“And now, the end is here and so I face the final curtain. My friend, I’ll say it clear, I’ll state my case of which I’m certain. I’ve lived a life that’s full I traveled each and ev’ry highway. And more, much more than this, I did it my way. Regrets, I’ve had a few, But then again, too few to mention. I did what I had to do and saw it through without exemption. I planned each charted course, each careful step along the byway. And more, much more than this, I did it my way.” (Recorded by Frank Sinatra.) As I sit here again continuing to contemplate how the Pittsburgh Pirates 2013 season will progress, my mind continues to wander back and forth from the players who take the field daily to the “power brokers” that determine who will suit up every day. The Pirates GM Neil Huntington and Field Skipper Clint Hurdle are still in the lab trying to come up with an antidote to the past poisonous bait and trade policies of ex-GM or VP Dave Littlefield. His official title does not matter because in the end he will be remembered by most baseball fans and scribes who chronicle the game simply as a “loser.” When the 2010 baseball season began in Pittsburgh I said then and I repeat it now that if the Pirates weren’t careful, their heads would wind up in the trophy cases hanging on the walls of a few MLB franchises. They began that season by honouring then Pirate outfielder Andrew McCutchen as the 2009 Baseball America Rookie of the Year.
In those days McCutchen still had an innocence about him. I caught him around the batting cage on opening day and he told me that, “Just to be able to wake up and say I’m in Pittsburgh and I’m opening up at home is great. It’s a dream come true for me just because it’s something new. I really can’t map out my No. 1 moment because it’s all been great—from opening day to just being in a Pittsburgh Pirate uniform. It’s all been an honor. It’s all been a dream.” At the time I stated that, “[I hoped] that [his] dream didn’t turn into a nightmare for the Pirates or their fans.” One of the big chunks of the puzzle that was snatched from McCutchen’s possible supporting cast was infielder/hitter extraordinaire Freddy Sanchez.
The San Francisco Giants upgraded their offense in the middle of a hot pennant race by acquiring three-time All-Star Freddy Sanchez from Pittsburgh for “pitching prospect Tim Alderson in 2009.” Sanchez had won the National League batting title in 2006. Sanchez had to change clubhouses to join his new team, which is in the thick of the NL wild-card race. In a few hours he went from loser to winner. The Pirates traded outfielder Jason Bay. He went from loser to winner. In July of 2009 The Pittsburgh Pirates, swapped outfielders successive seasons, sending starting left fielder Nyjer Morgan to the Washington Nationals. The Pirates, spurred to trade because their farm system has been unproductive, acquired Milledge and reliever Joel Hanrahan from the Nationals for the fleet Morgan and left-handed reliever Sean Burnett, a former first-round draft pick. H’mm where in the hell, sorry, I meant where in the world is Carmen San Diego. Well, he is helping Joel Hanrahan get use to his new digs in “Beantown.” Speaking of Carmen San Diego what is “pitching prospect” Tim Alderson doing now days? Ya know the guy that they gave away Freddie Sanchez for. Let’s hope the “philanthropic era” of the Pirates is over and that Pittsburgh “cooks what it keeps.”
Another man who does it “his way” is the head coach for the University of Pittsburgh men’s basketball team Jamie Dixon.
According to a press release by the university [Dixon stated that he intends to]; “finish his career at the University of Pittsburgh,” Jamie Dixon reinforced his commitment to Pitt last week when he signed a 10-year contractual agreement that runs through the 2022-23 season. Dixon owns the highest winning percentage in school history (.753) with a 262-86 record from 2003-13. He has led the Panthers to nine NCAA Tournaments in 10 seasons, the most NCAA appearances by a Pitt coach. “Pitt and Pittsburgh are home,” Dixon said. “My family and I feel blessed to be part of such a great institution and wonderful city. It is the people who truly make a place special. I could not be surrounded by better players, staff and administration. These aren’t just people I work for and with every day. First joining Pitt as associate head coach in 1999, Dixon has constructed one of the countries most successful and durable men’s basketball programs. Pitt is one of only seven teams nationally to advance to the NCAA Tournament in 11 of the past 12 seasons (2002-13). That elite group includes Duke, Gonzaga, Kansas, Michigan State, Pitt, Texas and Wisconsin. I must be the first to congratulate Coach Dixon for his new deal but I must also reprimand the Panthers AD and the schools administration for signing such a tenuous long term agreement.
In 1999 “little” Gonzaga advanced to the “Elite Eight” in the NCAA tournament by beating No. 7 seeded Minnesota in the1st round, No. 2 seeded Stanford in the 2nd round and defeated No. 6 seeded Florida in the “sweet 16” round to advance to the final eight. The nickname of the Gonzaga b-ball team is the Bulldogs. From Dave Wannstedt to Todd Graham to whomever.
The Pitt athletic department always seems to get bulldozed when it comes to these overpaid, underperforming coaches. Don’t get me wrong, Dixon is one of the best coaches in Pitt and NCAA history in regards to the “regular” season.” But we all understand that it is the post season that brings in the real dough…later
(Aubrey Bruce can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-583-6741.)