Big League Stew - MLB

As the regular season winds down, 22 teams are facing an offseason filled with golf rounds and hot stove strategery. 

Meanwhile, the fans of those squads are looking at the prospect of spending the winter without the warmth of a postseason appearance. In an attempt to bring some closure between franchise and follower, we're asking a blogger from each team to write a cathartic missive to their disappointing 2010 lineups.

First up in Tom Smith of Rum Bunter, who writes about the pain of watching the Bucs seal their 18th straight losing year.

Dear Pittsburgh Pirates,

You're simply the worst I have ever seen you. A mess. A shell of your once proud self. I think we both felt this coming. As much as I would like to say it was me and not you, I can't. The fact is that you have made this really easy.

I think you knew I was upset when the Brewers made you look like 98-pound weaklings in the middle of April. It's bad enough being a hardcore fan of yours, but when a team comes into the house and outscores you 36-1, and out hits you 46-18 while crushing eight bombs to your zero? Well, a statement needed to be made. You left me hanging.

I would have thought you surely would have stood up and drilled at least three of them in the back, but you didn't. We needed a baseball brawl. You failed me. And you lost me. So much for your 7-5 start.

It all went downhill from there, Pittsburgh Pirates. After the Brewers series your record was suddenly 7-8 and you had been outscored 85-13. Nice start. I should have quit you then.

But of course, my stupid self stuck around like I always do. I seriously need help. Maybe it was those XXX staches that kept me coming back, because it certainly wasn't Aki Iwamura or Charlie Morton or Zach Duke or Ryan Church and his triple nickels OPS.

I wish I could flick a switch and make it all go away. But even when I travel three hours south of Pittsburgh to watch a minor league game, there he is. Dave Littlefield, the former GM who destroyed this Pirates franchise still stalks me. It's endless.

The 18th losing season was clinched by Littlefield so long ago, that I keep having nightmares that we are going to clinch the 19th consecutive losing season in 2011 before this season is over.

But really, I saw this coming. So I am at peace with writing this tonight with no candles lit whatsoever. In fact, I am celebrating the occasion by downing my sorrows. Because as any Pirates fan knows, each losing season should be savored like a mildly warm bottle of Boone's Farm.

Still, this season was especially difficult on the liver because your sorry excuse of a lineup was outscored at a record setting pace which could easily reach -325 by seasons end. It's enough to make me want to drink this as you play out the rest of the season.

The Good Times: Seriously? Good Times? That was a TV show my Dad watched with a guy that screamed Dyn-o-mite! And dynamite is what's needed to bring good times back to PNC Park. Put some in right field, some on the pichers mound, some at short, a little at first, and even behind the plate and maybe we can have good times again.

Other than beating the Dodgers in the opener and mauling the Cubs at the best ballpark in the majors there were very few good times for Pirates fans in 2010. The season started out magically when we you totally teased us by being over .500 even if it was just 7-5. Then a month later you pulled the ultimate tease when you were able to grab one of your 15 road victories (not a misprint) beating Roy Halladay and the Phillies.(again, not a misprint.)

And in the year of the pitcher, at least you can still say — for now — that "at least we didn't get no-hit." Another positive is Jose Tabata(notes) has been a spark in left field playing with a passion rarely seen in Pittsburgh over the last 18 years. Ryan Doumit(notes) hit .500 with his 'stache and that was enjoyable, but rocking the wife beater while dismantling the Cubs was totally disrespectful.

Neil "Hometown" Walker was solid in his rookie campaign, just like we told you he would be. But even Walker's promising season has been screwed up by a series of comments made by GM Neal Huntington prior to his callup. Walker arrived on May 25 and his performance has made him a Rookie of the Year candidate, but those same comments that were directed toward Walker are still included in the Pirates radio promos before games. Can't you fix that, or do you love annoying me? Yeh, even the good times get jacked up in Pittsburgh.

But it's been fun to watch Walker keep hitting on a nightly basis his dream-stealing hitting streak of 18 straight has earned Walker a new nickname among National League pitchers: Freddy Krueger.

The Bad Times: It's been so bad that I have your games on Parental Block now. You're so awful. Last in batting average. Last in OBP. Second to last in OPS. Second to last in SLG. And as I told you earlier, you keep getting blown out at an insane rate of 40 percent of your games played. What the hell do you want me to do? As a father of a young son, I simply can't let him watch your pathetic performances. He is already talking about the Phillies across the state. Thanks.

A majority of the bad times can be blamed on your opening day infield. For some reason, first base was given to AAA superstar Jeff Clement(notes) who proceeded to suck more than a porn star. Clement hit .188 in April, and improved all the way to .214 in the month of May.

The offseason trade for second baseman Aki Iwamura(notes) went up in smoke. Aki had this awful line of .182/.292/.267 (.559 OPS) before being sent to ride a bus with Clement at AAA. Iwamura was released in September and after clearing waivers is presumed to be working on a Jose Bautista(notes)-like comeback for 2011.

Shortstop Ronny Cedeno(notes) has managed to be the sole survivor of the opening day infield an is currently setting a new MLB record by a No. 8 hitter attempting to bunt runners over so your pitchers could hit. He has been the ultimate AC/DC performer at the plate after hitting .208 in April he stroked .295 in May. Cedeno then went ice cold with a .121 average in June followed by a scorching .329 July. Cedeno then came back to earth with a .243 average for August, but his above average defense has been the one thing that your team did right this season.

The opening day third baseman was Andy LaRoche(notes) who hit .333 in April. Then LaRoche vanished into thin air doing as little as possible to keep his job and keep the young, power hitting Pedro Alvarez(notes) in the minors. LaRoche hit .190 in the month of May, got worse in June with a .176, and faded into the summer sun with a .214 in June and a paltry .077 in August.

It's Not All You: Well, as I wrote up top, it actually is all you.

Shape up or ship out:  I guess it's going to be enjoyable getting another top pick in the 2011 draft. And it's going to be enjoyable watching the minor leagues and the numerous power arms like Jameson Taillon, Stetson Allie, and Luis Heredia in 2011. It will be fun to see Triple-A Indianapolis have a pitching staff filled with some prospects too.

But unless Bob Nutting spends insane cash to acquire some serious impact major league pitching, defense, and a power bat, I am afraid I will be writing you the same letter next season. The 2010/2011 offseason for the Pirates will be the make or break for the management team. You have been heading downhill since 2003 and a look at the talent in the organization just doesn't get me that excited for next year.

I just hope my letter next year won't make you cry like you're crying now. Sissies.

See you in April,


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