This is the first of three Sunday installments by our guest blogger, Patrick Corcoran. Pat is a law student at Duquesne University, and when he's not lawyering people, he's watching sports and drinking Johnnie Walker (especially when he watches the Pirates)
This year has been a tough one for me. For those out there who aren’t aware I just finished my first year as a 1E in Duquesne’s school of law. The past 8-9 months have been a living hell for me and my colleagues. The long days that turn into long nights and seemingly longer mornings have been some of the most trying times of my short 23 years on this earth, but yet I have encountered some of the warmest and most self-fulfilling experiences ever in my life. In other words, I have not had the time to properly reflect on what’s been happening in Pittsburgh sports these past few months
What the hell is this guy talking about Law School for? I came here to read about Kurt’s self proclaimed expert opinion on how the pirates are doing or what the Pens should do in the offseason not from some guy who’s been locked away like Thoreau or Rip Van Winkle?
If you don’t know Who Henry David Thoreau is please feel free to move to Cleveland, I hear GM is hiring.
Nay I say to you… Although busy, I have had some time to reflect and catch up to what has happened with the seemingly foreign world of professional sports these past few months. After some time to reflect on what I should babble on for this blog entry, the recurring fact that kept coming back to me is that sometimes sports fans and professional athletes get caught up in the stat race or as I like to call the “ME” factor. I’ll be honest I too get caught up in the mindset of fantasy leagues, or how many goals Sidney Crosby will end up with at the end of the season, and most of all how many wins our hometown teams have posted. However, while we may seem like we know what we are talking about, we are thoroughly disconnected from reality and we miss the other important factors, the so called intangibles or “hidden gems” that are associated with the games we have grown to love.
The fact is that watching and playing sports teach us more about ourselves then any professor or teacher could ever elicit; and while most are sadly stricken with hurt and grievances over the previously agonizing months that has transgressed in Pittsburgh related sports teams, I ask you the fan to dig deep and personally take some time to reevaluate whether you’ve been caught up in the stats race. I plead you to start looking at the other factors outside of the win loss column and behold the progress made for all three of our beloved Pittsburgh sports franchises. In other words, word to your mom’s cuz I’m came to drop bombs.
Let’s start from the bottom, the Pirates. The past years have been riddled with awful losing seasons, painful trades, and enough free give away nights that could have clothed the entire African population. All that aside when you really look at this team, you see one that is finally making an effort to compete with the scraps of funding which the Nutting family so graciously makes available. Dare I say it, Neil Huntingdon has been the best thing for this team since Bill Mazeroski. Who else would have the cajones to ship Jason Bay, Xavier Nady, and Nate McClouth off to big market teams for untested young prospects? Instead of signing big named players who’ve long passed their prime, i.e. Reggie Sanders, Jay Buhner, and Kenny Lofton just to entice people to come to the stadium, Huntingdon has gone to the mattresses and started building a team the way it should be done, through outstanding draft picks, minor league development, and a halfway decent pitching rotation.
Exhibit A, the franchise formerly known as the Devil Rays. Along with the Pirates they too were the laughing stock of Major League Baseball and have been since their meteoric rise to the top of baseball these past few years. Tampa Bay knows our pain, and has suffered through similar dismal seasons, however they steered clear of quick fixes and Brian Bullington’s and trudged through the troubled years while modeling their future through consistently good draft picks, superb minor league development, and a blue collar work ethic. They along with the A’s and others have laid the blueprint for how small market teams are to survive in the evil Steinbrenner era; Minor League Development is our only hope
Now the Rays are sitting on top of baseball with a good set of players who will undoubtedly challenge for the AL pennant race this year.
Taking a step back, It seems like the Pirates have finally got this thing right, or at least put themselves on a path in which they will be able to compete with the big dogs within the next few seasons. Guys like Alvarez, Tabitha, and Walker are owning kids in AAA Indianapolis and it’s only a matter of time till we see these guys fully emblazoned in a Pirates uniform. Combine those youngin’s with the likes of McCutcheon, Jones, and Milledge, we most likely will see a .500 season before I turn 25. Despite the losses now, and the dismal statistics that accompany them, the Pirates have finally put themselves in a position in which they too will be ready in the near future to make a charge through the awful NL central or hopefully compete with the best of baseball in the near future.
So while you may scoff at the fact of 17 straight losing seasons, or an 19-24 record, or the fact that the leading HR hitter on the team has only 5 home runs, take some time to reflect on where the Pirates will be in the next couple of years. I think you may surprise yourself…
I’ll be back soon with the Pens and Stillers… You can’t get rid of me that easy… As always, keep your head up Pittsburgh.