The Pittsburgh Pirates are tied for first place in the National League Central. Again. It's June, and the Pirates are tied for first place, just like last year.
Last year was a whirlwind for the Pirates, as they went into the trade deadline as contenders, and finished 25-47 in the second half. The 2011 Pirates went 8-22 in August, scoring 113 runs and allowing 167. It was miserable.
After a three-game sweep of the Royals over the weekend, they got back in touch with me. I don't like to air my dirty laundry in public, but it made sense to do it like this. Oh, 2012 Pirates: I want to believe so damned bad. I really do. But you can't keep contacting me like this.
2012 Pirates: Hey! It's me. How are you?
Me: Oh, good. Good. Can't complain.
2012 Pirates: I just wanted to catch up a bit. You know? Things left off so weird.
Me: Yeah, no, things are good. Things are good.
2012 Pirates: I know I wasn't fair to you last year. You deserved better than that.
Me: Look, I'm kind of in the middle of something …
2012 Pirates: You believed in me last year. I was in the middle of a really crazy period of my life, and you were one of the few people who believed in me. I appreciate that.
Me: No, it's cool. I know you've had it rough, so I'm not judging you. I'm just not ready to …
2012 Pirates: I'm in first place again. I mean, tied. But, still. First place. Things are going really, really well for me.
2012 Pirates: I traded for A.J. Burnett for no apparent reason, but he's really working out. I mean, other than the fractured orbital socket, but that's a long story. He's good. And James McDonald is one of the best pitchers in the league. Really, he's amazing.
2012 Pirates: And Erik Bedard? He's healthy again. No, no, he's really healthy again. And he's helping. Like, a lot. And the bullpen -- oh, you won't believe it. There are like four or five shutdown arms in there. Reclamation projects, busted prospects done good … everything's coming up Pirates, you know?
Me: No, I'm happy for you. Really.
2012 Pirates: I thought we could get a drink or something.
2012 Pirates: For old time's sake?
Me: Look, I'm legitimately in the middle of something. I'll get in touch with you in a bit. I promise.
2012 Pirates: Andrew McCutchen is still the best. The very best. Oh, god, you should see him play. Just the best.
Hey, thanks for checking in with me. I still think about you. A lot. And I'm sorry if I was weird on the phone. But last year really messed me up.
I'm happy things are going well for you. No, really, I am. Thrilled. Ecstatic. You deserve the best, and I mean that. I think James McDonald is fantastic. And A.J. Burnett was a good gamble, considering all he cost was money that MLB wasn't letting you put into the draft again. And Andrew McCutchen is the best. He really is.
But I can't be a part of this. I'm sorry, but I can't be on board with you this year. Not after what happened last year. I argued that you getting Ryan Ludwick was a good thing. Do you know what that makes me look like? And after the Jerry Meals game, I still kind of believed. I still wanted to believe. I was in. I gave myself to you. I argued for Ryan Ludwick. And you tore my heart out. You literally tore my heart out and showed it to me, still beating, Temple of Doom-style.
The Brewers are awful, I get that. And the Astros, and the Cubs … but do you really think you can hang with the Cardinals all year? The Reds?
I looked at your Baseball Reference page. You know what it told me? That Andrew McCutchen is the best. He really is. You know what else it told me? That Rod Barajas is your second-best hitter. No, no. It's true. He has a 99 OPS+. The next best is Neil Walker with a 94 OPS+. After that? Look, I don't even know. A bunch of guys with on-base percentages under .300 -- way below .300. Iffy power. It's all a mess. I know you're trying to put on a good face, but it's all a mess.
You're hitting .225/.278/.359 this year. That's good for a 76 OPS+. That's about what Cliff Lee is hitting for the season. Your team is a team of Cliff Lees, except it doesn't get to let Cliff Lee pitch. Don't you see how screwed up that is?
I can't do this. Please, just … let things be. I wanted so badly for last year to happen. For you. For me. For us. But, my god, things got screwed up. And if I open up to you again, I know it's going to happen again.
If you're still doing this well in September, I'm in. I'll get Andrew McCutchen's face tattooed on my ass. I'm in. You'll have moved on, and you won't care about me. You'll have all of your hometown fans, and that's fine. You won't need my support.
But I'm rooting for the best. I'm pulling for you. Oh, god, how I'm pulling for you. I just can't commit right now. I'm sorry. I just can't. Please believe me: You mean the world to me. And if you somehow made it to the playoffs, I'd be thrilled. Beyond thrilled. Euphoric. But I can't commit right now.
I just can't.
This is the part where I write "It's not you. It's me." Except it's always you. It's never me. It's always you. So I'm sorry. But I can't do this.
I just can't. Not yet.