6:30 - And here we are...
Nothing's better than a little Wednesday evening spring training baseball... actually, I could name a whole lot of things that are better, but this kind of hits the spot right now. You know what's awesome, Rob King and the Pirates pregame. Rob's got really nice hair, almost as nice as Ryan Doumit's facial hair.
Things that excite me from the pregame lineups; Bobby Crosby at SS, Pedro!, Steve Pearce at first, B. Moss and his awesome Affliction shirt, and Daniel McCutchen throwing a few innings. Things I'm not all that excited about; Ramon Vasquez at second base, Vinnie Chulk (awesome name though), and watching Matt Wieters play in an Orioles jersey. I was kind of hoping Lastings Thrilledge would be starting, but there will be plenty of time for the big guy to get his swings in before April 5th.
Bob Walk apparently choked on a hot dog before he came on screen. Someone is going to get screamed at Ron Burgandy style ("Audry! This is bush!"). Actually, I've heard Walkie was a really nice guy, although former play-by-play legend Lanny Frattare was known to put his stoggie out on an intern's cornea if they didn't have his coffee and whiskey mixed just right.
6:42 - Neal Huntington looks exactly like the kid everybody beat up in grade school, no other way to put it. It doesn't help that he looks like he's wearing his Dad's golf shirt. But I love the guy; Dave Littlefield has nice hair, Huntington has a brain... to each their own. I also can't really tell if Huntington is blond, or if he's a day walking ginger...
6:50 - So, little known fact about Charlie Morton; he's got an acoustic album Storm Inside. My favorite track is "I Just Want To Be The One." Maybe one day I'll channel my inner Pat Bateman and write a whole post on his album. This feature on Charlie is a little bit too dramatic, "like dropping a toaster in a bath tub," nice. Rhetorical question: how many cliches can Rob King utilize in one feature? On a baseball note, I've already picked Morton as the sleeper of the staff, and think he'll be just as valuable as Duke or Maholm. He's entering his age 25 season and should be getting better.
6:56 - Octavio Dotel has that Latin American knack of looking oddly pear-shaped but still throwing hard into his 30s, like Pedro Martinez. Some Buccos fan was really bored so he came up with this beaut.
7:00 - 2010 Pittsburgh Pirate Baseball, expect a dogfight. I like it. Quick question, do you think Zach Duke knows we can see his scalp when he does interviews sans cap? I mean, it's a little thin up there buddy. On another note, I would love for Greg Brown to be my nightly news guy; he is so optimistic it almost hurts. Most people can't stand him, but I love Greg Brown, he's such a classic cheese ball.
7:05 - You known what would be an entertaining cage match? Ryan Doumit vs. Ty Wigginton; they both have fantastic goatees.
7:06 - First pitch is a strike. Duke looks good with a cap on, much better. Thing to watch, Duke inducing ground balls and controlling his curve ball (if he even throws it that much). K's Felix Pie on a nice inside fastball.
7:08 - Duke seems to be sweating like it's a mid-July day game and he's in the middle of the seventh. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing, I'm just sayin'. K's one of the Izturis brothers on a nice inside fastball that cut in on the hands of the righty.
7:11 - Adam Jones crushes one, although that's kind of one that I hope McCutchen gets eventually. That's one of those kind of balls (line drive, right over his head) that the really good center fielders get. And while I was saying that, Duke walks 54-year old Miguel Tejada on four pitches.
7:13 - Matt Wieters is up and Greg Brown decides to turn the knife into our backs just a few more degrees. Walk on five pitches.
7:16 - Bob Walk is harping on control yet doesn't realize that the first two batters were not that good. Luke Scott then rips a ball to right, which Ryan Church juggles a bit and allows two guys to score and Wieters to go to third, which wouldn't usually matter, but then Wigginton hits a ball to the hole between short and third which Crosby should have got, and Wieters scores. Then another line shot to right that was hit so hard that the runner had to hold (not a good throw from Church there). Then a chopper to mercifully end this inning to third which Pedro handles easily.
7:20 - And just like that, the Bucs are down 3-0. Talk about two out lightning. If McCutchen makes that play on Jones' liner, the O's score none (not that he should have, it was smoked), the importance of one out. Whatev, it's spring training, but I will constantly expect the spectacular from Cutch.
7:23 - I'm racking up a lot of words so far and there is no way I can keep this up (just like any other live blog; starts with a bang, ends with a whimper.) But so far, the Pirates are showing some good patience and got a few good pitches to hit, but have just missed them (including G. Jones double). Bergeson has some good movement on his pitches so far. And then Ryan Doumit does what Ryan Doumit does, rolls over an outside pitch and dribbles one to the right side. John Russel should make him do ten push-ups every time he does that just like they do with Willie Mays Hayes in Major League.
7:29 - I don't know what to think about the one Pirates commercial that just shows them in the weight room; what are we in, an 80's movie? Why do we need a work-out montage to get excited about Bucco baseball? That was also a rhetorical question.
7:32 - And then Duke goes out and has his self a 7-pitch inning by showing better control and a good first pitch curve ball to Adam Jones. 7 pitches, 3 ground balls, textbook.
7:35 - Squared hits and walks, all you can ask for. And now we have us some Pedro, our Lord and Savior. It is pretty clear that Pedro has lost some weight, gone is that nasty double chin. Thank God FSN keeps showing the coaches while we're missing Pedro's at bat.
7:38 - Pedro works the count and smokes one over Jones' head in center field. I just got a semi-chubby. And then Steve Pearce smokes one to the left side of the field (Pedro froze as he should have, and could not score). First and third, one out. Bill Virdon and Kent Tekulve are apparently going steady; they will be making out during the pitching change.
7:40 - Out goes Bergeson (not very impressed with him) and in comes some guy with the last name Lebron (insert pun here).
7:43 - Ramon Vasquez, how could I doubt you? RV goes with the pitch and pokes it over the third baseman's head. Unfortunately Steve Pearce gets thrown out trying to get to third (can't really blame him for trying; baseball wisdom says you can make the second out at third... which is idiotic, you shouldn't be making outs anywhere). Cutch gets a flat fastball right down the pipe knee high and misses it by hitting it a mile high. 3-2 O's.
7:45 - I really like Ryan Doumit's "Foul Tip" commercial, although it would be nice if they were a little more intimidating; like if he said, "Watch Pirate baseball on FSN, or else... I will eat your first born son." Yeah, much better.
7:49 - Most of the balls Pedro has fielded have been easy choppers that he hasn't even needed to bend down to get, but he has shown off the cannon of an arm he has (accurate as well). Everything Pedro does I will scrutinize veraciously, because I have nothing else to do. Duke walks Luke Scott and is then pulled from the game. Except for about six batters in the first inning, not a bad start from Duke.
7:55 - Steven Jackson is in the game, who I don't really care for. He's supposed to be a ground ball pitcher, but he doesn't really fit that profile. He's more like just a replacement level pitcher. And then he makes me look like an ass by striking out Ty Wigginton (prize jewel of Littlefield's Kris Benson trade, only after he turned down Ryan Howard first) on a nice splitter.
8:03 - Not a bad bottom of the fourth, a couple fly balls that were just missed and a missile line drive from Doumit. I'd love to see Doumit getting back to driving the ball back up the middle, when he's doing that you know he's really swinging well.
8:08 - Dan McCutchen is in to pitch. He's a fly-ball pitcher (almost never a good thing), but if he keeps the ball low, he usually doesn't let up too many home runs, which is when a fly-ball pitcher really gets in trouble. But the key right now is for McCutchen to throw strikes, since that's something that his opponent for the fifth spot in the rotation (Kevin Hart) seems unable to do so far this spring. McCutchen K's Pie on three really nice change ups (and I mean really nice).
8:13 - Pedro: part two. And for some reason, FSN is not giving us the good view and instead showing us the birds-eye view which is total shit. FSN is the worst. Pedro shows his power by drving an inside pitch to the opposite field. It was an out, but it was a somewhat impressive out. And then Steve Pearce did a Steve Pearce by striking out on three breaking balls.
8:18 - McCutchen K's the first batter with another fantastic change up. And then Adam Jones does something he should never do again, try and bunt for a base hit (maybe he was bored). McCutchen retires the side by jamming Miguel Tejada on a nice inside pitch. The other Cutch is looking pretty good right now.
8:24 - RV scoots one through the right side no thanks to Luke Scott and his range at first. Apparently Vasquez looks to be running much better says Bob Walk, hmm... he went from slowest to slower. Vasquez is my whipping boy this spring.
8:27 - There's not something you see everyday, Andrew McCutchen swinging through an 87 MPH fastball to strikeout. Bobby Crosby has a little Gabe Kapler/Brian Giles to his look; does he have a single hair on his body? That was definitely a rhetorical question.
8:30 - And a 6-4-3 double play on a chopper to short... on a hit-and-run. Pretty sure Ramon Vasquez is still slow.
8:34 - Brendan Donnelly is in to pitch; he's the oldest man on the team and also a scab. He looks good so far with a violent throwing motion that I would not teach any young man to imitate. Argenis Diaz is also in at short and is supposed to be a pretty slick fielder although he can barely hit the ball out of the infield. Donnelly K's Wigginton with what looks like a splitter to end the inning. Impressive performance from Old Man River.
8:42 - Garrett Jones continues to look capable against lefty pitching by just missing an inside fastball and hitting it to the warning track. Doumit swings at a terrible 2-0 pitch and pops out to Grammy winning alt-country/rock singer-songwriter Ryan Adams (yeah, I went there). Ryan Church gets frozen on a fairly mediocre curve ball from Hendrickson. Bing, Bang, Boom.
8:52 - We finally get our first tough play for Pedro at third, a fairly slow roller down the line. He did well to get there and though his throw was a bit low, it should have been picked by Pearce over at first. Pedro then makes amends by smoothly fielding a solidly hit grounder to third and starting a 5-4-3 double play.
9:04 - And that is why we must somewhat temper our enthusiasm; Pedro just can't hit lefties. It's something he definitely needs to work on as he flailed at three straight breaking balls. Until Pedro shows that he can at least look competent against lefty pitching, there's really no reason to rush him to the big leagues.
9:09 - Jose Tabata sighting! He is looking much slimmer and apparently he is wearing his hat crooked now. Somewhere Pokey Reese is smiling. Side note; I will not be spelling Chris Jakubauskas' name fully and will instead be calling him Jako.
9:15 - Usually this is where most people would be nodding off, but for me, it's somewhat exciting. This is the first (and likely only) time this year I will be able to watch some of these guys like Brian Friday (looks like a bat boy), Gorkys Hernandez (crack-head skinny), and Argenis Diaz (has decent bat speed for a guy who apparently can't hit).
9:23 - As the tall guy points out, Bill Mazeroski has that look on his face like he can't wait to get to the bar stool and start having people buy him drinks. The nose says it all; too much booze and too much sun.
9:25 - Vinnie Chulk is in and is now the Tall Guy's favorite Pirate just because of his name. But he does himself well and K's a few guys in between almost letting Josh Bell (who looks like a beast) take him deep.
9:28 - Last ups! And JVE (Jon Van Every) does exactly what you shouldn't do in the ninth, swing at the first pitch. Next up, Kratzy, who played his college ball for the Royals of Eastern Mennonite University, pops out to right. And then Jose "Where's my baby?" Tabata rolls one past the pitcher and beats the throw to first. That's a line drive in the box score; another reason why box scores suck. Tabata steals the base despite a crappy jump, which puts the tying run in scoring position (another fairly useless term) for Brandon Jones.
9:34 - But Jones rolls over an outside pitch and grounds out to second. Game over. 3-2 O's. No coverage of the post game Pirates show on FSN as the Tall Guy wants to watch the L'Ville/Cinci game on ESPN.
I am too tired to come up with some good final thoughts, those will come tomorrow (maybe). But for now; Dan McCutchen looked damn good showing off a really impressive change up, and just to be sure, that game upped my temperature from about 101.3 to 102.5. The Bucco Fever is taking over!