The Pirates have lost four in a row and eight out of 11 to fall two games behind the Cardinals for the second Wild Card spot. And things aren’t that pretty off the field either.
According to Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Pirates players are angry at ownership for scheduling a charity event on the team’s scheduled off-day on Thursday. The twist is that it was scheduled the morning after the team returned from their West Coast trip. Kovacevic hears that the team had a bus waiting on the tarmac after their five-hour flight from San Diego to take the players to the Pirates Charities Sporting Clays Invitational at the Seven Springs Resort owned by team chairman Bob Nutting. Yes, after getting swept by the Padres, they were forced to shoot some clay pigeons.
Players who participated in the June 11 Pirates Charities Golf Classic were excused from the shoot, but that still left 10 players who were told to go, including a few key performers, plus pretty much everyone else who’d been on the plane.
What a blast it must have been.
The bus capped the 90-minute drive at Seven Springs by the crack of dawn, way early for the morning session that began at 10:30 and ended at 1 p.m.
By the time all were bused back to PNC Park, retrieved their cars and drove home, it was about 4 p.m.
The day was as shot as those pigeons.
Of the several players with whom I spoke Thursday at PNC Park before that beat-goes-on 6-5 loss to the Brewers, every last one of them fumed over it, though none would speak on the record.
“It’s a pennant race,” one player said. “Maybe everyone around here will realize that at some point.”
Kovacevic later notes that the 10 players involved were given the choice to participate in the shoot as scheduled or have it pushed back to September 6 when they had a true off-day with no travel. They elected to get it over with on Thursday. I don’t expect anyone to feel sorry for millionaire athletes and charity is an important part of their duties, but this is just some really awful scheduling, regardless of whether the Pirates are contending or not.