Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Games 130 and 131: Pirates 6 Reds 4, Pirates 3 Reds 2

This is legitimately approaching disastrous for the Pirates. There are only two conceivably acceptable outcomes for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2007:

  1. Finish the season well below .500, overhaul the front office, start over in 2008.
  2. Win the whole f*#$ing thing.
Seriously, there's no in between. Instead of a recap tonight, let's just fast-forward to October 1st with the way things are going right now:

Pittsburgh, PA- It was almost the freak show all over again. The Pittsburgh Pirates made a furious dash to the finish line in 2007, but as they did 1997, they fell just short. After falling to 50-70 on August 12th, the Pirates finished with a torrid 29-12 streak that left them just three games behind the division champion Cubs.

Mostly the fans and the players are left asking, "What if...?" What if Jason Bay hadn't slumped so badly through the bulk of the season? What if Adam LaRoche hadn't started so poorly. What if the bullpen hadn't blown (insert number here) leads after the seventh inning? What if the rotation had come together before August?

One man isn't asking, "What if...?" That man is Dave Littlefield. "You know, it's always disappointing to come so close to the playoffs and fall short, but 2007 was never the year that we had in our sights," Littlefield said after Sunday's season closing 3-2 win over the Cardinals, "We're aiming for 2008, 2009, and beyond and we've got an exciting core of young players here and an even more exciting core coming up behind them and we think this team is ready to compete for the long-haul."

He's not the only one that's optimistic. "I'm real proud of these guys," manager Jim Tracy said. "They've played their butts off here over the past two months and it showed. I think you're finally getting to see what these guys are capable of out on a baseball field. Heck, with this group we've got on the field right now, I reckon the whole National League is happy we missed the playoffs."

Tracy and Littlefield's bright outlook has worn off on owner Bob Nutting, "I said at the All-Star break that Jim and Dave's future would be determined by the play of the team in the second half and I think that the play of the team has spoken for itself. They're as much a part of the Pirates' future as the players are."

I know what some of you are thinking: "Hey, that doesn't sound too bad. These guys look really good right now. Maybe we were too hard on them before." Dave Littlefield has had since 2001 to build a winning organization and the minors are still mostly bereft of talent. In order to go on this run, the Pirates have been the best offensive team in baseball in August. Look at the players on this team. This is not the best offensive team in baseball. In order to go on this run, the bullpen has been nigh unhittable for like a month. Look at the guys in that bullpen. They are not the best bullpen in the league. The Pirates are simply progressing towards the mean right now. This is no different than 37-32 in the second half last year. Chris Duffy fooled you in the past; don't be fooled by Nate McLouth. LaRoche and Sanchez are killing the ball right now, putting their numbers right about where they should be for the season. They're not having breakthroughs.

Please don't misunderstand me. I love the Pirates. I wouldn't be doing any of this if I didn't. But if the Pirates keep up their recent hot streak, I think it's going to be the worst thing possible for the future of this franchise.