Cumberland Times-News

Mike Mathews - Sports

July 28, 2009

For Pirates, a tough sell: patience

During a C-SPAN interview (hey, good television is hard to find) this explanation was given for the need for continued debate on a pending bill:

“Everything that needs to be said has been said, but everyone who wants to say it hasn’t said it.”

So it is in Washington, I guess. So, too, in Pittsburgh, where the Pirates are pushing two consecutive decades of losing baseball. It’s 16 straight years and likely soon to be 17, in case you’re scoring along at home.

Everybody seems to feel the need to take a shot at the Pirates these days. Writers. Fans. Little League coaches. Comedians. A few days ago a pastor at church even made a crack about the state of the Pirates.

With every passing trade — and there are more to come — it’s almost impossible to walk by the watercooler and not hear a joke about the Pirates’ front-office decisions and on-field losing.

Pittsburgh longs for the success of 1970s. Clemente and Stargell, Robertson and Blass. Sanguillen and Oliver. Then Parker and Madlock. Candelaria, Blyleven and Tekulve.

If those were the best of times, then some would say these are the worst of times. Actually, the worst of times is over because the Pirates front office has started down the right track. It may not seem so at times, and it may sound silly with the team in the midst of another losing season and after trading Nate McLouth, Nyjer Morgan, Jason Bay and Xavier Nady. But it’s true.

It’s easy to understand why fans become irate over trades. They get attached to players and have favorites. Few at the time in 1987 were happy when Tony Pena was traded to the Cardinals for an unknown pitcher (Mike Dunne) a chubby catcher (Mike LaValliere) and a young outfielder who hadn’t yet become a full-time starter (Andy Van Slyke). It turned out to be a steal, and one of the best deals in club history.

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Mike Mathews - Sports
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