Pittsburgh Pirates BDR: “Om”


May 20, 2015; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Minnesota Twins shortstop

Danny Santana

(39) slides into second base with a double ahead of the tag attempt by Pittsburgh Pirates shortstop

Jordy Mercer

(10) as umpire Clint Fagen (left) looks on during the first inning of an inter-league game at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

"“Om” –Don Draper"

In the final scene of the series finale of Mad Men, Don Draper sits in the lotus position on the Pacific Coast. Alongside post-60’s hippies with withered flowers in their hair, and fellow corporate types who live among the expired horseradish sauce and leftover meatloaf in the cold dark refrigerator, Don sought a rebirth. His sordid past – the identity he robbed, the women he scorched, the walking advertisement that is the post-war alpha male persona  – drips through a storm grate three thousand miles away on Madison Ave., not to resurface until the hard rain of habitual self-destructive behavior cause the sewers to overflow again.

Did Don return home to New York City and write the iconic “I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke,” ad? Mad Men fans are left to ponder.

Regardless, the Pirates will return home to Pittsburgh after a jarring 3-4 road trip, which included a pair of losses against the worst team in the known universe, and a ruckus 12 inning affair highlighted by Gregory Polanco‘s much lauded arrival into the slapstick comedy scene. Hopefully the entire Pirates roster chanted “Om” in unison on the plane ride back to Pittsburgh.

A rebirth of the Battlin’ Bucs can’t come soon enough.

Welcome h”om”e.

Pirates vs. Twins

Game 1:

Twins win, 8-5.

Rob Beirtempfel, staff writer for the Pittsburgh Tribune Review, perhaps summed it up best in a mid-game Tweet: “In T2 (two innings), Twins get three hits, load bases, score six runs. Pirates get three hits load bases, score one run. #GameInNutshell.”

#SeasonInNutsell, I say.

In fact, the Pirates outhit the Twins thirteen to eight. But, as is their mantra, 10 men were left on base. The Pirates had chances throughout the game, but failed to capitalize. Their line on the scoreboard was a “picket fence” — one-run-inning after one-run-inning. Hell, the Twins only had one base runner after the third.

The game reeked of a blowout midway through the second inning. Fransisco Liriano was sloppy, to say the least. Brian Dozier bulldozed an outside pitch for a home run in the first – the starting gun for the Twins offense. In the second, Joe Mauer hit a bases clearing single. Yes, single. Starling Marte saw fit to lollygag, and matter-of-factly tossed the ball to Fransisco Cervelli as the third run of the inning stomped on home plate. The next batter, Trevor Plouffe, made damn sure Marte didn’t get another opportunity to dawdle by blasting the ball over the trifling left fielder’s head.

I detected a glimmer of poetic justice for Jose Tabata, who was called up from AAA before the game, after all the (somewhat sarcastic) #FreeNeckLips Twitter cry. Ol’ Neck Lips didn’t sit on the pine but an inning before he reintroduced himself to The Show, and pinch hit for Liriano. And guess what? He wowed the home crowd with an infield hit, and RBI.

“Free at last. Free at last. Thank God almighty Neck Lips is free at last.”

Off course, no severe cleat-stompin’ by an overachieving opponent would be complete without at least one anti-climactic dramatic flash. Tonight’s was an ill-timed bomb by the Big Bull. Pedro Alravez hit a worthless home run that landed in a boat docked on the Allegheny River. Pedro now has the distinction of having hit the third “river shot” in PNC history, joining such luminaries as Daryle Ward and Garrett Jones. Even the suddenly hot Josh Harrison hit what the umpire, at first, signaled was a home run. Pyrotechnics ensued. The hit was ruled off-the-fence after review.

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As Tim Neverett said after the reversal, “You can’t put those fireworks back.”

The high water mark of the game for me was Jung Ho Kang‘s takeout slide into short right field to break up a double play in the seventh. See that, Marte? Play your ass off until the lady lady sings…or at least until Liriano surrenders seven runs of the end of the second.

Andrew McCutchen went 0 for 5, as did Gregory Polanco, who is 0 for his last 19. Read this article on Bleacher Report, What’s Wrong With Perennial MVP Candidate Andrew McCutchen. Their slumps are beginning to rot. So is the season.

Game 2:


More like, “ummmmm.” As in “Um, I didn’t think it was 2010 anymore.”

Another dramatic extra-innings loss. Twins win, 4-3. Not even Andrew’s McCuthen’s eighth inning home run and Bob Walk‘s rally cap — a necktie around his head (a do-it-yourself Keith Richards Halloween costume) — could lift the Pirates to victory. A Joe Mauer home run — his first of the season — off Antonio Bastardo in the thirteenth inning was the kill shot. So it goes.

The Bucs are now 0-6 in extra innings games.

Looking back after another shitty loss, the high point of the game was the video montage of Troy Polamalu highlights set to Renegade.

Jeff Locke‘s first inning provided the highly unanticipated sequel to Fransisco Liriano’s two-inning horrific outing one game earlier. They say sequels are never as good at the first. Fortunately, this sequel wasn’t as bad as the first. But it was bad enough to sour the game and foreshadow the eventual loss. After Jeff Kellogg failed to call a belt-high middle-of-the-plate pitch a strike to Tori Hunter in the first, Hunter cleared the bases to give the Twins a 0-3 lead. Fans booed as loudly as they would’ve if Sid Bream — wearing a half dirt-covered Braves uniform — suddenly emerged from the visitor’s dugout and chewed the head off a stuffed Mr. Roger’s effigy on top of home plate.

As for Jeff Kellogg’s strike zone? Tony the Tiger could’ve called a better game.

Sorry about the bad jokes and warped visuals. In my defense, it was another brutal defeat, nearing midnight?

Fans booed as loudly as they would’ve if Sid Bream — wearing a half dirt-covered Braves uniform — suddenly emerged from the visitor’s dugout and chewed the head off a stuffed Mr. Roger’s effigy on top of home plate.

Mental mistakes, or plain laziness, dogged the Pirates again. After a few bloop hits and chopped singles in the first, Pedro Alvarez struck out on a ball that bounced away from Twins catcher Kurt Suzuki. Rather than hustle to first, Alvarez gave himself up. Booooo!

Speaking of…even Tim Neverett, broadcasting on the radio side, took a shot at Starling Marte. After Torii Hunter smacked a ball to left, Marte fielded it and gunned to third to nail Trevor Plouffe, seeking to advance from first. “He had a sense of urgency that time,” Neverett said, referring to Marte’s ho-hum attitude on a Joe Mauer bases-clearing single the game before.

Four positives amid a giant negative: 1. Josh Harrison is banging the ball again, and he currently carries an eight game hitting streak. 2. Jeff Locke recovered after the first inning. He located better thereafter, and ended up pitching six innings, allowing only the three runs in the first. 3. Mark Melancon‘s fastball hit 92 mph as he worked an efficient ninth inning. And…4. Neck Lips produced another RBI single. He’s batting 1.000 this year.

Regardless, silver linings are for the birds when the cloud is so billowing and dark.

And finally, some random standout thoughts: 1. Twins relief pitcher J.R. Graham wears gaudy stirrups so his legally blind mother can pick him out on television. 2. After McCutchen’s home run, Greg Brown said “Cutch has a flair for timing.” Timing? What does he mean? He certainly doesn’t have a flair for hitting with the bases loaded in his career. And Cutch has disappointed time and again with runners in scoring position this season. I found Brown’s comment odd. 3. The Pirates are nine game behind the St. Louis Cardinals for first place in the NL Central.

The Pirates may need Don Draper to sell them a prayer.

Godspeed, Back Deckers.