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Pirates Without a Prayer

Why can’t Bucs win on a Sunday?

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In Catholic school, I was taught that Jesus died on Friday but came to life on Sunday. If only the Pirates were so lucky. Instead, they're getting schooled on Sundays too

As of July 21, the Pirates' winning percentage on Sundays was a nauseating .133. At home, it's .000. They have yet to win a single Sunday-afternoon match in the apparently not-so-friendly confines of PNC Park. Bear in mind, they have actually played every Sunday this season … and in that time have managed to lose every which way, in every conceivable situation.

They lost the rubber match to the Marlins at home on Sun., May 14; were swept by the Dodgers on June 25 in L.A.; and blew a potential home sweep of the Nationals on July 16.

They lost with awful starting pitching on April 30 against the Phillies, when Ollie Perez gave up four runs early before being pulled in the fourth inning. (Another blown sweep opportunity, if you're keeping score at home.) And they lost with awful relief pitching on May 28 against the Astros, when they got seven startling shut-out innings from Ollie, but reverted to the same sad Sunday tale once the bullpen took over.

They've lost close Sunday games when they could have won the series (on May 7 in Washington, despite Freddy Sanchez's best efforts) and they've been pounded to finish ugly sweeps, as in Houston on April 23.

They've lost on Sundays to American League teams (Cleveland Indians on May 21) and to cross-state National League rivals (Phillies on July 9).

They've lost to good teams like the Minnesota Twins (.595 winning percentage), and they've lost to bad teams too. The wheels came off early in the season on April 16 versus the pathetic Cubs (winning percentage of .391, barely more respectable than the home towners).

This is a pattern right out of an M. Night Shyamalan movie. What could it mean?

In the Bible it says, "Six days you shall labor, but on the seventh day you shall rest; even during the plowing season and harvest you must rest." Maybe the Bucs would rather be at a church-tent revival instead of playing baseball. If so, why not just go with it? Why not just praise the Lord and pass the resin bag?

If the ballpark atmosphere were more like church on Sundays, maybe it would help put some angels back in the Pirates outfield. And in their bullpen. No more playing U2, Skynyrd or even that Cookie Monster song over the sound system — just play church hymns. My mother's got a collection of old Latin hymns on vinyl that I'm willing to donate.

I've heard Vince Laschied playing "We Gather Together" during confabs at the pitcher's mound. Keep it coming, Vince. There are lots of church songs that incorporate river references; they could become PNC Park sing-alongs. "Yes, we'll gather at the river / The beautiful, the beautiful river …"

I'm not suggesting that the team merely cater to Christians, though. Quite the opposite: We should build up bench strength by encouraging religious diversity on the roster. Currently, John Grabow is the only Jewish player on the team, but since David Littlefield is clearly going to broker some deals, might I suggest making those trades based on faith? There are at least 10 other Jewish players out there in the majors, including Shawn Green, Brad Ausmus, Jason Marquis, Gabe Kapler and Kevin Youkilis. Go get 'em, Dave. And don't bogart that Maneschewitz.

Maybe the Pirates could get some Muslim players, too — especially if they came across good starting pitching. With sufficient diversity, Jim Tracy could rotate his line-up based on religion: Sit the Jewish players on Saturday, the Muslims on Fridays and the devout Christians on Sundays.

With all the trouble involving religious fanatics in the world right now, the Pirates could be a new model of tolerance. After all, they have as much chance of bringing about world peace as they do of bringing home a World Series. Who needs "Money Ball" when we can have "God/Yahweh/Allah/Buddha/Vishnu Ball"?

To borrow from the prophet Isiah, a small-market team shall lead them …

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