A Pirates Edition Of What If…?

1-4-22 By Craig W. Toth (aka @BucsBasement on Twitter)

I’m not sure how many people actually know this about me, but I am actually a pretty big introverted extrovert. Sure I can be somewhat outgoing at times, however, the ability to put myself in the center of attention is often outweighed by an innate desire to avoid even the most simplistic social interactions; which is probably why I find myself at home on the couch, watching television or writing most weekends instead of going out and doing anything really.

This predisposition to lazy nights at home regularly leads to binging the latest series on any number of streaming services, with the most recent focus of consumption being the Marvel Comic Series What If…? on Disney+. In this animated anthology-placed squarely in Phase Four of the current MCU arc-alternate timelines within the multiverse are explored to show what could happen if events occurred differently from what actually took place in the real world.

So, what does this all have to do with the Pirates? On the surface, probably not a lot. However, with almost everything in life, my thoughts often drift back to anything-and everything-related to the Pirates; especially since many conversations on social media include a lot of ifs, ands, or buts, as well as some woulds, coulds or shoulds.

For some these discussions-but more accurately suggestive comments-involve the desire to see how much differently the Pirates past or current timeline would be affected by removing Bob Nutting from the situation. Obviously, this is the ultimate what if scenario, however it’s not one I really let live rent free in my head because until I actually see the word sold, it seems like a waste of time to wish for something that doesn’t necessarily guarantee that the set of circumstances surrounding the team will improve. Sure, there would be an instantaneous sigh of relief, along with a likely wave of joy felt across the city, but it’s hard to imagine exactly what would follow; even though many picture an owner that really cares about winning automatically stepping in.

For the most part the remainder of remarks-made by a certain sect within the Pirates fanbase-contain predictions concerning players that have limited experience in the Majors, or most often prospects; many that have only reached as high as Greensboro. Generally these prognosticators are responding to comments of concern pertaining to a specific player’s potential, yet it isn’t out of the ordinary for unsolicited posts to be made about how well someone will perform during the upcoming season; or in a Major League Career that has yet to be solidified.

Obviously, it’s the off-season-the time of unimaginable hope-that causes negative expectations for even the most downtrodden member of the organization to be washed away by an instructional change, a new approach or a simple quote overflowing with confidence from player himself.

Now I hate to be the bearer of bad news, nevertheless it should be pointed out that I’ve almost never heard a player talk about his progress or overall effort in a negative light.

And guess what? All of these guys are working. Even the ones that don’t take to Instagram, Twitter or TikTok. Hell, I don’t even know if Carmen Mlodzinski has phone based on the comments he made following his draft selection.

Videos of a guy blasting soft tosses from behind a screen or hitting off of a tee turn into fans waxing poetic about him being able to repeat this performance consistently when facing a upper 90s fastball.

Yes, I recognize that this puts me into the classic position of being the old man who yells at a cloud, as the manner in which we receive updates concerning the players within the organization is constantly evolving; it just becomes frustrating when each and every player is deemed to be a sure-fire success story based on a 15 second clip.

Because you know, they should, could or would reach their full potential-always the ceiling, never the floor-if they are able to address the one glaring hole that may exist their swing, get control of their fastball or add a third pitch. But, let’s not concentrate on those possibilities, and only focus on the best case scenarios.

That train of thought in providing assessments concerning the Pirates Prospects-or really any member of the organization-will never lead to any sort of disappointment.

Just look at 10 Time All-Star Chad Hermansen, Cy Young Winner Kris Benson or Home Run Champ Gregory Polanco.

A few words of advice to those that fall into either these camps within the Pittsburgh Pirates Fanbase.

Don’t waste your time daydreaming about Bob Nutting not being the owner. You’ll drive yourself-and others-crazy with a near constant desire to change something you have absolutely no control over; like trying to rewrite history. And, when it comes to players, follow the stats to discover actual progress in development; or to make predictions if you must. Sure you might be wrong, and end up eating a little bit of crow in the end, but you won’t ever be left wondering what if…?

Published by Craig W. Toth

Former Contributing Author at InsidethePirates.com, Co-Host of the Bucs in the Basement Podcast and life-long/diehard Pittsburgh Pirates Fan!

One thought on “A Pirates Edition Of What If…?

  1. Good read. I do broadly wonder “What if the org had better development in the last 30 years” and more narrowly wondered “What if NH hadn’t let his fondness for Archer cloud his judgement,” but it kind of stops there. As much as I understand the agonizing over the last half-inning of the 1992 NLCS, there comes a point we need to move on.


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