To clear the record, I am not one to harp on some of the obvious things Philadelphia fans harp on. I was not one to rip on Donovan McNabb until he left and started making more excuses then I had enough. I finally have worn down and have started to rip Andy Reid. But now I have turned to the potential public enemy No. 1 in Philadelphia, Ryan Howard. Listen, I was there for Game 6 last year when Howard went down looking. I watched as Brian Wilson and Tim Lincecum celebrated on our home field. I had the long walk back to the car trying to talk to people who had a better view of the called third strike and if what I just witnessed was real life. But, in the end, I chalked it up as a mistake, Howard should have at least fouled it off, and he will adjust and learn from it. I am still not a Howard hater but I can no longer make excuses for the big man.
For the first time since the Bush administration, that's the first Bush administration, the Pittsburgh Pirates are relevant and dangerous. First of all, I attend the University of Pittsburgh, and as a passionate baseball fan, it pains me to see first hand such a storied franchise forgotten amongst the Black & Gold nation. Now the Pirates didn't come to the brink of extinction like the Penguins did, but the Pirates are coming back into relevance without drafting the best player in the world. Come the beginning of the season, there was not much promise for the buccos, if someone told you that the buccos would be in first place at this time of the season a few months ago, they were probably drunk. Lets be honest, they are one of the two shock/surprise teams of the season, along with the Cleveland Indians. These two teams are bringing a resurgence of baseball interest and hype to their respective cities. The Pirates are coming in to town this weekend sporting a 54-49 record and a second place standing in the NL Central. The best record they have had at this point in the season in close to a decade. Manager Clint Hurdle is running away with the 'Manager of the Year' award if the Pirates keep this up. What has carried the Pirates to the point they are at now is their pitching. They sport the 6th best ERA in the majors and 5th best in the NL. This counters their 26th best offense, which is definitely their weak point. With only a few bright spots in the lineup, the Pirates have to make their runs count. Once again Andrew McCutchen is leading in every offensive category and the Pirates are now glad that they did not deal him away. McCutchen, Niel Walker, and Lyle Overbay are the only starters to play over 100 games this season. Which means they have stayed healthy and are able to continue to produce. The Buccos have used an arsenal of other small names to fill their lineup, playing 50-80 games this year. Another impressive statistic that comes from their pitching staff is that all 5 starters have at least 9 Quality Starts. Also, Joel Hanrahan, an unpopular choice for closer during spring training has 30 saves, the 3rd most in the NL.