Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Pirates Keep on Truckin, Pittsburgh Loses a Legend

You know you live in a special city when the loss of a vendor is front page news. But long-time Pirates/Steelers/Penguins vendor Kenny Geidel was no ordinary stadium employee. Anyone who has been to a sporting event in Pittsburgh in the past 30 years knew Kenny. A shrill, throaty "Cotton Candy Heeee!" became as much of a tradition as the national anthem, and at times more melodic. He was the embodiment of our sports teams and our city, approaching his job with a tenacious work ethic and unbreakable spirit.

The grass will still be green and the ice will still be pure, but a small part of the Pittsburgh sports experience is lost forever. We'll miss you, Kenny.

To the business of baseball:

18-18. Basically the exact definition of mediocre. But for Pirate fans, this is as good as we've had it for a while. And here's the kicker: it seems as if we have nowhere to go but up. The Pirates are in every game, and are managing to pull out wins when their young star offensive players are putting up numbers like this:

Andrew McCutchen- .242 BA, 7 HR, 19 RBI
Jose Tabata- .226 BA, 3 HR, 6 RBI
Pedro Alvarez- .202 BA, 1 HR, 7 RBI

If someone would have said to me in March that the Pirates would be at .500 in May with Andrew McCutchen batting under .250, I'd have kicked them in the groin for being so dumb.

Truly, the surprise of the season to this point has been the starting pitching. The Pirates boast four current starters with ERA's in the three's. Consider that in 2010, the Pirates didn't even have one starter (at least 15 games started) below four. Coupling consistent starting pitching with a solid bullpen (currently minus the young set up man, Evan Meek) is going to keep you in games. If the Pirates can keep getting this type of pitching performance and get their young hitters on track, they all of a sudden become a division contender.

Dear Lord, did I just type that? A division contender? The numbers back me up here. In 2010, in the largest division in baseball, there were only two winning teams. 2009 was the same story. The Pirates are currently 9-6 within the division. If they can continue to beat the teams below them (Milwaukee-a HUGE if-, Houston and Chicago), while occasionally stealing a series with St. Louis or Cincinnati, then it's not a preposterous thought.

A guy can dream, right?

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