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A Consideration Of Pausing One’s Pirate Fandom

As I’ve mentioned on TPOP at some point before, I started being a fan of the Pirates in 1985 when I was 9 years old.?? I may have been to a game before that, but that’s when my memories of following the team started to crystallize.

That year was probably the worst year in Pirates’ history.?? Not only was the team terrible, but that was the height of the cocaine epidemic in baseball, generally, and the epicenter was at Three Rivers Stadium with the Pirates.?? How bad was it??? The Pirate Parrot was part of a major ring selling cocaine to players.

So 1985 was a bizarre time to onboard as a young, impressionable Pirate fan.?? That is, until 2019 came along.

The news yesterday that Felipe Vazquez was arrested on charges of soliciting a minor and possessing child pornography may have been the final nail in the coffin, but it was delivered via a nail gun along with about 14 other ones.?? Fights between the Pirates and Reds, fights between Pirates and coaches, fights between Pirates and other Pirates.?? As Stefon would say, this season has had it all.?? Vazquez’s arrest is just the wretched aftertaste of a season left out in the sun too long.

As I announced at the start of the month, TPOP will be no more after September.?? The reasoning is that my life has become more and more hectic, with baseball getting squeezed out of it.?? This season has done nothing to dissuade me of that notion, but the Vazquez news has caused me to re-examine if it is worth it at all to be a fan of this organization moving forward in the short-term.

In no way, shape, or form is anyone associated with the Pirates responsible for Vazquez’s actions.?? It’s 100% the work of someone that has violated one of society’s ironclad rules.?? There is no coming back from this for him.?? This isn’t like taking performance enhancing drugs, or drunk driving, or (sad to say) beating your wife or girlfriend.

But this incident just gets piled on the rest of the pieces of evidence showing that something is rotten on Federal Street.?? I can no longer support the team in any fashion until there is accountability for the complete loss of institutional control on display in 2019.?? It’s one thing to fire Ray Searage because the pitching staff is terrible.?? It’s another level to say that Clint Hurdle has to go because he’s lost control of the locker room.?? But I’m talking about a full-scale blowtorching at every decision-making level.

There is a disease running roughshod over 115 Federal Street and it must be treated harshly and swiftly this offseason.?? Everyone must go.?? To look at it a different way, how could Neal Huntington, Frank Coonelly, and Clint Hurdle even justify being here next season??? Why do they want to be associated with this garbage fire?

If the same decision makers who assembled this motley crew are allowed to return, what message is it sending to the season ticket holders??? What message is it sending to the hordes of young fans that show up, especially on Sundays to run the bases after the game, and cheer for their heroes??? Somewhere in this morass of a season is a 9 year old nerd that will say that 2019 is the season he really started following the Pirates.

Frankly, if I were Bob Nutting, I’d want to sell this distressed asset in the offseason, too.?? It’s been a good run (not really, but that’s what people say) and you’ve made your money.?? Time to turn this over to a new ownership group that has the financial wherewithal to dig out from this mess you’ve created over the years and refused to fix.

It’s been very easy in recent weeks and months to tune out the Pirates.?? But I think that for the rest of the season I will literally be tuning them out by not watching the games on TV or checking highlights on MLB.com.?? The news of the Pirates’ best player doing terrible things to children is too much for even this iron-skinned cynic.

And if the front office and on-field staff are here next year, I won’t be watching either.?? I can’t imagine that I’m the only one that feels this way.

It’s always more important to remember that as a fan you root for the front of the jersey and not the back.?? But right now, I don’t want to root for the symbol on the jersey at all.?? There are too many negative connotations associated with this franchise right now.

There is so much good to follow throughout baseball.?? We’re at an unprecedented juncture in baseball’s history where there are so many young, exciting, excellent players to watch.?? But that excitement as a fan has been stripped bare here in Pittsburgh.

Once the dust settles and the executive branch is gone, along with a good number of players, then maybe I’ll consider rewarding them with my loyalty again.?? But right now, after all the broken promises over the years and failed expectations, I have nothing left to give unconditionally.?? There are conditions to my being a fan moving forward.

Nerd engineer by day, nerd writer at night. Kevin is the co-founder of The Point of Pittsburgh. He is the author of Creating Christ, a sci-fi novel available on Amazon.

11 Comments on A Consideration Of Pausing One’s Pirate Fandom

  1. Kevin, I understand exactly how you feel. At 66 years of age, after 59 years of loyalty, It,too, have come to a crossroads.

    I’m going to miss The Point of Pittsburgh. Your staff of writers are unequaled among the many free Pirate blogs I visit.

    I wish you all well in your future endeavors.

  2. Trevor Williams just adopted a child. Another reason not to stop rooting for him. Did it get the same press as the Crick fight, Reds beanball incidents? Did it get ANY press?

    Negativity sells. Dying media model is clinging to negative news as it’s last source of clicks. TPOP going away hurts really bad in this moment.

    • I have been a Pirates fan since I don???t even know when exactly. The first game I saw was in 1952, so we can start there I guess. If I combined Kevin???s statement with Drew???s comment, you would pretty much have my feelings exactly. Unless there is a complete turnover, I am done.

  3. Great article. I feel the pain, deeply. Still a fan of hat???s left???but I hoe they nuke it in the off-season.

  4. First of all, thank you for not trying to weave the disturbing news about Vasquez into some great sweeping statement about some sickness or curse surrounding this franchise. It’s a horrible coincidence, and it is symbolic, but it is no more than that.

    I believe that, as was the case at the end of the McClatchy regime, what most plagues this franchise is any lack of accountability. It is quite obvious that, despite NH’s opaque utterances, there are no expectations for on-field success, nor any consequences for the lack of same. Is that down to Huntington and Hurdle? Not for the most part, probably–but the perception is that they need to go, and given the length of their respective tenures, it would be probably time for new voices even if there had been more on-field success. The hard truth is that the lion’s share of blame lies with ownership, whose only apparent expectation is the maintenance of an artificially depressed payroll. Until ownership changes– or unless there is the creation of expectations that are not strictly bottom-line related– the faces will change, but nothing will improve. Without getting maudlin and sentimental, I will simply say that I will continue to follow and root for this club–too much of my lifeblood is tied up in that pursuit–but I expect I will not enjoy it all that much.

  5. The only institutional control is when the controller hits enter on the financial spreadsheet. That wouldn’t be a problem if the Pirates were at least competitive. They have not been and no good reason to think they will be. This is the third year that Hurdle has overseen a second half collapse of epic proportions. He obviously doesn’t challenge what talent he has enough.Huntingdon obviously has no pride. I don’t like it when a player wants to be traded to a competitive team but I understand it. The question is why is Huntington here if he thinks he has personal talent. He must think this is his ceiling. Good luck on your adventures.

  6. First time reader, apparently far too late. Great article, and I couldn???t agree more. I boycotted the Pirates starting last year, and it???s been very difficult. I *want* to be a fan. I want to have a team I can have pride in. Unfortunately, that will never happen under current ownership.

    Bob Nutting is an exquisite businessman; he???s just also a terrible baseball fan. There???s a balance between creating value in the boardroom and creating it on the field. And, his management group seems to lack the insight to realize that the investment in talent would pay for itself in gate receipts, merchandise, concessions, etc.

    Until this team shows real backbone, I cannot be a fan, and I refuse to contribute financially.

    Best of luck in whatever is next!

  7. pirate fan 4 life // September 19, 2019 at 12:24 AM //

    I have loved My bucs since I started taking in games in 78 – 79 ( still has a copy of 79 world series ring)but its clear that Hurdle has lost control of this team…. you never hear the winning teams like Chicago, Houston or NY Yankees fighting between players or players fighting coaches — hates to say that Hurdle needs to go if there is a perception of no control changes must be made – hurdle out Melvin ( from A’s ) in…

  8. Robert Starkey // September 19, 2019 at 7:55 AM //

    I am a steel Town boy I have been a pittsburgh sports fan since the the mighty mad. Won the 1960world series Pittsburgh pirates baseball is dead

  9. It is official. I have cancelled my season tickets. I cited your article in my reasoning to the Pirates. 29 seasons. But this is different.

  10. Larry Piotrowicz // September 25, 2019 at 11:53 PM //

    I can see how and why you feel the way you do. However, although ridding the Bucs of everyone except Nutting will not result in anything different> As long as Nutting’s miserliness changes, whoever is procuring players and pushing on-field buttons will run into the same problems Hurdle, et al have experienced. You can’t make chicken salad out of chicken crap. Nutting selling the team would be much more of a positive toward a change in the Pirates’ fortunes than firing everyone else would be.

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