Thursday, June 17, 2010

6-17-10: vs. the White Sox

How do you write a blog entry about this game?

More to the point, how do you write a blog entry about this team?

If I were a Front Office Hater, I'd focus on the Bad News Bears aspect of these games. I'd put up mocking photos. I'd use dirty words.

However, with the Pirates I try to be an optimist. With a ten-game losing stretch, this is no easy task. So the question becomes: how can I remain optimistic without denying reality?

The answer, I believe, is to document the positive and the negative. And try to take a Divine Comedy approach to the latter.

This post will feature many photos of Pedro Alvarez's first appearance at PNC Park, but it will start with three collages documenting the looks of dismay that are becoming more and more frequent on the Pirates' faces, as well as the two huge errors that occurred during this game.

I was debating whether to feature Pedro or the collages first. My decision to begin with the collages is, I believe, in accord with the nature of last night's game. I wasn't expecting a win. I wasn't expecting a breakout performance from Pedro right out of the gate.

I was expecting a loss that wouldn't overshadow Pedro's debut, however. And in this regard, I was greatly disappointed.
(Top Row L-R: Tabata, McCutchen, Jones. Middle Row L-R: Milledge, Duke, Russell.
Bottom Row L-R: Walker, Crosby, Donnelly)
A Tribune-Review writer twittered that finger-pointing has begun in the clubhouse. I hope it's not Donnelly, because whoever he's mad at better watch out. I mean look at that guy.
Javier Lopez is one of many good arms in our bullpen (ERA under 3, which is especially good for a relief pitcher), but he has struggled in his last few appearances. In this game, he made one of the most awkward throws I've ever seen a pitcher execute. To be fair, it was a hard play and his error was quickly overshadowed by the epic kerfuffle in the ninth.....
Apologies for the blurry first photo; it would seem my camera lens recoiled in shock and disgust.

Onwards Towards Positivity: Introducing Pedro Alvarez

Pedro takes the plate for the first time. Despite what happened later in the game, the atmosphere at this moment was electric. Alvarez got a standing ovation, followed by a brief spontaneous chant of "Pedro! Pedro! Pedro!" Despite this fact, I am impressed by his Zen-like demeanor.

No idea what he's doing here, but I appreciate the candid photo moment.

Pedro's first foul tip.
Joking around with Crosby while Lopez takes the mound.
After walking to first, Milledge hit a double to drive him in. This is his first trip round the bases.
Pedro puts his first ball in play. Lined out to left field, but whatever. It would be wrong to assume that Pedro is immediately going to set the world on fire; he struggled in AAA and if not for the team's current downward spiral I believe he would've been a late call up.
Nevertheless, Pedro has managed to adjust quickly with each promotion and I am confident he will do the same here.
Another moment of levity: Tabata hit his first major league home tonight. More impressively, it was one of only 4 hits off of a lights-out pitcher.

I still hold out hope that Milledge is going to break out. He is an underrated player; his power has yet to develop, and this has unfortunately overshadowed his high average with RISP and solid defense. I think he could do fine in right field. In these three pictures, Milledge celebrates hitting a 1-RBI double. Given the performance of White Sox pitcher John Danks tonight, Milledge going 2 for 3 is no small feat.
That's right. He's making a spanking motion.
Love it.

Evan Meek was impressive once again tonight.

Iwamura did very little for this team, but his facial reactions to strike outs were photo gold. Jose Tabata is going to fill this role very well, it seems.
Before the home run....

What is going on with Zach Duke? Once again, he has three good innings, one shaky inning, and then a total loss of command.

An appropriate response.
Garrett Jones took this strikeout particularly badly.

Live to bat another day, Jones.
Milledge regrets not going 3 for 3.
A spooked Crosby signals two outs.
Feeling the fear.

John Danks, on the other hand, had a fantastic night.
Here we see Danks watching to see if a pop-up injures one of the many White Sox fans in attendance. It didn't.
Meanwhile you have Juan Pierre, one of two skeletal members of the White Sox batting order.

Alexei Ramirez is the other one. I can't believe this guy hits for power.
Back to more unfortunate moments from last night's game. Here, Neil Walker loses his grip on the bat.
Trepidation in the Outfield.
Crosby making a play that does not result in an error.
Neil Walker made his first Major League error tonight as well.
What could these two be laughing about? They must be White Sox fans. Or Buccos fans driven insane.
"It was one of those days when it's a minute away from snowing and there's this electricity in the air, you can almost hear it. And this bag was, like, dancing with me. Like a little kid begging me to play with it. For fifteen minutes. And that's the day I knew there was this entire life behind things, and... this incredibly benevolent force, that wanted me to know there was no reason to be afraid, ever. Video's a poor excuse, I know. But it helps me remember... and I need to remember... Sometimes there's so much beauty in the world I feel like I can't take it, like my heart's going to cave in."

Yeah whatever, American Beauty. Clearly Ricky Fitts never went to one of these kinds of games. That plastic bag blew all the way to the right field wall and no one even went out to get it. Perhaps the urge to self-asphyxiate was too great...
I'm gonna end this post with the righteous fury of Brendan Donnelly, whose quality appearance was overshadowed by the disaster around him.
Throw that ball, Donnelly. May it strike the head of whatever foul beast perpetuates this curse upon us!

Just kidding. Games like this do lend themselves to dramatic hyperbole, however.

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