For a decade and a half, the Pittsburgh Pirates have been one of the worst teams in professional sports. While lots of finger pointing and laughing has been spent on small-market jokes, the Pirates’ unprecedented run of futility has gone largely unnoticed and unmocked, even as the Chicago Cubs - among others - used the Pirates as their own private farm system.
(PNG at PNC.)
That seemed to change last week when the Pittsburgh Pirates dealt their only legitimate All-Star, Nate McLouth, to the Atlanta Braves this week for a handful of prospects. The Pirates were maybe sorta kinda starting to look like a real Major League Baseball team for the first time in years, and McLouth was seen as the team’s backbone and leader. Sensing a growing public relations disaster, Pittsburgh general manager Neal Huntington “penned” a letter to his team’s few remaining fans. Turns out, Huntington’s as good at PR as he is at putting together winning baseball teams.
Note to Neal: the more you make repeated references to how the deal was NOT financially motivated, the more people are going to assume it was:
I understand why some people at first glance may believe this move was financially motivated, but I can assure you that this was strictly a baseball decision. In fact, our owner Bob Nutting was as surprised as some of our fans when we sought his approval for this trade. I am grateful that he has the faith in me, our baseball operations staff and the processes we have in place to approve a move like this, despite the risk of public backlash on him personally and the organization as a whole.
While Huntington admittedly took over a team with no talent at any level, on or off the field, this isn’t exactly the best way to go about winning back your moribund fanbase, let alone getting their Primanti-enhanced butts back in PNC Park’s increasingly empty seats. Time will tell if the move actually helps or hurts the team in the long run, but this sort of thin skinned backtracking surely won’t win him much favor in Steel City. His attempts at kissing his boss’ ass publicly are pretty pathetic, to boot.
Now, go read Brooks’ latest Brog post - it’s AWESOME!