Would the Pittsburgh Pirates Blow Out the Candle?
By Tom Smith
After the Pittsburgh Pirates lost their 80th game of the 2012 season today, the Bucs pushed their August and September record the past five seasons to 89 wins and 191 losses.
The Bucs have never played better than .358 baseball after August 1st in. the. last. five. years.
So I guess this is actually Collapse 5.0.
Everyone has an opinion on the decision Pittsburgh Pirates Frank Coonelly made yesterday. We all do. Each of us has a right to that opinion. It’s one of the greatest things about this country I love so much.
I believe winning baseball games at the Major League level is a hard thing to do. Winning in the last few months must be especially hard. All of the negative talk at the end of each and every season is so damn depressing. We couldn’t imagine what the environment is like on Federal Street.
I feel bad for a lot of the great people who work for the storied franchise. Some of them made sacrifices in preparation for a postseason run. All of those plans were put on hold. But all of the talk about the improbable run of these 2012 Pirates and then ending right back on the doorstep of th 20th consecutive losing season actually got me thinking about something completely different.
May 15, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Television actor Lorenzo Lamas (left), Los Angeles Dodgers owner Magic Johnson (center) and former Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda attend the game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE
And one of the great stories on the subject of winning comes from Tommy Lasorda. As you know, Lasorda was a Pennsylvania guy. Norristown in fact. Lasorda loved the game of baseball. Lasorda loved winning.
He told this amusing story during his Hall of Fame induction speech.
"You know I said this many times that if God had planned for me to be a high school baseball coach, I think my objective would be to try to impress upon the youngsters playing for me how important it is for them to get a good education and I believe that’s more important than winning.Or if God had planned for me to be a college baseball coach my objective would be to try to impress upon the youngsters playing for me how important it is for them to prepare themselves for the way of life. That’s more important than winning.But when you are a manager of a Major League Baseball team you can forget those two philosophies.You’ve got to win. And if you don’t win, like many, you’ll fall by the wayside. And to tell you how bad I wanted to win a few years ago we went into Cincinnati to play a big 3-game series against the Big Red Machine and I got up Sunday morning to go to church and who came in and sat right next to me, the manager of the Cincinnati Reds, Johnny McNamara.Now I knew why he was in church, and he knew why I was there, and at the conclusion of the Mass we walked out the center aisle together and I’m thinking, man I’ve got to beat this guy today.As we approached the front door he said to me very quietly, “Wait for me outside Tommy, I’ll be right out.”I said, “Okay Johnny.” And I said to myself, ‘Where is he going? The Mass is over?’And I watched him and he went over to that side of the church, he knelt down and he lit a candle. Instead of me going out the door I went over to the other side other church and I went in front of the alter and I waited. And when he left I went over and blew that candle out!I knew one thing; he was not lighting that candle for a dead relative, and all throughout the game I kept hollering over to him, “Hey Mac, it ain’t going to work pal, I blew it out!”And we clobbered ’em that day 13-2. And Johnny Mac last year went to Rome and he sent me a postcard, and all it said was, “Try blowing this candle out!”"
I wonder if the Pirates want to win this badly? We are only left to our opinions now as the Pirates must win out the rest of the way to avoid the dubious distinction of being losers for 20 straight years. After Collapse 5.0, the Pirates brass have spoken. They always do.
If the Pirates leadership can’t fix these failures, it made me ask myself, maybe they aren’t like Tommy Lasorda. Would these guys have the smarts to even stick around to see the candle?
Each and every season the opposition leaves the Pirates in the dust down the stretch. Maybe we should just light our own candles tonight and pray for six straight wins?