Friday, March 22, 2013

March 22- Pittsburgh Pirates

I realize that with all the hats I have if I were to tell you that I didn’t want this one in particular you probably wouldn’t believe me. I should actually word that better. At some point in time I was going to buy this; however, when I did pick it up it had more to do with impulse, rather than necessity. About two weeks before I left for New York City to be in the MLB Fan Cave my friend Leif Carpenter shot me a text and asked if I wanted to go hat shopping. Yes, hat shopping. You know? It’s like when women goes shoe shopping, except for the fact that we come back with something awesome and not something that looks cute and will cause our ankles to swell/bleed. This Pittsburgh Pirates hat was his favorite one to wear and he always try to get me to buy it any time we went to the Lids at Valley River Center in Eugene, Oregon. On that fateful day I rummaged around, looking behind random stacks in case they were styles not showing, but… the reality set in; I had actually bought every game worn style the store carried. So, without a good reason to not pick it up, I did. I think Leif was happier about it than I was.

The Pirates rocked this hat for all of their road games from 1997-2000 under than coach and current Detroit Tigers third base coach Gene Lamont. Lamont is one of the few guys in baseball I hate merely on the principle that he’s terrible at his job. Seriously, watch a Tigers game some time and watch Miguel Cabrera blow through every sign Lamont puts up. Even Miggy knows what’s up. It’s actually a known fact that the main reason Lamont still has his job with the Tigers is because he’s great friends with Jim Leyland. What’s really interesting about this fact is that Leyland’s last managerial year with the Bucs came at the end of the 1996 season. Lamont’s first year with the Pirates? 1997, at which he lasted until the end of the 2000 season with a record of 295-352. Bad.

I can’t exactly say that the Pirates had some stellar players during this time frame; however, they did have a few diamonds in the rough. Unfortunately I’ve all ready written about the two best players (Jason Kendall and Brian Giles) back on January 2, but I was able to find a few good ones to mark proudly on this cap.

#22- Before he became a lights out pitcher with the San Francisco Giants, Jason Schmidt was just another guy to take the hill for the Pirates. Originally an eighth round pick for the Atlanta Braves in 1991, Schmidt made his debut in 1995 with the Bravos, but was traded midseason to Pittsburgh during the 1996 season. Schmidt played for the Pirates until the middle of the 2001 season when he was dealt to the Giants, but he only found modest success in the National Eastern division. During his run Schmidt went 44-47 with 4.39 ERA and 596 strikeouts. He never won any awards, and the one stat he ever led the League in was wild pitches with 15 in 1998.

#28- If you haven’t noticed by now, I have a huge respect for former members of the Montreal Expos. A former third round pick for the ‘Spos in 1987, John Vander Wal was a well-known name, but not exactly the touting prospect everyone imagines he’d be. He made his debut in 1991 and hung around Montreal until the end of the 1993 season. From there he went to the Rockies from 1994- the middle of 1998 when he got dealt to the San Diego Padres until 1999. In 2000 Vander Wal found himself with the Pirates and made an impact quickly. That season he was a regular fixture in the lineup and received a career high 461 at bats… which led him to hit .299 on the season, a career best based on plate appearances. He also got career highs in home runs (24) and RBI (94), both of which were the second best for the team behind Brian Giles’s marks. But, like Schmidt, he was dealt to the Giants. In fact, the two were traded for Armando Rios and Ryan Vogelsong. Funny how that one worked out for everyone.

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