1992. This was the last year where the Pittsburgh Pirates had a winning season. This was when the organization spoke the word that makes fans cringe when they hear it. The team is rebuilding. The problem for Pirates’ fans is this team has been rebuilding for the past 16 years, and it shows no signs of stopping.
Last season the fans of Pittsburgh thought perhaps that they finally had something to cheer about. A young stud by the name Nate McLouth had a breakout season with 26 home runs, 94 runs batted in, 23 stolen bases and made the All-Star team as a starter in his first full season.
The Pirates then decided to make him a key part of a new young nucleus of players by signing him to a multi-year $3.5 million contract with 1.5 of that guaranteed up front, according to espn.com.
For the first time, Pirates’ fans witnessed their team spend “big money” to hang on to a player who had a great season and made a commitment to keeping him in Pittsburgh.
Then came the news yesterday that fans did not want to hear; although, knowing the Pirates’ organization, probably should have expected. They proceeded to trade McLouth to the Atlanta Braves for three unready and untested prospects. Why does this team continue to do this to us?
If you ask the Pirates’ General Manger Neil Huntington why he did it, he will tell you it was because the Pirates needed to get younger while at the same time acquiring more talent. How much younger does the team need to get? McLouth was only going into his second year as a starter and was only 27. This talent he speaks of is speculation at best.
This has become a common theme for the Pirates, though. Last season fans saw the departure of Jason Bay to Boston and Xavier Nady to New York. These were two guys that the Pirates considered as key players to the team’s future.
Anytime one of their so-called prized prospects comes up and shows any signs of greatness, the franchise tags them as a key part to this team’s future and then sends them right out the door for more prospects.
You start to get the feeling that the Pirates are simply toying with their fans’ emotions. Maybe they figure that with having the best ballpark in America and cheap tickets to go along with it, fans will just keep coming, even though the team is losing.
I quite frankly believe that the glory days of PNC Park are soon behind Pirates fans. I wouldn’t hesitate to guess that fans would rather see their team win in the old run-down Three Rivers Stadium than watch the team continue to lose in the new one. Besides, how much longer do they expect people to pay for hot dogs and beer that cost more than their seats?
If they would just simply commit to the young players they have now, allow them to prove themselves for more than a year, then go out and add key veteran pieces they would be able to charge normal ticket prices.
Let’s be honest here though. This is the Pirates organization we are talking about. They have not changed in 16 years of losing, so why should we expect anything else? Let’s Go Bucs!