After an off day (the last for a while) the Washington Nationals travel to the confluence of three rivers to take on the Pittsburgh Pirates. It’s an atypical midweek engagement at PNC Park for the Nats, costing many Washingtonians the opportunity to see the finest ballpark.
As always, The Maryland Bureau Chief Emeritus and repatriated Western Pennsylvanian Sam Basile (not pictured) is talking Buccos. Surely, he’s basking in the reflective glory of the preordained Penguins playoff series victory over the Capitals. Now, we look to the Nats for a measure of civic athletics redemption this evening.
WFY: Back in November, would you have believed that Andrew McCutcheon would still be in centerfield and Starling Marte would not be? The Nats wanted Cutch pretty badly and so did the D.C. fanbase. The Nats got Adam Eaton instead which worked really well for a few weeks before he got hurt. How is Cutch doing?
SAB: Most Pirate fans figured Cutch would be traded. However, we wanted to see a top pitcher or two solid pitchers. My guess is the Pirates management wanted even more than that, and the Nats (and others) probably wouldn’t want to pay a steep price. Cutch is showing a bit more power this year, but his batting average is still crappy (.212 at this point). He is still swinging at bad pitches, a bad trend that he started last year. With the loss of Marte and Kang (still in South Korea) and due to recent injuries, the offense has been PATHETIC. I do believe that Cutch will eventually be traded.
WFY: Six games under? I’m looking at results and they SWEPT the Cubs are Wrigley and took the Yankees series in Pittsburgh. Dumb luck or under-performing otherwise?
SAB: It wasn’t luck at the time–Marte was playing, Freese and Frazier both weren’t hurt and Cervelli was completely healthy. Things have changed since with the suspension and injury. The Jamison Taillon cancer concern doesn’t help the pitching staff at all. And the Pirates bench is very weak. But the Yankees series was also a treat–a lot of Yankee fans in the stadium too. I wore both a Yankees hat and a Pirates jersey. It was a great experience. I don’t expect them to finish over .500.
WFY: You did what now? I seem to remember…
WFY: Moving on – after several play-in game appearances, has the window closed for these Pirates?
SAB: I think Pirates ownership and the GM closed the door after the 2015 season. They don’t seem to want to invest any money, and have left some of the best pitchers walk without much in return. They made NO moves in the off-season of any significance. The whole thing angers me!
WFY: Got any decent bullpen arms in the last year or two of their contract? Asking for an embattled GM.
SAB: Wade LeBlanc has been very solid, and better than expected. Felipe Rivero, a former Nationals player, is being groomed to be the Pirates closer. I was very surprised that the Nats gave him up last year. He’s a left and has been very solid. He’s not in the closer position yet, but I could see that happening before the end of the season.
WFY: Looks like they are wearing too many uniforms again. The homies and bumblebees have winning records while the black and roadies to not. What’s your favorite look?
SAB: By far are the Yellow jerseys. They are unique and stand-out amongst other teams. Plus they better represent the city and the historical success of the Pirates. I like them much better than the grey uniforms, which I don’t like at all! The bumblebees, which the Steelers use, are by far the WORST uniform in the whole city.
WFY: How is attendance? Are you disappointed as I am that this series is midweek? I know Washingtonians, including myself, enjoy heading up to that beautiful ballpark. We’d have been happy to give them a bit of boost.
SAB: Attendance is a bit down, but is very consistent with this time of year. I think the Pirates would rather have the Nats during the week (with expected better attendance) than say Milwaukee during the week. But I’m not expecting a sellout by any means.
WFY: Does anybody out there care that the Nats are coming to town?
SAB: It still boggles my mind why the Pirates are not in the same division as the Nats. Why can’t we be in the east? Trade the Pirates for the Braves makes more sense, but I don’t think it will happen. The rivalry between the two teams is slowly improving. Its too bad they don’t play more often. As an aside, as you may know, I’m going on a summer east coast baseball trip! Starting with a home game with the Mets on July 23rd, followed by a Yankees game on the 25th, Phillies on the 26th, and finishing up with the Nationals on the 27th. Will you have a half-smoke ready for me?????
WFY: How do you see this week’s series going and the overall season series, which doesn’t resume until late September?
SAB: I expect the Nationals to win 2 out of 3 (Pirates best chance is to win Wednesday’s game). I expect the Nats to take at least 2 of 3 in September, although by that point the Pirates season will likely be completely flat and we may only using a Triple AAA team at that point.
My goal in life, other than hoping to see the Pirates win a world series (which is not planned for 2017, nor any time in the near future) is to support brain cancer awareness. May 15th was my 2 year anniversary of my seizure, which resulted in a diagnosis of stage 3 brain cancer. I have recently joined a team that is supporting an annual 5K to raise awareness, knowledge and support to brain cancer. Their facebook website is listed below. All proceeds are going to the doctors at UPCI (University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute). The folks at the UPCI are the same doctors that are treating me, and they are helping not just for me, but for many others! More info on the group I am supporting if you go to Facebook and click on: “Brain Cancer Awareness 5K“. The event is scheduled for August 19, 2017. More details to follow!