Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Reflections by FRANCO

It seems like just last week-- I was at the ballpark, taking pictures of opening day on my phone.

My biggest regret:
Not going to more second half games. Oh sure, it was a death march towards 162; but I'm going to want some of those afternoons back. Especially as October-thru-February works its depressing grayness on my fragile soul.

Neil Huntington's biggest regret:
not following FRANCO's advice to sell some goddamn Paul Maholms!!! I'm not going to rub this one in too deep, because we're here to celebrate, not mourn... but let's just consider the following: Maholm, Correia, Lee and Ludwick were all on the DL two weeks after the trade deadline, with Karstens being shutdown as a precautionary measure. I believe my exact advice was: don't try to bring in new guys (Lee, Ludwick), sell all of your over-performing pitchers (Maholm, Correia, Karstens)!!!!

As far as celebrating goes: what a great experience this summer was! People outside of Pittsburgh may not get it, thinking we're accepting and glorifying a losing season. Far from it. We're celebrating because for the first time since the early half of the 90s, Pittsburgh has three sports teams again. Those of us who posited that this was fundamentally a baseball town before all else-- we were vindicated. Those damn yinzers in their ties and collars, sitting in cramped Forbes Field to the very last pitch, in a series where the Goliath Yankees should have won in four games... they were honored this year. Those damn yinzers who wore the hideous striped caps to football games, hockey games, weddings, funerals... they were honored this year. Those damn yinzers who were like us, who just didn't give up on the idea that this franchise could somehow be relevant... we were honored this year. When this city found a way to pack PNC Park for a series against the miserable Astros in early July, that said it all: Pittsburgh won't take any of this granted, and when the day finally comes, it'll be seen and talked about by all.

My biggest disappointment: Being swept in Cleveland. I went to two of those games, and watched the third one here. We couldn't get Hanrahan onto the mound. We couldn't get Andrew McCutchen into the lineup more than once. We couldn't hold our own with another AAA team.

More than that, what I realized during that interleague series, was just how pathetically anemic our offense is. In game three, we sent seven guys to the plate with sub .700 OPSes-- and that was with a DH. Really, it was that sad, Sunday afternoon in June, watching Karstens out-duel Justin Masterson, yet lose, that I realized we sucked. We simply didn't have an answer, offensively, nor do we have one going forward. Andrew McCutchen is as legit as we could have dreamed; but he is one man, and one injury is all it would take to set us back indefinitely.

The Cleveland series sucked because we out-pitched them, but lost on defense and slugging; it sucked because we were exposed as completely HIV positive; it sucked because just a win or two would have put us over the edge for just another day or two, during our heyday of leading the division halfway through the season.

Biggest triumph: leading the fucking division halfway through the season!

Worst week: I don't know... probably that one stretch in late July, where we got hosed by an ump, got hosed by another ump, and got hosed by our own manager. The Hanrahanless days of summer. That was our worst week since the Milwaukee series in 2010, when we lost the series something like 3 to 58.

Most exciting players:
Joel Hanrahan, Andrew McCutchen. Alex Presley needs to sustain his performance over the course of a couple hundred more plate appearances before we at FTC get excited. Neal Walker sustained his above average performance for a full season, and for that we're mildly excited. J-Mac and Morton both have live arms that terrify as much as excite; we'll keep an eye on them.

Best moments: Being there, in person to see us go over .500 on May 9th. Being downtown, working in a bar, as the news erupted that Cutch had been named to the All Star team. Seeing Huey Lewis & The News.

I have much to say about the future, as do my blogmates, but for now, let's just do a little dwelling on the recent past. It was a good time that should be getting better.


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