PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – There was a time when Pirates fans went to the ballpark in disguise.
“We’re going to wear bags over our heads to show our frustration,” one fan said.
But they’re not hiding anymore.
Clearly the organization had a plan.
Owner Bob Nutting took the heat — but even though his long-term development strategy seems to be paying off — he’s not gloating now.
When asked if he feels vindicated, Nutting said, “I don’t think vindicated is the word. Certainly we had a strategy to bring talent in at every level of the organization.”
Taking flack for trading off star players for prospects, fans and writers questioned his commitment to winning, labeling him a tight-wad. But in the past five years, he’s spent $50 million — more than any other team — on player development and scouting — yielding stars like Starling Marte.
He also spent heavily to draft players like fire-baller Gerrit Cole and power hitter Pedro Alvarez.
“Through draft, through the international development and some degree of patience — and I’m not really a patience person — some degree of patience as it works its way up through the system,” Nutting said.
Pirate fans — whose patience has been tested — are lining up at the box office and they’re not calling Nutting a cheapskate anymore.
“Maybe before, but I think he’s spending the money to get the good players, cause I think he wants to win right now,” one fan said.
“We’re never going to outspend the Yankees,” Nutting said. “But, we need to be as smart and efficient as we possibly can.”
Half a year does not a season make, but at long last Nutting’s long-term strategy seems to be paying off this year and perhaps, years to come.