It was great to see the Pirates ride a Neil Walker grand slam to a come-from-behind Opening Day victory in Chicago yesterday.
From our perspective, disdain for the Pirates has never included animosity toward the players. To the contrary, the players have earned respect. Despite knowing they are part of the worst organization in major league baseball, despite understanding that they are outmanned every time they climb the steps onto the field, the players have hustled, tried to win and avoided clubhouse meltdowns.
It is not the players' fault that, in the aggregate, they lack the talent of other clubs. A number of Pirates players have been talented, but the circumstances in Pittsburgh placed those players in unfair situations, asking them to accept unrealistic roles. Fred Sanchez, for example, a fine hitter, was predictably inadequate when pressed into the third position in Pittsburgh's weak batting order, but became a productive part of a World Series-winning lineup in San Francisco.
For one cold afternoon in Chicago, players destined for on-field misfortune throughout this season were able to enjoy baseball and camaraderie, and to be winners. That's one fine day at the ballpark.
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