That's all we got? One ***damned hit?
The similarities between "Major League" and the Pirates' current situation are spooky. The manager had to pick between the veteran and the rookie phenom to start the deciding game. In "Major League," Indians skipper Lou Brown went with the vet, Eddie Harris. Clint Hurdle did the opposite and chose the rook, Gerrit Cole.
Then there's the concept of sliding 10 feet too soon.
Josh Harrison in Game 4:
Willie Mays Hayes in "Major League":
Pirates 3B Pedro Alvarez - who hit .180 against left-handed pitching this season - smacked a single off St. Louis lefty Kevin Siegrist to drive home the winning run in Game 3 of the NLDS at PNC Park yesterday.
It was not a career-defining moment for Alvarez, as some suggest.
It was luck. It was one of 18 hits that come along every 100 at-bats against lefties, and it came along at a very opportune time.
Luck had a lot to do with yesterday's Pirates win. It looks like a charmed season.
The Pirates won despite a fielding miscue by Starling Marte, a baserunning gaffe by Andrew McCutchen, a bad call/missed tag by Alvarez at third base on a Cardinals’ double steal and Mark Melancon blowing a lead.
That's a lot of mistakes to overcome. A lot of luck.
A lot of grit, too. A lot of heart. The Pirates never say die.
Alvarez is the Pirates' postseason MVP so far: 4-13, five RBI (at least one in each game), three runs, two home runs and a double. His OPS is 1.221. Alvarez is streaky. Continued good form could go a long way toward the Pirates going a long way.
If Alvarez is MVP, Gerrit Cole is a close second. His performance in Game 2 (6 innings, 2 hits, one run) got the Pirates back in the series.
Here's predicting a Game 5. God wouldn't deny us the Cole-A.J. Burnett debate. It's the exact decision Lou Brown faced at the end of "Major League." Harris or Wild Thing? Brown picked the vet, like most old-school managers do.
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It won't have any impact on mid-April, but MARC-ANDRE FLEURY got off to a tremendous start, stopping 27 shots in a 3-0 shutout of New Jersey last night.
Fleury's behind-the-back grab of a loose puck made the highlight reels, but that was mostly luck. His stop of Adam Henrique's penalty shot was a more accurate microcosm of Fleury's night. Henrique made all the right moves, but Fleury shut him down.
Fleury got caught deep in the net on a couple near-post saves. But no goals, and no harm done. It was a good night for Fleury.
Last night was consecutive sellout No. 287 for the Penguins. Never take that for granted. The fans were quiet early. The Pirates' lopsided loss stunned them.
The Penguins' removal of Jaromir Jagr's name and likeness from the Ring of Honor above the team's dressing room at Consol Energy Center is petty beyond description and says a lot about the insecurities of the current hockey staff.
Jagr is the second-greatest player in club history. Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin haven't caught Jagr yet.
Sure, Jagr is still active. Yeah, he eliminated the Penguins in each of the last two playoffs. So what? The Ring of Honor is about what Jagr accomplished as a Penguin.
Jagr did plenty: 439 goals, 640 assists, 1,079 points. Each figure ranks second all-time among Penguins players, trailing only Mario Lemieux.
No knock on Mark Recchi, who has replaced Jagr in the Ring of Honor. Recchi probably should have been so honored in the first place.
But it's hard to imagine how Jagr's peripheral presence so flustered somebody in the Penguins' organization that the need was felt to excise his legacy in this most picayune of fashions. That Ring of Honor, regardless of its membership, doesn't affect the current Penguins' on-ice performance in any remote way.
Somebody should own up to this. Nobody will.
But I don't mind speaking bluntly: These Penguins have a long way to go to catch Jagr's Penguins. At the very least, they trail two Cups to one.
And these Penguins have to accomplish a lot more before anyone joins Craig Patrick, Badger Bob Johnson and Scotty Bowman in the Hockey Hall of Fame.
One would think the achievements of the Jagr era would provide inspiration. But who needs inspiration when you've got conceit? Who needs Cups when you've got narcissism?
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One word best describes the Pirates’ wild-card win over Cincinnati: PROFESSIONAL.
The Pirates went out before an overflow crowd of 40,000-plus at PNC Park and calmly dismantled Cincinnati. It was impossible to tell it was the Pirates’ first postseason appearance in 20 years. They never flinched.
The Reds did.
The Reds were shambolic. The bully got punched in the mouth and didn’t know what to do. Johnny Cueto dropped the ball. Zack Cozart and Brandon Phillips kicked the ball. Phillips got it right when he said, “We choked. We did.”
Reds 3B Todd Frazier just missed a three-run homer in the fourth inning with Cincinnati trailing, 3-1. Frazier’s long fly went just wide of the LF foul pole. “It’s a different ballgame if Frazier’s ball stays fair,” said Reds manager Dusty Baker.
What a baby. It went foul. On the night, the Reds weren’t even close.
Pirates GM Neal Huntington had been roundly criticized prior to this season, and rightly so. But Huntington got hot at the right time. Consider last night’s heroes:
*Francisco Liriano, free-agent signing this past off-season.
*Russell Martin, free-agent signing this past off-season.
*Marlon Byrd, late-season trade acquisition.
The most miraculous moment came when Neil Walker hit a double right-handed. That’s Walker’s second extra-base hit of the season right-handed.
If that ball leaves the park – and it almost did – they should have stopped the game and declared the Pirates world champs. The miracles keep coming.
Except at this point it isn’t a miracle.
Before the season, manager Clint Hurdle said the goal was 95 wins. Everyone laughed. Me, too. But last night was victory No. 95. Onward and upward.
A.J. Burnett gets Game 1 at. St. Louis. Burnett pitching in the playoffs in akin to Gen. Patton finally getting a chance to kill Germans.
The electricity at PNC was wonderful, but hardly unique. The Penguins and Steelers are frequent playoff participants. Do it one time out of 20, and the ga-ga seems greater. Two decades of failure jacks up subsequent accomplishments.
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