Pirates and Nationals: A Tale of Teams Headed in Opposite Directions
By Tom Smith
Went to see the Washington Nationals take on the white hot Atlanta Braves last night. The similarities between the Nationals and Pirates always interested us.
The Nationals and Bucs were both really poor clubs in recent years. The teams drafted very close together and both fanbases drooled over similar players–Stephen Strasburg, Bryce Harper and Anthony Rendon. The Nats were the club that got each of them.
The deep pockets of the Nats ownership allowed them to invest big money on players such as Jason Werth. The lint filled pockets of the Pirates ownership allowed them to make less attractive, but perhaps more upside moves such as the A.J. Burnett, Russell Martin and Francisco Liriano deals.
The Bucs have started strong the past three seasons and are enjoying a magical run after capping another win last night with a Josh Harrison walk-off bomb. In Washington, the rainbows and lollipops times are over. After racing to a MLB best 98 wins last season, the Greater Washington region had lofty hopes for the Nats.
Umm…it’s not happening Washingtonians.
Last night, there was some excitement when Bryce Harper crushed a ball to dead center and then was beaned in his next at-bat as both benches, and the respective bullpens emptied. But that was it for the fun. Harpers bomb was the lone run for the struggling Nats who made 30,000 plus walk out of Nationals Park muttering under their breath about why the Nats suck so bad with runners in scoring position.
Enjoy the ride Pittsburgh.
To see a crushing reminder that next year holds no promises, no matter how many wins the Pirates rack up in 2013, just look South.
On the Nationals post-game show, it was announced that the team is looking forward to getting Ross Ohlendorf back on the mound. Yeh. The Pirates have come a long way Pittsburgh. Enjoy.
We always enjoyed this post from 2010 by RumBunter writer Jon Anderson about the Harper pick. In case you missed it, here you go.
"The Four Jags That Cost The Bucs Bryce Harper It was October of 2009. The Pirates had just finished up a 161-game season in which they lost 99 games. Those 99 losses were good for second most in the league behind the Washington Nationals, who lost 103 games that year. The prize for the worst team was the chance to draft Bryce Harper, who was arguably the most hyped up prospect in the history of the game.While the Nationals had an embarrassingly bad season, things were looking up just a year after they drafted arguably the most hyped up pitching prospect of all time in Steven Strasburg. Also, having the number one pick in 2010 was looking like a pretty sweet deal, and I’m sure a lot of Nationals fans were hoping their team would finish dead last as soon as their playoff hopes were dead.The Pirates played the Nationals eight times that year. They won five of those games. In a way, those were some of the worst wins in the history of the Pirates franchise.If the Pirates would have just lost two more of those games, they would have had the number one pick and Bryce Harper could very well be a fixture in right field in Pittsburgh right now. Let’s look at those five wins and think “what if”.May 18: Pirates 12 Nationals 7The Pirates did trail in this game. After a three run third, the Pirates were feeling good. However, they gave up five runs in the bottom of the fifth and were trailing by two. The Pirates countered that with a five run inning of their own in the top of the sixth. Adam LaRoche drew a walk, Robinzon Diaz was hit by a pitch, and Andy LaRoche bunted to move the runners over. With one out, Jack Wilson and Brandon Moss hit back to back doubles and Delwyn Young singled in another run to give the Pirates the lead back. Garrett Mock was the pitcher. Blame Garrett Mock. The Pirates would lead 9-6 going into the 9th and add three runs in the top and give one up in the bottom to win the game by five runs. Who the hell is Garrett Mock anyway? Blame Garrett Mock.May 19: Pirates 8 Nationals 5The Pirates hopped out to a 5-0 lead in this one taking advantage of a horrible start from none other than current Pirates minor leaguer Shairon Martis. The Nationals would take advantage of some poor Pirates pitching and tie the game in the bottom of the ninth, sending it to extra innings. However, with two outs in the top of the 10th, Andy LaRoche hit a double to right field that scored two runners. Everyone in Pittsburgh was hyped up, especially since this was around the time when the Pirates were hoping for big things out of LaRoche. That double was a good sign at the time, but looking back on it, I would have taken a fly out. So thanks Andy for hurting the Pirates even when you did something right for once. Blame Andy LaRoche.May 20: Pirates 2 Nationals 1A rare good performance from two of league’s worst pitching staffs. Paul Maholm pitched six innings and gave up just one run and John Lannan one upped Maholm by going seven innings and giving up a run of his own. With the game nodded up heading to the ninth, none other than Joel Hanrahan entered the game for the Nationals to try and give them a chance to walk it off with just one run in the bottom of the ninth. Hanrahan loaded the bases on three hits from Delwyn Young, Freddy Sanchez, and Nate McLouth. Andy LaRoche stepped to the plate looking to be a hero for the second straight game. Hanrahan had other things in mind, and didn’t even give him the chance to be the hero. Hanrahan threw a wild pitch and Freddy Sanchez scored the eventual winning run. Throw a damn strike, Joel. Shit. Blame Joel Hanrahan.July 31: Pirates 5 Nationals 4The Pirates were hosting the Nationals in this late season series and they went into the 4th inning with a 3-1 lead after Andy LaRoche, Lastings Milledge, and Garrett Jones drove in runs. Steve Pearce decided to be a hero and hit a solo home run in the 4th. After that the Pirates got another run in the 7th with another Milledge RBI. The Nationals would battle back and make the game 5-4, but their efforts wouldn’t be enough and the Pirates would hold on for the one run win. Steve Pearce, sweet man. The one day of the year you were actually healthy you decided to screw the Pirates over by hitting a home run. Nice work jag-off. Blame Steve Pearce.August 1: Pirates 11 Nationals 6Everybody remembers this game. Andrew McCutchen hit three home runs and put an exclamation point on his rookie year. I’m not even going to think about blaming McCutchen for his three homers, because that was awesome and Pirate fans wouldn’t trade that for much.We’re just going to let this game slide. So we have four guys to blame here. Garrett Mock, Andy LaRoche, Joel Hanrahan, and Steve Pearce. If just two of those guys would have had the future in mind, the Pirates could have Bryce Harper and things could be looking up for the offense. Instead, we’re stuck with a lineup that’s scoring just over two runs a game this year.I’m calling you out Garrett, Andy, Joel, and Steve. Bums."