Saturday, August 21, 2010

photos from 8-19-10 vs. the Florida Marlins and Pre-Game Q&A Summary

I was not present for last night's loss, but I have plenty of pictures of the loss preceding it.

Before the game, I was fortunate enough to be able to attend a question-and-answer session for season ticket holders. You might think this kind of thing might be rather awkward, what with all of the vitriol against the Pirates front office. If so, you would be correct.
That is not to say that it's two hours of negativity, however. Pedro Alvarez fielded questions like, "What was going through your mind when you hit that game-tying home run and then another home run the next day?" Management was congratulated several times on their acquisitions of Taillon, Allie and Heredia, and one man asked Huntington how he could have asked for McDonald and Lambo in exchange for Octavio Dotel with a straight face.
And then there were the questions that had me staring at my shoes and nervously rubbing the back of my kneck. One man asked John Russell how he could keep playing Doumit ("He sucks" was how he put it). Another asked John Russell what one thing the Pirates had improved upon most in his three years as manager in an apparent attempt to trap him. Still another attempted to educate John Russell on the finer points of base running, remarking that Tony Beasley should have been fired along with Varsho and Kerrigan.
I would have handled these questions like Ian Snell used to; that is to say, poorly. John Russell's response, however, indicates quite strongly why Pirates management seems to have so much faith in his abilities as team manager. Russell is positively unflappable; he thanked the men for their passion, acknowledged that they had every right to be angry at him, and promised that if he had not produced a contending team in three years he deserved to be fired. Never once did he lose his temper. Never once did he even raise his voice.
This was a rare instance of seeing the desirability of an even temper like J.R.'s, and was easily the most interesting aspect of the Q&A. He is frequently the lightning rod for criticism of the Pirates team, and many fans have bemoaned a personality that they feel comes across as bored and complacent and not even remotely near to the average fan's deep-seated frustrations.
What these fans never consider is that any potential Pirates manager is going to need to eat lots of crow from all directions. Lloyd McClendon would have surely choked someone to death by the end of this Q&A. Most men would have at least broke a sweat, uttering a terse response that betrayed their own barely-concealed frustrations.
J.R., on the other hand, could swallow boiling water and spit out ice cubes. There are many problems with a piss-and-vinegar manager, but one of the big ones is that a man who tends to yell will also tend to do so all of the time. All these fans who want to see J.R. fired would greatly prefer him to another manager more inclined to yell at them right back.
Bob Nutting stated that partial rebuilds always fail, and that one can't let a rough patch dissuade someone from seeing a rebuild through to its end. It is no stretch of the imagination to infer that we will be seeing J.R. return as manager next year, and although I may be alone in this, I applaud the decision.
And now, on to the pictures....

Chris Snyder reacts to a strike-out.

Garrett Jones exhibits his range at first.
Neil Walker at bat.
McCutchen reacts to a strikeout.
Doumit makes a play in right field!

Low-flying helicopters provided temporary relief from the disastrous sixth inning.
Sean Gallagher pitching.
Daniel McCutchen pitching.
And, of course, the suffering of Paul Maholm.

Karstens watches the game, unaware that his start on saturday would be far worse.
McDonald better plan to keep on shining.

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