It has been a rough offseason for fans of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The Pirates got the ball rolling by dealing their ace, Gerrit Cole to the Houston Astros. Cole had a year remaining on his contract. The Houston Astros have a deep, and talented farm system.
These things happen.
Shortly after that however, Andrew McCutchen’s name started popping up in trade rumors. McCutchen, the former MVP, and face of the franchise, is a player I just assumed would retire a Pirate.
Andrew McCutchen was traded to the San Francisco Giants on January 15th, for two prospects and international signing bonus allocation.
Immediately following that deal, fans of the Pirates spoke out.
You started to hear talks of boycotts, and fans urging ownership to sell the team. (Sound familiar Mets fans?)
I wanted to talk to a lifelong Pirates fan and try to put things in perspective.
Thank God for the internet.
I found Steve Barnett.
Steve is a Pennsylvania native and die hard fan of the Bucs.
He was nice enough to carve out a little time for me and provided a great deal of insight into what is currently happening in Pittsburgh.
Yinz are gonna love this.
MOSTLYMETSBLOG: First things first. How old are you and when did you become a fan of the Pirates?
STEVE BARNETT: 47 years old, was born into it. Went to first game at Three Rivers Stadium when I was 6 or 7.
MMG: Pardon my ignorance here. Who would you consider your biggest rival? Phillies? Or would it be a team from the NL Central?
SB: Our two biggest rivals are the Reds and the Cubs.
MMG: Best moment from all your years as a Pirates fan? How about the toughest loss?
SB: Best moment was winning the 1979 World Series. I was 9 years old and thought it would happen many more times throughout my life time. Toughest loss? I would have to say the wild card game against the Cubs in 2015 when we ran into a very hot Jake Arrieta. The Bucs were built to win the World Series that year they had won 97 games and in a 5 or 7 game series they could have beat anyone in the NL. Instead, our season came down to a one game playoff.
MMG: Ok, so let’s get into what is happening currently with the Pirates? Did this off-season come as a shock?
SB: I wouldn’t say a shock because I personally was fine with trading Cole, but Cutch? That is a different situation. Cole wasn’t going to sign here after this year anyway and they weren’t going to contend for the World Series even with Cole. Cutch is the face of the franchise and he loves Pittsburgh, he even named his son Steele. I mean come on! How do you trade that guy?
MMG: Cole and especially McCutchen were huge parts of this Pirates team. Did these moves leave you totally disgusted, or do you feel like there’s a plan here that could work?
SB: Partly disgusted. Fine with Cole being traded, but not Cutch.
MMG: I’m a Mets fan, and we have a large group of fans disillusioned with the ownership. Do you feel like a boycott, or social media movement could work to bring about change?
SB: I don’t know, but the owner here is hated badly and people are cancelling their seasons tickets left and right, I am one of those people. In 2015 you had a team win 97 games and we were only 1 pitcher and 1 batter away from winning it in 2016. Instead of adding the missing pieces and giving it another shot, they started to dismantle the team in 2016 and it’s been going on ever since.
MMG: The Pirates still have some exciting young homegrown talent. Austin Meadows, Jameson Taillon, Tyler Glasnow, etc. Along with that, you have proven Major League talent, such as Starling Marte, Gregory Polanco, Josh Bell, etc. Is there still reason to be excited?
SB: Exciting young talent???? Have you seen Glasnow pitch at the Major league level? Have you seen Austin Meadows hit? I will agree Taillon is super exciting and Josh Bell is awesome to watch. We have some up and coming talent such as Trevor Williams, Chad Kuhl, Adam Frazier, Kevin Newman, Steven Brault, Nick Kingham, Elias Diaz to name a few along with veterans like Ivan Nova, David Freese, Starling Marte, Daniel Hudson and Gregory Polanco. The most exciting Pirate of all those is Felipe “Nightmare” Rivero. I think this team is capable of competing but it needs some POWER!!!!
*EDITORS NOTE* Ok. Steve put me in my place. I have a dynasty Fantasy Baseball team and have been holding on to Tyler Glasnow for 3 years now. After this interview, I’m finally going to cut ties.
MMG: What would you like to see happen going forward regarding the front office of the Pirates?
SB: Honestly, the owner either needs to spend the money or sell the team. Using the small market excuse is old because the Steelers and Penguins never use that excuse.
MMG: Finally, a two part question. Who is your favorite Pirate of all time? Must win game. Which Pirate, past or present, do you want on the mound?
SB: My favorite Pirate of all time is without a doubt Andrew McCutchen, I loved everything he stood for and the fact that he loved being a Pirate.
Must win game who do I want on the mound? I would have to say either Doug Drabek or John Candeleria.
That was awesome!
Thanks so much to Steve Barnett.
You can tell that Steve is a knowledgeable and passionate fan.
I’m so thankful that he was able to give me the time.
I really love talking to fans of other teams.
Hope you guys love it too!
Until next time.