Mueller: What’s Better Than .500? A Winning Streak
Much has been made of the fact that the Pittsburgh Pirates have climbed back to “average” in the standings, with a 17-17 record. I’m also aware that this is the deepest into a season that they’ve been .500 since 2005, when they were 30-30. Even if I didn’t want to, I could probably recite that last statistic in my sleep, because it’s all I’ve been hearing about since Ryan Doumit’s 3-run homer sent the Pirates to a 5-4 win over the Astros.
I understand the excitement surrounding the number, I really do. When you’ve been as bad as the Bucs have, for as long as the Bucs have, it makes sense that fans would view a .500 record and mostly competitive baseball as signs of improvement. Nothing wrong with that, because they are tangible indicators that these aren’t the same woebegone Pirates of recent memory.
What would really sell me on the Pirates is a little winning streak. Like, say, taking the first three games from the visiting Los Angeles Dodgers. Or how about taking all four? Good teams get that way by winning 2 out of 3 on a regular basis. But they also sprinkle in a healthy number of sweeps as well. The Pirates are doing their best impersonation of a decent team right now. If this Dodgers series ends with their record at 21-17 instead of 20-18 or 19-19, I’ll have a much stronger belief that something intriguing is brewing at PNC Park. With the way the pitching has been rolling, all it’s going to take is a bit more offense from a team that’s still challenged in that department.
So get excited and watch the Pirates because they’re absolutely giving you a reason to right now. And tune out the idiots that like to whine about the payroll and scream that the front office will sell players and cut the Pirates’ legs out from under them. That will only happen if this team starts to play poorly and their record reflects it, and those that constantly bring it up aren’t fans of baseball, they’re fans of their own shrill, uninformed voices. The last thing anyone should be thinking about is the trade deadline. The only thing on the minds of the fans should be whether the Pirates can take their .500 record and put it in the rear view mirror.