Monday, August 4, 2008

Live Blog of the Pitcherless Pirates

I'm pretty proud of this live blog of the Pirates, and hopefully I can do this kind of thing a little more often.

Hungover and bored, I was in the mood for an afternoon of watching the dreadful Pirates pitching staff go up against the Rockies in the cavernous (I love that word) Coors Field. What follows is a nice live blog of the matchup. Enjoy

3:00 We’re welcomed to Colorado by our friends Lanny Frattare and Bob Walk, the infinitely better choice over the other option of Greg Brown and Steve Blass who are the announcing equivalent of Nyquil. Good ol’ JR (my nickname for John Russell, an homage to the wrestling announcer) has shaken up the lineup quite a bit today, but we’ll get to that in a bit. With me this afternoon are my trusty assistants: a can of Coke, a jar of Tostitos Queso, and a bag of Snyder’s pretzels, needless to say, we are good to go.

3:05 Our first pitch is right on time, with a ball from Aaron Cook to our leadoff hitter… Luis Rivas? Huh? If the point of putting Jumpin’ Jack Flash in the 9 hole is to get more runners on base for the middle of the order hitters, how does it make sense to have non-table setters like Rivas at the top of the order. I’m puzzled. It’s a bold strategy Cotton, let’s see how it pays off for him.

3:08 Evidently the Rockies are under the woefully mistaken idea that Luis Rivas is, in fact, Rickey Henderson reincarnated. They’ve tried two pickoff throws, as well as the catcher jumping up at least once looking to throw to first.

3:09 Nate McLouth continues to be an offensive force with an RBI single to center after a Mientkiewicz walk and a Rivas infield single. Let’s see what the big boys (Bay and Nady) can do.

3:12 Walk and Frattare spend J-Bay’s entire at-bat discussing how he is a very tough guy to “double up” (meaning hit into a double play) and that he is the third toughest in the league at that (how is that a stat?) and, of course, since they jinxed the bejesus out of poor Jason, he promptly hits into a double play. Well done, gentlemen. Another run scores though, 2-0 Bucs.

3:14 Adam LaRoche, who evidently thinks that the months of April through June are just some sort of extended spring training, drills a double to bring Nady around, 3-0 Buccos.

3:19 Everyone hold your breath, we are about to witness a Pirates starting pitcher take the mound, which almost certainly means the other team will commence with batting practice immediately.

3:24 Pretty smooth first inning for the Duke, who really needs to add that “the” in front of his last name at all times. Infinitely more intimidating to face “The Duke” instead of Duke, isn’t it? Okay, yeah, maybe it’s just me.

Good ol’ JR’s genius of batting the pitcher 8th comes through yet again as Duke grounds out to start the inning. Nothing like starting off an inning off right, eh?

3:31 If only the Pirates could play in a division as putrid as the NL West. I mean, c’mon, there has to be something we can do about this right? That division sucks basically every year, and is the reason why people are convinced that the NL is the far inferior league. I mean, someone (looking directly at Rob Neyer) needs to do a statistical study so that we can appreciate just how difficult it is for a division winner to be sub- .500, because we could be headed there this season. Meanwhile the Pirates get to compete with really good teams in their division who go out and trade for aces like Sabathia and Harden, while the entire West Division works at rebuilding. Good lord.

3:36 Lanny and Bob make a few odd Batman references, none of which appear to have any reason behind them other then that they both apparently went to see The Dark Knight this weekend, and their exchange was capped off by this doozie:
Lanny: (after Duke strikes someone out) HOLY STRIKEOUT BATMAN!
Bob: (laughing uproariously).
Uhmm… I really don’t know how to react to that exchange. Horror? Uncomfortable laughter? Snarky comments? Let’s just move on.

3:37 The Pirates promo for the upcoming Astros series goes a little something like this (channeling deep, super serious T.V. announcer voice) “Houston you’ve got a problem! Catch the Pirates and the Astros Monday night on FSN!”
Again, I’m really not sure how to react here.

3:41 We’re cruising along here, through 2 ½ innings, the Bucs are still up 3-0. And the Duke has that thing going that you aren’t allowed to talk about.

3:45 Yikes, I feel like I’m watching America’s Funniest Home Videos right now. That’s right, the ump just took a foul tip right to the groin. Of course, even though both Lanny and Bob audibly groan when they see the replay, both claim it hits our poor ump in “the leg.” Riiiiiiiiiiiight.

3:48 Our AFLAC trivia question and a discussion of a new Pirates promotion known as “the Beer Passport” ties up our announcers for almost the entirety of the top of the fourth inning, to the point that unless the ball is hit into play, they don’t even address what is happening on the field. Not exactly Gus Johnson out there. By the way, the Beer Passport is nowhere near as good as it sounds.

3:51 If there was an Olympics for athletes who are the worst at things, I can all but guarantee that Raul Chavez would be the Gold Medalist in the 100 meter sprint. He just got thrown out at first on a slow roller that the third baseman took roughly 4 minutes to get to and then threw lazily to first. I’m pretty sure that my 86 year old grandma with 2 bad hips and who takes a solid 90-100 seconds to get up the 10 steps in our house would give Raul a run for his money. Ugh. Then again, he’s Michael Johnson compared to Ronny the Fat.

3:55 Lanny and Walky openly lament the lost no-hitter for the Duke, even though there’s only 1 out in the fourth inning and opponents bat roughly .390 against the Duke. But hey, 17 more outs and he’d have had that thing!

4:01 Uh-oh, the Duke is in some real trouble here, not only is the no-no gone, the shutout has been gone for a few minutes, and with a second run coming around for the Rocks, the complete game, and even the quality start are all now in jeopardy.

4:10 The pitcher in the 8-spot strategy works out to a T for good ol’ JR as Zach Duke rips a single to left field and Jack Wilson promptly follows up with an out and Luis Rivas hits into a double play. Something seems a little off here. Maybe the Duke should be leading off being that he appears to be a better table setter then those two options.

4:14 Clint Barmes drills a triple into the left center field gap, which is roughly the size of Central Park. I mean have you seen that thing? The guy hit the ball into the gap, and when the camera panned to follow, there wasn’t one outfielder in the picture for a few seconds. I thought maybe Bay and McLouth were chasing butterflies around the outfield or something. Someone may have to cut down the size of this outfield, it’s gotten a little ridiculous.

4:20 Okay, I think Zach Duke has been hung out to dry long enough. 5-3 Rox after a monster home run. Some expert analysis by Bob Walk here, “I wasn’t looking at the pitch on that one, but I’m guessing he didn’t put it in the right spot.” Well done, sir, well done.

4:21 Apparently JR has become numb to the atrocity that is Pirates pitching because he leaves Duke out there to face Matt Holliday, and you can probably guess where this is going… yup, a mammoth, titanic shot by Holliday and its 6-3, and yet STILL the Duke is out on the hill to face whoever the hell is up now. What more can he do to get yanked? Does he have to balk? How about hitting a few batters? Maybe back-to-back-to-back blasts.

4:23 Okay, I’m incredulous right now. The Duke walks the next batter and is STILL IN THE F-ING GAME! Not even a visit to the mound from pitching coach Jeff Andrews! Can someone please make sure John Russell is still conscious right now, please? Maybe the stress of being the skipper of a team with zero (0) big league starting pitchers finally gave that poor man a coronary.

4:25 The Duke strikes out the final batter for the third out, and let’s just hope that’s the last we see of the Duke.

4:26 Those 12 ounces of Coke and the 50 or so ounces of water I drank this morning to combat my hangover are catching up to me, back in a few.

4:30 Aaaaaaaaand we’re back.

4:31 The Duke is STILL out there! And then he gives up a double to Brad Hawpe that nearly leaves the building. AND HE’S STILL OUT THERE! He’s glancing over at the dugout between batters at this point, and is clearly debating whether or not to start screaming at the ump to get himself thrown out of the game, since clearly JR is trying out Zach for the role of batting practice pitcher, and isn’t yet sure if he’s terrible enough for the role.

4:34 Okay, three straight hits, two more runs, and it’s 8-3 Rockies! So help me god, if the Duke is still in there for the next hitter I’m turning the station and live blogging some abysmal Sunday afternoon cable movie.

4:35 Well, someone finally shook John Russell awake, and he pulls the Duke at long last. Damn. I was actually kind of looking forward to live blogging a random movie. In fact…

4:36 (Flipping through the TV channels)

4:37 Well the unbelievably awful Batman and Robin: Revenge of the BatNipples is on, but it’s almost over. Damn, I would truly enjoy live blogging this one. Let’s see what else we’ve got…

4:38 (Flipping through the TV channels)

4:39 Damn, nothing’s on. (Slowly flipping back to the Bucs game)

4:41 The Duke ends up getting charged with 9 runs in 5 innings. Yowza.

4:45 Well that was fun. Lanny was mid-sentence announcing the on-field action and randomly bursts into a fit of laughter. His reason/ explanation? “I’m sorry for that folks (still laughing) inside joke with our producer, I’m sorry (continues laughing) really (laughing) I’m sorry.” Clearly, his producer realizes that there is only one person left watching this game, so he’s opted to start telling dirty jokes into Lanny’s headset. I really can’t think of any other explanation. You know what, though? I’m a little upset. I want to know the dirty joke. Why can’t they tell their audience (consisting of me and 6 people who fell asleep watching the game) the dirty joke? It’s not like anyone is conscious enough to get offended.

4:47 Quick shot of Frankie Osoria (which is Spanish for Mike Williams) warming up in the bullpen. On a related note, I just threw up in my mouth a little bit.

4:52 I really need a nickname for Osoria that sums up just how strong my hatred is for him. I of course mean a clean nickname, something that can be used in everyday vernacular, as alliteration with his first name would give me some easy choices for him if I were looking for, ahem, unsavory nicknames.

4:59 I must say, for how awful the on-field ball club is, the new ads about the Pirates history and the Pride. Passion. Pittsburgh Pirates. slogan never fails to get me all sorts of fired up. Of course, then we return from commercial and the score is 9-3, and all that passion and pride immediately turns into embarrassment and loathing, not quite as good of a slogan, I suppose.

5:05 Turns out that it is actually very hard to stay focused on live blogging a gawd-awful team. I envisioned this being more fun, and for the first 60-90 minutes, I was enjoying myself. But we’ve just passed the two hour mark, and I’m struggling along, as Damaso Marte enters the game in the bottom of the eighth with the Succos down 9-3. You know the old joke about the easiest position in sports being the backup and third string quarterbacks on a football team? Well, where does being a closer for a horrific baseball team rank on that list? Pretty damn high, right? That’s Marte these days, who has a “so you guys are trading me, right?” look on his face right now.

5:11 Lanny just explained what hitting for the cycle consists of. Did that really just happen? Does he actually think that extremely casual baseball fans are watching this garbage right now? For the sake of baseball, I certainly hope not, as they will forever be turned off by the putrid display by the PBC out there this afternoon.

5:13 Evidently someone told Damaso there were scouts for contending teams in attendance today, as he’s hitting an almost unheard of 97 on the radar gun right now. Of course, those things are about as accurate as a Tom Gorzelanny full count pitch. (Not very).

5:14 Then again, maybe Damaso doesn’t know there are scouts in attendance as he’s given up a pair, and it’s 11-3! I’m reaching my wits end here.

5:15 Hey a hit batsmen! That’s always fun in a blowout as there is a serious staredown between Chris Iannetta and Marte.

5:16 Hey almost another hit batsmen! Fun for the whole family. I’m not gonna lie, a brawl would make this entire waste of an afternoon infinitely better. Come on… HIT HIM!

5:17 Okay, now I’m not so sure if Damaso is trying to hit this guy or not. I mean he is all over the place. And poor Brad Hawpe just glanced over to the dugout as if to say, “Hey skip, I’m a pretty good player and this pitcher is CLEARLY psychotic, you sure you don’t want to pinch hit for me?”

5:18 DAMN! Marte gets out of it without a brawl. Very upsetting.

5:22 Quite alarming stat here, after a 3 run first, the Pirates had exactly one (1) hit between the second and ninth inning until Douggie Mientkiewicz lashed a double just now. That one hit? Of course, it was by Zach Duke, a single that didn’t quite make up for the 40 or so hits he gave up.

5:23 Ugh. It looks like everyone’s least favorite pitcher, John VanBenschoten, gets the call tomorrow night. Why don’t we just forfeit and save our bullpen instead? JVB and the ERA that resembles Kobe Bryant’s PPG average will put in the usual 2-3 innings and give up nearly double digit runs, and the bullpen will scramble as always. Like I said, ugh.

5:28 The X-Man weakly grounds out to wrap it up. Thank God. So, what did we learn today? Well, for starters, that we have NO starters with any discernible talent. That Damaso Marte is either 1) a little bit crazy or 2) he has little to no control over his fastball. That the dreaded “Probable Starter: John VanBenschoten” line will make an appearance in tomorrow’s Post-Gazette. That FSN’s producers start whispering dirty jokes into the announcer’s headsets when they get bored in blow outs. And finally, that no matter how intimidating of a nickname The Duke may have, an 87 MPH fastball and breaking balls that don’t really break so much as they shift every so slightly still aren’t intimidating.

One last note: I hope to get the real website up and running in the next few weeks, and to bail on this blog for good. I will keep you posted. Until next time folks, it’s been real. It’s been fun. It’s been real fun.

No comments: