That leaves us the Pirates for pointless, gum-flapping discussion. Sigh ... as cartoon character Charlie Brown would say.
Perennial losers (for 18 years in a row), the Pirates nevertheless bear a proud tradition spanning more than 110 years and six World Series championships (1903, 1909, 1925, 1960, 1971, 1979).
Today, however, they are a laughingstock. They remain fascinating to watch and follow, if only because of their continuing ineptitude. It's sad, but entertaining and irresistable in a perverse way. Maddening, too, if you're a Pirates fan.
Shaky start by Zach Duke last night, again. He's had a weird season, and not all that good, either, as the Post-Gazette notes in today's game story ...
Speaking of pitchers, or alleged pitchers, there's something funny going on with this whole Charlie Morton business. During his latest, abysmal start vs. the Reds on Thursday night, Bob Walk (color commentator on the team's TV broadcast crew) insisted that Morton's stuff is as good as Cincinnati's Johnny Cueto's. And, after the game, Reds' shortstop Orlando Cabrera expressed disbelief that Morton was 1-9, according to the Post-Gazette:
Count Cincinnati shortstop Orlando Cabrera among those incredulous at Morton's record.
"I'm really surprised because, to me, he's the best pitcher on that staff," Cabrera said. "He's got the best stuff. What is he, 1-8?"
Cabrera was told it was 1-9. "That's unbelievable."
The question is this: If he has a sore shoulder or "shoulder fatigue," as John Russell described it, how is it that he still has "good stuff"? ... how is it that he's able to consistently hit the mid-nineties on the radar gun? Another thing to belie the notion that his shoulder is the problem -- and not something else like, say, his psyche -- is the fact he's been awful since he donned a Pirate uniform.
Charlie Morton reminds me of the long-forgotten, once-ballyhooed pitcher the Pirates obtained from the Giants in the Jason Schmidt trade in 2001 ... Ryan Vogelsong, who was last seen pitching in Japan, I believe.
Morton's pitching has been awful pretty much from the day he became a Pirate. Remember the game he pitched in Wrigley last season, when it was 10-0 Cubs before you could blink an eye? Was his shoulder sore then?
I doubt it.
And I doubt that he has a sore shoulder now. I am inclined to agree with local sports-talk radio host Mike Logan, a former Steelers defensive back, who said he believes Pirates management ("Nero" Huntington and John "Blind Jack" Russell) sat Morton down after his start vs. the Reds the other night and had a conversation that went something like this:
"Son, your shoulder's sore, isn't it?"
"No, it feels fine."
"Charlie. Your shoulder. It's sore."
"Really, sir, I feel fine."
"No, Charlie. You don't feel fine. Your shoulder. It's sore. You have -- what shall we call it? -- 'arm fatigue.' You're hurting. Get it? So ... we're putting you on the 15-day disabled list and then giving you some rehab starts in the minors after that. We'll see how it goes from there."
"Oh. I see. Okay."
Putting Morton on the disabled list buys team management some time to figure out what to do with him, but he is only one of many, many problems the Pirates have.
The offense is still putrid, although Neil Walker has hit with confidence and authority since being promoted, so at least he is showing some promise.
Still, the offense is awful, as noted in this bizarre stat cited in today's Post-Gazette:
"With Atlanta pitcher Derek Lowe rapping a double and scoring twice, opposing pitchers continued to rack up hits -- at a rate where their .250 average surpasses the Pirates' own averages at first base, second, third and left field. That's .006 or less from topping their totals at shortstop and right field, too. So that's six positions of eight where opposing pitchers have a higher average."