Nearly 20 years ago (1992 to be more exact) the Pittsburgh Pirates front office decided to rebuild the team in order to bring up new talent.
Remember now, 20 years ago the Bosnian War was just getting started, Sinead O’Connor ripped up a picture of the Pope on Saturday Night Live, "Aladdin" was the No. 1 movie at the box office, Grunge, rock ‘n’ roll and good music in general was still alive, and last but not least George H.W. Bush was still the President.
Anyway, the Pirates got rid of Barry Bonds and anybody else who was due to get a big raise. Bonds of course would go on to cement his legacy in San Francisco. Some people probably don’t remember Bonds once played for the Pirates when they were still considered a contender.
Fast forward to the 2011 All-Star break, the Pirates are at 47-43. For the first time in years there is hope for Pirates fans (what’s left of them that is). Led by new manager Clint Hurdle and first-time All-Star Andrew McCutchen, the Pirates are just one game out of first place. This article will not predict if the Pirates can have a winning season. Instead this article will examine the two reasons why the Pittsburgh Pirates are even winning in the first place.
The first reason is All-Star talent. Starting pitcher Kevin Correia, closer Joel Hanrahan, and outfielder Andrew McCutchen have supplied innings, clutch saves and home runs for the Pirates in the first half.
McCutchen is already two home runs away from equaling his career high and is proving to be a five-tool player with 15 stolen bases. Hanrahan has shown in his first season as a full-time closer that he deserves the spot, posting a 1.34 ERA with 26 saves. Correia has been a pleasant surprise as well; he is among the league leaders with 11 wins.
The second, final and most important reason why the Pirates are winning is new manager Clint Hurdle. The former manager for the Colorado Rockies and more recently the hitting coach for the Texas Rangers has brought over a positive attitude to Pittsburgh. Needless to say the words ‘positive’ and ‘Pirates’ have been rarely used in conjunction for the last 18 years.
With his guidance the young team has become a legitimate threat to those who used to write them off years ago. Not a powerhouse, necessarily but a threat nonetheless. One other thing Hurdle has done is convince his boys they can win. That’s the most important thing in Pittsburgh right now; Clint Hurdle has his players believing.
Sometimes believing is all that matters.