Saturday, February 26, 2011



Hello again, dear friends! I know everyone is breathlessly awaiting to hear what happened when Ol Blue Eyes and the Crooner made their way to the Burgh! But once again, an opportunity came up that I have to tell you about, and I simply must put Frank and Bing on hold once again!

Those of you who follow me on Twitter know of my uncanny record in bringing you insider stories AS THEY DEVELOP! For example, I reported that Ryan Doumit was on the trading block, that JOEL HANRAHAN was in the mix for the closer role, and that Corey Wimberly is on the verge of displacing Andrew McCutcheon on the 25 man roster.  Of course, the insider service has gone PREMIUM and is available for only $79.95 a month, but – and I do hate to crow but I’ve got to say it – I’ve had my BIGGEST COUP yet and I’m sharing it with you free of charge!

Imagine my surprise when I was summoned to the Bucco Bunker last week and offered the opportunity of a lifetime: a roundtable chat with THE BEST MANAGEMENT TEAM IN BASEBALL, AND IN FACT ALL OF SPORTS! ALL of them!

Yep. The owner, president, AND GM of our team wanted to talk directly to the people, as they put it, to set the record straight, and NOT have their words misconstrued by some “reporter” digging around for “facts!” Well, I told them, I AM YOUR MAN!

So what follows is my roundtable discussion with (NOT) Bob, (NOT) Neal, and (NOT) Frank, the best management team in baseball and yes, I WILL say it, ALL OF SPORTS!

Now one quick warning: this interview is not for the squeamish. My only condition was that it would be no-holds barred, and they’d have to deal with the hard questions. They agreed, and here’s how it went down. Hope you enjoy and be prepared – it’s perhaps MORE illuminating than even I expected!

Bucco Optimist (BO): Good afternoon, gentlemen, and thank you for having me here. What an honor it is for me to be here with the Best Management Team In Baseball And In Fact All Of Sports, or BMTIBAIFAOS!


BO: Now as we agreed, this is an “everything goes” discussion, so let me get right to it, because my readers want to know! This one is for Bob.

Bob: I’m ready, dammit. Bring it on. Because there’s nothing I hate more than losing. And I know your question is going to be, “is there anything you hate more than losing?”

BO: Well, no, but that would have been a GREAT question! MY question is this: A couple years ago, you declared that collectively, the Pirates were run by the Best Management Team in Baseball, Or Perhaps All Of Sports.” Now, for years I have been troubled by your use of the word “perhaps.” That implies that there might be some doubt in your mind as to whether your team is in fact the Best in all of sports? And if that’s the case, can you tell us which management team is better? I sure can’t think of ANY.

Bob:  I admit, I had a moment of modesty. I didn’t want to insult the other management teams in other sports. As you may know, they are insanely jealous of what we’re accomplishing here in Pittsburgh, and I didn’t want to hurt their feelings.

BO: So, in reality, the word “perhaps” was misused? And while some “reporters” thought you were crowing, the opposite was true – that you were being modest and unassuming?

Bob: That would be correct.

BO: And in your mind, there is no better management team in all of sports?

Bob: Of course not.

BO: What a relief!

Bob: Glad I could help out.

BO: Well, let me hit you with a couple more hard ones, because as surprising as this may sound, there are still some doubters out there. Here’s the question: How much DO you hate losing?

Bob: I hate losing more than anyone on earth.

Neal: If I may interject here, I would never want to cross the boss, but I hate losing even more than he does. Say, times ten!

Frank: Well let me step in here. The fact is, I hate losing more than both of these guys combined, times infinity. And then add one more. And then multiply it be infinity again.

BO: Wow, that’s a lot of hate for losing. Given that, why haven’t the Pirates won more the last few years, since you guys have been in place?

Frank: It all comes down to attendance. Our players get discouraged when there are only a few people in the stands at PNC. If there were more fans in the seats, they’d be energized, would play better, and we’d stop losing.

BO: WOW, that is SO insightful! Our readers will now understand that it’s THEIR fault for all the losing! And that puts the players in a whole new light! Why SHOULD they bust their butts, risk injury, get their jerseys dirty, and all that, when there are so few fans there to see it!

Frank: Well, now you get it. You’re one of the first to really understand where the blame lies.

Bob: If only the fans understood my pain, my anguish, when we lose. I know I’m an extremely popular figure in town, and besides an almost completely publicly financed ballpark, I don’t really ask for much. Maybe the fans could come out, even if it’s just to support me?

BO: That is GREAT THINKING! That is an argument that will really resonate with the fan base and will be sure to fill the seats!

Frank: I hope so. If the fans don’t do their part, we’ll NEVER have a winner in Pittsbugh.

BO:  Well, maybe that’s a good time for me to move to Neal. You have been extremely open and transparent about how we’re going to win. When asked recently about it, you said “we have to play better.” My question is: don’t you think this is perilously close to overplaying our hand? If our opponents see this quote, they will get a LOT of insight into our highly sophisticated, extremely nuanced, strategy for winning. I’m worried about this.

Neal: Well, I like to be clear about how we go about things. For example, I was very clear recently that on draft day, we’ll draft Anthony Rendon, unless someone else is higher on our list, in which case we won’t.

BO: You know, some might see that as an incongruous and hard to understand statement bordering on non-sensical, given that you draft first and have complete control of the board.  But I don’t see it that way at all.

Neal: Thank you.

BO: If I were Rendon, I’d be FLATTERED with such an all-out, over-the-top endorsement.

Neal: You would think.

BO: Did Rendon publicly thank you for that statement of total, unequivocal support?

Neal: Not yet, strangely.

BO: Maybe he doesn’t have the character to be a Pirate.

Neal: You know, that could be a GREAT reason not to draft him.

BO: That one’s on me, friend!  Now, I’m going to ask a “frank question.”

Frank: You mean a question for me?

BO: No, haha, you so funny! But no, it’s more of a question for Neal.

Frank: Rats. I am SOOO good at public speaking. I was hoping to answer another question which is such a special talent I have.

Bob: HO HO HO! Oh yes, Frank, you sure do!  

BO:  OK….but let me ask Neal something. Some crazy lunatics have said that while you get credit for bringing in a higher level of role player that Pirates fans have seen in the past, they’re still role players. They’re saying that you never seem to be able to get the “game changer.” Would you comment on this?

Neal: I’m afraid I can’t agree with that. Gregg Olson – game changer! Lyle Overbay – Game Changer. Matt Diaz – Game Changer!  And most important, we’ve cornered the market on underachieving infielders. GAME CHANGER!

BO: All GREAT acquisitions! And you are right of course. Olsen has changed a LOT of games from what I’ve seen. But that leads me to another rumor out there, which is that it looks VERY LIKELY that with Wimberly’s spring surge, McCutheon may be traded or DFAd. Is there any truth to this rumor?

Neal: I am glad you raised that. Corey Wimberly has been an outstanding performer this spring – we all know that. And while finances NEVER enter into our thinking, I will say he comes at considerably less cost than McCutheon. I’d also remind you that trading players at their highest value has been a winning strategy for us. Everyone loved Nyjer Morgan and Sean Burnett, but we got Lastings Milledge. McLouth was a fine performer for us, but two words: GORKYS HERNANDEZ. Nuff said.

BO. You are right. And I’ll bet McCutheon is a clubhouse cancer. The way I look at it, if you DON’T trade him, well you are not doing your job.

Frank: And may I add, it takes two to make a deal. Not that I’m negotiating in public, or dropping hints that any stalemate in efforts to sign Andrew to a long-term deal is completely the fault of the player. We would never do that kind of thing.

BO: Okay, you guys have been so generous with your time. Last one: Frank, you recently told a fellow blogger that with respect to a 70-80 million payroll, “We need to take a meaningful step forward in terms of attendance to reach that payroll number.” Bob, YOU recently stated attendance was not relevant to payroll, and that “we are in a position to allocate every year the dollars needed to have a competitive team on the field.”

Now, some have suggested there are inconsistencies in those two statements, but I don’t see any whatsoever. So my question is, what’s wrong with those writers and so-called “fans” who try to horribly twist your words to make you seem like buffoons?

Frank: Yeah – and THOSE are the idiots we’re relying on to come to games so we can raise payroll. How screwed up is THAT?

Bob: Uh, what Frank was saying is that all of us are dedicated to winning, and look forward to bringing back a National League – what’s the word I’m looking for?  Crown? Super Bowl? Oh I got it, Championship for the great fans of Pittsburgh? A National League Championship!

Frank: Isn’t that what I just said?

Bob: Let’s let it go, Frank.

BO: And Bob, prescient as ever, it IS time to go! Thank you, and I look forward to our next meeting sometime during the season!

BMTIBAIFAOS: Thank YOU, Bucco Optimist!

Bucco Optimist: And to my loyal legions of followers and friends – have any questions you’d like this insider to pose to the BMTIBAIFAOS? Send ‘em my way!


Thursday, February 10, 2011

Breaking News! Interview with (fake) Clint Hurdle!

Good day, loyal friends and the one follower who isn't me! I know everyone is breathlessly waiting to hear more about Frank and Bing's visit to the President, BMTIBOPAOS. I sure am! But with Spring Trainng right around the corner, a great opportunity has availed itself and I must give it priority! The new (not) manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates, (not) Clint Hurdle, held an informal chat with fans the other day and granted me exclusive rights to the transcript! Oh, how I have waited for such a day!

Mr (fake) Hurdle's words were so incisive, so compelling and honest, I decided to bring them to you as fast as I could! So for your enjoyment, what follows is the verbatim transcript of Mr. (not) Hurdle's recent chat!

1: What made you choose Pittsburgh?

Good afternoon.  Thanks for joining me in today's Q&A session!  Great first question! Coming to Pittsburgh was one of the easiest decisions that I have ever made.  The Pittsburgh Pirates are an elite organization with strong leadership and a rich tradition in winning.  After meeting with Bob, Frank and Neal during the off-season, I immediately sensed their commitment to winning, and I knew that Pittsburgh is where I wanted to be.

2: What do you see as the strengths of this team?

The answer is quite simple: our starting pitching depth.  I believe that Paul Maholm will rebound and turn things around in 2011.  As for Ross Ohlendorf, his ERA has been right around 4.00 during his first two full seasons in Pittsburgh, which is quite respectable by today's standards.  We look for James McDonald to build upon his late-season success and have another great season in 2011.  During the off-season, Bob Nutting assured the fans of Pittsburgh that we would aggressively pursue several highly-regarded veteran free agents.  He kept his promise and delivered by signing Kevin Correia and Scott Olsen.  Last, but not least, we have Charlie Morton battling for the #5 spot.  When I think of Charlie Morton, one word comes to mind: "Oh My Gosh!" Actually, that was three words.  The kid's got electric stuff.

3. Given the obvious parallels between Tulowitzki and Cedeno, both of whom are widely acknowledged to be elite performers at their positions, do you think the Pirates will be able to work out a comparable long-term deal with our incumbent starting SS?

Signing Ronny Cedeno to a long-term contract continues to be THE highest priority for the Pirates.  After weeks of negotiation throughout the off-season, Neal and Ronny's camp were able to come to terms on a contract for 2011 with an option for next season.  We were ecstatic by the signing.  If Ronny plays anywhere near the way that he played last season, you can expect him to be in a Pirates uniform for many years to come.

4. There has been some concerns raised about your stoic and reserved demeanor. Pirates fans are used to outgoing and gregarious managers, like the last fellow. Are you concerned that you won't be able to match up?

First and foremost, I want the fans to know that I will never be able to match the tenacity and passion that they were accustomed to seeing in John Russell.  However, this isn't my first rodeo, and I do have a few tricks up my sleeve in hopes of motivating our young Pirates team, day in, day out.

5. You look like a guy that would love a good Primanti's sandwich. Have you been down there yet? If not, have you checked with Pedro about arranging a road trip? He seems like a Primanti's kind of guy too if you catch my drift?

Yes! I am a huge Primanti Bros fan!  I have only tried the Roast Beef and Turkey Breast sandwiches so far, but Pedro and I plan on trying every item on the menu AT LEAST ONCE by the end of the season.  Thankfully there are several Primanti Bros shops located inside of PNC Park.

6. During the September run, will you be encouraging your players to grow playoff beards? Who is most likely to grow a beard like Keisel's?

I will encourage our team to begin growing playoff beards in mid August, which will likely be around the same time that we clinch the NL Central division.  It would be ideal if we were able to acquire Bobby Crosby before the trade deadline.  He has been known to grow quite a beard.

7. Did you ever watch "Three's Company?" Are you more "Janet" or "Chrissy?" Come on, you know what I'm talking about. Ok put it this way: MaryAnn or Ginger? Oh, come on.


8. It's a given, of course, that you have been handed a playoff caliber roster, so all eyes will be on you. Have you lined up excuses in the (however unlikely) event that we miss the playoffs? Can you share some of them?

I refuse to even speculate on that scenario.  The Pirates WILL make the playoffs in 2011.  That is a guarantee.

9. Up close, does Neal look like Ron Howard? Or is that just a media thing? Does Neal SOUND like Ron Howard? Just curious, I don't have a Ron Howard obsession.

It's funny that you mention that.  When Neal first called me about the opening with the Pirates, I thought that it was Ron Howard calling!

10. Personally I was relieved to see just one Pirate in a recent list of Top 50 Prospects.  There is SO MUCH pressure on those guys!! I am wondering about your thoughts on this topic?

Great question!  Honestly, there are many, many elite prospects in our system right now that deserve to be in the Top 50.  However, the scouting reports on these players are not always 100% accurate.  If I recall correctly, weren't Lastings Milledge and Andy LaRoche Top 50 prospects several years ago?  Now neither of them are even playing professional baseball.  Lastings has gone on to record a hip hop album with Death Row Records, and Andy is currently working as an Assistant Shift Supervisor at Office Depot at The Waterfront.  On the other hand, no one in the league had ever heard of Rudy Owens until last season, yet he has already been guaranteed to win the 2012 NL Rookie of the Year award.

11. Over the years I have learned that there is only one great source of truly impartial, balanced reporting on the Pirates, and that's a website called ""  Have you had a chance to check it out? Do you have ANY idea about who is really behind it because I haven't a clue.

Yes, I am a frequent visitor of Pirates Report.  Their reports are highly-regarded in the Pirates clubhouse.  The internet has become a great way to communicate with our fan base.  Twitter has become one of my favorite hobbies!  I encourage everyone to follow me @FakeClintHurdle.

12. According to, and I just can't give them enough free advertising because they are just so great, Stephen Drew is an underachiever because he only averages about 15 HR and about 65 RBIs a year. Does reading that make you appreciate Ronny Cedeno all the more?

Don't get me wrong, Stephen Drew is a good baseball player with above-average skills.  However, Ronny Cedeno is the anchor of our offense, and we will continue to add pieces and build around him.

13. Charlie Morton is my candidate for comeback player of the year. However, he had a good finish to the season so he wouldn't really be "coming back," but more "continuing his good finish." On this basis, do you think the Comeback Player of the Year award should be renamed, and if so, to what? Would the "Continuing His Good Finish" award be better?

Thanks for the great questions!  I have time for a few more today.  If the award was to be renamed, Charlie Morton would undoubtedly be the leading candidate in 2011.  He finished 2010 on a high note, and we look for him and his electric stuff to be a strong, deciding factor in the Pirates 2011 success.

14. It's well known that your nickname is "the girdle" but given your girth, you may actually need one. Would you like a new nickname and if so, what would it be?

Honestly, I haven't given much thought about a nickname.  A few ideas have been tossed around, but I have yet to commit to one.  I would gladly welcome any suggestions via Twitter @FakeClintHurdle.

15. During a recent Pirates chat, President Coonelly referred to a promising reliever named Daniel Oshkosh. Yet there exists nary a word about this young fellow.  Can you shed any light on this mystery performer? Everyone wants to know!

Ah yes. I have received many, many questions about this subject.  However, per instructions from Frank, I am unable to comment further about Danny at this moment.  All I can say is: "Electric Stuff!"

16. If you were a pretzel, what kind of pretzel would you be?

Another great question! Keep them coming!  If I were a pretzel, I would be a cinnamon raisin pretzel with extra icing.

17. Any advice for the Rooneys, who certainly look to the Nuttings as role models? It seems to me that the Rooneys could in fact learn quite a bit from the Nuttings about running a professional sports franchise. Your thoughts?

Throughout my first several months in Pittsburgh, one of the first things that I have learned of is the strong relationship between the Nutting and Rooney families.  Both families share a passion for winning and providing the city of Pittsburgh with winning teams each and every year year.  If the Steelers can build a solid foundation of young, elite players, they can continue to be a competitive team for many years, just like the Pirates.

18. Why were we in arbitration with Ross? 2 million a win seems entirely reasonable in today's market, don't you agree?

In 2010, Ross's record was 1-11, while earning a salary of approximately $425,000.  That equals $38,000 per Loss.  On the other hand, Zack Duke's record was 8-15, while earning a salary of approximately $4,300,000.  That equals an astounding $286,666 per Loss.  Do you see where I'm going with this?  Example: if Ross were to put up similar numbers in 2011, and if we had been able to negotiate a $1,500,000 deal, it would equal only $136,363 per Loss.  This would be the ideal scenario for both parties, both in the short-term and long-term future. 

19. Thank you for taking the time to work with this lonely blogger who has only one blog entry so far and one follower that isn't actually himself. Any final thoughts to your readership of two?

Thank you, and good luck in your future blogging endeavors.  I look forward to having another Q&A session in the near future.  We hope to see all of you out at PNC Park this season to cheer on your Buccos to victory!

And thank YOU, Mr. (fake) Clint Hurdle! Who is not, repeat NOT, the real manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates and no one should be deceived about that!