As a eighteen year old kid, straight out of the sticks, I sat down in my 8 AM college Theology course ready to be instilled with the education my parents honestly paid way too much for; probably a little hungover, or at least extremely tired from a some late night GoldenEye. Suddenly my professor began to speak in what sounded like a foreign tongue; explaining a concept that sounded so involved and difficult to decipher. Immediately, without thinking, I jotted down the principle of Occam’s Razor using the simplest equation possible, so that any idiot, including myself, could understand; don’t over explain + don’t over think = truth is in front of you. Sounds easy enough, right? Yeah, at least it should be.
Unfortunately, it is our nature to question things, even when the most straightforward answer is staring us in the face. This is especially true as a baseball fan, who tries to use advanced metrics or other any other reasoning possible to try to explain why our team, or an individual player, is successful, could turn things around, is failing, or in the worst case scenario, will continue to flounder. Ultimately we are are looking for ways to prove that our analysis is right, when honestly we should just work on accepting the truth.
This concept is one that may hit a little close to home for the Pirates faithful, because if I am being honest, they are looking for any reason to have hope; and genuinely I can’t blame them on the account of the fact that I am one of them.
Prior to the start of the season many were made to think Anthony Alford could be the answer in centerfield, Gregory Polanco should bring back a ransom if he played well, a rotation absent a proven starter would perform well, a strong bullpen was the answer to keep the Pirates in games, defense was the most effective way to help out less than experienced pitching and that glimpses of promise shown in Spring Training could be easily replicated.
However, after seeing this team play in several meaningful games, there can’t be any way for even the most optimistic fan to hold on to the original aspirations for a Pirates. There was absolutely no realistic scenario where every single player was going to be the best version of themselves that they have ever been; you know the 30 second clips of their best pitches or the one home run they hit sandwiched in between 10 strikeouts. Sure things can improve incrementally for individual players, and for some it better; but as a team we had to know the results weren’t going to be there immediately.
For a team, such as the Pirates, that is obviously in the early stages of a rebuild, there aren’t as many reasons to get up for game time when the end result is almost certain; which is where the coaching staff comes in. While they aren’t miracle workers, it shouldn’t be too much to ask to for your team to look and play like professionals, rather than watching them make mental and physical errors each and every game. In the end it all comes back to fundamentals.
Being fundamentally sound will sometimes be the only way a team with less skill level is able to compete; and I hope you know I am not taking about division titles, or at the very least steadily showing improvement by not making the same mistakes on a constant basis.
Now, I am pretty confident in assuming that this isn’t the type of article you expected to read on the morning of a home opener, and it absolutely isn’t the one I wanted to write. However, this is where the Pirates are, like it or not. There a long road ahead, no need to over think it; because the truth is right in front of us.