Sports Outside the Beltway

Nobody cares? Cincinnati beats Pittsburgh 4-1 in front of sparse crowd

The Pirates have won only 3 of 21 games they have played this month. From AP-

Bronson Arroyo limited Pittsburgh to one run over seven innings and the Cincinnati Reds completed their second sweep of the plummeting Pirates in less than a month, winning 4-1 on Thursday to push the Pirates closer to a 100-loss season.

Joey Votto had a two-run double following Drew Sutton’s RBI double in a four-run third inning against Charlie Morton (4-9) as the Reds won their eighth in a row against the last-place Pirates. The Reds are 15 games ahead of the Pirates in the NL Central standings after falling behind them following a loss on Aug. 22.

Since then, fourth-place Cincinnati is 21-10 — although it remain only one loss away from a ninth consecutive losing season — and Pittsburgh is 5-25. Five more losses by the Pirates will give them 100 on the year.

Pittsburgh, long since assured of a record 17th consecutive losing season, has lost six in a row, nine of 10 and 23 of 26 amid the franchise’s worst September spinout since it was 5-22 in September 1998.

The Pirates have obviously given up for 2009. Speaking from experience, it’s hard to impossible to remain interested in a game or a sport you’re competing in if the outcome is of little or no value. In such situations, the usual inclination is to put up no more effort than is absolutely necessary.

At least for the Pirates’ sake, there weren’t many spectators. The paid attendance was 15,892, but the turnstile count was about 3,000

So Pirate fans are about as enthusiastic as the players are about the closing games of the 2009 season. Or is there another factor at work?

the G-20 summit being staged in downtown Pittsburgh held down the turnout.

The crowd was so small that the Pirates closed PNC Park’s upper deck for the first time since the 38,362-seat ballpark opened in 2001 and allowed fans to sit in the lower level.

Were all fans allowed to sit at field level? May as well, it might encourage people to come back to a game next September when the Pirates are again out of the playoff race.

Crowds of under 1,000 are not unheard of for a MLB game. I remember Atlanta Braves games in the 1970′s being played before such small crowds. A no-hitter in the 1960′s was also played before like 1-2,000 fans.

Fans had to go through metal detectors to enter the park. Combine that with the inconveniences caused by the G-20 summit and the meaninglessness of any games the Pirates play this year, I don’t blame Pittsburgh baseball fans for staying home today.


17 in a row- Chicago Cubs beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 4-2

With today’s loss, the Bucs again assured themselves another losing season. From AP-

The Pittsburgh Pirates’ not-so-magic number is zero, or the number of winning teams they’ve had during a record-setting run of futility over 17 forgettable seasons.

The Chicago Cubs assured the Pirates of an unwanted place in baseball’s record book, getting two homers from Derrek Lee and an effective start from Ted Lilly while beating the last-place Pirates 4-2 on Monday.

By losing their 10th in 11 games, the Pirates are guaranteed of finishing below .500, just as they have every season since 1993. The 17 consecutive losing seasons represent the longest streak for any team in the four major North American pro team sports, and only the Phillies (1933-48) have also had as many as 16 in a row.

In 1950, the Phillies made it to the World Series. A quick survey of the present Pirate roster shows little chance of another Whiz Kids team forming. Therefore I think Pittsburgh’s losing streak will get to 20 or more seasons before it is halted.


20 in a row- Milwaukee Brewers beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 7-3

It is over two years since the Bucs won a game in Milwaukee. From AP-

The streak began when Claudio Vargas beat the Pirates more than two years ago as a starter. After he was released, became a reliever and returned in a trade, the Brewers still haven’t lost to Pittsburgh at home.

Vargas (1-0) threw a scoreless inning in relief of Yovani Gallardo, pinch-hitter Jody Gerut doubled to score the go-ahead run and Milwaukee rallied off Kevin Hart’s wildness for their 20th straight win over the Pirates in Miller Park, beating Pittsburgh 7-3 on Saturday night.

“It’s unbelievable. I played here in ’07 and every time they come here, we win, and every time we go there, we lose,” said Vargas, who went six scoreless innings in a 10-0 win on May 4, 2007. “It’s fun because 20 games straight is real impressive.”

Andy LaRoche homered for the Pirates, but they couldn’t avoid the longest streak by one team over another at home since the Indians beat the Orioles franchise 27 consecutive times at Cleveland Municipal Stadium from 1952-54.

When I first read this, I wondered why the reporter didn’t just say the St. Louis Browns. Then I remembered the Browns transferred to Baltimore after the 1953 season. Unlike the Indians in the 1950′s, the Brewers haven’t been one of the best teams in baseball the last two years. That makes their winning streak pretty remarkable in my opinion.


Pittsburgh Pirates trade 1B Adam LaRoche to Boston for two prospects

After falling out of first place in the AL East, the Boston Red Sox took some steps to shore up their roster.

The Red Sox acquired slumping Pittsburgh Pirates first baseman Adam LaRoche on Wednesday for two midlevel prospects, less than a year after they picked up All-Star outfielder Jason Bay from the Pirates.

“I’m grateful for the opportunity that a team like that wants me,” said LaRoche, who is hitting .109 since July 4.

The Pirates, who have traded five starting position players since last July, will receive Double-A shortstop Argenis Diaz and Class A right-hander Hunter Strickland, an 18th-round draft pick two years ago.

LaRoche is 29-years-old, and may have had his past years already. It can be argued the Pirates knew this and that was the logic behind the trade. IMHO, that is portraying Pittsburgh’s General Manager as far too intelligent and insightful when it comes to judging talent.

Why don’t MLB just declare Pittsburgh a minor league team? Nobody in that organization’s management or ownership appears dedicated to making the franchise even remotely respectable. The Bucs haven’t had a winning season in over a decade.

Old-time baseball fans will recall the Pirates were terrible in the post WW II years also. However it wasn’t for lack of trying. Branch Rickey was GM for some of those years(46-58) and did make an honest effort to overhaul the team. As bad as the Pirates were back then, they went only 9 years without a winning season compared to the 16-year that is going on at present.


Former NY Yankee pitcher Tom Sturdivant dead at 78

He won 59 games in a career that spanned 10 years. He won 36 games in a Yankee uniform, notching 16 victories in both 1956 and 57. He pitched in three World Series alsoRIP


Former MLB pitcher Dave Roberts dead at 64

I remember Roberts. He and Clay Kirby were the 1-2 pitching combo for the Padres in their infant years. His 14-17 2.10 ERA year with the 71 Padres was truly outstanding. For the Padres went 61-100 that year.

Roberts was a journeyman but one able to win over 100 ML games. Which according to wikipedia, makes him the 4th winningest Jewish pitcher in baseball history. He also swung a mean bat for a pitcher as seen in .194 career batting average, 7 career homeruns, and .500 Slugging Pct in 1977 for the Chicago Cubs. RIP.


Former MLB Dock Ellis dead at 63

I remember Ellis from his days pitching with the Pirates. He was a good pitcher, an excellent one in 1971. The story of his pitching a no-hitter while on LSD just doesn’t sound credible. The effect of that drug on people can make even simple activities impossible. RIP.


GM won’t renew sponsorship of Pittsburgh Pirates

Talk about losing investments. From AP-

General Motors’ financial problems are spilling over to another entity that is losing a lot, the Pittsburgh Pirates.

General Motors, currently seeking a bailout worth billions of dollars from the federal government, is not renewing a sponsorship arrangement with the Pirates that expired at the end of last season.

Pittsburgh went 67-95 to tie a major league record with its 16th consecutive losing season.

The Pirates would not estimate Wednesday how much the GM sponsorship was worth, but emphasized the carmaker is ending such deals with other major league teams, not only the Pirates.

I think we’ll see more ripple effects in professional sports from the economic downturn. As of yet, it hasn’t decreased the salaries involved in big name signings.


Veteran reliever Salomon Torres announces his retirement

He saved 28 games last year and was still pitching well. From AP-

Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Salomon Torres retired Tuesday after 12 major league seasons.

The 36-year-old reliever issued a statement through the team saying he wanted to spend more time with his family and faith.

Torres also told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that Brewers GM Doug Melvin was very understanding of his decision.

“I had a wonderful experience in Milwaukee but he knows I am serious about it,” Torres told the newspaper.

Torres was 7-5 with a 3.49 ERA and a career-high 28 saves in 71 relief appearances last season. He had a 44-58 career record with a 4.31 ERA and 57 saves for San Francisco, Seattle, Montreal, Pittsburgh and Milwaukee.

Torres remains on the roster of the Brewers, who have until Saturday to exercise a $3.75 million option with a $300,000 buyout.

Torres took a pass on a great deal of money, there has to be a good reason. The ‘I want to spend more time with my family’ explanation probably shouldn’t be applied to athletes like it to politicians and coaches. Maybe Torres has some family issues. Good luck in retirement Salomon Torres.


Former MLB Pitcher Preacher Roe dead at 92

He was a key member of the Brooklyn Dodgers in the late 40′s and early 50′s. His best year was 1951, when he went 22-3. What was Dodger Manager Charlie Dressen thinking in the famous ‘shot around the world’ game when he pulled Don Newcombe only to put in Ralph Branca. Branca hadn’t just pitched two days earlier but had given up numerous gopher balls to Bobby Thomson. I think 7 alone in 1951. Yes Branca gave the Dodgers the platoon advantage, but based on everything else Preacher Roe was the best available option. Roe, wasn’t used at all in the 3-game series versus the New York Giants. RIP.


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