Bucs fans to blame for losing ways

| Tuesday, June 26, 2007

This is about the Pirates, that much-troubled Major League Baseball franchise, and their curious relationship with an incredibly loyal fan base.

According to general manager Dave Littlefield, the Pirates don't plan on making any trades as the July 31 deadline approaches. As if being 13 games under .500 isn't enough cause for panic.

At least pitcher Ian Snell -- one of the team's few bright spots in 2007 -- still cared enough to call out teammates following another Pirates meltdown. Beware when the players stop caring enough to complain.

Fourteen consecutive losing seasons -- and counting.

It's taken a lot of hard work from a lot of people for the Pirates to be this bad for this long, from ownership to management to the players and coaches -- right on down to the ticket-buying public.

Take a well-deserved bow, Pirates fan.

Blame principal owner Bob Nutting, if you must. Just make sure to spell his name correctly.

Truth be told, Pirates fan, boycott or no boycott, walkout or no walkout, none of this would be possible without your help.

That's right, you, sitting in Section 22 behind the home dugout, stuffing your face with hot dogs and wearing Pirates paraphernalia. You've earned this baseball beatdown, so enjoy.

And you, down the right-field line in Section 107 wearing a glove in hopes of catching a souvenir. Doesn't it make you feel warm inside to know your financial contributions have contributed to the Pirates becoming a national laughingstock?

Face it, Pirates fan. You're drawn to the Pirates, to baseball, to sports, like a moth to a flame, like Mike Tyson to a police blotter.

It's in your DNA, and you're all but powerless to resist.

Nutting is counting on your continued support -- your hard-earned money -- the way he needs air to breathe.

Nutting thrives on the blind faith of fans. All team owners do.

It enables them to push for the use of your tax dollars to build new stadiums replete with luxury suites that deposit millions of dollars into their bank accounts years in advance.

It encourages them to depreciate their players like pieces of broken-down furniture for tax purposes, then cry poverty when fans and media demand they spend more money.

Ownership couldn't care less about your pain, Pirates fan.

It isn't like the Pirates are so embarrassed by this year's fiasco that it shames them to cease and desist from toeing such a fine financial line.

It all boils down to how badly the Pirates want to win.

Not badly enough.

Ownership already has PNC Park -- a veritable cash cow that allows the worst team in baseball over the past decade to continue spinning straw into gold.

If Nutting won't lift a finger to improve the on-field product, why should you?

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