extra innings, which was long enough for Ryan Doumit to launch his second homer of the night into air thinner than his hamstrings. What is happening?

July 23rd- The Pirates beat the Astros 2-1 in Minute Maid Park behind a solid outing by Gorzy, who picks up his 12th win. The win is their 12th in 13 games, which brings them to 54-45, tied with the Brewers atop the NL Central.
WHYGAVS: Now, I realize that I am a relatively young blogger that from time to time is prone to hyper-hyperbole (is that possible?) and that my memory of the early 90s is pretty hazy, but I can't ever remember a Pirate team that's been this hot. Not matter what they do, they win. Tonight the bats, which had been so hot, failed to show up. That didn't matter because Gorzo baffled the Astros' hitters all night and Nyjer Morgan's pinch-hit, RBI single/stolen base/score from second on a ball hit right at Hunter Pence was enough offense for the whole team. And yes, I just checked and the Pirates are tied for first on July 23rd and I'm fairly certain that I'm awake and if you're reading this, you're probably awake, too.

July 31st- For the first time in recent history, I emerge from the trade deadline without wanting to gouge my eyes out. Xavier Nady is shipped off for prospects and ... that's it. They try to shop around for a fifth starter, but none are logical and hey, Matt Morris is 6-8 with a 4.90 ERA. In the game of the evening, the Bucs beat the Rockies 4-3 on a walk-off home run by Nate McLouth off of ... you guessed it ... Kip Wells*. The win brings the Pirates to 4-3 on their month-closing homestand and pulls their record up to 59-48, still tied with the Brewers.
WHYGAVS: I have no idea how or why this keeps happening, but it does. I'm not going to lie, if this team is just pulling at our heartstrings right now (and I really think they probably are), I'm going to be incredibly pissed if they lost 25 of 30 games or some similar ridiculousness in August. I'm serious.

*If Nate McLouth hits a walk-off home run off of Kip Wells at any point this year in real life, azibuck gets to write the recap.