12 Aug

Inside Conditions…High Hurdles

first_imgAUBREY BRUCEIn February 2016, I contemplated what the Pirates current season would look like with their young future superstar Josh Bell in the lineup. The column was titled: “the future is now.” I fantasized that: “The year is 2016 and the Pirates are playing the Chicago Cubs in the National League Championship Series.  1st baseman Josh Bell was called up from Indianapolis right after the All-Star break and has been terrorizing big league pitchers since his arrival to the big time.”Well my “vision” was only partially correct.  Yes, the Pirates were facing the Cubs.  Yes, Bell did terrorize the Cubs pitchers first getting a rally starting single, then hitting a spirit killing grand slam (for the Cubs) which was also a game clincher, for the Pirates. However, Josh Bell did all of these things “before” the All-Star break.  Bell had two at-bats against Chicago and smacked a single and a grand slam.  That is some deep stuff, really, really, deeeeep stuff.Many times when we prognosticate about anything, it’s almost relative to playing craps in Las Vegas.  Sometimes you win, more often than not, you lose.  Why? There is something to the theory as to why folks play it safe.  The real reason is abject failure and unemployment. Gambling on any unproven commodity is like playing poker with a deck of cards marked so that only the “house” can see the markings, it’s just too risky.No one including baseball managers have a desire to be in the soup line, instead of the steak line.  However as I have said in the past, the respect that I have for Pirates manager Clint Hurdle goes far beyond game strategies.The man primarily has a vision and secondly, strategizes. The vision is the clay and strategy is the sculptor.  Hurdle had a vision when the Pirates were a sub-.500, minor league team when he inherited the team in November of 2010.Hurdle who was the hitting coach for the Texas Rangers before taking the Pirates gig replaced John Russell, who was fired the day after completing a 105-loss season in 2010 — the Pirates’ worst in 58 years and their record-extending 18th consecutive losing season. Russell lost 299 games in three seasons.  Whew what a nightmare.When Hurdle came in, he not only raised the bar, he trashed it.  There is no bar with Clint Hurdle because anyone who has been around him knows that he lives, preaches and teaches that the sky is the only limit. When everyone else was singing a funeral aria regarding the Pirates chances of making the postseason, I wrote a column titled “triple play.” In the column I wrote that: “the Pirates have a manager in Clint Hurdle that will never give up until the “Fat Lady” sings at least a couple of verses.”The Cubs manager Joe Madden, is fast losing the quietly cocky cerebral manger persona and is now appearing as if he is beginning to feel the pressure of injuries and subpar performances of the Cubs may have reduced the mountain that the NL Central combatants have been forced to climb during the first half of the season in order to invade the Cubs stronghold of first place in the division, into a molehill.It now appears as if the Chicago Cubs have a few more “high hurdles” to clear before they can lay claim to the NL Central Division crown because after the 2016 All-Star break, the “bell” of history could just toll on their almost “flawless” season.  Remember as of 2016, the curse of the Chicago Cubs has not been vanquished because they haven’t won anything substantial in more than a century.(The source of the article was espn.com)Aubrey Bruce can be reached at: [email protected] or 412.583.6741Follow him on [email protected]last_img

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