Starkey: Too early for Pirates' epitaph
A colleague wondered if I'd come to PNC Park on Wednesday night to bury the Pirates.
"No," I said. "They still have 54 games left."
Earlier, a radio caller had asked the following question: "What makes you think the Pirates are a contender?"
Me: "The standings."
It was, after all, only Aug. 3. And there was, after all, still 33 percent of the season remaining. And the standings, after all, looked like this:
Team: Record (games back)
Milwaukee: 62-50 (—)
St. Louis: 58-53 (3.5)
Pirates: 54-54 (6.0)
Sorry, but no matter how those teams arrived at those respective slots, the Pirates were, and are, by virtue of their position in the standings, a contender. That does not mean I'm planning my October weekends around baseball at PNC Park, especially in light of the team's sixth consecutive loss, which dropped it 6.5 games back. The situation has grown infinitely more bleak since the moment umpire Jerry Meals went blind in Atlanta. I don't think the Pirates are going to win the division.
In fact, I'm pretty sure they won't.
But I was pretty sure they'd lose 95-105 games this season, too. Weren't you?
Why so quick to bury the living• That caller wasn't the only one. As our perceptive civic observer @JanePitt tweeted the other day, I believe at some point during the shelling of Kevin Correia: "I can hear the bodies falling to the road as they fling themselves from my bandwagon. Tuck and roll, people. Tuck and roll."
Divorce yourself, mentally, from the five-game losing streak the Pirates carried into last night's game against the Chicago Cubs and ask yourself: Would you have signed up for this in April?
Of course you would have.
There is yet some entertaining, pressurized baseball to be played. Last night's game was a perfect example — a tense pitching duel between Chicago's Matt Garza and Charlie Morton, who might have been fighting to preserve his spot in the Pirates' rotation.
A decent weeknight crowd (19,106) — particularly on a rainy night — erupted in the top of the fifth when home-plate umpire Bob Davidson ejected Chicago's Tyler Colvin for arguing a called third strike. Davidson then tossed manager Mike Quade. Morton battled his way to seven shutout innings only to see reliever Chris Resop come down with a mild case of Correia in the eighth. Resop gave up what proved to be the game-losing home run to Starlin Castro.
Plenty of fans remain emotionally invested in this season, but it seems as if others have taken perverse pleasure in the club's recent slide. Still others are calling for the Pirates to suddenly become sellers and jettison players such as pitcher Paul Maholm.
Really• With nearly a third of the season left, including 20 in a row against divisional foes to end August• I'd prefer to see Maholm and his 3.27 ERA make the next scheduled start, thank you. He's the kind of player the Pirates need to keep, perhaps by tearing up that $9.5 million club option for next season and signing him to a multi-year deal.
Or they could deal Maholm for minor leaguers and thereby appease the prospect junkies out there — the ones who were so elated when the Pirates didn't "mortgage the future" at the nonwaiver trade deadline, the ones who begin their day with prayer readings straight out of "Baseball America."
The group that really gets me is the "I told you so" crowd. They no doubt feel validated by the recent spate of losses. They knew it would happen. They were telling you all along. They're bound and determined to prove that these are the same old Pirates.
Look, I understand that when you've been abused for 18 years, it's hard to love again. But this team, with the way it has battled through injuries all season, has earned some goodwill. It certainly earned a bunch of new fans. And if even it does fall off the map, it will have proven that Pittsburgh remains a spirited baseball town.
But it's still too early for an epitaph.
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.
- Pirates notebook: Pirates recall Decker, send Cumpton back to Indy
- Friday’s scouting report: Pirates at Reds
- Statistically speaking: Mesoraco, Martin travel different paths to success
- Volquez goes distance as Pirates roll to victory over Cardinals
- Report links Pirates first baseman Sanchez to PEDs while in college
- Kovacevic: No measuring Harrison’s heart