Thursday, August 02, 2007

parallels

Sunday's trip the ballpark with GW9K and Dos (Just Sayin's resident authority on lean and Tupac's wardrobe) was nothing short of a requiem for our Pirates fandom. The Bucs dropped the series to the Phillies, despite a decent outing by Ian Snell and a less-anemic-than-usual performance at the plate by the whole squad. What they could not do which the Phillies could do, of course, was get consecutive hits. So while Nate McLouth's line drive homer was our lone run, the Phillies put up three by the 6th inning. Shawn Chacon entirely shit the bed and gave up like three walks and a double or something, by which time there was no going back.

When not discussing the myriad ways in which Dos is poorly equipped to handle a sunny day at the park, recurring topics danced around the non-fandom of being a Pirates fan. Black and gold was omnipresent, but none of it was met with the usual Philly goon business. You rock the wrong colors to most games, you have to watch your back. But the Pirates are so non-threatening--almost docile--that the game becomes a celebration of Pennsylvanian solidarity. It might as well be the state fair.

Only recently have I come to appreciate the gloom with which Pirates approach the season. How naive of me to think it was just a coincidence that promising young players fall the fuck off upon reaching the Pirates. How silly to think it was a mere coincidence that our seemingly mediocre pitchers hit greener pastures and blossom into all-stars. My father and GW9K's father both independently determined that Oliver Perez had to--had to!--have been juicing to have dropped off so intensely after a season of such brilliance. And yet look whose can't lose now that he's escaped the black and gold.

Ian Snell seems to be the only player who has the correct attitude for withstanding a tenure in PNC Park: pure spite. A true competitor, Snell sees his time in Pittsburgh as a chance to learn to not only win without run support, but to accept and shake-off bullpen losses. He knows the Pirates add a run and a half to your ERA and cost you at least eight wins. If it were up to him, he would be throwing with wrist and ankle weights. Not like anyone's watching, right?

My feelings about the Pirates are about on par with my feelings about the war in Iraq. I wholeheartedly support the human machinery on the ground actively striving for victory, but I absolutely abhor the cynical, detached assholes who put them there. And like Donald Rumsfeld, Dave Littlefield seems to time his grand errors to smash wayward moments of hope.

The Matt Morris deal. Wow.

Take a gander at the other Bad Baseball Teams, and nowhere will you find the depths of despair that you find in my home town. Do a quick blog search and you will find Royals fans content to have shed the unreliable, aging Octavio Dotel for the just unreliable Kyle Davies. You will find Devil Rays fans generally pleased to have exchanged Ty Wiggington, one of, like, six decent utility players on the roster, and among the oldest and most fragile, for a Dan Wheeler who can actually close should need be. Trading deadline aside, the Roylas are turning a corner, with a new GM and a load of young talent. The Rays also have an ungodly number of prospects, not to mention the entertainment value added by Eljah Dukes and Delmon Young. Other stinkers--Cincinnati, Texas, etc--are just in rebuilding years.

GW9K says he's seen dudes in Philly ("bols") wearing Pirates hats just like an alternate Phillies cap. And even for those of us who actually rep western PA proudly, the sharp gold "P" is more about the city than the team, an early American rune that we can wear more proudly than the logo for a manufacturing trade organization or a fat arctic bird, even though those teams actually win games. As the number of seasons without so much as a glance at a winning record pile up like slag, the athletic significance of that logo has damn near disappeared.

Go Twins.

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