As sure as the changing of the seasons, here we are once again in July debating whether the Pittsburgh Pirates can hold onto what has been a successful season. Let’s take a look at the history. It’s 2011 – around July – and the Pirates are surging. For the first time in forever, they’re actually “buyers” at the trade deadline. Then they fall about. Explanations range from the hysterical (a blown umpiring decision in a 19-inning game vs. Atlanta,) to the plausible…..the team didn’t have much depth.
But…..2012 would be different, right? Not so much. The team held on a little longer this team, thanks to an out-of-this-world season by Andrew McCutchen. Again, explanations range from crazy (it was the Brad Lincoln trade that did it!) to again the predictable, more accurate – THE TEAM HAD NO DEPTH.
Now we’re in 2013 and expectations are out of this world. I admit to falling victim to this. Some talked of this Oakland series as a possible World Series match-up. I hope that is possible but I’d never predict it. A couple weeks ago I asked the question on our Facebook page, what do the Pirates need to do at the trade deadline. I think, that now, it’s obvious that they need to go after some bench players. The team needs to pad its depth, therefore addressing the problem over the last few years. Pitching isn’t the problem….the pitching staff is getting it done. The team just isn’t scoring enough runs to even overcome a 2 run deficit. So, for what it is worth, find some good position players that can come off the bench and put some balls in play. We’ll see what happens. Plus, for the record, I don’t think the team is collapsing.
First, a couple stories we’re following in Indiana County today:
* The state House Transportation Committee will consider Senate Bill 1 today. That is a bill that includes a $2.5 billion transportation plan. It was passed by the Senate but has come under some criticism from House members and many police departments because it increases fees on traffic violations and also will lead to an increase in PA’s gas taxes. There are six days left for a budget agreement.
* We’re covering a couple school board meetings tonight. Budgets for the next fiscal year are expected to be considered at both Indiana and Marion Center.
Now onto the Pirates.
With a sweep over the weekend against the Angels (and losses by the opposition,) the Pirates are now one game back from the St. Louis Cardinals. The Pirates also have an easier schedule for the next couple weeks. It’s still VERY early, but here’s the question: If the Pirates are still among the best two or three teams in the National League at the end of the season, what are the expectations for the playoffs. Could we see the Pirates not only make the playoffs but have the chance to go far in them? Obviously, given the last few seasons, I shouldn’t even talk about this. The team could still collapse, but they’re not showing any signs of that. Hopefully this is not only the year the streak ends, but ends dramatically.
If you’re reading this in Western Pennsylvania, you should know that we’re in for a couple very stormy days. The National Weather Service has issued a flash flood watch for Indiana County and says areas around Interstate 80 could see 2 inches of rain. More concerning is the possibility of severe storms tomorrow in many parts of the country. In fact, I just saw an estimate that 64 million people could be impacted by the major storms over the next couple days. What meteorologists are worried about is a derecho. A derecho line of massive storms containing strong straight line winds. Derechos stretch at least 240 miles. The storms are also expected to include tornadoes. The National Weather Service says the risk for severe weather is 15 times higher in the Pittsburgh region than it normally is on any given day in June. So, pay attention to your weather forecasts on the radio and television and take safety measures if necessary!
*** ON AN UNRELATED NOTE ***
Gerrit Cole was great last night. Hopefully the Pirates have a future ace on their hands. It’s amazing how well the teams in the Pirates’ division have played. The St. Louis Cardinals are 20 games over .500, the Reds are a half-game ahead of the Buccos and all three teams are still among the major leagues’ best.