7-30-22 – By Gary Morgan – @garymo2007 on Twitter
Pirates fans are frustrated.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one.
Nobody is shocked the team isn’t competing for the division in 2022, in fact not many are all that surprised that they aren’t threatening .500 again.
This time it’s a bit different though.
See, this time the Pirates gave fans a taste of what could be, then pulled the rug out from under the fan base, and their seemingly inexhaustible well of belief that fans will accept everything they do in the name of “the plan” is running dry.
Years ago, coming out of a divorce, I was driving a complete piece of crap car. Thing was just not in good shape, but in an effort to sock away as much money as I could, I decided to keep driving it. Then one day on the way to work I was rear ended on the Liberty Bridge and insurance took over. Car in the shop, and a rental car later I was suddenly driving around in a brand new vehicle.
The shop had my old beater for almost two weeks, and when they called to tell me it was ready, I was in no hurry to switch back to what I was driving. Alas, I had to go get it done.
On my way home that night, I realized I had experienced something nice a bit too long to pretend what I was currently driving was ok any longer.
Folks, the Pirates put every one of us through something very similar this year. See, they swapped our old AM/FM-CD player combo named Jake Marisnick with an Apple Car Play equipped Jack Suwinski. They replaced our malfunctioning AC unit of Bryse Wilson with the arctic blast producing unit of Roansy Contreras.
On and on, Yoshi was gone, VanMeter was out Marcano was up, Peguero made an appearance.
Point is, once you show people that there is better out there, making them go back and sit in the stink of what was is nearly impossible.
Don’t get me wrong, even with all those shiny new parts, this team wasn’t going anywhere this year, but you can’t just expect people to forget the creature comforts you exposed them to either.
It’s also not the same as what fans are used to experiencing this time of year. You can trade players, and while they won’t like it, maybe they’re pleasantly surprised by the young guys getting a shot. This year, they’ve been forced to spend almost a month resenting the group of barely movable or completely impossible to believe they could get moved vets who the team allowed to force out some of the hopeful kids we’d started to buy into.
We’ve watched the franchise routinely put a more potent offense together in AAA Indianapolis than we get to experience at the MLB level.
Take ten minutes looking at the roster for Indianapolis and the Pirates, you’ll make about 5 or 6 swaps mentally and the team at least looks loaded with promise, as opposed to loaded with disposables.
If I look at the bigger picture, I still like the farm system. I still like where this is headed. But you all know me by now, my style is to force myself to see as much as possible both sides of everything.
Sure I land on one side or the other most of the time when I form my opinion, but I do so from a place where I at least can understand the why’s and what’s of a situation. The very fact that there simply is and was, never a trade market for Yoshi, or VanMeter, Marisnick or Chang, name who you want, was reason enough for me to just advise washing your hands of them.
The Pirates may have been forced into giving fans a preview of what the kids could do due to injury, but much like my accident on the Liberty Bridge, why or how it happened didn’t matter all that much. Fact is, fans saw that it could be better.
Fans saw a team they could honestly say had room to grow. They saw a team with potential to build on. They saw power from multiple places in the lineup, we watched pitching with ceilings minus the seemingly constant underachieving.
Once you’ve shown that, how do you expect them to take it when the GM, a guy they’re supposed to trust to make the team better, actively makes it worse with seemingly no benefit?
How can fans expect Mr. Cherington to make the right choices two years from now when they’re competing for something, when he’s showing you he can’t or won’t right now?
You can blame Bob Nutting for as many things as you like, but this my friends, this is on the GM. These moves don’t save them money, these moves do little more than placate egos and hold out hope that another GM is potentially even more braindead than our own and believes there is some benefit to acquiring someone that is going to get cut on August 2nd.
The really messed up part to me is that it doesn’t really change the plan, it doesn’t make it less or more likely to work. All this has done is make it a little harder for fans to believe that management knows what they’re doing at the MLB level.
Sometime next week, I believe they’ll make changes to the roster. We’ll see kids come back up, maybe even some new faces and eventually we might even get to that “fun” finish I predicted. That said, I won’t, and you shouldn’t, get past the fact they already had this team at that area and actively chose to take steps backward instead.
Maybe two years from now people will look back and mislabel this as a “collapse” in reality it has been a self inflicted bullet wound in the foot.
There is one line we heard uttered from everyone in this management group. Repeatedly too. Get Better.
We even saw them call their development camp “Get Better at Baseball Camp”. Yet when they actually saw the MLB team start to get better, they allowed it to be broken up in the name of stubbornness and misplaced hope.
I put a line in Five Pirates Thoughts at Five earlier this week, and I think it’s going to become a theme as we move forward. Trust is earned, time to start earning.
I’m aware some fans will swear off the Pirates now. Some will actually stay away too. Most will come back when and if they start winning and act like they never left. That’s why so few tend to understand how the team came to be once it does happen. They forget all those who were moved to bring in who they’re actively cheering for, and honestly it doesn’t matter, so long as they’re winning.
I’ll try to explain of course, but I’ll never be able to explain the month of July in the 2022 season, because no matter how I look at it, this was an unnecessary exercise with such a small crack of possibility it simply wasn’t worth doing.
For a team that always references getting better, I’d settle for hearing one of them say for once that they’re sick of losing. Not that they’d prefer to win. Not that they’d like to improve, but specifically, WE ARE SICK OF LOSING.
After all, their goals should align with the fans, and I can’t think of a better thing to come together on.