Double Shot of Aggravation

It was the worst of times, it was the worst of times. Hope you didn’t buy your chicken wings and chips in advance. You know, the one’s you would need for this weekend’s big rematch with hated New England. You know, the game that a lot of the Steeler’s, including the coach, were guaranteeing they would win. Unfortunately, it seems that they forgot they had to play a game before that one.

Knowing what you know now, would you really have wanted that defense to face Tom Brady? You know, the one that mad Blake Bortles look like Tim Tebow…Do you see what I did there? Yeah, worked in another bad memory to go with this fresh one. Hey, look at the bright side. It won’t take as long to get a pizza delivered on Sunday. Not to mention the beer distributors will be less crowded this weekend.

Now, you would think the Steelers losing a game nobody expected them to lose would be all the bad news the town could handle. But, then you would be wrong. It turns out the Pirates…I shouldn’t be writing about the Pirates in January…anyway, the Pirates, led by tight-fisted owner, Bob “Ka-Ching” Nutting decided to bookend the Steelers loss by trading two of their best players.

A few days before the Steelers loss, the Pirates traded their best pitcher, Garrett Cole. The day after the Steelers debacle, The Pirates traded their best player, Andrew McCutchen. Of course they did that because both of these players were about to be paid more. Bob “Ka-Ching” Nutting doesn’t play that game. That’s money he could be shoving into his pockets.

2015 seems so far away doesn’t it? That was the 98 win season. The third straight playoff appearance after twenty depressing years of losing. There was excitement about baseball in Pittsburgh once again. Each year attendance was setting new records. All they had to do was add a player or two to get to the next level, possibly the World Series.

So how did Mr. Nutting reward the fans for their support? He traded starting second baseman and hometown favorite Neil Walker for a chewed stick of gum. Then he let JA Happ, who had been their best pitcher the last two months of the season, leave without an offer. He then tried to replace these players with garbage found on the scrap heap? Why? “KA-CHING!”

Of course the result was the Pirates went from 98 wins to the start of another long string of losing seasons with no end in sight under this owner. Attendance dropped as a result, which meant so did payroll for last season. Now, Josh Harrison is asking to be traded. Can you blame him? Season ticket holders are complaining about going to games next year. Hey, you only have to watch 81. Josh Harrison has to look at this garbage 162 times, not counting spring games.

So, the Pirates Payroll next season looks to be around 68 million. Or about half of what most small market teams are willing to pay. GM Neil Huntington and owner Bob Nutting are both saying that these are not salary dumps and they expect the team to contend for the playoffs next year. This is because,

  1. They’re overly optimistic.
  2. They’re on really good drugs that they need to share with the fans.
  3. (And this is the correct answer) They’re lying.

Even though they’re going to lose this year and next year and…you remember twenty years…people will still go. Probably not as many as last year, which means next year’s payroll drops again and so does attendance…eventually the Pirates will be putting a group on the field that couldn’t beat your kids little league team.

Nothing you can do about it. This owner isn’t selling because he’s lining his pockets. The Pirates are making a big profit every year and it will be bigger this year with the depleted payroll. Not only that, but every team will be receiving an extra 50 million dollars this year from a Disney investment in MLB advanced media. Nutting says he doesn’t know where that money will go. I think the rest of us do…”KA-CHING!”

Follow John on Twitter @jknight841

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