According to his bio, the Post-Gazette’s Dejan Kovacevic has been watching the Pirates since 1972. He’s been writing about sports since 1990 and covering the Pirates since 2005. He’s seen highs, and he’s seen a ton of lows (some of which were the result of highs). In light of that, when he says something like this, you have to take heed:
These Pirates are on a course to prove conclusively that they, and
not some predecessors, are the worst team in the franchise’s 124 years.
His reasoning is sound. While the Pirates’ current 109-loss pace doesn’t put them in record-setting or even franchise worst territory, Kovacevic correctly notes that due to increased player movement and a greater number of teams in each league you just don’t see as many utterly putrid clubs as you used to see back in the day. Sure, I’d consider making a case for that 1890 Alleghenys squad who gave up 1235 runs in a 136-game schedule, but there were extenuating circumstances there, with most of the players jumping ship to the Players League in mid season. But yeah, I get where Dejan is coming from.
His article made me go look back at the Pirates’ history, and maybe the most shocking thing about this is that the 2010 Pirates are going to be only the second team in Pittsburgh’s 18-year run of futility that will lose 100 games. I probably would have taken the over on three or four to be honest.
James Paxton of the Mariners is 3-0 with a 1.39 ERA, 39 strikeouts and only six walks in 32.1 innings of work over five starts. Last night he shut the Tigers down, tossing seven shutout innings, striking out nine and allowing only four hits. With Felix Hernandez looking less than king-like lately, Paxton is asserting himself as the new ace of the Seattle staff.
And now the tall Canadian native has a nickname to match his ace-like status:
“Pax was really outstanding and we certainly needed it,” manager Scott Servais said of the Canadian southpaw. “Big Maple is what he was nicknamed tonight and I kind of like that. He was awesome.”
“Big Maple” is a fantastic nickname. That’s the sort of nickname guys used to get back when nicknames were great. Before managers just put “y” at the end of dudes’ names and before the “First Initial-First Three Letters of The Last Name” convention took hold in the wake of A-Rod.
“Big Maple.” That makes me smile. I’m gonna be smiling all dang day because of that.
I mentioned this in the recaps this morning, but I think it deserves it’s own special place. Get what went down in the second inning of last night’s Rays-O’s game:
Ryan Flaherty was on first with Seth Smith up to bat. Smith hit a single to center. Flaherty, who was running with the pitch, was making for third base. All-world defender Kevin Kiermaier tried to gun him down but threw wildly to third, causing Flaherty to break for home.
Pitcher Alex Cobb had the play backed up, however! He got the ball near the dugout. Flaherty scampered back to third and Cobb tried to throw him out. The ball hit Flaherty’s helmet, richocheting into left field, allowing both Flaherty and Smith — who had stopped at first and then stopped at second, like a kid at tee ball or something — to come around and score.
I still think the Rays walking home the winning run on four pitches in the 11th inning was worse, but this looked worse.
Oh well: the Rays get the day off today and tomorrow, of course, is another day.