As the regular season winds down, many teams are already facing an offseason filled with golf rounds and hot-stove strategy.
But we're not going to let them get off that easy. No sir. No way. In an attempt to bring some closure between franchise and follower, we're giving a blogger from eachteam the opportunity to give a concession speech for this year's squad. Up next are our old photoshoping pals from RumBunter.
Concession Speech Draft #1.
Thank you ladies and gentlemen! As fellow baseball fans, many of you know what it feels like to go from being 16 games over .500 to finishing with a losing record, wait ... that's never been done before ... damm it!
[tosses speech in the trash]
Ok, here we go, Concession Speech Draft #2
Good evening. It's been a difficult few months, but it's now time to put our support behind the Cincinna ... the Cincin ... ah, dammit!
[fires the speech in the trash]
Concession Speech Draft #3
Good evening ladies and gentlemen, friends, Pitts... God, we just can't do this....
[The guys text 'Duk to tell him they are out. They give him Brian's email at Raise the Jolly Roger. We conceed on the concession speech, Let Brian or maybe Charlie at Bucs Dugout will do it. Duk never responds, so we're on our own.]
Thank you! Thank you Pittsburgh Pirates fans and those of you with nothing better to do on this dark evening for Pittsburgh Pirates baseball.
We have been eliminated from postseason contention as we come to the end of a long season ... it was an amazing season.
[SOBBING STARTS, and someone screams: 'An amazingly AWFUL season!]
Please ... please. Once again my friends, the baseball Gods have spoken, and their voice has resounded from the heavens with a message loud and clear for the ears of the Pirates faithful. The losing streak has reached an unthinkable 20 years.
[THE SOBBING RETURNS, EVEN LOUDER]
A couple of days ago, we had the honor of congratulating Brandon Phillips and the Cincinnati Reds ...
... enough, enough... to wish them congratulations on winning the National League Central and pledge our support until they are inevitably bounced in the first round again.
Mudslinging Time: Look, the Pittsburgh Pirates have a razor thin margin for error. The year 2012 was simply a season where one too many mistakes were made. It turned a ballclub that was 16 games over .500 to a team that would not only miss the postseason, but would do what never had been done before, they would plummet to a spot below .500.
At midseason, everyone said it — to ourselves, and to everyone within earshot — the Bucs are going to the postseason! Buy your playoff tickets now! (No, really, playoff tickets were actually a thing.)
But then, as happens so often in Pittsburgh, the axle snapped off the bandwagon. Clint Hurdle, who was the witty puppetmaster pulling all the right strings as the team surged, went from being a lock for manager of the year to holding the reins of the bandwagon that was breaking down in city after city.
Unfortunately, James McDonald's second-half was as shocking as the Bucs freefall from the elite teams in MLB. A.J. Burnett and Andrew McCutchen turned the Bucs into a real life gong show in August. The bullpen went right with them.
Suddenly Buccos fans waded out of the fog and looked to find the team was playing just barely above .300 baseball. .300 baseball!
Mistakes were made: Before the season started, Andrew McCutchen signed a $51.5 milllion deal in March. The contract was completed after Cutch had a horrific second half of the 2011 season, but it certainly cost Cutch millions of dollars. As a sidenote, he will have to deal with Pirates owner Bob Nutting for six more years.
Nutting gets a lot of **** in Pittsburgh, but maybe it's for good reason. What can we say about the team being greeted after a sweep at the hands of the Padres by Nutting who owns a sporting clay pigeons range? He expected 10 players to spend their first off day (after playing 20 games in 20 days) yelling "Pull!" as they shoot clay pigeons for charity?
Snafu after snafu has happened in the Pirates organization during the 20-year tragedy.This year was no exception. The president of the club made a possible lethal error in driving while under the influence. The organization allowed a season ticket holder to create a website where fans could pay to have their voices heard and it featured a video of Pirates president Fran Coonelly. Perhaps it was hiring a scout that was a ... well anyone can make a bad hire, but how about confusing the Hell's Angels with being a good thing before signing off with 'It's a Good Day to Die?' (Don't forget to pickup your Hoka Hey engraved dog tag.)
It's hard to even imagine isn't it? How about the information technology department allowing the Pirates dedicated prospect development website to be wide open for anyone that could type in a made up password? We can't make this up.
So one could say snafus were a consistent problem again in 2012.
As is standard for the Buccos, the brass overpaid for some veteran players, but this year at least they weren't third-tier free agents. Enter Rod Barajas and Clint Barmes, second-tier free agents! These players were brought in to shore up the defense. Unfortunately,they created a virtual vacuum/giant sucking sound at the bottom of the order for most of the season. It often seemed like the Bucs played seven innings -- with regular, nearly automatic, outs coming from the 7,8, and 9 spots.
The lack of production from the top of the lineup compounded the problem so badly that after July, the offensive juggernaut was replaced by the team that we saw in April and May, only this time, the pitchers didn't bother to show.
At the trade deadline, one pitcher of value was added. Wandy Rodriguez pitched like crap before reeling off nine of his last 12 as quality starts. Other trades focused on the long term, not the present, which is probably a good thing in hindsight despite an obvious opportunity to go all in.
The team limped along at a pathetic pace in the final two months. The ballclub that scored more than a guy at a Hooters National Training Meeting back in the summer, wrapped up the season getting no hit, by Homer freaking Bailey.
Hope for the future: McCutchen appears to have fallen short of the batting title, but has 31 bombs and 20 steals while putting up a 7.0 WAR. Not since Barry Bonds have the Bucs developed a homegrown talent like McCutchen. There is no doubt, barring injury, that McCutchen will continue his drive to superstardom.
Pedro Alvarez started the season slowly, and many clamored for him to be sent to Triple-A for additional seasoning, or to get his head together, or the most ridiculous of all — to learn to hit major league pitching. Fortunately, the brass tuned out the fans. After 55 games, El Toro had a .189 average with just eight homers. He now is hitting near a .250 average with 30 bombs [watch each one in all of their photoshopped glory here.]
Garrett Jones has 26 homers, but is due a big raise in arbitration. Neil Walker continued to be a rock solid bat, until he injured his back late in the season. Walk will also be owed some cash.
Starling Marte will be 24 years old. Once he reduces his strikeouts, Marte will be in our outfield for years to come. He is fast as the wind, and with an arm — oh, his arm! It's already drawn comparisons to the Great One. Yes, it's that strong. His bat is exciting and could lead the Bucs to one of the better lineups in baseball if the club can find someone to reach base regularly at the top of the order.
Change is going come: There are some who would say that I sound bitter, that now is the time for healing, to bring the organization together this offseason. Let me share something with you, we've seen this for 20 years. Some 7,300 nights if you will.
Drafting at the top of the food chain has left the Pirates with a top 10 system. The big question is after all these years of struggling, shouldn't the Pirates have the absolute best system in the game, or perhap at the least, a top five system?
The Pirates have reiterated that their minor leagues aren't all about stats. While many scoff at such a remark, it really does ring true. If only the players could back it up when they arrive in the big leagues.
But some under-the-radar breakout prospects have popped up recently. Another wave from a strong hitting Gulf Coast League team show even more breakout candidates for the future.
2013 will start providing the answers. Young pitchers like double-black belt Kyle McPherson, the hard throwing left hander Justin Wilson, and another southpaw, Jeff Locke will be working hard to prove they deserve a spot in the rotation.
The player projected to be the catcher of the future, Tony Sanchez will need to prove he can produce offensively (at least marginally) to get a shot in the big leagues.
The Pirates have what every team covets — high end pitching talent. If you've paid attention to the past two monumental collapses of the Buccos, pitching has been the missing link.
Flame throwing Gerritt Cole will be close to big league ready. Jameson Taillon will be out to prove he can contribute to the big league club, possibly down the stretch next September when the Bucs will attempt to really finish this time. The teenager, Luis Heredia, will be playing in Low-A and possibly could move to High-A by the end of the season.
The maturation of talented hitters like McCutchen, Walker, Alvarez, Jones and Marte will provide the nucelus of an offense that can put up some crooked numbers.
The big question would be are the Pirates brass going to be around to see it? Bucs President Frank Coonelly cleared the air when he announced no changes in leadership will be coming.
Regardless if changes are made, we can always count on one thing:
Pirates. Fans. Never. Quit.
should when the owner fills the promotional schedule with bands like 'nSync, Lynrd Skynrd, and AC/DC you can count on Saturdays at PNC Park being sold out all summer long!
Here's to 2013! We will not look back! We will look forward! We will finish what we started! We will remind Major League Baseball why the Pirates are the greatest franchise on earth!
God Bless You! God Bless the Pittsburgh Pirates!
[Two fans in the front row leap to their feet, scream FREEBIRD! and flash Zoltans. The other two fans retrieve their tear-drenched Zoltan towels from the floor and exit quietly]
Previous Concession Speeches: Cleveland Indians, Boston Red Sox, Minnesota Twins, San Diego Padres, New York Mets, Miami Marlins, Chicago Cubs, Toronto Blue Jays, Colorado Rockies, Kansas City Royals, Houston Astros