The Fickle Fingers of Pirates Fans
By Tom Smith
In Pittsburgh, the fickle fingers of fans fly furiously over the keyboard. Bench him, trade him, release him. Being the fan of a team with 16 straight losing seasons can be frustrating, but it does not mean we have to lose objectivity.
The 2009 baseball season is still in the first half and fans have called for every Pirate starter to be benched at some point this season except for Jack Wilson and Freddy Sanchez (and of course Andrew McCutchen, who hasn’t been up long enough to slump). At least the fans recognize there is no one on the team who could replace either with anything close to equal fielding or hitting production.
Many fans seem to look at the last couple of games and jerk from one side to the other. During the first couple of the weeks of the season—“Andy LaRoche is terrible”. “Get rid of Andy”. “Why is Andy playing”? Now it is “why isn’t Andy playing”, “move Andy to clean up”.
As for Andy’s brother, 4 days ago it was “bench him”, “he is terrible” and yesterday it was “why is Adam LaRoche on the bench today just when he is heating up?” Of course if Adam had been benched earlier he probably would not be “heating up.” Adam is the most predictable player on the team. He runs hot and then cold and then hot and at season’s end will have about 25 Home runs and 90 or more RBI.
Brandon Moss has been in and out of the fan’s doghouse most of the season. Moss had a bad April, hitting around .200 and there were many calls to bench or even release him. In May he hit over .300 and the talk subsided. He has been in slump the past week or so and the calls are for Delwyn Young to replace him because Young is hot. Of course all Moss has to do is start a game and hit 2 home runs to get back into the fan’s favor.
Two sayings come to mind when I think about the reaction to players. One is that the backup quarterback is always the better player—until he actually plays. Another is that slow and steady wins the race. Baseball has a long season and most players go up and down over the course of it. Sometimes it takes more than a season to know who is going to have a good career, but it certainly takes more than a couple of months to find out.
Wonder what the fickle fingers would have posted in 1955 when a young outfielder named Roberto Clemente played in 124 games and hit .255 with 5 home runs or in 1963 when Willie Stargell played in 108 games and hit 243 with 11 home runs?
"This story marks the first appearance of guest writer Joe. What did everyone think of his work? Kinda hits home a little bit doesn’t it? Rumbunter wishes to express our thanks to Joe for his great story."