Thursday, May 13, 2010


I'm feeling like a bad Pittsburgh sports fan today. First of all since I still can't get exercised about the Penguins, even in their devastating playoff losses. (My feeling on the Penguins remains largely neutral until the playoffs, when it starts vacillating between an intrigued "huh" and a slightly frowning "eh." Eh.) But moreover, I never realized until today that Mario Mendoza, famed establisher of the Mendoza Line circa 1980, was a Pittsburgh Pirate for half his career. I should have known this already!

It makes so much sense, as pointed out by Johnette Howard in this ESPN article about embittered Pirates fandom, that Mendoza would have been a Pirate. (Link via, inevitably, Kovacevic.) And that's even true with Mendoza being a member of the high-achieving Pirates teams of the late 1970s. Clearly he's the one whose spirit invigorates the recent teams, much more so than Stargell or Sanguillen or who-have-you. As I type this, half of our infield would be grateful to be flirting with the Mendoza Line. Not only that, but (as Wikipedia points out) Mendoza, having pitched two innings once to mop up an ugly game, had a career ERA of 13.50, which might even constitute another Mendoza Line that certain of our pitchers have been struggling to get away from.

Howard's article, for me, doesn't get at the primary emotion that comes with being a Pirates fan. I think it's a fitful, degraded remnant of hope, the kind that leaves you wondering if maybe Steve Pearce can get his act together this time around.


Blogger nate said...

Maybe it's just an effect of being a ballplayer in the '70s, but in that card portrait, and I say this with all possible respect to Mario Mendoza, he looks uncomfortably like Stanley Tucci in The Lovely Bones.

Yes, Pirates terrible, Penguins eh. At least Sid the Kid defeated America in the Olympics a little while ago, so the city can kind of tag along with that.

I think "fitful, degraded remnant of hope" gets it about right. Don't forget the part about neurotically tracking the fortunes of borderline prospects in high-single A minor league ball.

5/14/2010 10:30 AM  

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