On August 8th, the Pittsburgh Pirates were 16 games over .500, with an expected win total of 93 games and a 75% chance of making the playoffs. They were 2.5 games behind the National League Central Division leading Cincinnati Reds and 3.5 games ahead of the St. Louis Cardinals for the final Wild Card spot.
On Thursday afternoon, the team lost to the Milwaukee Brewers by the score of 9-7, bringing their record on the season to 74-75 and reminding us that the franchise has not completed a regular season with a .500 record since 1992. Making this all the more heartbreaking is that the Pirates actually looked good on the day, leading 7-4 after seven innings, until their bullpen imploded, allowing four runs in the eighth inning and another in the ninth.
Since August 8th, the team has gone 11-30. They’ve now fallen 16.5 games back of the Cincinnati Reds, 5.5 games behind the St. Louis Cardinals and now, even 3.0 games back of the Milwaukee Brewers, whom they previously enjoyed a 12.5 game lead over. They have less than a one percent chance of seeing the postseason, and are now expected to finish with a sub .500 record once again.
Cincinnati Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips and Pittsburgh Pirates reliever Jared Hughes made up today following their altercation last night, from which Mr. Phillips accused Mr. Hughes of referring to him by the racially insensitive term “boy.” According to reports, Pirates outfield Andrew McCutchen mediated the telephone session that resulted in mutual forgiveness and respect between the two players.
According to Phillips:
We reached out, and me and Mr. Hughes had a great conversation before I came to the stadium today. It was the best thing that ever happened, just talking to him about what happened, talking to him about things that I heard and stuff. It was great to hear what he had to say and him to hear what I had to say. It made us both feel better about the situation. I respect him as a player and a man from the conversation we had. It was just a big misunderstanding. When you say certain things in the heat of the moment, you really don’t mean it. You forgive people. He forgave me. I forgive him. It’s the baseball family. I love him as a brother.
From racially divided enemies to brothers from different mothers in a matter of hours. If only all issues related to racism could be cured so easily.
A couple of weeks ago, The Atlantic published a feature report on the language that Major League Baseball announcers use to describe different players based on their ethnic origins. The findings, hardly surprising, suggested that baseball broadcasters apply a subtle racial bias to their work by being more likely to comment negatively when judging the effort of non-white players than they are for white players.
This isn’t merely a problem for baseball. It’s something that permeates most of the developed world. While progress has been made in terms of racial equality, it’s foolish to suggest that racism has been conquered and eliminated. While outlandish displays of prejudice based on skin color or background are easily spotted and often labelled as bad behaviour, we still struggle with the inherent racism that acts as an antiquated remnant of our past mistakes.
It thankfully remains a relatively rare occurrence to see overtly racist outbursts, but nonetheless they do occur. And according to Cincinnati Reds second baseman, one occurred last night in his team’s extra inning victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates.
As of Saturday morning, the Pittsburgh Pirates sit just 1.5 games out of a wild card spot in the National League. If Friday night’s debacle versus the Chicago Cubs at PNC Park is any sort of measure with which the Pirates’ chances could be represented by, then it appears that the focal point of this story book’s happy ending will be rooted in winning 82 games as opposed to a post-season berth.
The Pirates committed seven errors en route to a 12-2 loss to the Cubs. Rookies Starling Marte and Brock Holt registered two errors each while Rod Barajas, Josh Harrison and Gaby Sanchez also flubbed otherwise routine plays. It was every bit as ugly as one would imagine. And efficient. All seven errors were committed before the end of the 7th inning.
On today’s Getting Blanked Show, we recommit to awesomeness, discuss Bryce Harper’s two home run night and subsequent temper tantrum, Pedro Alvarez’s dominance of the St. Louis Cardinals and other stuff that might just change your life if you watch or listen to it.
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Josh Beckett, Pirates sadness, Felix is great (he beat the Twins, not the Clevelands as I incorrectly state during the show), Dustin Parkes makes a BOLD statement which sends the show crashing to a halt, and the weird and wonderful world of Mark Teixeira’s shifts – all today on the Getting Blanked show! Any show that starts with praise for Darren Oliver is probably going to be a good one.
For a while now, it’s seemed like the beginning of the end for the Pittsburgh Pirates’ run toward the post season. In their last 20 games, the Bucs are 7-13. Entering play on Thursday, they are 8.5 games out in the National League Central. But other teams have faltered, too, so the Pirates find themselves just a half game behind the Cardinals for the second wild card spot. Still, the Pirates need to stop the bleeding, and soon.
In last week’s Impact Index, we looked at Wil Nieves of the Diamondbacks and Chase Headley of the Padres who, in two different games, killed the Pirates with huge, late-inning hits. Today’s Impact Index highlights a member of the Pirates who is single-handedly keeping the Pirates afloat down the stretch.