Joel Hanrahan, Pittsburgh Pirates Fans Thank You for the Memories

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Joel Hanrahan will never be forgotten in Pittsburgh.  The hard throwing right hander gave Pittsburgh Pirates fans a reason to believe again.

When Hanrahan arrived in the Steel City, he was perceived to be a ‘throw in’ in the Lastings Milledge/Nyjer Morgan/Sean Burnett trade.   The Pittsburgh Pirates were a team without an identity.   Late inning drama was a thing of the 90’s for Pirates fans.  But, thanks in large part to the high leverage success of Hanrahan,  the Pittsburgh Pirates flirted with success.

Joel Hanrahan always had the talent.  In Pittsburgh, he showed it on a consistent basis and still had time to shop for backpacks for the rookies.

Now as we fast forward to Hanrahan’s exit from a fanbase drooling for a winner, it’s very hard to describe the void that remains.  Not only was Hanrahan a leader in the clubhouse and on the field, but off the field he made a difference in the community.  Sure, you’ve heard that before, but Hanrahan is the real deal.

What sucks is the Pirates are unable, or unwilling, depending on your perspective, to pay a player that has developed into one of the most successful relievers in MLB.

We hate you Boston.  Damn.  We. Hate.  You.

Repeatedly, Joel Hanrahan was the lasting memory in a town that lusted for a winner.  While Hanrahan wasn’t the only reason for the Pirates unsustainable success the past two seasons, he was the final memory of something so sweet, something that for so long had been out of our reach.  We never wanted the memory to end.

So where did it all come from?  How did a pitcher that underperformed as a member of the the Washington Nationals become such a success in Pittsburgh?

We have no earthly idea.  But at times he was Mr. Perfect, racking up save after save without failure.

Perhaps the succes came from Pirates catcher Ryan Doumit raving over his slider, and telling him to trust it more.  Perhaps it was the coaching.  Maybe it was Pitttsburgh.  Nah, probably not, we think it had to be the man himself.  It was Hanrahan.

After all, the guy is a machine.

Pittsburgh has long been a city flooded with sports stars, but Pittsburgh was dying for a baseball star.  Hanrahan gave that to us.  Hanrahan and his filthy stuff made everyone get to their feet and scream for another strikeout.  The closer instilled in Pittsburghers the dream that winning baseball could be a reality.

The hardest part of the Hanrahan trade is the fact that 76 times in the past two seasons, he’s been our final image.  The man with the smokeless tobacco can in his back left pocket would shake hands with the Pirates catcher of the moment and all was right with the world.

For the majority of the past two years, Joel Hanrahan gave us the fantasy that Pittsburgh could indeed be winners on the baseball diamond again.   We believed.

Looking forward, we trust he does that for you Boston. Without question, Pittsburgh will certainly will be cheering for him.

Hanrantor deserves nothing but the best this world has to offer.  Go Sox.  You arrogant bastards.

Some of our best memories of the past few seasons are listed below, we couldn’t list them all, so please add yours to the comments:

1.  Joel Hanrahan reminded us of Chuck Norris.  You know those funny Chuck Norris sayings.  So just how Chuck Norris-esque is Joel Hanrahan?    When he arrived in Pittsburgh he won a game for the Washington Nationals while he was 1,500 miles away

…..while he was wearing Pirates black and yellow.  Amazing?  Impossible?   Spare us the details.  Hanrahan is a machine.

2.  Hanrahan is a machine that isn’t afraid to tweet his daily routine.  You lucky Patriots loving bastards are about to get some of the best tweets of your lives.

Hairy toes make the girls go crazy

3.  An All-Star with a down-to-earth/gorgeous wife and family.

Yeh, the hair is perfect, the beard is perfect, the wife is perfect. Dilip Vishwanat Getty Images North America

4.  In March of 2011, we called him Pittsburgh’s best kept secret.   Unfortunately, we knew this day was coming….

Pittsburgh Pirates Fab Five Week: Joel Hanrahan

Since Joel Hanrahan has arrived in Pittsburgh his performance on the field has been impressive. But long before he arrived in Pittsburgh, Hanrahan has been a person that has done more than just impress people with his skills as a baseball player. Joel Hanrahan is a winner. He helps others. He leaves a lasting impression on those he meets and Pittsburgh is damn fortunate to have him be a part of our great city.

Joel Hanrahan shakes hands with Luis Clemente after winning the Roberto Clemente Award. Photos: Flickr-MissChater.

Hanrahan stands with Luis Clemente as a check is presented to the Walter Reed Society to support the soldiers and staff at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

In 2009 Hanrahan arrived in Pittsburgh and was lights out. Whatever struggles he faced on the mound in our nation’s capital had vanished. He pitched 31.1 innings for the Pirates, struckout 37, and allowed just six runs. A year later, Hanrahan’s power numbers only improved. Big time. The strikeouts kept climbing. The walks diminished and Hanrahan was one of the top relievers in MLB.

Joel Hanrahan was a big time arm on a small time team, but you would never know it.

It’s hard to describe, but Hanrahan is different, he’s friendly, outgoing, smart and likeable. Most successful closers in the Major Leagues are a different breed, but Hanrahan is not only a rock star on the mound, but off it as well. He’s a Pittsburgh kind-of-guy. An under-the-rader player that fans have flocked to on his Twitter account as fast as opposing hitters head back to the dugout after whiffing at his 94+ smoke.

5.   God it sucks we saw this day coming, two years ago we wrote:

But we have to say this Pirates fans, Joel Hanrahan might be our little secret for now, but we don’t believe it will be that way much longer. Successful relief pitchers salaries are rising faster than the national debt, and as Hanrahan continues to strike out batters at an elite level, it’s only a matter of time until he receives his monster payday.

It couldn’t happen to a cooler guy.

6.  Some Pirates fans were surprised by the big time success of the 6’4,” 245 pound right hander from Des Moines,Iowa. But two guys that know him quite well don’t seem surprised in the least. One of them is his brother Mark Hanrahan, the other a high school teammate, Justin Jacobe.

If you’re a Pirates fan, you have no doubt read about Joel’s big brother Mark in Dejan Kovacevic’s excellent story. The article touches on Hanrahan’s time with the Washington Nationals and his big brother described Joels’ struggles in Nationals red, white, and blue the best:

Justin, who played with Hanrahan for the Norwalk Community High School Warriors back in Iowa, focused only on the positive. In a recent tweet, he described Hanrahan as his ‘role model always.’

Maybe that explains Hanrahan winning the Roberto Clemente Award with the Nationals organization in 2008. An award Hanrahan told us was, “definently my favorite award.”

7.  Only Chuck Norris could top this shit.  In his first Major League Baseball at-bat, Joel Hanrahan tripled.   ( It could have been an inside-the-park homer, but he didn’t want to show up the opposition.)

(In 2009, Hanrahan lined out in his only plate appearance with the Bucs.)

BOOM! Joel Hanrahan rips a triple in his first Major League at-bat.

8.  Even though it’s been a long time since the reliever swung a bat in Iowa, his high school teammate has a hard time forgetting just how special the Pirates closer was with lumber in his hands at Norwalk.

So how many homeruns did he hit his senior year?

9.  Read that again, that’s awesome.

10.  It’s hard to underestimate the opinion of your brother. Especially if your brother is Mark Hanrahan, who was an accomplished pitcher in his own right and used to fire heaters at his kid brother Joel, because the young freshman was the only one who could catch Mark’s fastball.

From what we’ve read, Mark sprinkles in plenty of tough love for his accomplished younger brother after each appearance he makes on the mound. We asked Mark to take 140 characters to describe why his brother would continue to dominate back in 2011 and of course, he nailed it with his prediction:

11. Awesome.

12.  In what was called a down year, the Buccos closer never allowed more than nine hits in a month.  Hanrahan takes that deep breath, he typically walks behind the mound, puts his right hand in his mouth, wipes it off on his hat and steps back up on the pitching rubber. What happens next sent Pirates fans through the roof and to their twitter account to hurriedly type #RAISEIT!

Hanrahan closes out games with impressive strikeouts.  For one last time, let’s take a look back at a few of those whiffs, we will start with Ryan Hanigan:

Whiff! Prince Fielder, said “nice,” in the direction of the Hanranator before walking to the clubhouse a loser.

Whiff! No chance.

Whiff! Castro. Over.

Whiff! One for his Grandmother.

Whiff! Bow to the Dictator.

Put your head down when you bow.

HAMMER SAID…..HEAD. DOWN!

 

Thanks Hammer.  We owe you.

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