Over the past few years, fans paying close attention to the Pittsburgh Pirates’ timing of their announcements have detected a pattern: When the Pirates have negative or controversial news to break, they tend to wait until huge national news stories surface, so that they can slide their news in under the radars of a rightfully disenchanted fan base.
Originally, the Pirates’ strategy was outright coverup, shown by their one-time “secret” contract extensions of then-manager John Russell and GM Neal Huntington, deals which were never mentioned to fans until the media exposed them months later. An irate backlash ensued, fueled by President Frank Coonelly’s comments that such inner workings should not be of the fans’ concern, despite the questionable achievements of both Russell (who was fired in 2010) and Huntington.
Trust us, Neal: We were surprised too.
Shifting strategy, the Pirates now release critical stories coinciding with national-level events. Fans first saw this when the Pirates gave GM Huntington- who still has a worse cumulative W/L record than terrible former GM Dave Littlefield- to another (3 year) contract extension…which they chose to announce on the 10th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks.Yup. September 11, 2011. Let’s extend our questionable general manager, despite there being no need to do so until the actual season concludes weeks from now!
So the timing of the Pirates’ latest “announcement” came as no suprise to fans. On the contrary, many were already poking fun at when owner Robert Nutting wound announce the results of his “investigation” into what became dubbed the “Hoka Hey!” drills.
For those that haven’t been following, the Pirates’ organization suffered a series of national embarrassments when it was revealed that top prospects were being injured in brutal Navy Seals-style trainings, which the Pirates decided to hold after the minor league seasons concluded, when most of these young men were exhausted, and just wanted to get home. The story reached epic proportions when individuals within the Pirates’ organization intentionally leaked a ridiculous e-mail sent to them by assistant GM Kyle Stark, in which he made a series of questionable- some say delusional- player analogies ranging from Hippies to Hell’s Angels.
Fans assumed Stark- whose own record as Director of Player Development has been fraught with disappointment- was clearly fired, and wondered if this would finally be the last straws to Huntington’s and Coonelly’s careers as well.
Nutting; Image credit cbspittsburgh
But it was not to be. For an organization that routinely preaches “accountability“, Nutting chose to retain his entire front office staff.And this announcement was made???? On Election Day, of course!
Mr. Nutting, in the rare chance that you come across this article in cyberspace, please consider the following: If you know an announcement is so bad that you have to slip it through during a national event….maybe it isn’t an announcement worth making.
Thanks for reading. More accountability-based Pirates stories to come.