In the mix

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by Aubrey Bruce
For New Pittsburgh Courier

The “green weenie,” “there’s a bug loose on the rug,” “a bloop and a blast,” “we had ’em all the way.” Those were the days my friend, we thought they’d never end. But wait, the 2010 Pittsburgh Pirates are over .500 and you know what? If Pittsburgh gets decent starts (12 wins) from three starters and 10 wins from two marginal ones, well as far as I am concerned, they may do a little damage. Last weekend, they retrieved the broom from a cobweb- filled utility closet and swept the Cincinnati “Redlegs.”

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Now I am fully aware that there may not be chills of fear running up and down the spine of the Pirates’ opponents but with the speedy lineup that the Bucs are putting on the field, there may be a few goosebumps of negative energy felt by opposing pitchers and catchers when they are faced with attempting to hold the speed merchants of the Pirates close to first base or throwing them out as they head for second. At this moment the Buccos are in the mix. They are young and exciting and by the looks of things have an extremely bright future.

However, one of the elements that will lessen the chances of the Pirates having a more than respectable 2010 season will be the pitching. There are not many teams that can play above “cellar” baseball with pitchers sporting E.R.A. numbers in excess of 24.00.

Boys and girls, please feast your eyes on this Aubrey Bruce proverb. There was a poor old man. He had reached the ripe old age of 100. One day he went to the refrigerator and it was bare. Ditto for the cupboard and even in the attic where he had always stored food. When he informed his 30-something-year-old neighbor of his dilemma and the possibility of perishing from starvation, his neighbor replied in a matter of fact tone of voice, “heck Martin, you have lived a good righteous life for over a century, if you die now, in all probability you will go straight to heaven.” The old man replied, “That all sounds good but as of right now, heaven can wait because unless you are deaf and can’t hear the rumbling, my stomach cannot.” Are you guys getting it? The Pirates have loads and loads of prospects and projects but time is not at the bus stop waiting to catch a bus home.

There is no wiggle room to wait for the development of any one player on the 2010 squad because for the Pirates to achieve respectability their baseball machine must be become synchronized and remain that way. All the pieces of the puzzle must be in place simultaneously in order for the “curse” of Barry Bonds to be broken. I have often wondered if ex-Pirate GM/VP Dave Littlefield is directly descended from the long lost “Indian” tribe affectionately known as the “giveaway” tribe, you know the tribe that possibly came from the Canarsies, one of the tribes that “sold” Manhattan to the Dutch for a few beads and trinkets. Now there was another Native American tribe, the Weckquaesgeeks, living on Manhattan island at the time of the alleged sale. They controlled a considerable part of the island. They loved Manhattan. They would not consider selling it. So the Dutch waited. A succession of inter-Indian wars, some instigated by the Dutch, and epidemics weakened the Weckquaesgeeks. Then they moved in for the kill armed with the most infamous set of beads in history.

The rest of MLB waited until the Pirates became fiscally weakened with an even bleaker image and then initiated their “beads for Buc’s” sale. Get ’em, cheap and win big. The Pirates fattened the lambs not to slaughter for their own consumption but they provided big healthy stock for jaws of the “runaway wolves” franchises of baseball. But wait, we must give credit where it is due. Even if by chance the Pirates end up without a wild card spot or a tad below the 81-81 mark, I guarantee all those who mosey on over to PNC Park for the remainder of the 2010 season will see a squad that’s reckless, exciting, fearless and always, always ready to battle.

Off to the Races

There are fewer things held closer to our hearts than children who are saddled with life-altering and life-threatening diseases and disabilities. Take the case of 13-year-old James Keith Stefano. “Jimmy” Stefano has OL (Brittle Bone) disease. He is wheelchair-bound but refuses to allow that dampen his spirits. This weekend a fundraiser will be held to make his home wheelchair accessible by installing an elevator lift. He needs the help and support of all Pittsburghers. The event is “Night at the Races,” held April 24 at 7 p.m., at St. Mary of the Mount Church, 115 Bigham St., Sullivan Hall (off Grandview Avenue) Mt. Washington (doors open at 6 p.m.). Donations are $15 per person, $30 per couple. Purchase a $20 horse for free admission. Call Nancy at Saint Justin’s Parish at 412-381-9879 or 412-381-9878

(Aubrey Bruce can be reached at: abruce@newpittsburghcourier.com or 412-.583-6741.)

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