Pirates Bring Down the House | Left Field | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Pirates Bring Down the House

... And not in a good way

Anybody who owns an old house knows that it takes a special kind of love to care for it. Anybody who owns an old house on a tight budget, meanwhile, knows what it feels like to be a Pirates fan.

It tests you at every step. Things fall apart faster than you can keep up with them. And as both Pirate fans and homeowners know, it's never just one thing that goes wrong.

Just when you put in new flooring and paint the kitchen, the bathroom sink directly upstairs springs a leak; you come home one evening greeted by a pile of plaster in the middle of your kitchen floor. Before you can even get a plumber to show up, you discover you've sprouted a new leak in the roof.

You're in no financial position to replace the entire roof, so you have it patched. But you can't find a contractor to do that kind of work — all they're looking for is the big payoff. Some don't even call back. The guys who do call never show up. So you end up hiring some guy who just got out of prison and who looks like Iggy Pop. You sign over a check for materials and hope for the best … and then discover a case of carpenter ants.

You spend your evenings wondering what you did wrong, but refusing to move. And yeah, the house has character.

That's just what it feels like watching the Bucs. Aren't sports supposed to be entertainment? Isn't this supposed to lift me from the banality of everyday life, and inspire something other than despair? At this point, I've got buyer's remorse.

In the May 22 game against the Diamondbacks, you could see all the various areas of the Pirates in need of upgrade or repair. If it wasn't Jeremy Burnitz striking out on three pitches in the fourth inning, it was a fielding error by Ryan Doumit in the bottom of the fifth, which kept the Diamondbacks alive, and was followed directly by Connor Jackson's three-run homer, putting the D-Backs up 5-2. Or it was the Pirates' half of the sixth, when Freddie Sanchez and Jason Bay hit back-to-back singles to put men on first and second with no outs. Subsequent batters couldn't bring around a single run. First, Burnitz struck out (this time on the fourth pitch), then Doumit flied out to left (hey, at least he put it into fair territory). Jose Castillo popped out. And that was it for the Pirates that night.

See, if you get production out of you No. 2 and 3 hitters, that's supposed to set the table. But for the Pirates, it's just not enough. Jason Bay is out of his funk, but that's not enough either. And if a pitcher gets two easy outs to start an inning, his defense doesn't allow him to get out of the inning unscathed.

When not a single starting pitcher has an ERA under four — Perez and Ian Snell are hovering near six — you can't really afford to have your clean-up hitter batting .217.

No one problem area is necessarily the death knell for a team's hopes. A team can get away with a flaw like undisciplined hitting. But the Pirates put that together with base-running miscues, spotty middle relief, and even walking opposing pitchers (and I swear, I've seen Oliver Perez do this about 87 times this year).

Chris Duffy may not look like Iggy Pop, but he's not even returning Jim Tracy's calls. Wonder if he knows a guy who can fix box gutters?

It all adds up to a team that's a money pit. Just to reach .500, the Pirates would have to win two of three in EVERY remaining series on their schedule.

Maybe it's not even worth fixing. Can we pawn this thing off on some unsuspecting rube? With their outfield injuries mounting, you think the Yankees might be stupid enough to take Jeremy Burnitz off our hands?

Anybody in the market for a real fixer-upper?

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