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Perrotto: Pirates Have Become Baseball’s Punchline

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The Pittsburgh Pirates are becoming something no professional sports team ever wants to be.

A punchline.

There was John Kruk making fun of the Pirates on Friday night during NBC Sports Philadelphia’s telecast of their game against the Phillies. The former first baseman and current color commentator cracked wise about the Buccos.

“It looks like an exhibition between a big league team and a college team,” Kruk said when the Phillies took a 6-0 lead in the second inning of a game they eventually won 7-4.

That came barely more than a week after Boston Red Sox color commentator Dennis Eckersley lambasted the Pirates while serving on NESN’s television crew.

“This a hodgepodge of nothingness,” said Eckersley, a Hall of Famer as a pitcher, said of the Pirates’ lineup.

General manager Ben Cherington, center fielder Bryan Reynolds and reliever Wil Crowe all basically said Eckersley’s words carried no weight within the organization or clubhouse. Certainly, they’ll say the same about Kruk’s comments.

However, the Pirates should not be so quick to dismiss what either man said. You really can’t dispute the assessments of Kruk or Eckersley.

The Pirates look like an amateur team playing a professional team on many nights. The lineups manager Derek Shelton and the Pirates often roll out are indeed a hodgepodge of nothingness.

Eckersley and Kruk said publicly what many visiting broadcasters, writers and players say privately when they come through Pittsburgh during the season. Many shake their heads at the state of the 140-year-old franchise and owner Bob Nutting’s stewardship of the Pirates.

I’ve heard variations of the following comments made about the Pirates from people playing or working for or covering other teams this season. I am not using names because the words weren’t spoken during on-the-record conversations.

“What are they exactly trying to do here?”

“Are they ever NOT rebuilding?”

“Do they care at all about putting a competitive team on the field?”

“Will they ever try to win here?”

“How can you have such a beautiful ballpark and such a horse (manure) team?”

“Does anyone in their organization understand they’ve taken one of the most respected franchises in baseball and turned it into a joke?”

Basically, the Pirates are embarrassment-proof. Nothing ever seems to bother them as they lose one game after another after another.

It is easy to lose count of all the defeats, but Friday’s loss was the Pirates’ sixth in a row and 12th in their last 14 games. They are 8-14 since the All-Star break, 47-78 overall and the progress the Pirates showed in the first half of the season has dissipated.

Nutting obviously doesn’t have any interest in winning. Cherington prattles on and on about the Pirates building up the farm system. Shelton finds positives in all situations.

There is zero accountability in the Pirates’ organization. Nobody who stands up and says enough is enough.

Nutting never avails himself to the media – and indirectly the fans – to answer questions. Cherington and Shelton are nice guys, but neither is a straight shooter.

Eckersley won 197 games and had 390 saves on his way to immortality in Cooperstown. Kruk was a .300 hitter during a 10-year career.

These guys know winning baseball and how the game is supposed to be played.

Instead of being indignant about the remarks of Eckersley and Kruk, the Pirates should be embarrassed.

They have become the punchline of baseball and, seemingly, don’t grasp it. Or maybe more alarmingly, don’t seem to care.

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