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As I sat basking in the glow of the triumphant return of Andrew McCutchen to PNC Park, my faith was reinstated in the Pirates’ faithful. They did not boo, hiss or spit in regards to him returning to his former stomping grounds. But my father used to say, “Where there is good, rest assured that evil is step-for-step or not too far behind.”

As I was traveling back to my office, two patrons who had just attended the game and hung out with the bartender expressed their very explicit and subjective views regarding the return of Andrew McCutchen to PNC Park. “I’m glad that McCutchen came to visit but I’m happy that he is going back to that h___osexual-filled, God-forsaken San Francisco,” said drunk #1.

“Yeah,” chimed in drunk #2. “The Bucs are doing just fine without him. If he would have lowered his price the Pirates would have kept him.”

Mercifully for me the automated voice on the “T” blurted out, “Next stop, Wood Street.”

DAVE PARKER (AP PHOTO)

It was time for me to break camp and boy was I glad to get off that train. When and where did these fans develop these dark opinions about an athlete that in all probability they would never get to know personally in their lifetime? What information or misinformation could be the catalyst in regards to the general public concluding that they were qualified to define and decipher the wealth and worth of these athletes? It is my theory…no, as far as I’m concerned it is a fact that there is a segment of Western Pennsylvania and the national media that plays a significant role in creating FMV (fair market value), or in many cases the UMV (unfair market value), of certain players.

The Pittsburgh Pirates fans of the new millennium are whining, crying, griping and complaining about the current Pirates owners being “ultra-frugal” when offering and paying Pirates players a fair wage when it comes to fielding and maintaining a competitive and winning team. However, when Pirates owners of the late 1970s and early 1980s paid big money to keep “certain” players under contract there was a major revolt by the Pirates faithful. Let’s take a look back at former Pirates owner John W. Galbreath. Mr. Galbreath as an MLB franchise owner accepted the value of one of the brightest stars of the late 1970s and ‘80s, former Pirates right fielder Dave “The Cobra” Parker. When Parker was on the verge of bolting from the Steel City, the Galbreath ownership group signed Parker to a five-year, $5 million contract in January 1979. Parker had won the 1978 NL MVP award and had earned several Gold Gloves, throwing out 72 runners from 1975 to 1979. In 1977 alone, he threw out 26 runners. During his career Parker was a seven-time All-Star. But alas, before the ink had even dried on his multi-million dollar deal, Parker allegedly received numerous death threats.

But wait, it gets deeper.

He had to watch his back when he trotted out to right field at Three Rivers Stadium as well as other MLB parks to play defense because of various foreign objects that were thrown at him, including 9-volt batteries, etc. These “fans” received less than a slap on the wrist. Remember, all of these events occurred after the Pirates ownership signed “The Cobra” to an extended agreement to remain with the team!

These fans deserve cheap owners.

The Galbreaths weren’t appreciated when they reinvested in the team. These fans only sanction reinvestment into players that they like and can relate to. If Dave Parker had been infielder Sid (The Turtle) Bream or outfielder Andy Van Slyke, in all probability the money would have been considered well-spent. The Pittsburgh Pirates owners of the new millennium are not merely just being frugal, they are just acutely aware of their market. As long as the Pirates remain relatively competitive and simultaneously field a team that is “socially” acceptable by the fan base, the faithful will moan and groan, but the fans’ “gnashing of teeth” will fall on deaf ears because the Pirates ownership have their fingers on the “pulse” of the team’s demographic…realizing that when marketing and the bottom line is placed alongside the culture of success, winning will always be secondary.

 

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