Wow, what a few weeks it’s been! Being at or over .500 for two whole days…Ronny Cedeno asserting himself as our best hitter, just as I predicted a few weeks ago…and with the amateur draft coming up, there’s nothing but excitement with our favorite team! But I have to admit, after attending a recent game, I was a tiny bit worried. Sure they lost, but their hearts were really in it so I wasn’t too upset about that. But I did notice a few mental lapses – a couple fundamental breakdowns, so to speak – and yep, I was a bit concerned. We’re in a TOUGH division, and if we’re going to win the Division and not just settle for the wild card, we just can’t afford those kinds of mistakes!
So I did the logical thing and I contacted the Pirates’ Public Relations office. Well, believe me, when I identified myself – a MAJOR blogger with EIGHT followers - they were a bit intimidated and told me that their BEST PR guy would be getting back to me. And sure enough, soon after that an affable fellow named Frank called me back! He was FULL of new insights and observations, giving me SO MUCH NEW PERSPECTIVE on some of the players and issues! Here’s our conversation verbatim:
Frank, from the Pirates’ PR Office: Hello, I would like to speak with the Bucco Optimist please. My name is Frank and I am ready to answer any and all questions!
Me: Well hello Frank! You know you have a very familiar voice!
Frank: Oh no, you wouldn’t know me. I just toil away in the basement here on Federal Street, a completely unknown, nameless fella who just happens to be the guy they bring out for SPECIAL PR duties! I am a PR specialist – a master of the genre. Now, how can I help you?
Me: Okay, well here you go, Frank, let me get right to it. I was at a few games recently and I noticed some breakdowns in executing some fundamentals, like say, pitchers bunting foul with two strikes; players running to third with no outs and thrown out by a mile, and repeatedly failing to bring in guys in scoring position. So my question is: What gives? This isn’t what the world expects from our Buccos!
Frank: I am so glad you asked that. One second (shuffling of papers).
Me: Do I hear some shuffling of papers?
Frank: Ah, yes, just trying to make sure I have the right answer to your GREAT question!
Me: You mean, you have a script?
Frank: Oh no, of course not! DON’T get the idea that I’m some guy that’s been muzzled, or should be, and that I am reading prepared answers that sound good on the surface but in fact say nothing! Not the case! Now, as to your question (more shuffling of papers). Ok, here we go, here’s the answer regarding the lapses in fundamental play. Ready?
Me: You bet I am!
Frank: OK, here goes. “We have a young and enthusiastic team and there are bound to be mistakes along the way as they get used to playing at the major league level.”
Me: That’s it?
Frank: Oh, no! Here’s more: “Clint Hurdle has brought a new attitude to the team. As everyone knows, Clint is a teacher first and foremost. We are confident that under Clint and his hand-picked staff, we’ll see nothing but improvement in how the team plays the game.”
Me: Wow, I hadn’t heard any of that before. You are really good!
Frank: I’m considered a master of PR. Or did I mention that?
Me: That’s ok! Keep saying it, it’s OK with me! Well, now that we’ve put that issue to rest, let’s discuss some other issues cropping up lately. Here’s a good one: Are the Pirates making an effort to sign Andrew McCutcheon to a long-term contract?
Frank: GREAT question again! Ok, here goes (more shuffling of papers): “Andrew McCutcheon is an integral part of the Pirates future. We’d like to see him in a Pirates uniform for a long time. Of course, it takes two to make a deal (HINT, HINT), but we will do what we can to keep Andrew in a Pirates uniform for years to come.”
Me: So you are saying…it takes TWO to make a deal between TWO parties?
Frank: Yes, exactly.
Me: I don’t think a lot of people realize that.
Frank: I am glad to help out.
Me: What did you mean when you said, “HINT HINT?”
Frank: Did I say that? I don’t think I did.
Me: No really, you did.
Frank: No, don’t think so. That would have been an extemporaneous comment, and I don’t make such comments.
Me: Oh, okay. My mistake. Well thank you for ANOTHER great answer. Now, please give me your thoughts on a couple players. Some feel – now sit down because this is crazy – that even though the Pirates are clearly in the hunt for the division title, and kind of have the wild card locked up, some of our players could somehow be EVEN BETTER than they are now! Can we discuss a few of the guys?
Me: Ok. Let me throw out a name or two and you can tell me what you think. Charlie Morton?
Frank: “As we just saw in Cincinnatti, Charlie has electric stuff and is a big part of our future going forward. We are pleased with his progress this year. He has clearly learned to control his sinker and we see only good things for Charlie going forward.”
Me: Wow…that’s great. Ok, ready? Pedro Alvarez?
Frank: “Pedro has always been a slow starter and this year is no different. We believe Pedro will be a big part of the Pirates’ future and we are confident that he will soon turn it around and make great contributions to our team.”
Me: AMAZING! Chris Snyder and Ryan Doumit: Do we need to be spending $10 million on two catchers?
Frank: Both Chris and Ryan have distinguished themselves this year with their timely hitting and gritty style of play. Having both playing so well is “a nice dilemma to have.”
Me: RIGHT AGAIN! Lyle Overbay?
Frank: “Lyle is a proven major leaguer with a track record of success. He has brought great defense to our team. He is an accomplished hitter and it is only a matter of time before his bat comes around.”
Me: Matt Diaz?
Frank: “Matt has a history of terrorizing left handed pitchers. We believe it’s only a matter of time before Matt comes around and starts giving us that bat we need against left handed pitchers.”
Me: Scott Olsen?
Frank: It was important to give Scott the opportunity to succeed with another team. We would have loved to keep Scott on board – he has proven to be an individual of impeccable character – but we put the players’ needs first.
Me: Yes, you do! And speaking of that: Jose Bautista?
Frank: “With Andy LaRoche and other premier players on the team, we felt that there wasn’t really a place for Jose on the Pirates. We are glad to see him showing signs of coming around.”
Me: Not to contradict, but he’s actually doing a good deal better than “showing signs.”
Frank: One second (shuffles papers). Ok: “they made some adjustments to Jose’s swing at Toronto and it clearly has paid off. We wish Jose only the best and regret that he is no longer a part of the Pirates family.” Better?
Me: MUCH! Well, you’ve been so open, and generous with your time. Let me just run a couple more questions by you. One: Who will the Pirates draft?
Frank: I have – I mean Pirates’ president Frank Coonelly – has “full confidence that Neal and his team will draft the best player who can help us build an elite franchise for the long term.”
Me: And that would be?
Frank: It goddamn better be someone that can get their freaking ass up here FAST and win some frigging games, kapeesh?? Maybe Neal can get it right just once before we’re both cleaning Bob’s toilets!
Me: Come again??
Frank: Oops. Strike that. Try this: “Under Neal and Kyle, I am certain that the draft will once again bring in a group of high-character individuals that will be welcome, productive members of the Pirates family.”
Me: It would be GREAT to have those kinds of people! Hey, speaking of Neal, is he under consideration for a two or three year extension, or is it a lifetime one?
Frank: “We are confident in the direction that Neal has taken this team and I can assure you that everyone in this organization has one objective: a championship caliber team for years to come.”
Me: Okay, one last question: Can we be reassured that Bob Nutting is committed to building a winner in baseball, and not just turning a profit?
Frank: “No one is more committed to winning than Bob Nutting. I can assure you that “when the time is right” resources will be available to field a championship-caliber team not just for a season, but for years to come. Fortunately, we have sufficient financial flexibility on this and we are ready to bring a championship team to Pittsburgh – as soon as “the time is right.”
Me: Well, I think that wraps it up. And let me just say, thank you for those GREAT insights that will surely put to rest any concerns of Pirates fans! I know I’m good!
Frank: Call on me anytime.