Baseball season is over. While there are still officially 55 games left on the Pirates schedule — just more than a third of the absurdly-long MLB calendar — Pittsburgh’s season is essentially over thanks to them winning two of their last 10 contests, falling from two games out of first to 6.5 back of the red-hot Cubs.
But before your turn your attention fully to the Steelers, we need to properly blame all those who contributed to another lost Pirates season.
Welcome to the Pirates Blame Edition of the Pittsburgh Sports Power Rankings.
10. Andrew McCutchen
Andrew McCutchen is having a bounce-back year. After struggling most of last season and at the start of 2017, he’s reverted to his usual baseball brilliance and is on pace to hit 30 home runs, drive in a 100 runs and hit close to .300. Where he gets some of the blame, however, is that he didn’t start hitting until late May. By that time, it seems the front office had already given up on the season and proceeded to act accordingly. So if we could give McCutchen any advice for 2018, it is this: be awesome from the very start and maybe the team will splurge on a decent reliever or utility infielder or something to aid you in your baseball endeavors. Okay? Great.
9. Tyler Glasnow
It’s hard to pin any blame for a lost season on a 23 year-old rookie pitcher, but Glasnow was (is?) the best pitching prospect in the Pirates system and the team hoped to get more out of him than a 7.45 ERA. Glasnow has been dominating since his demotion to Triple-A — with a 1.46 ERA and 85 strikeouts in 55.2 innings — but The Incline covers Pittsburgh sports, not Indianapolis sports. Sorry, Indianapolis.
8. Gerrit Cole
Cole hasn’t been bad. He hasn’t been great. He’s been what Gerrit Cole has now established himself as five seasons into his MLB career: a pretty good starting pitcher who is a solid No. 3 on a legit contender. On the Pirates he’s miscast as the ace, when we all know his best role remains Badger:
7. John Jaso
Did you ever hear the tale about all of the bugs found in Bob Marley’s hair? There’s no truth to it. It’s an urban/island legend and a pretty mean one at that. People with dreadlocks wash their hair. All that said, I would be willing to bet that there are currently more bugs in John Jaso’s hair than hits he’s had for the Pirates this year.
6. Chicago Cubs
If you consider the Pirates’ offseason moves — and you should already be done considering them, as there were pretty much none — it’s pretty easy to make the case that the front office decided that the reigning World Series champion Cubs were too stacked to even bother fighting them for the division. Okay. Fine. But then the Cubs came out and stunk it up for three and a half months. The division could have been had. But now it’s too late. The Cubs are good again. The jerks.
5. Daniel Hudson
Is it bad when your team’s big/only offseason acquisition is a middle reliever whose Twitter feed is littered with apologies and memes about how poorly he has performed?
4. The human body
If the Pirates were going to contend this year, they needed big contributions from Gregory Polanco and Jameson Taillon. But Polanco has struggled all season with hamstring issues, and Taillon was diagnosed with testicular cancer. Taillon’s health issue was so severe that it forced everyone to put baseball in its proper perspective. Well, it did for a few days, at least. Now we’re all back to complaining.
3. Drugs and alcohol
Drunk driving is bad.
Using PEDs: Less bad but also bad.
2. PNC Park
Yeah, that’s right. I’m blaming you, PNC Park. If it wasn’t for your beautiful views, the Pirates wouldn’t draw 10,000 fans a game and management would be forced to improve the product on the field to get people in the seats. But you’re so gorgeous, you sell tickets regardless of who’s playing. It’s time you take a hard look at yourself, PNC Park, and figure out if you want to be remembered as a ballpark of beauty or a ballpark of substance. Make the right choice. We can have you retro-fitted with a horrid Three Rivers Stadium facade in time for next season so the winning can begin anew.
1. Neal Huntington
You have to admire Neal Huntington. He’s got a high-profile job in professional sports making big money and has literally done absolutely nothing for an entire year. That’s the American Dream right there.
Last year at the trade deadline he added Ivan Nova and Felipe Rivero, but he has done almost zero in the 368 days since. He re-signed Nova and signed Hudson in the offseason and then traded for 40 year-old reliever Joaquin Benoit this week. That’s it. That’s everything he did in an entire year.
After a good start to his tenure in Pittsburgh, Huntington now has become the real-life equivalent of Yankees exec George Costanza hiding under his desk as acting GM. You almost have to admire him for being able to pull it off. I just want him to tell us if he plans the same for 2018 so the rest of us can know if we should bother paying attention to the Pirates.