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Idle Thoughts- Pirates Push Towards Respectability A Welcome Distraction

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(Photo by- Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

(Photo by- Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

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I’m not one to share my opinion, but since you asked…

  • Just five weeks into the 2011 season, the Pittsburgh Pirates have won 11 road games and taken five series away from home.  Is there anybody out there that could have predicted this?  Maybe some mad genius locked away in some insane asylum.  We are talking about the Pirates and that means the sky could fall at any moment, but why does this team give you that feeling it won’t? 
  • One big reason this team is doing well is pitching.  The irony of that is pitching was the team’s biggest question mark coming into 2011.  Granted, there was some concern regarding run production and how guys like Pedro Alvarez and Lyle Overbay would produce, (they haven’t) but it was the pitching that had people concerned.  It’s still early, but by all accounts the team’s starting rotation and bullpen have pitched well and is the strength of the club after 31 games. 
  • The Kentucky Derby is this weekend and I ask you, does anybody even care? 
  • How good did it make you feel to see Tampa Bay sweep the Washington Capitals from the Stanley Cup Playoffs?  I for one enjoyed it just a bit.  I find Capitals fans, along with their owner Ted Leonsis to be some of the most arrogant, obnoxious people walking the face of the earth.  I don’t practice Schadenfreude, but in this case I’m more than happy to indulge. 
  • Led by Kevin Correia, the staff has put up decent numbers so far this season compiling a team ERA of 3.74, putting them in the middle of the pack of MLB.  The starters have been the real story, starting with the offseason acquisition from San Diego who has a team best 5 wins, (all on the road) and a 2.91 ERA that ranks him 10th among NL pitchers with at least 40 innings pitched, with 46.1 logged so far.  If the All-Star game were this weekend, Correia would be on the pitching staff and deservedly so. 
  • For those people who think the NBA is more popular than Major League Baseball, all I can say to that is this, do you see MLB in Memphis and Oklahoma City? I didn’t think so.  The NBA will NEVER surpass baseball in popularity. 
  • I have to admit that Pedro Alvarez’s slow start is beginning to bug me.  I know he has a history of getting out of the gate poorly, but a .212 batting average, one home run and team leading 34 strikeouts is not cutting it.  A trip to Indianapolis is not the answer to fixing this.  Nor is batting him sixth or seventh in the lineup.  He needs at bats.  That and some additional BP will be his way back to hitting .260, but most importantly, cracking bombs and driving in runs. 
  • When will the NFL and the NFLPA get together and actually figure things out so we can end this lockout?  About mid-July I figure.  There is no way these two groups let $9 Billion sit on the table. 
  • Maybe more bothersome than Pedro Alvarez and his snail-like start is Andrew McCutchen’s struggles at the plate.  His .221 batting average is shocking, but so is his team best five home runs.  He also leads the team in walks with 27.  ‘Cutch’ should be able to shake this off and get back to form soon.  If this team wants to get above .500 and compete, they will need him to do so. 
  • Rashard Mendenhall’s Twitter account has been quiet since he offered a retraction on May 4th regarding his Osama bin Laden statements two days earlier.  Good move on his part.  I’m not saying he should never share his opinion about issues that are on his mind, but think before you speak.  It’s a statement I’m all to familiar with and practice myself. 
  • Tiger Woods will not win a single tournament he plays in this season.  And as far as breaking Jack Nicklaus’ career Grand Slam mark of 18, fuggedaboutit. 
  • Lastly regarding your Buccos, Charlie Morton has been Electric to watch, but his high  number of walks given up (23 in 38.1 innings pitched) is a concern.  His 3.53 ERA is 2nd on the team among pitchers with at least 4 starts.  If he can gain some control and get ahead in the count more, this kid has the goods to make waves and win games. 
  • The Manny Pacquiao vs. Shane Mosley fight on Saturday is another snooze fest I’m not interested in.  Boxing sucks and the only way I’d watch this is if these two were placed on horses racing around Churchill Downs. 
  • Are you rooting for LeBron James and the Miami Heat to win or lose?  I’m not sure where I stand just yet.  I know this.  He’s no King until he wins a ring. 
  • I was flipping through the TV on Thursday and saw on Root Sports the Pittsburgh Passion playing some team from Columbus.  Truly, the Apocalypse is upon us. 

John Phillips is the author of this article and a secret member of the Galactic Empire.  When he’s not chasing down Jedi across the Galaxy, he can be heard hosting weekend talk-shows and anchoring sports updates on 93.7 The Fan.  You can also follow JP on Twitter at www.twitter.com/japboy69

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