First Pitch: The Final Week of the Season

The last week of the MLB season is always filled with mixed emotions when you’re following a losing team. Part of you just wants the season to be over, just to end the horrible season.

In the case of the Pirates, there’s very little to watch for this week. The team has lost nine games in a row. They’re in last place in the NL Central, and the only hope for the season is that they can get the number five pick in the draft for next year. There are some key players to watch to prepare for next year — such as Mitch Keller, Bryan Reynolds, Kevin Newman, and other rookies — but that just leaves few positive moments to focus on during the losing.

The other part of you doesn’t want the season to end because it means baseball is finished for the next six months. Sure, there’s baseball in that time. You get to watch who the Dodgers are going to play in the World Series, followed by the Fall and Winter leagues. You get the offseason news, and a preview of the team for the following season. Then you finish up with Spring Training, which provides the annual hope that this year will be different, and you’ll have a better shot at contending.

This has been a rough year all around for Pirates fans. The team has been one of the worst in the league. They’ve shown that they are behind on league trends for winning, with no change in sight. Players and coaches are getting into fights — verbal and sometimes physical — and getting suspended at a pace I don’t think we’ve seen before. Their All-Star closer was arrested for statutory rape.

Meanwhile, their former ace, Gerrit Cole, is finally looking like an ace, and setting high marks for strikeouts. Their new ace, Chris Archer, has looked far from an ace. The other candidate, Jameson Taillon, is out for the 2020 season due to Tommy John surgery. And the guys they traded last year to get Archer — Tyler Glasnow, Austin Meadows, and Shane Baz — have looked fantastic.

I can understand if Pirates fans want to hit fast forward through this week and just get to the part where there’s no baseball. This has been one of the worst seasons to follow in a long time, and I’m saying that as someone who covered the final years of the losing streak. That break from baseball that is coming up is probably needed — at least from the MLB portion.

We’ll still be following all of the news and offseason events daily, with our season recaps starting up a week from today. And I’m planning on running this column all offseason, even if that means some of the articles will stray a bit from baseball — which might be a much-needed break for some.


John Dreker has an article this afternoon. We’ll also have any news that comes up.


My wife suggested a change from rock songs, so today’s song of the day is “Love On the Brain”. This is a perfect song, and one of those songs where you kind of want one more chorus or verse, but it cuts off instead, and you get your fill by playing it over again.


Today’s quiz is a longer one, looking at all of the rookies that made their debuts with the Pirates from 2010-2018.


By John Dreker

Nine former Pittsburgh Pirates players have been born on this date, including a member of the 1979 World Series champs. Starting with the most recent first:

Pitcher Dennis Lamp, who played for the 1992 NL East champs. In the last season of his 16-year career, Lamp had a 5.14 ERA over 21 relief appearances. He was released in mid-June, finishing his career with a 3.93 ERA and 96 wins in 639 games.

Pitcher Jim Winn, first round pick of the Pirates in 1981 and he played for the team from 1983 until 1986. Winn had a 4.47 ERA in ten starts and 86 relief appearances. He was traded to the White Sox for John Cangelosi.

Jim Morrison, third baseman for the Pirates from 1982 until 1987. His best season was 1986, when he hit .274 with 23 homers and 88 RBI.  Morrison had a .764 OPS in 552 games with the Pirates.

Jim Rooker was a lefty starter for the Pirates for eight seasons. During the 1979 season, he went 4-7, 4.60 in 17 starts and two relief outings. During the World Series, Rooker started game five with the Pirates down 3-1 in the series. He gave up one run over five innings and the Pirates ended up winning the game 7-1. In game one, Rooker threw 3.2 shutout innings in relief. He went 82-65, 3.29 in 187 starts and 26 relief appearances for the Pirates.

Dino Restelli, outfielder for the Pirates in 1949 and 1951. He hit .241 over 93 games. Restelli was sold to the Senators in September 1951. The Pirates were his only big league club.

Lino Donoso, lefty reliever for the 1955-56 Pirates. Was a 32-year-old rookie from Cuba in 1955. Had a 5.21 ERA in 96.2 innings.

Johnny Mokan, outfielder for the 1921-22 Pirates. He hit .262 in 50 games, with a 14:6 BB/K ratio. He was sold to the Phillies in July, 1922.

Joe Kelly, 1914 outfielder. He hit .222 in 141 games during his only season with the Pirates. He was a .224 hitter over 376 big league games.

Cy Neighbors, played one game without an at-bat for the 1908 Pirates. He played left field during the final inning on April 29th and never played in the majors again. Neighbors spent 14 seasons in the minors.

In 1956, the Pirates drew 44,932 fans, the highest crowd in Forbes Field history. The Pirates lost 8-3 to the Dodgers, although the game was suspended due to rain in the ninth inning and finished the next day. The paper the next day said that between 8,000 and 10,000 fans were turned away at the gate and one fan died during the game. Here’s the boxscore.