Pirates In The Dumps: Who Is at Fault?

David MatuszakContributor IJuly 31, 2009

PITTSBURGH - APRIL 13:  Freddy Sanchez #12 of the Pittsburgh Pirates stands ready at bat during the Opening Day game against the Houston Astros at PNC Park on April 13, 2009 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

The City of Pittsburgh has had a lot to celebrate over the first half of 2009. The Steelers beat out the Arizona Cardinals to win their sixth Lombardi Trophy; and just as the dust had settled from the big game and its aftermath, the Penguins make the playoffs. After a few months, they came out on top in glorious fashion to once agin bring the Stanley Cup to Pittsburgh.

It is summer now however. The Penguins are enjoying some well deserved time off, and the Steelers are gearing up for the upcoming season. There is another team in Pittsburgh however, a baseball team. That's right folks, the Pirates.

They have not enjoyed the success of the City's other teams. In fact many of the team's younger fans do not remember the last time the team had a playoff run, or even the last time they made the playoffs period.

So whose really at fault here? Is it the team's management, or is it the team's fan base, or lack thereof?

Let's start with the fans. PNC Park opened in time for the 2001 season; over 20 years after the pirates had won a World Series, and nine years after they finished over .500. For a city like Pittsburgh this seems like an eternity; and it shows!

Since PNC Park opened in 2001, the average attendance per game has been around 22,400 over eight seasons not including 2009. The Park has the capability to hold over 38,300 fans. That leaves a whole bunch of seats open and a whole bunch of money lost.

Granted, the Pirates do have a loyal fan base that is waiting patiently and using that famous line "well, they'll be better next season," but that will not sell out a stadium.

The team now falls into managment's hands in order to produce something that will draw the crowds back for the first time in years; something that is, beside an All Star Game.

This season, many Pittsburghers saw a glimmer of hope for the Pirates. A team emerged from Spring Training with promising names such as Freddy Sanchez, Adam LaRoche, Jack Wilson; and some up and coming pitchers such as Ian Snell, John Grabow, and Tom Gorzelanny.

Who is still there from the above names?


All of them were traded away on supposedly good deals, leaving the team's destiny this season; well, dismal to say the least. Have no fear though, these players may be ready for next season, but Pittsburghers want results now.

So who is at fault here? Is it the fans continually jumping on and off the band wagon? Or is it the team's management who seems to disobey a rule of business; one has to spend money in order to make money?

Only time will tell.