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Pirates fans are coming out of the woodwork

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This is by no means a scientific analysis but I think Pirates fans are starting to accept that this team is not going to crater on them and leave them sad for the 20 some-odth year in a row.

I base this on the fact that I wore my Pirates cap out in public last night and people got excited. It wasn’t for a long time. I only wore it to grab some food. But in that short amount of time out I had two people comment on it. Comment one was a long thing from the guy at the bar talking about how, finally, it’s “our” year and how “we” can finally wear Pirates gear with pride.  The other one was just a thumbs up and a “go Pirates” from a guy who was entering the restaurant as I was leaving.

I didn’t have the heart to tell either of these guys that I wasn’t a Pirates fan and that I tend to wear caps from any of a half dozen different teams at any given time simply because I like caps.

As for these guys: I didn’t get a sense of bandwagoning here. I mean, I can’t be sure, as there are now all kinds of Steelers fans in Columbus that never existed here before they got good again in the 90s and 2000s, and perhaps there is just some local affinity for winning Pittsburgh teams at work.  But I was here in the early 90s too and no one really got on the Pirates bandwagon then, so I sort of doubt this is what’s going on. These are people who probably always liked them but simply had nothing to cheer about for years and years. Now they do and, God, how good it must feel to finally be able to say something nice about their rooting interest.

But whether they’re bandwagon or genuine fans, I expect I’ll see a lot more of this over the next couple of months. I assume the Pirates will become a fashionable rooting interest among the otherwise non-aligned. And those who were always aligned, albeit silently, will finally be able to enjoy some October baseball. And we should enjoy that for their sake.

At least until they become insufferable like every other fan of every other winning team eventually does.

Are the Cardinals about to go on a free agent binge?

John Mozeliak AP
Associated Press
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The Cardinals have always emphasized building from within. In the 2016-17 offseason, however, they may end up being one of the bigger free agent buyers. At least according to some informed speculation.

St. Louis is already in agreement with Dexter Fowler. But Derrick Goold and Ben Frederickson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch write today that the Cardinals “could become more aggressive than previously believed,” with Mark Trumbo and Edwin Encarnacion as “possible pursuits.” Worth noting that separate reports alleged some interest on the part of the Cards front office in free agent third baseman Justin Turner.

The Cardinals are already losing their first round pick due to the Fowler signing, so any other top free agent won’t cost them more than the money he’s owed. And as far as money goes, the Cardinals have a great deal of it, despite being a small market team. They have a billion dollar TV deal coming online and Matt Holliday and Jaime Garcia are off the payroll now. Spending big on a free agent or three would not cripple them or anything.

Encarnacion or Trumbo would be first baseman, which wold fly in the face of the Cards’ move of Matt Carpenter to first base (and, at least as far as Encarnacion goes, would fly in the face of good defense). Getting either of them would push Carpenter back to second, displacing Kolten Wong, or over to third, displacing Jhonny Peralta. If you’re going to do that, I’d say that Turner would make more sense, but what do I know?

Either way, the Cardinals may be entering a pretty interesting phase of their offseason now. And an unfamiliar one as, quite possibly, the top free agent buyer on the market.

 

Bobby Valentine on short list to be U.S. Ambassador to Japan

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 12:  Former MLB player Bobby Valentine attends Annual Charity Day hosted by Cantor Fitzgerald, BGC and GFI at BGC Partners, INC on September 12, 2016 in New York City.  (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for Cantor Fitzgerald)
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There is literally nothing you could tell me that the incoming administration is considering which would shock me anymore. As such, I saw this story when I woke up this morning, blinked once, took a sip of coffee, closed the browser window and just went on with my morning, as desensitized as a wisdom tooth about to be yanked.

Rob Bradford of WEEI.com reports that Former Red Sox, Mets and Rangers manager Bobby Valentine is on a short-list of candidates for the job of United States Ambassador to Japan:

The 66-year-old, who currently serves as Sacred Heart University’s athletics director, has engaged in preliminary discussions with President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team regarding the position.

When contacted Thursday night, Valentine refused comment.

Huh. Given his history, I’d have assumed Valentine would be a better choice for the CIA, but what do I know?

Valentine managed the Chiba Lotte Marines of Japan’s Pacific League for six seasons, leading the team to a championship in 2005. He also knows the current prime minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, as both went to USC. Assuming championship teams meet the country’s leader in Japan like they do in the United States, Valentine has at least twice the amount of experience with top political leaders than does, say, Ned Yost, so that’s something.

The former manager, more importantly, is friends with Donald Trump’s brother, with the two of them going way back. Which, given how this transition is going, seems like a far more important set of qualifications than anything else on this list.