When Barry Bonds hit historic home run 713 tonight off of Jon Lieber on ESPN Sunday Night Baseball, it was a shot heard ’round Pennsylvania. Not only did the fans in Philadelphia stop booing just long enough to stand to applaud his moonshot that blasted off of the upper deck, but Pirates fans everywhere had to think "what if." That’s why my title (even if MLB blogosphere thinks it’s a little long) is so appropriate. Bonds leaves after Sid Bream beats us in 1992, and the Pirates go in the tank for a decade and a half. (Then again, letting Lieber go later on might not have been such a good move either.)
I’m not going to boo Barry when he visits da Burgh in July, though. Reaching the company of Babe Ruth and Henry Aaron–even to be able to be mentioned in the same breath as two legends–is a feat that deserves to be recognized respectfully. It would be great see my loveable losers with No. 24 in the middle of their lineup…maybe if they would’ve paid Barry and he had stayed, things would be different. But that’s not how it is, and I’ll live with it–I can’t heckle him just for taking a more lucrative contract offered by the Giants. I’ll get leftfield bleacher seats for the game and cheer for Barry no matter what. I’ll probably yell a little louder for Jason Bay…but that’s just where my loyalties have to lie now.
On another note…how about a lineup like this for Tuesday against the D’backs:
RF Jose Bautista / SS Jack Wilson / 3B Freddy Sanchez / CF Jason Bay / LF Jeromy Burnitz (or Craig Wilson) / 1B Ryan Doumit / C Ronny Paulino / 2B Jose Castillo
I think it might even be worth it to try Freddy in center. He needs to be in the lineup everyday, even when Randa is back from the DL. Paulino should catch everyday, and as much as I like Craig Wilson, Doumit needs to be in the field somewhere as well. I’d probably have him learning to play the outfield as opposed to 1B with Brad "Big Country" Eldred waiting in the wings at Indianapolis, but that’s why I’m not Jim Tracy–that and he’s 30 years older than me, too. Jason Bay needs protection in the lineup, which he won’t be getting anytime soon (at least until Eldred and Doumit turn into bona fide big league sluggers).
The season isn’t over yet, and last year we put together a great May…but sooner or later you’ve got to sit down Randa, Casey, Burnitz, and Wilson and let the team of the future start playing together again. Call it AAAA baseball and apologize to the fans…but don’t pretend that we’re seeing October in 2006.
The Pirates just "slipped" to 9-24 on the season after losing two of three to the not-so-impressive Washington Nationals. During the broadcast, the voice of the Pirates, Lanny Frattare, proposed his all-time "Presidential Squad," a team of MLB’ers whose last names mirror those of former United States’ presidents. He asked for some viewer support, so here’s my roster of current Major League Baseball players who would qualify for the Presidential Squad:
C Craig Wilson or Vance Wilson (I prefer Craig for his power; Vance might be the better defensive choice)
1B Nick or Dan Johnson…take your pick.
2B Adam Kennedy (probably my leadoff hitter as well)
3B Damian Jackson (oh well…functional I suppose)
SS Russ Adams (I would’ve preferred Jack Wilson, but I used up my President Wilson spot on my catcher selection)
OF Trot Nixon, Craig Monroe, and Lew Ford (unfortunately no Preston Wilson)…probably the strength of my team.
SP Dave Bush (no Randy, Jason, or Joe Johnson, regrettably)
RP Lance Carter (until a president comes along with the name Rivera, Lidge, or Isringhausen)
When picking out my President Squad was the highlight of today’s game, there’s something wrong. I got up for about three minutes early on in the game…and Zach Duke promptly gave up four runs. I don’t know what it is, but I know this team shouldn’t be this bad. There’s a good, young nucleus…somewhere. Freddy Sanchez, Jason Bay, Jack Wilson, Jose Castillo, Duke, Paul Maholm, Mike Gonzalez. I’m not a Joe Randa, Jeromy Burnitz, or Craig Wilson fan–we know what we get from them, and it’s not something that should impede the progress of Jose Bautista, Brad Eldred, or another talented young player who could use some seasoning. I think those veterans are all solid players, and likeable guys–but 9-24 is 9-24. Something needs to be done.
Perhaps the Diamondbacks and a return to PNC Park will bring about some positive change.