Bucs fans can't take time to appreciate wins

Even in the aftermath of excitement, complaining is rampant

Colin Dunlap
July 16, 2018 - 1:52 pm

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

What a game. What a back-and-forth affair on a hot, muggy (sometimes stormy) Sunday that held my interest headed into the All-Star Break. I'm guessing it might have held yours, all the way through the time Colin Moran slid into the plate and gave the Pirates and come-from-behind (a couple times) win against the Milwaukee Brewers. 

It also gave the Pirates six wins in a row. 

It also gave the Pirates a five-game sweep of a team that started the series atop the NL Central. 

It also gave the Pirates an 8-1 record since their general manager called them out on his radio show and commanded they perform better. 

To be sure, the Pirates are still a game on the bad side of .500 at 48-49 and rest 5.5 games back of the second Wild Card spot as they enter the week off. It isn't ideal, but it isn't the dire situation it could be. It's somewhere in the middle and that's why I didn't necessarily expect jubilation, but the anticipation wasn't for doom and gloom. 

But in my findings both on social media immediately after the game and after a little while to digest it and the feedback on Monday's The Fan Morning Show, you know what seemed to be two topics that rose to the forefront that I didn't expect: 

- A questioning of Pirates third base coach Joey Cora deciding to send Colin Moran home with what turned out to be that game winning, walk off run. There are a lot of people who feel it was the wrong decision and the Pirates just kind of got "lucky" that it all worked out. 

- A wondering out loud, and even more pointed an accusatory tone, when it comes to the motives behind why outfielder Austin Meadows was demoted to Class AAA Indianapolis before the game Sunday. 

OK, let's take the two points one-by-one. And, again, part of me is scratching my head that these seem to be topics that Pirates fans, in the throes of a hot streak, want to talk about. 

On the play that scored Moran when Josh Bell hammered a ball to pretty much dead center, the rain was coming down at a steady clip and had been for a few minutes. Field conditions were beginning to deteriorate and, again, the ball was absolutely bludgeoned to center. I've heard many people say "a good throw and Moran would have been out by 25 feet."

Right. True.

Had it not been for the conditions, I'm convinced Cora never would have sent Moran and also Cora understood conditions could lead to a poor throw. To wit, the ball --- sopping wet --- needed to be thrown from the wall in center to a cutoff man, who then needed to catch it, transfer it and make another throw from near second base. All this time the ball (already weighty with the rain) was getting heavier and more difficult to grasp. As the relay man caught it, he needed to (again in terrible conditions) make another pinpoint throw to get Moran. He didn't. The ball skimmed between the mound and the plate and as is always the case when grass is damp didn't take a true hop but stayed low to the ground making it ultra-tough for Brewers catcher Erik Kratz to field. As such, even as the throw would have beat Moran, Kratz couldn't come up with it, it skirted under him and Moran was safe. 

On top of all of this, the tying run had already crossed the plate on the play, making what Cora did in sending Moran a no-brainer to me considering the conditions and situation. Then there's the result --- hard to argue with any of this considering Moran was safe and his run won the game. After all, I mean, results trump every other thing. 

All this said, I can't grasp how anyone has a problem whatsoever with Cora's decision. 

OK, now the second part of this. Onto the Meadows demotion. I have seen and heard the racket about this carrying heavy Super Two implications and the primary motive for shipping Meadows to Indy was money, as in the Pirates doing this to save some money.  

I'm not buying it. 

Meadows is a guy who will be a great MLB talent. I'm convinced of as much. He's also a guy who was trying to work in a crowded outfield with three other guys simply outperforming him. The four outfielder model worked for a little bit, but when Marte and Polanco picked their games up, it was obvious those two along with Dickerson should play. In addition, it makes no sense to have a young talent like Meadows be a pinch hitter or bench guy. He needs to play every day or his development can be stunted. He's a starter; leave the mop-up stuff to guys like Sean Rodriguez. 

Meadows was 7 for 30 (.233) with one extra base hit in July. He went 1 for 13 at Dodger Stadium and his OPS dropped from .966 to .810 in a month.

Not everything is some big conspiracy.

This, to me, was about productivity and not dollars. Also, if the Pirates were really motivated by his Super Two status, they would have shipped him back to Indianapolis earlier and not allowed his MLB service clock continue to tick as he sat there for more than a week pretty much nailed to the bench. 

Yeah, again, not everything is some big conspiracy. It can be --- and is this case I believe it is --- something that is motivated by making your baseball team better both in the short and long term. 

The crazy part is that I can understand the skepticism. I can get the eyebrows being raised because under this ownership group there have been so many decisions rooted in the bottom line and based on money. That's the part that stinks --- because of the history, because of the "financial flexibility" fiasco and all that stuff, even a true baseball move that isn't motivated by money comes under heavy review by the fans. And I get it. The fans are right to question as much and should because of the past. 

It's all so weird the atmosphere happening right now. Pittsburgh has to be the only place in the country --- and I'm not saying anyone is right or wrong --- where the baseball team rips off eight wins in nine games and there seem to be more questions than happiness.