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!