I think ... disheartening. I think that's the word. I want to say devastating, but I honestly feel like once we have a tad more perspective that it's just a little too strong. The reality is that the Pirates were longshots to win the NL Central before this game began tonight, and they were longshots to win the NL Central when it seemed like they were certain to win it, and now that it's over and they lost, well ...
So, yes. Disheartening. Major League Baseball plays a long season. For most of this season, everything to do with the Pirates has been good. It's been really good. And now there's this thought that suddenly, no matter how good everything else has been, that it's all going to boil down to one game that might not even be in PNC Park. And there's this thought that when that happens, what we're suddenly going to remember is all of the bad stuff; the error tonight, the save that Mark Melancon blew on Wednesday, the Starling Marte dropped fly ball in August at Busch Stadium (oh god, the dropped fly ball). And it's unfair and not necessarily even relevant to think about these things tonight, but it's also impossible not to.
We've been waiting for meaningful September baseball in Pittsburgh for an entire generation, and now that it's here we suddenly have to remember that for every team that wins an exciting and important game during a playoff race, there's also a team that loses.
So yes, disheartening. It can't be devastating. Not quite yet. This season is not over. The Pirates have come too far to throw in the towel after 154 games. We fans have watched too much bad baseball to give up on a legitimately good one before it ends. Disheartening. Not devastating. Not while there's still tomorrow. Not yet.
I can't believe no one is discussing Melancon's meltdown. This is two egregious blown saves in a row in key moments. The closer's role is more than half mental, and this has to be borderline devastating for his confidence. This game was devastating for me--yes, devastating--because of what I'm afraid it will lead to. This could easily devolve into a Jose Valverde situation, where a "closer" loses his nerve and is no longer effective. Mark proved he could not pitch in pressure situations last year in Boston, and I'm terrified that he may be heading in the same direction now. Grilli doesn't appear to be back to form yet, and we have absolutely no chance of playing October baseball without a real closer.
Yes, overall I'm satisfied because we broke The Streak this year. But I'd be lying if I said I wasn't absolutely salivating at finally stealing this division from the clutches of St. Lucky. I don't believe in accusing others of hyperbole--sports are designed to get us emotionally involved. That's why we love them. And who's got the right to proclaim another's emotion as invalid? I'm proud of what these boys have accomplished this year. But not making the playoffs after being this close at this point in the season will be a very tough pill to swallow.
Dave Shoenfeld's prediction for the Bucs in March :THE PICK3rd Place
- 82 wins if ... Andrew McCutchen gets off to another great start (.362 first-half BA), 2B Neil Walker keeps up his .770 OPS of the past three years and C Russell Martin, who has gunned down an MLB-high 216 runners since '06, sparks the D.
- 72 wins if ... Jason Grilli (five saves in 10 years) can't replace closer Joel Hanrahan, new arm Francisco Liriano has more injury trouble and the bats sputter around McCutchen.
- Unpredictability score -- 0.57: Pedro Alvarez and Starling Marte are tricky to predict, but vets Wandy Rodriguez, Clint Barmes and Garrett Jones are all too familiar. For two decades, the Pirates have been nothing but predictable. Time for something new: Their farm system is stacked.
Four MAJOR managerial mistakes last night:
1. Leaving right handed Kyle Farnsworth in to pitch to left handed $19 million per year Joey Votto.
2. Obviously, not switching Barmes for Mercer in 9th.
3. If Liriano was almost "out of gas" why not pinch hit Jones in the bottom of the 7th instead of having Liriano bunt?
4. Andrew McCutchen was hit in the bottom of the 8th. OK, if Liriano is "out of gas" just send him out there to hit the first guy, get ejected and then go to bullpen.
The season is 162 games long. In 162 games all your flaws will be exposed. It sucks that for the Pirates that exposure is coming in the last 11 games. Exposure will come, so you better start managing "by the book" and making every proper situational move. The Pirates may have gotten away with bad managing for the first 151 games, but now it is showing and costing games.
@whygavs Q: are the Bucs a legitimately good team, or did they overachieve until recently? Serious problems w/ lineup/bullpen/leadership
@whygavs that was well put, either way it comes down to one game and I'll take franky in that 1 game over anyone.
@whygavs and what the hell is wrong with jordy mercer, I mean c'mon.
@whygavs i disagree it was a devastating loss. To be up 5-2 in the ninth and lose? Devastating.
I can't understand why we let the Reds get away with beaning McCutchen Every. Single. Time. They throw at him first, the ump warns both benches, we get screwed. The next night, the benches are warned before the game. No retaliation. And it's a surprise to us every time. They need to stop giving the Reds the benefit of the doubt and go after Votto every game until people start getting tossed.
No need to beat around the bush. This is one of the worst losses I've seen in any sport, ever. This is not hyperbole. Devastating.
@whygavs can't see how they can recover. Nats are hot would not be surprised if they caught Bucs
@whygavs Not giving up. Just bummed. Seriously bummed. Tomorrow's another game yes. But still.
@whygavs people are so used to bad baseball in this city, they don't know what to do when it's good. We aren't dead yet! Excellent post!
@whygavs im gonna go with devastating. Im not sure there's any magic left.
@lee1943 I would prefer to be devastated by it than satisfied with it, if that's what you're asking. And I think the players themselves would consider accepting it because they weren't expected to do better than 82 wins an insult.
Now, on the scale of things that would upset a player, a fan's insult, especially a backhanded one like that, is somewhere below a mosquito bite. But still. We're knocked over by it because we expect to win those games.
@MRH1 I like your list. I would add that Hurdle had no business getting thrown out of the game. He needs to be in dugout to manage the entire game unless there is a MAJOR reason to want to get thrown out. Sure, the HP ump overreacted. Clint should go out, make his point and then get back in dugout and manage his club. #2 might not have occurred if Hurdle had been in the dugout after the 8th inning. Why was Barmes put at SS in top of 10th? That seemed stupidly late at that point.
No question that the umps screwed up here. But let's put the blame where it is due: Jordy Mercer airmailing a routine throw to win the game, Melancon not able to get anyone out, and one killer at bat with lots of foul balls.
Don't forget either that anyone who throws at Votto today will have to serve a suspension.
@dgrassi12 @whygavs : if you want to be " devastated ",step right up ! There are much more important things in life,and in baseball,to be devastated about than that one game. After 20 years of meaningless games almost every season,I am happy that the Pirates have reached a point where they are competitive. And,the future is much more promising than most of you on here seem to be aware. Even if they don't recover from that one last night,the Pirates will be back,and not just next season,but for quite a few after that.
@TomBrenholts @lee1943 " We " expect to win those games " Tom ? What were " we " to do Tom ? Go in and cut that ball off that Mercer botched ? Grab the carom off Pedro's glove ? Bring in Wilson or Johnson to pitch to Votto ? And am I " accepting it " ? By that I suppose you mean the 82 wins ? I am accepting it,because " we " have no choice but to accept what happens. Was I disappointed in last night's game ? Certainly ! But when you have been watching Major and Minor League baseball as long as I have you learn that there is nothing you can do about it ! Nothing. I am really happy that the Pirates are pulling out of a 20 year death spiral,and though disappointed in games like last nights,I at least know that in the coming seasons they will be right in the middle of the battle,and with as good or better a chance than most teams to get to the WS. As a fan,that is the best I can do.
@mwr505 @MRH1 " .....may have gotten away with bad managing for the first 151 games," ?????? Are you serious man ? If you are,please explain to me those 88 wins I am looking at ! Are you going to try and say the Ws are all on the players,and the Losses all on the Manager and staff ? If so,you need to seriously sit down and watch a lot more MLB than you have,you are WAY behind the learning curve.
@PatStuart How about Kyle Farnsworth? He isn't going to be on the post season roster.
@PatStuart Oh, I'm not saying that was the cause of the loss. I'm just saying that they pull this stuff all the time on us. There's plenty of blame in this one - the coaches for not putting Barmes out there in the 9th could be added to your list.
@lee1943 @whygavs I learned quite unexpectedly earlier this year that I had a lymphoma cancer. It was a shocker, bummer, downer and all of that. But I felt partially in control because I was able to do some research, pick a great local cancer treatment center with outstanding doctors and stay on top of doing all that was necessary to get well - which, today I am. I swear part of my recovery earlier this summer was helped along by the Pirates outstanding play during the first half of the season.
Now, last night's loss is on an entirely different level. Having no control over last night's game (other than turning it off and never wanting to again know the outcome of how the Bucs are doing) is what made the 9th inning meltdown devasting to watch. I've cared about how the Pirates were doing since I was 7 in 1959. It would be very difficult to turn those emotions off some 54 years later. Sure, I'm happy that they are competitive also but I want more than that because I believed this team was capable of winning the NL Central and maybe more . Also, it was discouraging to see the damn hated Redlegs celebrating in their dugout at PNC. Had it been in Cincy I could have accepted the loss a bit easier but to throw away that game at home .... Ugh! It will be interesting to see if/when a similar situation occurs this next week (Bucs ahead by a few runs in the ninth) if Barmes is not substituted for Mercer at SS. I see that as just an unforgivable error by Hurdle and his coaching staff. Heck I'm surprised Barmes himself wasn't on the top step ready to takeover as the 8th inning ended. Well, let's get 'em tonight.
Okay, I'm knocked over by those games because I expect this team to win them. Better? Sorry I made a common fan's mistake by assuming the team's persona as mine. Hell, I would have expected the 2008 team to win that one.
I bet you I've been watching as long as you have, and likely longer, but I don't think that is a useful statistic. Our gracious host here has been watching since I was in my 40s, and he is far more astute than I am.
Don't get all bent out of shape about it. I'm the guy who wrote that if they got to 80-60 and lost the next 22, the sun would come up the next day. But that game last night, it was wrenching.
@TomBrenholts @PatStuart I'd suggest that Hurdle had no business getting thrown out of the game at that juncture of the game. Okay, you're upset that the ump overreacted and warns both teams about beanballs (I seriously don't think the damn Redlegs were targeting Cutch right then - Wasn't it the 5th or 6th pitch of the at bat with 2 strikes?). So, go out and argue your case and then get back in the dugout and manage the game. I wonder if Hurdle had been in the dugout for the remainder of game if Barmes might have been at SS in the 9th. Why was he put in at SS in the 10th? A little late, no? How about a pitchout or two with Billy Hamilton on 1st base? He was off on the first pitch and a well-executed pitchout would have increased the chance of getting him. What a weapon his speed is.
The Bucs baserunning was also suspect. Martin getting picked off 2nd and Marte off 1st is inexcuseable. Do they not understand how important it is not to give up easy outs? Surely, Russell Martin knows this. Stupid hustle is stupid no matter how you frame it.
Also, can't get it out of my mind how Garrett Jones' swing on that high fastball was so close to sending the pitch into the river. That would have been the sweetest of sweets after the heartburn in the top of the 9th. Nice to see Jones is swinging better. Neil Walker batting right-handed is becoming painful to watch. Might he ever consider not being a switch-hitter in 2014 and beyond?
This was the most devasting Pirate loss for me personally since 1972 NLCS Game 5 - but I have this thing about Cincy and their damn Redlegs. The good thing is we get them for 5 more before a week Monday and then maybe one more after that - ooh boy.
@PatStuart Ahhhh, I'm just mouthing off. I know winning is the best solution.
Maybe it's better to step back from the edge and be more mature. Turn the other cheek. After all, violence just begets more violence. Granted, if someone threw at my head, all my peace talk might fly out the window as I charged the mound.
Great,and 100 more years to you also.After the way the Bucs had performed through most of the ' 50's,and the way the hated NYYs had absolutely demolished them in 3 games , are you kidding me ? I raced home from my High School class for the last two innings on TV,and couldn't believe it when Maz hit that HR. Watching that game several times now,I really wonder how they did it. The Yankees were absolutely LOADED,and personnel wise there were only about 4 Pirate regulars who might have made their roster.
@lee1943 Good luck to you and your heart. I hope you have many years of enjoying life and baeball on this earth. I'm pretty much all better. It's pretty amazing how well many cancers can be treated so accurately now.
Beat 'em Bucs! (I've got to ask....Was Oct. 13, 1960 one of the finest days of your life? - let's say top 10. I was only 8 and I can't remember a better day during my childhood.)
Best of luck with your illness. I also learned late in the Spring that I have a heart condition that proceedures haven't helped,and an operation isn't worth the gamble at my age. So,as a Pirate fan since the Ralph Kiner days,last night's loss,as irritating as it was,has a whole different meaning to me. And,as you might have noticed during tonight's win,professional players look at those things with an entirely different perspective than most fans do. Almost all have learned how to have a very short memory.