What? Over? Did You Say Over? The Pittsburgh Pirates Season Isn’t Over
By Tom Smith
Sep 3, 2014; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Shelby Miller (40) throws to a Pittsburgh Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen (22) during the sixth inning at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
What? Over? Did you say….over? The Pittsburgh Pirates season isn’t over. It’s not. There are many reasons why the Pirates season isn’t over–not even close, and we will share a few with you.
While I am far from a cheerleader for how the Pittsburgh Pirates have mis-managed their 2014 season, the team still has a legitimate shot at the postseason. But first let’s start with a motivational speech that Clint Hurdle can’t match. Of course, you remember Bluto from this great scene from Animal House.
"Bluto: Hey! What’s all this laying around shi*?Stork: What the hell are we supposed to do, ya moron? We’re all expelled.D-Day: [to Bluto] Let it go. War’s over, man. Wormer dropped the big one.Bluto: What? Over? Did you say “over”? Nothing is over until we decide it is! Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell no!Otter: [to Boon] Germans?Boon: Forget it, he’s rolling.Bluto: And it ain’t over now. ‘Cause when the goin’ gets tough…[thinks hard of something to say]Bluto: The tough get goin’! Who’s with me? Let’s go![Bluto runs out, alone; then returns]Bluto: What the fu** happened to the Delta I used to know? Where’s the spirit? Where’s the guts, huh? This could be the greatest night of our lives, but you’re gonna let it be the worst. “Ooh, we’re afraid to go with you Bluto, we might get in trouble.” Well just kiss my ass from now on! Not me! I’m not gonna take this. Wormer, he’s a dead man! Marmalard, dead! Niedermeyer…Otter: Dead! Bluto’s right. Psychotic… but absolutely right. We gotta take these bastards. Now we could do it with conventional weapons, but that could take years and cost millions of lives. No, I think we have to go all out. I think that this situation absolutely requires a really futile and stupid gesture be done on somebody’s part!Bluto: We’re just the guys to do it.D-Day: [stands up] Yeah, I agree. Let’s go get ’em.Boon: Let’s do it.Bluto: [shouting] “Let’s do it”![all of the Deltas stand up and run out with Bluto]"
Sep 3, 2014; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Cardinals center fielder Peter Bourjos (8) is mobbed by teammates after hitting a walk off game winning single during the ninth inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Busch Stadium. The Cardinals defeated the Pirates 1-0. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
One of the big reasons is that the Pittsburgh Pirates schedule shows six games against the Chicago Cubs who are now playing without their best players. The team has four games against the suddenly hot but still…they are the Philadelphia Phillies. The Boston Red Sox roll into PNC Park for three games. So add it up and it’s 13 games against teams with not a lot to play for in September. Those teams are playing for respect and being spoilers. The Pirates feast on bottom feeders.
It appears that 17 or 18 wins will be needed for the Pirates season to not end early. It’s hard to imagine that happening, but we see some more reasons to be more optimistic.
Of course, the Cardinals have a rather easy schedule including games against the Reds, Cubs and Rockies. But the Cardinals are a very lucky team–all those two strike hits, all those two out hits, certainly that will change a few times.
But without question, the Pirates missed an opportunity. No question. But the Pirates season isn’t over because they got bombed by the Cardinals.
Sep 3, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Cubs first baseman Chris Valaika (4) hits a two-run home run against the Milwaukee Brewers during the second inning at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
Look, the teams in the Wild Card race aren’t exactly playing their best baseball either. The Pirates were swept by the Cardinals, yes, but just how close were those damn games? It’s hard to blame the players on the field entirely, it would have been nice to add a significant piece to the puzzle, but management chose not to do it. That is, of course, a story for another day. At the end of all of it, the Bucs are four and a half games out of the first Wild Card.
The Brewers who sailed through most of the season atop the National League Central have lost their best player and also eight straight games. The wheels look like they are coming completely off for Milwaukee going down the stretch.
Sep 2, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; A fan holds a sign in support of San Francisco Giants right fielder Hunter Pence (not pictured) in the ninth inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
The San Francisco Giants are two-and-a-half up on the Pirates. But the Giants don’t have 13 games against teams like the Pirates will face. San Francisco will play the Detroit Tigers, Los Angeles Dodgers and the pitching strong San Diego Padres who always battle the Giants.
The Braves are a game-and-a-half up on the Pirates. The team suffered through a 25-inning scoreless drought to finally beat the Philadelphia Phillies. The Tomahawk Choppers are 28th in runs in baseball, and rank in the twenties in slugging, on base and other offensive categories.
The Pittsburgh Pirates season isn’t over, because their offense is one of the best in the game. But they need to make some adjustments and start playing the best baseball they have played. The team has dropped off dramaticially in one run games. In their last 18 games, the Pirates have played eleven one run games. Their record in those games? 3-8. For the season, the club has a 27-27 record in one run games.
Another reason for our hope-ium is that the team is getting healthy. A healthy offensive Pirates club is the number two reason the Pirates season isn’t over. The Pirates season depends on their offense-an offense that has looked pretty bad in the last seven games and that won’t last–it can’t last if the Pirates want to play in October.
After getting four hits in the St. Louis series, it appears Neil Walker is starting to get his swing back (.810OPS in last seven.) Russell Martin, the true captain of this club, is rested. The Pirates were smart with how they handled his playing time during the year. Against the NL Central leaders, the bat of #SuperRuss left plenty to be desired (in last seven, Martin is just 3-for-last-18). But it’s hard to imagine his offense falling off a cliff after such a strong season. Surely, Pedro Alvarez will be back soon and let’s trust he brings the boom stick. NL Player of the Month, Josh Harrison has been other-worldly with a 1.148 OPS in his last seven games. Throw in Starling Marte and the Bucs will continue to score runs at a frantic pace.
The Pirates play the teams ahead of them in the Wild Card chase, but the number one reason the Pirates season isn’t over is Andrew McCutchen. The reigning NL MVP was shown up yesterday. He can carry the team the rest of the way even while playing hurt.
Sep 3, 2014; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Cardinals relief pitcher Carlos Martinez (44) celebrates after striking out Pittsburgh Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen (not pictured) with runners in scoring position to end the eighth inning at Busch Stadium. The Cardinals defeated the Pirates 1-0. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
I can see this picture of Carlos Martinez being in Andrew McCutchens’ locker the entire month of September as the team chases what many think is an impossible task.
So yeah, the Pittsburgh Pirates season isn’t over, it just feels that way. What’s all this laying around shit?