Sunday, May 22, 2011

We're still here!

As far as we can tell on this glorious, beautiful Sunday, those of us still on this orb, this mortal coil, this third stone from the sun … we missed out on The Rapture.

It didn’t happen, right? Right? Okay, false alarm. We are happy to be here still and will continue to enjoy the little pleasures and blessings life reveals, for as long as we have the privilege.

Moving on to other News Apocalyptic, the Pittsburgh Pirates Baseball club -- the team on the field -- won their fourth straight game and (second of two games in interleague play!) last night before a full house at PNC Park, defeating the Detroit Tigers. Good for the players, manager Clint Hurdle and his coaching staff. All is good.

Except … Off the field, the guys in suits in the Pirates’ organization somehow overshadowed the team’s on-field accomplishments by … what? We’re not sure, but this latest PR controversy/brouhaha/imbroglio/fiasco has to do with placing Pedro Alvarez on the disabled list and promoting minor-league infielder Pedro Ciriaco to the major league club.

No big deal in and of itself. Maybe Alvarez hasn’t been completely healthy all season. Only he and the doctors know for sure. There’s no disputing he has struggled at the plate so far this season. Hopefully, the time off will do him good. He seems like a good guy, and a player with the potential to be a legitimate star. We’re rooting for him.

Now, looking more closely at the roster move, there is the immediate on-field reality of who will play infield, and then there is the off-field, behind-the-scenes machinations of what should have been a simple, straightforward announcement -- which, somehow, as is their wont and seemingly inevitable tendency -- the Pirates mangled. These guys just can’t get out of their own way, it seems.

First, the bigger issue, as Post-Gazette columnist Bob Smizik rightly points out this morning, is the on-field impact:

“The larger story here is that the Pirates had to promote Ciriaco, who almost made the team in spring training but who has been terrible at Indianapolis. He was batting .190 with a .193 on-base percentage and a .255 slugging percentage. In 137 at bats, he had one walk. He also had nine errors.

“The Pirates weren't getting much out of Alvarez, but with him there was at least some hope of getting production out of the position. Now it looks like manager Clint Hurdle will have to go with Brandon Wood, .217 with no homers in 46 at bats, or Steve Pearce, .286 with no homers in 42 at bats, at third base for at least the next two weeks.”

As for the apparently mixed-up announcement of this simple roster move, well, we shall leave it to Jen Langosch of To her credit, in an admirable display of professional risk-taking (let’s hope she keeps her job after this bit of reporting), Ms. Langosch called B.S. on the Pirates by writing this yesterday …

“… there is a difference between not giving out information and giving out false information. It appears the latter happened with Triple-A Indianapolis on Friday, as someone from the organization made up a story to hide the fact that the club believed Alvarez was headed to the DL and that it would be Ciriaco taking Alvarez’s place in Pittsburgh.”

If true -- and it seems to be -- all of this is silly and unnecessary. Unfortunately, it reeks of what appears to be yet another case of truth-shading, obfuscation or outright lying by somebody or some people in management at some level, either in Indianapolis or Pittsburgh, reminiscent of the infamous unannounced contract extensions and other bits of skullduggery and questionable public relations that have become tell-tale trademarks of the Frank Coonelly/Neil Huntington regime. These guys just can’t seem to get out of their own way.

Let’s hope we don’t have to hear any more of this. Betting we will.

At least we're here.