Something that times of great tragedy bring above all is the sincere feeling of gratefulness that we have what we have. Family, friends, work, food, and yes, even toilet paper.
Baseball and sports in general are taken for granted as well. We spend our time parsing every word the players put on social media. We propose trades of players that have been part of our community for the best part of a decade without a second thought.
We watch the best athletes in the world fail to deliver in crunch time and assume they don’t care or worse were lazy. Unfocused, overpaid thugs who couldn’t care less about our community or the fans, all they want is their next paycheck.
Then something like this happens. Suddenly those players that don’t really care pop up giving blood, or money. Helping to hand out donations or packing cars with essentials. They do the right thing and even then, some say they want to be in front of the camera. Recently the Pirates organization donated close to $50,000 to the local food bank and a veteran reporter Bob Smizik, long since retired but still highly regarded in Pittsburgh, put forth the idea that the Pirates were shamelessly publicizing this good deed.
OK, so a public organization in the city of Pittsburgh. An institution that is quite literally here for the people of Pittsburgh, donates food and supplies that would have otherwise gone bad to a food shelter that they have worked with countless times and its shameless promotion? How pray tell were the Pirates to line up cars in a nearly empty city to distribute goods to those who desperately need it, not even mentioning the extra noise and hullabaloo drummed up by the increased precautions of safety due to COVID-19, and not have the press catch on?
Think there might be a few questions there? I’ll be honest, writing about sports is tough right now, if I had a scoop that Travis Williams couldn’t get bread down at Market District, I might develop some follow up questions. When a mass of people shows up downtown, I can’t imagine how this leaked out Bob, I bet Nutting called KDKA himself.
There are ways to look at things like this, and everyone is entitled to their opinion, but I happen to vehemently disagree with this one. Say what you will about the Pirates organization and how they operate the baseball club but scrutinizing exactly how someone is charitable to me is far worse than having media coverage of said charity.
Bottom line, people needed help, people got help, and sometimes that’s enough. Sometimes the deed is in fact all that matters, and we need to be able to separate the man from the acts, at least when it comes to how he handles his charitable contributions.
Mr. Smizik is a fixture in this town, I grew up reading his work and have great respect for him. He has rightly criticized this club and ownership through the years and been a needed voice in our community. Please don’t take this as a singling out of one man, he is reasonable and has always given room for disagreement and has even shown to change his mind when presented with compelling facts.
No, this is more overarching than one retired journalist. This is a culture of wanting to see the bad in people so much that we refuse to see the good even when it’s right in front of us. Saying this was a good thing, does not mean you have to agree with everything Mr. Nutting has done or said. You needn’t think he has spent enough on payroll to recognize he has done some very nice things with Pirates Charities in and around our town.
If there is one thing, I’d like to come out of this life changing event for our country and indeed the world, its that we would all start to appreciate the good we have and the good others do at face value. Times like these deserve sober consideration before judgement and I hope we can give room to those capable to do good for our community without fear of being considered disingenuous.