Category Archives: Opinion

How Good are 2013 Pittsburgh Pirates?

If you haven’t been paying close attention to the National League Central, you might have thought that the team currently sitting in first place would be the St. Louis Cardinals. That is not the case. The team currently leading the tight race that also includes the Cincinnati Reds is the Pittsburgh Pirates. The last time a Pirates team was in the playoffs was 1992 when they lost the NL Championship Series in seven games to the Atlanta Braves. This year, many fans of the Pirates are finally feeling optimistic about the season, but one question needs to be asked. How good are the 2013 Pittsburgh Pirates?

The simple answer to that question is they are just that good. They have a stellar pitching staff to go with a mediocre defense, but they do enough of the little things to get wins. They have a lot of veteran leadership that know how to win, which mixes well with the younger players that haven’t had the same success.

Offensively, the biggest star is outfielder Andrew McCutchen. McCutchen, 26, a fifth-year player out of Florida is one of the best players in all of baseball, yet one of the most underappreciated. He is a career .290 hitter and was coming off his best season to date a year ago when he batted .327 with 31 home runs and 96 RBIs. His numbers aren’t as good this year (.292, 9 HR, 42 RBIs), but he is getting more production out of the rest of the lineup than he has in years past. Pedro Alvarez has 20 homers and 53 RBIs while Starling Marte is hitting .288 with 32 extra-base hits.

The pitching staff has a solid blend of youth and experience. Veteran Francisco Liriano has finally found his amazing stuff again and is tied for the team lead in wins with seven along with youngster Jeff Locke. While his record is less than .500, A.J. Burnett has a stellar 3.12 ERA and the team has gotten great starting performances from James MacDonald, Jeanmar Gomez and Gerrit Cole, who is 4-0 in four starts.

The 2013 Pittsburgh Pirates have all the talent to get into the playoffs and could win a series, but their biggest problem may be their offense. Outside of McCutchen and Marte, all other starters are hitting .256 or less. When it comes to facing a stacked pitching staff in the postseason, a weak offense could be the demise of the Pirates and other weak offensive teams like the Braves.

MLB Suspends Eight Dodgers and Diamondbacks

Dodgers' hitting coach Mark McGwire and Diamondbacks third-base coach Matt Williams getting into during the Dodgers and Diamondbacks brawl.
Dodgers’ hitting coach Mark McGwire and Diamondbacks’ third-base coach Matt Williams getting into it during the Dodgers and Diamondbacks brawl.

On Friday, Major League Baseball announced the consequences for the bench-clearing brawl earlier this week between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks. Ian Kennedy, the instigator of the brawl was suspended 10 games while his teammate Eric Hinske received a five game ban. Both teams’ managers, Don Mattingly and Kirk Gibson, received single game bans. Dodgers’ players J.P. Howell and Skip Schumacher and hitting coach Mark McGwire received two game suspensions for their role the brawl.

Things between division rivals are supposed to be heated. When you play more than 20 games against the same team each year, there are going to be little things that set each team apart, but what Kennedy did was reckless, embarrassing and a 10 game suspension simply isn’t enough.

Let me get this straight. By all means, I am not one of those people that wants contact taken out of sports. I want quarterbacks to get hit in the head. I like no-foul basketball and I love home plate collisions. I’m all for bench clearing brawls because let’s face it, we all grew up watching that type of baseball anyway.

What I am not for is a player taking the role of God into his own hands. That is what Kennedy was doing when this incident escalated. Kennedy first hit red-hot prospect Yasiel Puig in the nose with a pitch and the Dodgers Zack Greinke responded  by hitting Miguel Montero in the back. Both benches cleared and were warned and that should have been the end of it. Instead, Kennedy went up and in on Greinke in the seventh inning and plunked him in the upper shoulder.

That is when the heat really got turned up in the ballpark and the situation advanced. Like I said, I don’t care about brawls and wouldn’t mind seeing more, but for Kennedy to go head hunting is ridiculous. ¬†That fact that he did against a fellow pitcher is opening himself up to getting plunked in retaliation at some point this season.

If MLB really wants to protect their players, they should have made an example out of Kennedy. Instead of 10 games, suspend him for 50. Make him lose 10 starts. Just imagine if Greinke got hit in the head, was concussed and was never able to play again. What kind of out roar would be heard around the league? People would be calling for Kennedy’s head. A 50-game wouldn’t have made it through the MLB Players Association anyway, but at least MLB could have made it seem like they cared.

Steroids in Sports

Hello again all!

I am back in the blogging business here with The First Pitch. The first topic I wanted to cover was something I wrote about earlier this week for Major League Fantasy Baseball, the latest drug scandal being linked to Major League Baseball. This is a place we have been before and been far too many times for my liking. Whether it was Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa or Barry Bonds, the place we are at in today’s baseball world is an unpleasant one for many.

For as long as sports have been played at a high level, drugs have been used and as long as the business is a lucrative one for the players, owners, and officials, drugs will be a part of every sport. That is something that will never change, no matter how big of an outrage is felt each time this news breaks.

Where do you all stand on the issue? Should Ryan Braun and Alex Rodriguez be suspended for 100 games for their role in the latest PED scandal? When will the leagues begin to hold their players responsible for their actions and when will these doping players begin to realize that they are considered role models by youth, whether they like it or not? These are all important questions that need to be asked and for the love of all things holy, are questions that we all need solid answers for.