Saturday, August 1, 2009

And Another Thing...

I don't usually do this, but I feel absolutely compelled to write a short, unplanned column about what I just saw in the Pirates/Nationals game at PNC Park.
Andrew McCutchen just hit his second homer of the game, a two-run shot to the short porch in left field, which gave the Bucs a 7-2 lead. That's not the important play that I want to talk about (even though it is great to see Cutch's power starting to come through); what I want to talk about is much more exciting, much more surprising, and much more intangible.
Immediately after Cutch's homer, new Pirates left-fielder Lastings Milledge came up to the plate, saw two pitches, and then popped a ball up to the second baseman. No harm done, right? Inning over, but the Pirates scored 4 and took a big le -- (still watching) -- "is Milledge running out a pop fly???? OH MY GOODNESS HE IS, HE'S HUSTLING AND IS HALFWAY TO SECOND! AMAZING!!!"
Yes, old-fashioned baseball fans, a player in a game in 2009 just ran so hard that he ended up rounding second base as the defensive player caught the ball for the final out.
More importantly, for a guy like Lastings Milledge, maligned as a lazy, unmotivated underachiever, to be the player running hard on that play is even more amazing than the play itself. If Milledge keeps that chip-on-his-shoulder attitude alive, along with his bat (4 RBI in now-one-and-a-half games), we may have banked something special in the outfield at PNC.
Meanwhile, more new Pirates have made great debuts for their respective minor league clubs: 1B Jeff Clement (acquired in the Jack Wilson trade with Seattle) had 2 HR's in his first game for AAA-Indianapolis last night, and Tim Alderson (from SF for Freddy Sanchez) has given up one run in five innings while striking out four for AA-Altoona tonight (game still in progress).
Look, I know I'm jumping the gun on most (if not all) these new players, but as much as I hate to ask the question, I have to: could hope for the Pirates future come this quick?

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