The Pittsburgh Pirates have already done much to earn our pity this season, following 2011’s mid-summer collapse with a repeat performance despite an improved team and solid trade deadline additions.
Even with fresh blood like Wandy Rodriguez and Travis Snider, among others*, the Pirates have embarked on a 7-20 slide that has dropped them 5.5 games out of the second Wild Card spot, ending the team’s hopes of reaching the playoffs for the first time since 1992 and jeopardizing their chances of finishing above .500 for the first time since that same fateful year.
* Chad Qualls was also a new addition. This may be part of the problem.
Well, forget all that. We’ve got bigger fish to fry. Bigger galleons to capture. Bigger port towns to rape and pillage. Bigger cabin boys to defile.
Because now? Now we’ve got to deal with this guy.
That right there is Kyle Stark, the Pirates assistant general manager. And he is making some news in the Steel City today.
First, we learned that Stark has the Pirates’ minor league prospects running non-baseball-related military drills, for reasons unknown. Then, we saw an e-mail leak that Stark sent in June to the franchise’s minor league managers and coaches. And holy shit, is this guy a crazy douchebag. And these two items, when taken together, go a long way toward explaining the organizational problems the Pirates have experienced in recent years.
The e-mail reads like one of the screeds Deadspin used to publish from insane, overzealous rec league softball players.
Who’s laughing now?
First, let’s deal with the military drills. If my years in journalism school* taught me anything, it’s that you lead with the most recent news.
* = zero years.
Per Dejan Kovacevic, former Navy SEALS have the Pirates:
- Wake up at 5 a.m.
- Organize room/locker
- Pushups and sit-ups
- Serpentine on the grass
- Crab walk
- Running along the beach with a telephone-type pole, carried by five or six players
- Pushing a truck tire through the outfield for 90 feet, then flipping it
- Being sprayed by a hose
- Diving into a sand pile
I mean….holy shit. Which of those is the most awesome and completely pointless for baseball players? Why couldn’t this have happened last year so Pedro Alvarez could have gotten sprayed with a hose and then entered a wet T-shirt contest? And I would pay to see Gerrit Cole crab walking and then “diving into a sand pile”. Ha ha ha ha ha ha.
We also have to wonder if Clint Hurdle, the world’s biggest fan of the sacrifice bunt, will make the big league roster use those telephone poles for bunting practice. Imagine the bruise on A.J. Burnett’s eye then.
This is the kind of shit that they make football players do at military academies, not professional baseball players. This is a joke. Well, maybe not to Pirates’ fans. We happen to know one, and I asked him to contribute a paragraph to this post from a Bucs’ fan’s perspective. Here’s what he had to say.
“FIRE THEM ALL.”
But the military drills aren’t even the worst of it. You really need to click that link above and real Stark’s full e-mail for yourself. Here are some highlights.
Over the last four days, we’ve reconnected with our WHY — turning boys into men so that we can re-bond a city with a baseball team and change the world through baseball.
Turning boys into men…does Stark really want to be broaching that subject in the Western Pennsylvania given recent events?
Also, fuck this guy. Seriously, just fuck this guy. He’s the worst freshman football coach you ever had. Change the world through baseball? You know who did that? Jackie Robinson. Maybe Babe Ruth. That’s it.
1. Dream like a Hippie — PASSION — Elite people have big dreams, are driven by those dreams, and believe that they can achieve them.
2. Prepare like a Boy Scout — RELENTLESS — Elite people have extreme work ethic, train exhaustively to get better, and prepare fully so they can be their best when their best is needed.
3. Trust like a Hell’s Angel — OWNERSHIP — Elite people trust their preparation, own their strengths and weaknesses, know what they do best and build conviction around it, and compete with reckless abandon.
Dream like a hippie. Prepare like a boy scout. Trust like a Hell’s Angel. Dance like nobody’s watching. Scowl like Thom Yorke. Condescend like Dr. Drew. Drink a pina colada like Rupert Holmes.
The biggest impact we can have in the second half is developing more Hell’s Angels. We are really good at working before games. We excel at developing Boy Scouts. However, men play in the Big Leagues and that requires the reckless abandon of a Hell’s Angel.
Ummm….you guys remember you have A.J. Burnett, right? I think he just knifed somebody yesterday. Not sure you’re following the whole Boy Scout/Hell’s Angel dichotomy. Just because Neil Walker helped an old lady cross the street before last night’s game and then asked Hurdle for a badge doesn’t mean the whole organization’s soft.
As you do some research on the Hell’s Angels, you come across three main qualities that set them apart and symbolize their mystique:
Stabbing, more stabbing, and being huge Sons of Anarchy fans?
1. Swagger — There is an extreme confidence in themselves, their brothers, and what they’re about. They carry a chip on their shoulder and dare others to knock it off. They have an edge. Do our players have an edge? Do we have an edge? What are we doing to develop that edge?
Does Clint Barmes stab a catcher in the neck with the sharp end of his bat after getting sawed off by an inside pitch? Does Joel Hanrahan ride in from the bullpen on a sweet-ass hog? What are we doing to ensure that happens?
2. Reckless abandon — Not only do they have an edge, but they live life on the edge. They’re described as free-spirited, which can be defined as somewhat irresponsible. They risk. They have no fear. They have a care-free and “care-less” attitude.
OK, admittedly, I am not a professional baseball executive. But it seems to me that reckless abandon, irresponsibility and carelessness are not ideals to develop baseball players around. A motorcycle gang? Sure. Millionaire ballplayers? Eh…maybe not. I think someone has been on too many corporate team-building retreats in the woods.
3. Bound by brotherhood — At the end of the day, they are fiercely loyal to each other. It is about the group and the bonds that exist between members. They can fight with each other, but someone external better not say anything negative about them. They love each other. Are our players bound by brotherhood? Are we bound by brotherhood? What are we doing to develop this bond?
They are bound to each other by forces greater themselves, they would give up their lives for each other. They must take blood oaths. They must marry in secret ceremonies. They have each other’s back until the end of time. Or until we give them their outright release or trade them to the Nationals.
We are selling out and committing to this approach. We’ve trained them. We need to train their trust now. Our focus should be on developing Hell’s Angels.
Here’s the Pirates new logo, as envisioned by Kyle Stark
Competent PhotoShopping by sad, angry Pirates fan Arriaga Pizzoza
Or you could, you know, try to make them better at baseball?
For this to happen, we must get out of our comfort zones and flex our own Hell’s Angel muscle.
Pretty sure that’s a euphemism.
HOKA HEY — It’s a good day to die!!!
Ha ha ha ha ha ha. There’s the money shot. I’m so excited for 2013, when the Pirates add every member of the Disciples of Apocalypse to the 40-man roster, and Biker Undertaker takes over at first base.
And all of this broke during the same week as International Talk Like a Pirate Day! Does that mean we have to say things like, “HOKA HEY — It’s a good day to die!!!” instead of just “Arrrrr!” now?
For more on Stark and this whole kerfuffle, check out RumBunter.