Bases empty, two outs, a 3-1 game, #8 hitter up. Nothing comes down to this.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The Pirates Should "Go For It" in 2011

Baseball teams are constantly being labeled by fans according to the state in which they're perceived as being. Teams are described as "in fire-sale mode", "treading water", "three sheets to the wind", "coming back down to Earth", and other such phrases involving one of the four classical elements.

Another common baseball-team-state-of-being is "going for it". When a team decides to "go for it", they say "fuck this, let's win the World Series", sign a bunch of free agents and gut their farm system by trading prospects for established major league players with the hope of having that one magical year.

I think this is the year the Pittsburgh Pirates should "go for it". Why? Let me explain.

1. It Would Come Out of Nowhere

Teams that "go for it" generally have a couple things already on their side:
  • a solid major league roster with several star-level players
  • the capacity to spend money
The Pirates have neither of these things. They went 57-105 in 2010, the worst record in baseball. And their payroll was just under $35 million, the lowest in baseball. It would totally catch the rest of baseball with their pants down if the Pirates "went for it", and by the time everyone else realized what was happening, Pittsburgh would have built an insurmountable lead.

2. The City Needs It

The current version of the Pittsburgh Pirates has been one of the most futile teams in professional sports history. They haven't had a winning season since 1992, when a 27-year-old Barry Bonds led the Bucs to a playoff berth. Some other things that have happened since 1992:
  • The New York Yankees have made the playoffs fifteen times
  • Miley Cyrus was born, rose to fame, and is now a legal adult
  • Bono has personally delivered meals to over 34,000 starving Namibian children
  • Stephen King has written 476 books, one fewer than John Grisham

3. It's in Their Nature

When did you ever hear about pirates who bided their time? Who slowly but surely built their reserves until the proper time for them to be unleashed? Who sacrificed instant gratification for sustained success?

If there's one thing pirates are known for, it's impetuousness. (Also: eye-patches, parrots, crassness, peg-legs, rum, hooks for hands, walking the plank, the Jolly Roger, treasure, piratey slang, pillaging, swabbing the deck, Somalia, eye shadow, Davy Jones' Locker, saying "avast", jibs, hornswaggling, parleying, confusing maps, timbers that may or may not be shivering, mutiny, Bluebeard, doubloons, cooking in a galley, crow's nests, spyglasses and gout. Also jaunty sea ditties.)

But yeah, impetuousness. It's a trait so deeply ingrained in the psyche of pirates that even a baseball team nicknamed for them absorbs it by association. The Pirates will take to this radical change in direction like a brigantine to a hearty gale. 


The Pirates could take the NL by storm next year

It's always a difficult decision to "go for it", perhaps sacrificing continued success for instant gratification. But pirates are not patient enough for the alternative, as evidenced by 18 years of futility. "Going for it" is the right decision.

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