Starkey: Nutting but endorsements from Pirates
TribLIVE Sports Videos
How can this be?
How can Pirates president Frank Coonelly release a statement guaranteeing that general manager Neal Huntington, assistant GMs Greg Smith and Kyle Stark and manager Clint Hurdle all will be retained next season and in the very same statement say the team has not yet turned its “full and total attention to evaluating why we were unable to finish the job”?
Shouldn't the evaluation come first?
Coonelly, unfortunately, did not make himself available for further comment.
How can that be?
How can the team president drop a bombshell — and it is a bombshell when you announce that nobody will be held responsible for a second consecutive historic collapse – and not answer questions?
Could it be that team owner Bob Nutting simply doesn't want to pay people for not working?
Nutting, after all, hasn't exactly forged a reputation as wild spender. If he fired Huntington, it's entirely possible a new GM would want a new manager, not to mention many new assistants. That means Nutting would be on the hook for the remainders of the deals with Huntington (two years), Hurdle (one year), plus whatever Smith, Stark and a lot of other people are owed, plus all the incoming salaries.
That's not his style.
Of course, Nutting didn't talk either. Two questions I would have asked him:
1. Did you give this statement your full blessing?
2. Would you consider bringing in a “senior adviser” of sorts to help with talent evaluation?
I would have asked the first question because, curiously, nobody at the Pirates would confirm that Nutting endorsed Coonelly's statement. I was told only that I should assume he did.
OK, I'll assume that. But it also got me to wondering: If Huntington could go on his radio show, as he did Sunday, and say he had no intention of parting ways with Stark or Smith, then why couldn't Coonelly unilaterally express his support for Huntington, Hurdle & Co.? Maybe Nutting only gave a half-hearted blessing. Maybe he is sitting in the weeds waiting to take action after the season — though I doubt it.
Either way, there is yet time for the owner to come to his senses. Something isn't working here. The Pirates did not just play poorly to finish the season. They imploded in biblical fashion for the second straight year. Their record over past two Augusts and Septembers — going into Wednesday's game — was a combined 35-72, good for a .327 winning percentage.
Last year, the Pirates went from first place in a division to double-digit games out faster than any team in baseball history. This year, as ESPN.com's Jayson Stark reported, they might become the first team to be as many as 16 games over .500 after 108 games and finish with a losing record. In a related story, the organization hardly is flooded with major league-ready talent. Just the opposite. And millions have been wasted in free agency.
It should go without saying that all of this is unacceptable. Yet everywhere you turn in this organization, you find acceptance rather than outrage, despite Coonelly finishing his lawyerly statement like this: “Confidence in and support of Neal, Kyle and Greg should not be misunderstood with acceptance of another poor finish at the Major League level. We must understand why the quality of our execution and play deteriorated so markedly in August. Finishing was the focus from spring training, but it certainly was not achieved.”
I asked Huntington yesterday — he was available to speak, albeit well before the statement was released — if 82 wins might be a way of salvaging the season.
“I know our fans hate when I say this, but 82 has never been significant to me,” he said. “Once we fall short of winning the World Series, we've not truly had a successful year. From our standpoint, 82 doesn't represent anything but a win total better than 72. It's not something we're going to celebrate.”
I still think 82 is critical in terms of perception, and I wonder if Nutting feels the same way. I wonder if he's still waiting on some big decisions, or whether he's content to save the money and shut his ears to the outrage.
How can this be?
Joe Starkey co-hosts a show 2 to 6 p.m. weekdays on 93.7 “The Fan.” His columns appear Thursdays and Sundays. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Bubble players get last chance to impress Steelers
- Steelers accomplish mission to get younger, faster on defense
- Locke struggles again early, Pirates lose again in Milwaukee
- Asking price for Penguins franchise said to be at a record $750M
- Roundup: U.S. bank earnings up 7.3% in 2nd quarter; IMF warns China slowdown threatens global economy; more
- American to halt 2 direct routes from Pittsburgh International
- Adrian man sentenced to 10 years in prison for sex crimes
- Pa. business interests decry EPA ozone proposal as economic albatross
- Western Pennsylvania schools’ denial of access to roofers prompts suit
- 4-year-old transplant recipient Angelo Giorno from Derry on life support, family says
- Family affair for Charleroi HOF inductions