The Pittsburgh Pirates hosted another installment of the Pirates Fest at PNC Park. It had all the bells and whistles it typically does, games for kids, autograph sessions, media availability, memorabilia for sale and the chance to run into player seemingly hidden around corners like Easter eggs.
The ballpark was on display as always, the jewel of this club and the city that hosts it.
The halls were filled with kids who were primarily waiting to enjoy the games or the odd timed stadium food at the end of January, but there was an overall feeling in the stadium that seemed somehow flat. As much as the events and activities remained nearly unchanged from the year previous it was hard to avoid feeling that so too had the club remained the same. Many of the same faces, most of the same ifs, yet somehow less of the hopefulness that could be felt in 2019.
Maybe it was the weather that gave me the gloomy impression I felt. Or maybe it was the focus on alumni players that couldn’t help but remind you that as much as things have changed, they remain the same.
Take Rob Mackowiak for instance, he was featured in a media access interview, an autograph session and a meet and greet Q&A session. Rob is a nice guy, I liked him when he played here and today, he represented himself just fine. I don’t think of him as a great that gets me pumped for times gone by, nor the future, because truth be told, Rob is Jose Osuna with an opportunity to play.
Bob Nutting spent time walking Pirates Fest this year amongst the fans and made a point to talk about it to the Post Gazette’s Jason Mackey. Even this is hollow. Yes, he did make his presence felt but he kept himself in the bubble of season ticket holders, and while I’m sure some of them asked some tough questions they clearly aren’t among the most disgruntled group of fans. I’m not advocating Bob put himself in harms way, but perhaps its time to start answering tough questions, directly.
None of that stopped me or the entire crew from Inside The Pirates from having a great time and having some spirited Pirates talk at the 412 with our friend Chef Bobby afterwards, and I certainly saw plenty of happy faces at the event itself (not fueled by delicious hoppy beer). The clouds hanging over PNC weren’t just from the weather on this day, however.
Even as I watched Jason Grilli answer questions about naming the bullpen the Shark Tank, my Twitter feed was blowing up with rumors of Starling Marte, arguably the team’s best player being shipped out of town and great news, they might have to include another player like Adam Frazier to get it done! Now, rumors are exactly that, but the new management team has done so little to show their intentions, anything is on the table.
Much of the air could be described by one interaction I had in the rotunda. I ran into a reader named Dan who asked me where Nutting and Cherrington were because he had some questions. I told him they did that earlier in the day for season ticket holders and the media, but I didn’t believe them to be around at this time. He said, “typical, and said I guess things aren’t gonna change.”
Maybe you’re right Dan, maybe you’re not, but it’s hard to argue until we see it.
Follow Gary on Twitter: @garymo2007