Good teams will tell you that they make their own luck. Well, the Pirates aren’t a good team, and the only luck they seem to have is the bad kind. Need proof? How about yesterday’s bunting session by the pitchers down in Pirate City. What’s the worst that could happen when a pitcher bunts - he bunts one foul for a called third strike?
Try he fouls one off his own eye, has to be flown from Bradenton to Pittsburgh for medical examination and needs surgery to repair a broken orbital bone. Yea, that’s exactly what happened yesterday to AJ Burnett. Had it happened to say Charlie Morton (the Buccos’ worst hitting pitcher), it may not be a big deal, but the fact that it happened to Burnett, who hasn’t even been a Pirate for two weeks yet, it could be a bad sign of things to come.
The incident may have looked ugly with the ball smacking Burnett near his right temple, who then dropped to the ground. But the news got worse when Burnett got to the Burgh. He’ll need four to eight weeks to recover, which means there’s a slim chance he could be ready for Opening Day but if the Buccos’ new ace ends up missing significant time because of this it would be the worst luck for the Bucs.
Sure the Pirates are bad…real bad, but they have some terrible luck when it comes to transactions – and we’re not talking about drafting Bryan Bullington first overall…he just flat-out sucked.
There was trading Jason Kendall to Oakland for Mark Redman and Arthur Rhodes, who played a combined 30 games for the Buccos.
There was Raul Mondesi, who was hitting .283 before he tragically had to return home to the Dominican Republic to attend to a family emergency, only to resurface that same year with another team…what a great way to get out of the Burgh.
There was the signing of Mat Morris, who had 10-win seasons in eight of his 11 years in the Bigs before coming to the Burgh. He never once had an ERA above 4.98 before becoming a Buc and then never had one lower than 6.10 while in Black and Gold, while going 3-8 in 16 games. The Buccos were forced to eat $10 million of Morris’ salary just to get rid of him.
And of course there were the kids that did nothing while in the Burgh and then became All-Stars after they left town. Ryan Vogelsong spent five years in the Burgh and went 10-17 with a Bucco-career ERA of 6.67. Five years later and he’s a 13-game winning All-Star with a 2.71 ERA. Jose Bautista could be the biggest sign of Bucco bad luck ever when the Pirates finally gave up on him after five years of sucking at the plate and at third. Fast forward to Toronto and Joey Bats has led the Majors in home runs the last two years (97 combined) and hit over .300 for the firs time in his career.
We hoped that Burnett would see the Pirates’ medical team and this whole thing was just going to be a little shiner, but looking at the Buccos’ string of bad luck, we can’t say we’re really surprised by the diagnosis. The thought of this being an omen has to be somewhere in the back of your mind. If Eric Bedard is the next guy to go down you can bet the rapture won’t be far behind.