This idea started last year, when I realized that no Pirate would get any actual awards. I was semi-wrong when Nate McLouth took the Gold Glove award, but that award has a criteria that is very flawed. While Andrew McCutchen and Garrett Jones have chances at Rookie of the Year Award honors, it seems unlikely that it will happen. With that said, here are the nominees and winners of this year’s Pirate Awards.
1. Andrew McCutchen- It only makes sense that we start off with the team’s leadoff hitter. His dazzling speed and late game heroics made fans out of many. He is in the team’s plans for the long haul.
2. Garrett Jones- GFJ is up here because quite frankly, he was a joy to watch. He hit the most home runs among rookies and he was versitile playing first base as well as left and right field. While he is an old rookie because he was stuck behind Justin Morneau on the Twins, he never let that faze him.
3. Ross Ohlendorf- Ross pitched very well all season for the Pirates earning a team leading 11 victories. While he did not pitch the entire season due to inning limitations, Ohlendorf showcased his stuff especially in the second half of the season.
4. Zach Duke- Duke made a 5 game improvement this season winning 10 games this year. He also is an accomplished hitter, and if you don’t believe me, then watch him during batting practice at the ballpark. Duke was able to locate his fastball much better this season making himself much more effective this season.
The Winner: Andrew McCutchen
Cutch gets the award, because he was consistent all season long. Duke led the league in losses this year because of a lack of run support, but his earned run average started to pile on as the season continued. Ohlendorf was inconsistent for half of a season, and Jones was terrible when it came to hitting with runners on. You kind of knew what you would get with Cutch, and thus he is the team’s MVP.
1. Brandon Moss- While he won the starting right field job in April, he never really showed promise. While he was clutch for a short while in August, most of the time fans groaned and booed when he came to bat. The only reason he is still a Pirate is because if he were sent to Triple-A another team may claim him.
2. Brian Bixler- Another year gone, same Bixler. He shows all kinds of potential in Triple-A, but always appears overmatched in the Majors. In that sense he is very much like John Van Benschoten. Not much to write about him because plain and simple, he is just not that good.
3. Ryan Doumit- Doumit was doing a decent job catching in April, and then he got injured. While he is a leader on this team, it seems as if he does not practice what he preaches. He argued with John Russell and he did not really do anything positive that opened eyes when he returned.
4. Matt Capps- This was not the “Big Bull Rider” that I know. He was just inconsistent this season and he was a total mess.
The “Winner” (?): Matt Capps
Capps just was not the same this year. He just didn’t save games consistently for us and if there was not a save situation (please see games against Phillies, Dodgers, etc..), he was atrocious. I don’t get why the Pirates are going to give him an offer this offseason.
1. Zach Duke- He seemed more in control than I ever remember. He nearly pitched four complete games to tie for the NL lead (thanks John Russell) and was the best offensive pitcher.
2. Ross Ohlendorf- Wow, what a change a year makes. “Ross the Boss” went back and forth on using his sinker or his fastball, and his mix confused the hitters facing him. In the second half of the season, hitters did not want to face Ross Ohlendorf.
3. Andy LaRoche- A year ago he was below the Adam LaRoche line, and now, he has come back to be the player I thought he was. Offensively, he led the team in runs batted in with 62, and he very well could be the National League’s best defensive third baseman thanks in large part to Perry Hill.
The Winner: Ross Ohlendorf
I wrote on this blog last year that Ross Ohlendorf was the worst September call up. I wrote that he was visibly overmatched, and that he should not be a starter let alone be on the Pirates. I can now admit that I am wrong, and I am proud to do so. He led the team in games won easily passing Paul Maholm’s 2008 total of 9 and thus wins the award.
Moment of the Year:
1. Taking 2 out of 3 from the Phillies- Many in Pittsburgh, myself included thought that the Pirates had no shot against the Phils. Afterall, we had struggled against them at Citizens Bank Park, and it was clear that they were the more superior team. Still an Andrew McCutchen walk off sparked the team and they stunned the Phillies taking the series against them.
2. Taking 3 of 4 from the Dodgers- Just like the scenario before this one, LA dominated us at their ballpark and there was not much expectation here. Still we took 3 out of 4 from a team that advanced to the NLCS and still has a shot of winning the World Series. That is pretty cool if you ask me.
3. Triple Play vs Cincy- It was just a spur of the moment kind of thing, but luck struck for the Pirates, and although they lost the game, it has to be on the highlight reel. You can’t deny the pop fly caught by Jack Wilson, who tossed to Freddy Sanchez, who tossed to Adam LaRoche to complete the triple play. You also can’t deny the fact that none of them are wearing a Pirates uniform any more.
The Winner: Taking 3 of 4 from the Dodgers
This was almost as tough as deciding the MVP winner, and there were a ton more nominees I could choose from. It’s just before that series we were on a massive losing streak and we had just had a game were just about 3,000 fans attended and the upper deck was closed. It also captured the image of a 4 run ninth inning to win the third game of the series as well as Zach Duke pitching a near perfect game to win the final game of the series.
Best Midseason Acquisition:
1. Hunter Strickland- Simply put he combined to pitch a no-hitter almost immediately after being acquired. The last time I heard no-hitter here was 1997.
2. Lastings Milledge- Although he did not make immediate impact, causing many fans to want Nyjer Morgan back, Milledge came around, having a wonderful September and making a believer out of Pirates fans.
3. Tim Alderson- Although some were confused by him getting traded for Freddy Sanchez, Alderson has quality stuff and more importantly great potential.
The Winner: Tim Alderson
I am fairly excited by his potential, and I think he can be a front end starter. It would have been hard to keep Freddy financially and the trade worked to our advantage as Freddy got injured while playing for the Giants.
Most Improved in Minors:
1. Daniel McCutchen- He led triple-A in wins when he got his September call up, and after getting adjusted to pitching in the Majors did a decent job for the team.
2. Rudy Owens- The Pirates Minor League pitcher of the year showed promise and could be a star for years to come.
3. Starling Marte- He had a nice record and he always got my attention. He made me want to read what happened in the Minors every day.
The Winner: Daniel McCutchen
I got a decent look at him in September, and I think he could be either the fifth starter or long reliever. He has been with Ross Ohlendorf seemingly every where he goes, so why can’t he be the most improved next year?
Worst September call up?
1. Brian Bixler- I mean come on, why bring up Bixler. He is overmatched and is a liability defensively. Need I say more?
2. Neil Walker- I love his potential but it just wasn’t there offensively.
3. Virgil Vasquez- Didn’t fair well when he was first called up, so why did you call him up?
4. Eric Hacker- Had only three appearances and his first had exactly one person clap to welcome him. Did I mention that the game was at PNC Park? Oh and his ERA? 6.00.
The “Winner” (??): Brian Bixler
Just a waste of breath and space. It is rare when he plays, and even rarer that he does something right.
1. Bob Walk- Has a great sense of humor and can be fairly random. With the team we have, funny and random is good.
2. Tim Neverett- He replaced Lanny Frattare (retirement) and although I was expecting the worse, he did a nice job. Needs to work a bit more on saying things in different ways.
3. Greg Brown- Everytime I hear him, there always is a “gees” in whatever he is saying. Not a bad “voice of the Pirates” though.
4. Steve Blass- Last year’s winner was honored for his decades long ties to the team.
The Winner: Bob Walk
It’s got to be Bob Walk, he easily takes it this year.
1. Delwyn Young- I wasn’t expecting much from him because of what we traded away to get him, but we got a steal. This guy is an ideal utility man because he can play everywhere in the field, but he has a solid bat to go with it.
2. Zach Duke- Pretty much everything said above goes here as well.
3. Garrett Jones- You saw what he did in Spring Training, but did you really think he would make it to the Pirates, let alone go on such a tear?
The Winner: Garrett Jones
Jones went from a nobody to a somebody. No one expected this out of Jones.
1. McCutchen’s three HR game: It was nice to see Cutch rake since he is not known for his power. The curtain call has to be one of the highlights of the season.
2. Duke’s complete game home opener: I was in the Lexus Club, and I saw Duke in total control of the Astros all game long. The fist pump he made after the final out told the whole story.
3. Craig Monroe hits two three run home runs vs. the Braves: Monroe, who no longer is a Pirate, seemed to have a thing for three run home runs in his short time with us.
4. Andy LaRoche’s perfect day vs. his former team: I can’t think of any thing better than going five for five with two home runs against your former team.
The Winner: Zach Duke’s Home Opener
Just total control from start to finish. The Astros never stood a chance. It also is worth a mention that Duke had a double that game too.
Coach of the Year:
1. Joe Kerrigan- He transformed many players from Zach Duke to Ross Ohlendorf. He also was loyal to his guys and was the only guy who really stood up for Ian Snell (before Snell blamed him for his problems).
2. Don Long- His extra time spent with Delwyn Young seemed to pay off and in some of the series against big time teams, his work showed with the comebacks and walk offs.
3. Tony Beasley- Despite a death in the family, “Beas” pressed on, and did a solid job.
4. Perry Hill- Although it seems unlikely that Perry Hill will come back to the Pirates, he transformed Andy LaRoche into an elite fielder and Delwyn Young as a solid second baseman.
The Winner: Perry Hill
This was probably the hardest decision of all. A case really could have been made for Kerrigan or Hill. I think I was swayed by Kerrigan staying one more year and Hill likely not. Hill did a good job as the infield instructor and the Pirates raised their intensity defensively.
1. Cutch (Andrew McCutchen)
2. GFJ (Garrett Jones)
3. Ross the Boss (Ross Ohlendorf)
4. Big Bull Rider (Matt Capps)
The Winner: GFJ
I mean come on it stands for Garrett Freaking Jones. It doesn’t get much cooler than that.
Best Inning Break Activity:
1. Pirate Quiz- Nice game just pick an answer and either take what you won or go for the box of mystery.
2. Press Your Buc- Played under the rules of the game by a similar name, the contestant presses a button and stops on a prize or a whammy.
3. Bucco- Nice little Plinko game where if you get in the middle you when a 10 game pack or other prizes.
4. Perogie Race- Even though there is a meeting in the Park where it is determined who wins, it is still cool to watch, especially if you are one who bets money on the race.
The Winner: Pirate Quiz
I will admit that I am a little biased because I have been on Pirate Quiz, but still I like this game more than the others because at least there are some variables that change. Still, I couldn’t find a picture to capture the victory of Pirate Quiz so I guess I’ll have to satisfy demands by putting this up instead.
That wraps up this year’s edition of the Pirates Awards. Agree or disagree, feel free to comment. Until next year, may all gloves be golden and all seasons winning.
So I was unable to go to the 9/25 Pirates game because of G-20. The person I was to go with wanted to go until he found out about G-20 and decided to back out, a decision I would agree with.
I went 9/26 to the ballpark and was given seats in section 114 on Thursday instead of the section 327 I was supposed to sit in. I had a nicer view, but other than that, talking some of my family who was sitting next to us and a nice Skyblast performance by Foreigner not much occured.
That brings us to Fan Appreciation Day my twenty-fourth Pirates game of the season (not bad for a seventeen year old who doesn’t have season tickets). I was to sit in section 7 row K, however, I ended up not sitting there. Why you might ask, well I got a seat upgrade to here.
I got free Lexus Club tickets (my second time in the Lexus Club) as my step-uncle gave my dad, my friend Colston and I the tickets as everyone else was afraid of the rain. The day was off to a good start for sure.
The Lexus Club opened at 12, and we all went inside. My dad had already given me Wendy’s before he knew about the Lexus Club seats so I was not hungry at the time. I knew that from 12-12:30 the Pirates were at the gates taking pictures with fans and we immediately went to the elevator to get there. As you can tell from the previous picture, I had my bp jersey on, but underneath had my blue under armour on for later reasons.
Colston and I ran to the bottom and said our good-byes to the person I always bought Pirates memorabilia from. We have become familiar with each other over the past couple of seasons. We then prepared to get pictures taken.
Our first stop was the left field entrance and Tony Beasley. Beasley and I are friends, and he still remembers me from Bowling With the Bucs all the way back in May. He told me that he looks forward to seeing me next season. Here is a picture of us.
Also in that area was John Russell and Matt Capps, while Charlie Morton and Donnie Veal signed endless autographs.
Next on the list was the Highmark Legacy Square entrance and Andy LaRoche. I had never had any previous encounters with him and did not know much. There were lines for everyone and I wanted LaRoche for the intrigue reason. When I got to him, I asked him if he got to meet Foreigner and he told me that he never really got a chance to meet them, but that he really wanted to. As I was about to get the pic, Colston’s batteries died. A big setback that cost us later, Colston had to take a couple of minutes to get the new batteries in. Andy was very patient, and then this was the result.
I then went over to Evan Meek and Ronny Cedeno. They were over there, and I had no idea how much time was left for photos. Still, I never got to interact with Cedeno over the season, and the last time I interacted with Meek was Bowling With the Bucs is May, and he was drunk and hammered. So for curiousity and giggles, this was the result.
Because Zach Duke had quite a line, I went to my last stop over there, and it was Jeff Karstens and Denny Bautista. I am not sure why Bautista can’t smile, but this is the result.
I went back to the left field gate, where I posed with Lastings Milledge, and I’ll put the result at the very end of this blog.
I then left the Highmark Legacy Square and headed over to the Riverwalk entrance and saw Perry Hill, Don Long and Brandon Moss among others. However, I had my eyes set on a bigger target, and by big, I meant big.
Garrett Jones was over there, and there were three seperate lines for him, that’s how messy things got. As I was getting near the front of the line, one of the Cannonball Crew ladies said that there was three minutes left and about a minute later, I got this shot.
We then ran to the right field entrance to try and get McCutchen, and got there just as McCutchen was leaving. I was painfree in my knee all day until that run, and that was not fun. However, I’ll get him at Photofest, so I guess it’s not that big of a loss. Those two minutes changing the batteries cost us dearly. Still about a minute later, we went through the same door McCutchen did as we had Lexus Club access and others jealously looked at us.
When we took the elevator, we were told to take another to get to the Lexus Club, however when we got there, I saw two players on the Dodgers signing, so I went down to get my baseball signed. What I didn’t realize was that I didn’t take off my Pirates BP Jersey and the Dodgers players would see me in Pirates colors.
Still, I guess that did not matter to former Pirate Ronald Belisario (first picture) and George Sherrill (second picture) as they signed my baseball anyways.
So after that we went over to the Lexus Club and took our seats after trying to get Delwyn Young to sign my baseball.
Soon after, I ran into my good friend Joe Klimchak (pictured below) and we talked about the season ending and being in the Lexus Club again. He’s going to let me be on an in-game entertainment show, and we parted ways.
With that we took our seats and I got a hot dog to get the Lexus festivities started.
Not much occured until the second inning when I was given an additional free ticket for the Dodgers dugout, front row. I immediately took my Pirates uniform off, and headed over there. With two outs left in the Pirates half of the inning, I took my seat. It wasn’t long before Luis Cruz struck out for out number three.
Immediately afterwards, Dodgers catchers Russell Martin (pictured in the end of the blog) and I made direct eye contact, and he threw me the baseball he had just used, and he didn’t even switch it (it was thrown by Clayton Kershaw). I was on the board in a big way.
After that, I went back to the Lexus Club to relax for a little while, understanding there was work to be done later.
It was nice to be back in the Lexus Club once again, as there was plenty of good times and all kinds of free food and drinks to boot.
Still, I was not there just for the fun. My main objective on the day was to get Joe Torre to autograph my copy of his book. I failed the day before, because I was not allowed into the one section because I did not have a ticket for that section.
However today was a new day. I left my Lexus Club seat in the ninth inning and went to the dugout seat. I had book and pen in hand, ready to go and get the signaure.
All seemed to be going well, as the Pirates brought in Matt Capps and the Dodgers promptly scored three runs against him, taking a 5-2 lead going into the bottom of the inning.
Everything was going according to plan, especially when the seemingly automatic 7-1 closer Jonathan Broxton came in to close the game. He had experienced no trouble the night before, and I hoping that this would be the same.
Unfortunately, my luck has seemingly run out. I was stationed in the first row behind the Dodgers dugout in my blue under armour shirt, and the Pirates were starting to forge a comeback.
I had very bad feelings, when Broxton managed to get a ground ball from Andy LaRoche, and instead of getting the sure out at first, Rafael Furcal decided to try and be a hero and get Andrew McCutchen out at second base.
To begin with, this play made no sense, Furcal only had a chance to get one Pirate out, and LaRoche not McCutchen represented the game tying run. So simply put McCutchen did not matter one bit, yet Furcal decided to be a hero.
It didn’t help that Furcal made a poor, low attempt to get McCutchen out. The ball skipped to right field, and all runners moved up a base, meaning pinch hitter Delwyn Young, scored to make it 5-3.
After another intentional walk to Garrett Jones, Lastings Milledge was up. He had not received a hit in any of his four prior trips to the plate that day.
However, my luck officially ran out, as Broxton threw another 98 mile per hour fastball right down the middle, and Milledge crushed it.
It went right to the right fielder Andre Ethier who if he done what he was supposed to do would only have allowed McCutchen to score and make it 5-4. However, that was not to be on this day, and he misplayed it.
With the misplay, not only did McCutchen score, but Andy LaRoche scored as well making it 5-5. But the Pirates were not done, Jones was rounding first, and there was a play at the plate. Jones scored rather easily, and the Pirates won the game 6-5.
I was so frustrated because I now knew that there was no chance of Torre signing my book. But it got worse, because when I went home, I discovered that when Jones scored the winning run, the camera caught my blue shirt about as high as neck length, which absolutely made things worse for me, as I was reminded about my tragedy.
Nothing really happened after the game except the Pirates signed jerseys to those who won them. In other words, they signed and then left. They couldn’t really give anything away, because the next day would be the last home game.
As a brief note, in the twenty-four games I attended, the Pirates went 16-8.
9/6/09 Pittsburgh Pirates vs St. Louis Cardinals PNC Park and 9/8/09 Pittsburgh Pirates vs Chicago Cubs
Rarely do I ever attend Sunday games, because it is just too hot and there are kids everywhere, meaning people like me have little to no chance of getting anything. It also doesn’t help that there rarely is BP on Sunday games.
However, I went to this game because I was getting complimentary tickets as well as a little special something after the game.
I was expecting to be stuck up in the 300 sections, but I ended up sitting in section 124, right by the umpire exit but a level up, so I was happy.
When I got to my seat, I noticed a Pirate signing and was excited to find out that it was Ross Ohlendorf. I immediately dropped my bag, and went down to get him to sign. It was a long crowded wait, but eventually Ohlendorf (pictured below) signed my scorecard and I went back to my seat happy.
Not much else occured for me in this game although I got conversations with Herbie Andrade and Denny Bautista (pictured below) about baseball.
I did not really go for baseballs that day, although I was more in the talking mood talking to a worker about working at the ballpark. He gave me inside information about the park that many don’t know.
Soon enough, the game was over and I prepared for my special moment. I made the call and then a few minutes later I was face to face with PA announcer Tim DeBacco (pictured below). This was my chance to meet the man behind the infamous voice.
Before I continue, I am sure many of you are asking me how I got into contact with Tim. I can tell you that I sent him an email explaning who I was and how I enjoyed and appreciated his work. I then asked if there was any chance I could meet him. He responded by offering tickets on a mutually agreed upon date which ended up being this game. We (my dad and I), were also to get a tour of the sound studio as well as talk about my journalism endeavors.
Tim took us up, and it was really nice, as he had nothing but good things to say and continued to encourage me to continue down the right path. He also gave me a ton of 2009 media guides he no longer needed including ones from the Cardinals, Phillies and the Mets. I was really excited, and I took a lot away from the discussions Tim and I had. After a few pictures, we all left the ballpark and parted ways.
Two days later, I was back at the ballpark to see the Cubs face the Buccos. It was a rare school night game, but we were a couple of rows from the field, and it was Arnold Palmer night at the ballpark. I added this entry to this blog because it is a really short one.
I was looking forward to meeting Palmer and getting a signature, but the Pirates put Palmer in the Lexus Club making it impossible to get to him.
So not only was that a disappointment, but I didn’t get a ball or signature at the game because of the Palmer ceremony and a need to leave the game early. It also didn’t help that the Cubs had a seven run, eight hit first inning before getting an out. So overall, a bad game all around.
First off, it has been a little while since the post not because of a lack of enthusiasm for writing these entries, but because of school starting. This put me back quite a bit. There are a few more game recaps including this one coming up before two pieces entailing my 2009 season with the Pirates and the 2nd annual Pirates awards. Looks like a lot of writing coming up!
This was a meaningful game, as I had a chance to get Albert Pujols to sign my baseball for the only time this season. I did my research, and I figured out how to say what I thought would get him to sign, but it was to no avail, as I never really had a chance.
I did sit on the first base side, and it gave me a chance to get some Cardinals signatures. I got off to a good start as I positioned my self right along the Cardinals dugout.
This led to the first Pujols miss as someone asked him to sign, and he groaned and left never to appear again.
This immediately made me discouraged, and I was ready to head to my seat. This was supported when I saw a Cardinal signing along the first baseline. Despite my knee being a bit shaky, I went the fastest I could down there and found out it was outfielder (and possible Rookie of the Year) Colby Rasmus. Many say that he is a jerk and he never signs, but here he was signing, I had to pinch myself to make sure this was true. I pushed and pulled my way into line, and sure enough ended up getting him (pictured below)
I then headed off because I had heard that the Pirates Wives were hosting a fundraiser where they were selling autographed baseballs for $50 per ball with proceeds going to a charity (I believe the charity was for burn victims). I immediately bought 1 ball and was disappointed to discover that it was Nate McLouth (pictured below), as I already have several of his signatures. Still I wanted a picture with some of the Pirates Wives, and this is how it turned out:
I then went down to one of the entrances and bought myself the September edition of the Pirates magazine called Pirates Insider. I then decided to take a gamble and get another baseball this time faring a bit better and getting Travis Hafner (pictured below).
After that I went back to my seat, and got in position for potentially more autographs. But before anything else, I talked to the usher in my section about what happened during the Philly game where only those in the front row weren’t sent to their seat. The previous usher told me the reasoning was that, “nobody would sign.” I found that reason to be bogus, and was proven correct when I found out from this other usher, that it was because Phillies fans are rowdy and that they were trying to protect everyone.
While that explanation was much more credible I still was upset. Obviously, I was in Phillies colors, meaning I was technically speaking a Phillies fan, so I am more than certain that I could handle myself around a few passionate drunks.
With that knowledge, I went back to my autograph area. Before his interview with the Cardinals TV station, fifteen game winner Joel Pineiro (pictured below) started signing, and I was fortunate enough to get him.
That was all I got in terms of autographs, as no Cardinals signed during the time they stretched on the field.
Still, I moved from the first base side near the middle innings of the game, and went over to speak with a couple of friends who were at the game and on the other side of the field. Usually, the PNC Park ushers kick people out of sections that aren’t theirs starting thirty minutes before game time, but I had no problem getting in. It was going so well that I decided in the ninth inning to go down and try to get a baseball from the home plate umpire.
It was a hard task bad knee or not, but my knee was not feeling too well, making my chances slim and none. Still I made it to the section I was gunning for, a 100′s section with a clear path to the place where I could get a ball. I thought at that point that I stood a good chance, but it was getting harder and harder to be patient. A couple next to me started cheering for the Bucs, while I was cheering for the game to be over.
I needed the game to be over, because I should have already left the park at that time, and got a call from the person driving me that he was on his way. I had to act fast, and the fact that Andy LaRoche walked instead of becoming out number three was aggrevating. However all was good, when Moss popped out and became the third out. During this whole ordeal, the usher never even noticed me, and I never even saw the usher during the whole sequence.
I immediately headed down to the umpire entrance and saw the umpire. There was one problem, I had forgotten his name which meant I had little chance of getting a ball. The umpire was tossing up baseballs, and then it happened. One man screamed, “Mr. Barksdale, may I please have a baseball?” He then got a baseball. I thought, why not, and I tried the same tactic, however Barksdale was already gone.
Just as I was ready to call it a day, walking all the way down there for nothing, Lance Barksdale (pictured below) came out, and tossed me a ball, the last ball he threw that night. What a great way to end a decent night.