DK on the militaristic culture of the Pirates development system:
The difference is not just in the practice but also in the preaching. These guys Kyle Stark employs, almost without exception, are these buzzcut military types who behave like drill sergeants year-round. In many cases, they’re underqualified for their posts but were hired more because they can be good-soldier types.
Let me put it another way: It’s weird...and it’s needlessly dangerous. And potentially demoralizing, too.
A team can get a bang out of stuff like this if they treat it like one fun weekend. But when it’s all year round, it can make people bitter and resentful.
...And rather than focusing on what damage comes from it, I choose to focus on what’s the benefit here. I’m not seeing a more disciplined group of players coming up the ladder, so that’s out. I’m not seeing more productivity. And I’m not seeing — this is huge given the nature of drafts — results from ALL THAT PITCHING they drafted.
I’m not sure why. I can’t be sure. Only a true person on the inside would know. But I hear from THOSE people, and they’re VERY down on the way pitchers are handled.
It’s an oversimplification to just count up sports teams that do this and say why not the Pirates? This team isn’t nearly good enough in its system at the things it MUST be good at to be trying stuff like this.
And it most definitely isn’t good enough to be doing this stuff just so some grown men can get their jollies at youngsters’ expense.
Every team is going to do this stuff differently. From what I’ve found — and feel free to prove me wrong — the overwhelming majority of these practices are one weekend and the exercises aren’t stupid things like the hand-to-hand combat that hurt Taillon or the logs or the hose or whatever.
The Penguins’ Sidney Crosby and Ryan Whitney both described an exhausting round of jumping jacks as the most strenuous activity at West Point in 2007.
The Pirates are all military all the time in the minors. If you don’t believe me on this, ask them. They’ll gleefully acknowledge it.
That happens a lot in baseball. People get power-hungry. They control people’s lives on a daily basis. I’ve seen a little bit of that in nearly everyone I’ve covered in the sport, except maybe Neal Huntington, who’s a genuinely good man and always down to earth.
Stark, without question, has gone too far.
This is true, actually. Not sure if you’re being hypothetical there, but you’re right either way.From what you can discern who sets the tone (evidently a negative one) in the Pirates organization? Coonelly?
You guys will hate this answer, but it starts with the GM in this case. No boldness, no goals set, no confidence exuded, no real presence around the team.Rolly your eyes if you want, but you’re asking about tone. That’s an intangible.
If you can keep a straight face in explaining to people in September that this team SHOULD have been only eight games over at its peak … there’s a time for that, when you’re sipping coffee with Dan Fox, and there’s a team to lead the team.