Monday, August 30, 2010


LEFT: Let's just be kind and say that there was nothing sexy about the Pirates (or Steelers) losses yesterday as both teams were "doubled-up" as the phrase goes. "Yer Buccos" lost their 13th straight on the road 8-4, while not to be outdone, "Yer Stillers" stunk up Denver for a 34-17 shellacking.

If you are a fan of Pittsburgh sports, let's just say that yesterday was not your day.

In the first half of this miserable Sunday twin bill, the Pittsburgh Pirates trotted out hapless Charlie Morton, he of the +9 ERA and 1-9 record and the look of a "deer in the headlights". When it was all over, the Pirates had lost another one, this time by an 8 to 4 score and Morton now had a +10 ERA and 1-10 record. The Pirates now have a road record of 13 wins, one million losses.

I am at a point with Morton where I feel that he has now joined Zach Duke as a batting practice pitcher in the rotation. After being relegated to Triple-A, Morton came back and in his first opportunity failed to challenge hitters, instead trying to finesse pitch counts. Here’s a good question: where is the manager in between innings or even the pitching coach for that matter? How can they sit still for this???

The rest of the team also seems to be becoming more and more detached from the reality of what winning baseball really requires in the majors. Of course, I believe that like anyone else, human nature takes over in these types of situations. The players themselves get so demoralized having to back up pathetic pitchers (such as those that the Pirates routinely send out to the mound) that their own performances begin to suffer as a result. Charlie Morton has been such a supreme disappointment that if I were Neil Huntington, I would not wait until the end of the season, I would cut him today. This would also send a valuable message to the rest of the underperforming members of the Pirates that their actions do indeed have a consequence. I would then install Daniel McCutchen into Morton’s spot in the rotation. At least McCutchen, to his credit,still seems to be interested in competing.

As if another loss wasn’t bad enough, reliever Evan Meek was injured when a line drive hit his right wrist. What initially looked like may have been a broken bone apparently is nothing worse than a very bad bruise. It’s pretty bad when that’s the best thing that you can point to as a result from an entire ballgame.

In the nightcap of Sunday’s dismal double-header, the Pittsburgh Steelers, in a, “full dress rehearsal,” according to coach Mike Tomlin, looked more like trick-or-treaters masquerading as a Halloween Pittsburgh Steeler team in their Sunday night tilt against the Denver Broncos. The Black & Gold suffered a very disappointing 34-17 loss in the Mile High City.

From the opening kickoff (that was knuckleballed out of bounds by kicker Daniel Sepulveda by the way) this game was a comedy of errors the likes of which the Steelers have not foisted on their loyal fan base since at least last year’s losses to Kansas City, Oakland, or Cleveland. It was hard to truly think of a game where the team looked so bad in so many aspects…until you thought back to several of last year’s fiascoes. I hope we're not seeing the continuation of a trend here.

The only guy who seemed to have a decent game was, ironically, Ben Roethlisberger, and he won’t be around for another 4 to 6 weeks anyway. The other three quarterbacks were all miserable. The defense looked a step behind, the offensive line was out of sync, receivers ran wrong routes, a rookie punt returner fielded a punt on the 1 yard line and a second-year defensive back incurred two personal foul penalties, causing Tomlin to bench him. Other than that, it was a great game.

ABOVE: Linebacker James Farrior had nothing to smile about last night. Methinks that Mike Tomlin may be of the same school of thought after "viewing the tape".

Linebacker James Farrior suffered a nasty cut to the forehead when his helmet was knocked off thus taking him out of the fray. The only positive that you could possibly take from this mess is that other than Farrior’s cut, the team seems to have come through the game without any other major injuries.

But make no mistake about it, this team looked horrible in virtually every facet of the game. If this was a dress rehearsal for the opening of a Broadway show, I think it would be safe to say that that show would be a flop.

Maybe this was an aberration? Maybe this team will turn it around? Maybe this game will serve as a wakeup call? I don't know, but I sure hope so, because seeing a continuation of the Pittsburgh Pirates season lasting into December would be more than I think I could bear.