Friday, August 01, 2008

Last thoughts on Jason Bay

There are always downsides to trades. Anyone that's been a WHYGAVS reader for a long time knows that I've gone out of my way again and again to defend Jason Bay, so it's probably obvious that Bay's been one of my favorite Pirates over the past few years. When I really sit down and think about it, it's possible that I'll never get to more Pirate games in my life over a short span than I did from my sophomore through my senior year of college, and Bay was one of the few constants on that team.

The thing that I liked the most about Bay was the thing that I think angered the most people; he was always even-keel and low-key, and that made it easy to forget that he was incredibly good at his job. Who can forget the time he hit ten homers in ten games in May of 2006? Or his MVP-caliber season in 2005? Or his 8-RBI game shortly after he got traded here? Or his sudden slew of clutch, walk-off hits this year? Or the only Rookie of the Year Award in Pirate history? Or the ovation he got in PNC as a starter in the 2006 All-Star Game? Two years in a row, he drove in 100 runs for a team that was on the bottom of the barrel in the NL in terms of on-base percentage. Every time Adam LaRoche takes his giant, looping swing and flails at a bad pitch, I'm going to long for Bay's perfectly short little flip that would still somehow send a ball into the bullpens at PNC.

Was Bay a perfect player? Of course not. I hated the way he'd whiff on those biting sliders as much as anybody. Last year was incredibly frustrating, even knowing now that he was injured during the year. Really, though, it's hard to find a guy that's as good as Bay is without even a hint of arrogance. For as bad as the Pirates have been in the last fifteen years, we've been lucky enough to see some pretty damn good players and Bay was one of them. I know PNC won't quite feel right the next time I'm there and he's not in left field. I'm even going to be able to root for the Red Sox this year and not completely hate myself for it, knowing that Bay's getting the chance at the big stage that he's earned.