Pirates Fire John Russell; Cue The Worst AP Article Ever Written

As expected, the Pirates officially fired manager John Russell on Monday. While I’ve already argued that firing Russell was an absolute necessity for the Pirates this offseason, let’s read the Associated Press article about his firing, just to bask in its objective, non-judgmental, factual reporting:

PITTSBURGH — He didn’t make the trades or strip the major league roster of so many proven players. In the end, John Russell’s resume will always include 299 losses in three seasons, and that was way too many, even for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Whoa, what?

While Russell was fired, general manager Neal Huntington was retained despite making a succession of poor trades and questionable moves that have left the Pirates with one of the majors’ least-talented teams — a pattern that began long before either arrived in Pittsburgh.

Wait, I thought this was an AP News article about the Pirates firing manager John Russell. How did unsubstantiated slams against Neal Huntington’s “poor trades” work their way into this?

Russell’s first team in 2008 was competitive until midseason, when the franchise — eager to stockpile a talent-bereft farm system — began dealing away or cutting productive players such as Jason Bay, Xavier Nady, Freddy Sanchez, Jack Wilson, Nate McLouth, Adam LaRoche, Matt Capps, John Grabow, Tom Gorzelanny, Ian Snell, Sean Burnett and Nyjer Morgan. Also traded was 2010 major league home run leader Jose Bautista during a two-year roster purge.

Wha…a… wh… wh…… whaaaa…. waaa aaaa..

[PASSES OUT FOR 10 MINUTES. GETS UP. REREADS PARAGRAPH. PASSES OUT AGAIN. GETS UP ONE HOUR LATER. TOSSES BACK THREE WHISKEY SHOTS. TAKES DEEP BREATH.]

Let’s clear up some things:

The Pirates were not “competitive” in 2008. At all. Not even close to it. At the 2008 All Star Break, they were 44-50, 12.5 games behind in the NL Central, and 8 games out of the Wildcard, with the 11th best record out of 16 NL teams. They weren’t the worst team in the league, but calling them “competitive” as if to illustrate that Russell got the team off on some great start before Huntington started dismantling the team is a big time one of these.

Secondly, see that list of terrible players the Pirates traded away? Bay and Nady were the only two traded in 2008, the rest were 2009 and later (they were 48-56 when Nady was dealt).

Basically, the article — which is an AP NEWS dispatch, not an opinion column — is saying that John Russell’s team was competitive in 2008, but went off the rails when Neal Huntington traded “productive player” Ian Snell at the 2009 trade deadline. That’s how baseball and also time works, right?

I will not re-hash the argument about the audacity of including Xavier Nady on these lists even though trading him yielded the Pirates three players who have already outperformed him. And Nate McLouth got sent down to the minors this year and Nyjer Morgan was just about the worst-hitting regular in MLB this year. Anyone who’s followed the Pirates for more than a minute this season already knows these things, so obviously the national news writer reporting on the Pirates for a national news organization already knows them too.

While ownership said Huntington and Russell were hired for their ability to identify and polish talent, no one in the organization recognized that a minor shift in his batting stance might transform Bautista from a utilityman who never hit more than 16 homers in a season into a power hitter capable of hitting 54 homers.

AHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!

JOSE BAUTISTA WAS TOTALLY MEDIOCRE FOR THE PIRATES AND FOR A FULL YEAR IN TORONTO. BEFORE THIS SEASON HE WAS 29 AND HIS CAREER HIGH IN HOMERS WAS 16. ANY TEAM IN BASEBALL COULD HAVE ACQUIRED HIM AT ANY POINT, AND MULTIPLE TEAMS PASSED OVER HIM IN THE RULE 5 DRAFT. NO ONE, NOT THE BLUE JAYS, THE PIRATES, ANY OTHER TEAM, OR THE FUTURE-SEEING WATCHER FROM MARVEL SAW BAUTISTA’S SEASON COMING. NO ONE MADE A MISTAKE HERE.

Whoops, left my Capslock on. I meant to hit “Scroll Lock.” Scroll Lock is the one that adds an F-Word before everything you type, right?

Russell was forced to repeatedly write out lineup cards that included players playing out of position, such as catcher-turned-first baseman Jeff Clement, or who clearly didn’t belong in the majors, including offseason pickup Aki Iwamura.

Jeff Clement was moved to first because he was a poor defensive catcher and first base is a much easier position to defend than catcher so moving him would theoretically help the team’s defense and everything in that sentence is the opposite of a fact. Aki Iwamura was coming off three seasons as a starter with the Tampa Bay Rays and started for the Rays in the 2008 World Series and posted a .354 OBP in 344 games played in three seasons and EVERYTHING IN THAT SENTENCE IS THE OPPOSITE OF A FACT. Whoops, happened again.

To summarize:

1) This article is full of opinions that are factually, unarguably incorrect.

2) This is an AP News article, and thus should not contain ANY opinions, even completely substantiated and defensible ones.

3) This article is an absolute embarrassment. The next time some old-timey dude with a little “PRESS” card in his fedora starts whining about journalism being corrupted by the rise of evil bloggers who eat babies in their mothers’ basements then post photos of eating those babies onto The Twitters, I’m gonna print this AP article out and nail it to their temples.

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One Response to “Pirates Fire John Russell; Cue The Worst AP Article Ever Written”

  1. k Says:

    Maybe he thought he was brought in to “identify Polish talent.” Although it doesn’t look like they did much of that either.

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