Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Pirates should be applauded for their late-season surge to the playoffs

In politics, the media gives each side (usually republicans and democrats) equal time during such things as election campaigns.

The same thing doesn't always hold true in sports, where the awesome moments are often glossed over or just expected, while the bad moments are scrutinized, analyzed and really never forgotten.

Such is the case when it comes to the Pittsburgh Pirates and their back-to-back melt-downs at the tail-end of the 2011 and 2012 seasons that not only prevented them from making the postseason, but assured them their 19th and 20th consecutive losing campaigns.

Around mid-August of this just concluded 2014 regular season, the Pirates were in the throes of a seven-game losing streak that would ultimately leave them only two games over .500 on August 20.

Perhaps understandably, there was a palpable fear among fans that their Buccos would make it three collapses in four years and begin maybe a new string of losing seasons after having such a magical 2013.

But the Pirates righted their ship (pun intended) and stayed afloat long enough to actually go on a hot streak, a streak that included a stretch of 17 victories in 21 games that ultimately led to them clinching the top wild card in the National League, and a home date against San Francisco Wednesday night at PNC Park.

After the Pirates collapse in 2012 that was even more disappointing than the previous year, owner Bob Nutting did a complete evaluation of his franchise from top to bottom to try and figure out why this was becoming a trend.

Will he do a similar audit of his organization this year to try and determine why it was able to keep things together despite so many injuries--including stints on the disabled list for Andrew McCutchen, Neil Walker, Gerrit Cole and Francisco Liriano--as well as the season-long problems for slugger Pedro Alvarez?

If Nutting doesn't do that, he should at least offer pats on the back to gm Neal Huntington and manager Clint Hurdle because they deserve much credit for keeping things together and getting his Buccos back to the playoffs for a second consecutive season.

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