The window for the Pittsburgh Pirates to have success appears to be closing rather quickly. Teams around Major League Baseball, especially ones on the West Coast, are investing in some of the most talented players in the game with contracts that are bordering on the insane.
It’s hard for fans in Pittsburgh to ever believe the game they love will ever be the same. Combine twenty consecutive year of failure, including what some argue was the worst collapse in the history of the sport last season, with the surge in free agent spending and most diehards realize the playing field has changed forever. Bud Seligs’ New World Order if you will.
GM Neal Huntington jumped on 93.7 The Fan yesterday and discussed that very topic. It was one we are certain that GM’s discussed at The Winter Meetings. The breakout room didn’t need to be much larger than 200 square feet, just ten or so GM’s in attendance to watch the presenter go through a couple Powerpoint slides on: “Addressing MLB’s New World Order to Fans in Small Market Cities”
93.7 The Fan’s multitude of afternoon hosts fired questions at Huntington and much like he will do throughout the weekend, Huntington answered with ease and confidence. When questioned about the Houston Astros rolling in upwards of $80 million in local TV revenues and how that could lead to baseball fans having a feeling of hopelessness.
Huntington said he “hoped it wouldn’t be hopelessness.” He talked about understanding “frustration” from fans. (Got a feeling we will hear that word a lot this weekend at PirateFest.) The Sr. VP and GM went on to say the more revenue in the game leads to more revenue being distributed.
We think that means baseball welfare. Heh, whatever. Where do we get in line to get the cheese? But seriously, the redistribution of the money might be the only thing saving the game we love in Pittsburgh. Especially when the organization makes errors in player evaluation as regularly as the Pirates have recently.
Huntington said the changing scope of the game wouldn’t be an excuse and then said it wouldn’t be easy, but he believes the organization is on the verge of bringing a playoff caliber team back to Pittsburgh. Cue the fans waving the Jolly Roger.
"“Unless the team gets a good baseball deal, ……or more needed piece back then we would make move. But as we sit here right now, we feel very confident with Jason Grilli and Joel Hanrahan closing out games,” Neal Huntington"
Obviously the key words in that sentence were “as we sit here right now.” Look, Hanrahan is gone. We just have the feeling that the Bucs will use that cash for a lower level starter.
Regarding Hanrahan’s weight being mentioned as hindering the possibility of moving the closer in a trade, Huntington went new school when he referencd the tweet Hammer sent out saying he still fits into the same tuxedo he wore last year (to Neil Walker’s wedding.)
Baseball in Pittsburgh is going to change. There is no doubt. But 2013 is going to be a very interesting season. Should Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon take major strides to refine their mechanics and secondary pitches, the short term could be very satisfying. Especially considering some of the younger talent coming behind the two power arms. But the draft has changed dramatically as well, which makes the ability to load up for the long haul even more challenging.
And it’s the long haul that I worry about.