Thursday, August 4, 2011

Children At Play

The elevator door opened, and one little girl ran out. Followed by another. And then a few little boys. And then a few bigger girls and boys. And finally, a man and a woman.

"Are all these yours?" TigerBlog asked.


"How many were there?"

"Well, we have 10 in all."

How in the world, TB wondered, could any two people possibly raise 10 children? Or deal with so many who appeared to be about seven or younger?

TigerBlog likes his Title IX-compliant mix of TigerBlog Jr. and Little Miss TigerBlog, and yet even having just the two of them when they were very young was frightening.

Multiply those two times five? No way.

TigerBlog knows very few people who have had more children than their parents did. Maybe it's because people seem to start families later than they did half a century ago, or maybe TB is wrong.

Still, it just doesn't seem like you stumble upon two many elevators from which pop a mother, father and 10 children.

Had you had one child every other year since the Pittsburgh Pirates last had a winning record, you'd have 10 of your own by now. The Pirates last had a winning record in 1992, and their 18-straight losing seasons are a record for the four major American professional sports.

TigerBlog knows very few actual Pirate fans, though there is one, a man named Matt who used to work in the OAC back when the streak was in its early years.

When TB spoke to Matt last week, he got back a rather humorous email that said something along the lines that Matt, who has two children, had not yet kissed a girl the last time the Pirates had a winning season.

TB was rooting for the Braves back in the 1992 season, when Atlanta delivered a crushing defeat in the National League Championship Series, rallying to defeat Pittsburgh in the bottom of the ninth on Francisco Cabrera's two-out single that scored David Justice and Sid Bream - who barely beat the throw from a rather skinny Barry Bonds - in one of the most famous baseball moments of the last 30 years.

Since then, the only positive thing for Major League Baseball in Pittsburgh has been the construction of PNC Park. As for the produce on the field? It's been a struggle.

This year, the Pirates reached the All-Star break with a winning record - as well as a tie for first place in the NL Central.

Since then, it's been a disaster for the Pirates, who lost 1-0 to the Cubs last night to fall below .500 at 54-55. They now sit 6.5 games back of the first-place Brewers, and TB is probably in the majority who think that by season's end, it'll be another sub-.500 season.

As an aside, TB hasn't looked at the baseball standings in awhile. He had no idea that the Tigers were four games up in the AL Central or that the Diamondbacks were so close the Giants.

TigerBlog's interest in the Pirates mostly has been generated by the presence of Ross Ohlendorf, the Princeton alum, who was in the rotation the last two years. He went 11-10 in 2009 and then 1-11 last year, though he essentially the same ERA both years.

Hey, pitching for the Pirates isn't always fun.

Of course, not pitching isn't any fun either, especially for a player who got a $2 million arbitration award off of that 1-11 season. Unfortunately, Ohlendorf has only been able to make two starts this year, both in early April, before landing on the DL.

In fact, it's been a lost season for Princeton's two pitching alums in the Majors, as Chris Young of the Mets also went on the DL in April.

Unlike Young, Ohlendorf figures to be back soon to the Pirates. He is making a second rehab start this week in Triple-A with Indianapolis.

Interestingly, Indianapolis has a population more than twice that of Pittsburgh, which TB assumes is a rarity in a Major League/Minor League relationship.

When Ohlendorf does return, it might be as a relief pitcher, at least at first. Maybe he can make a difference for the team, who could at least snap the losing record with a good finish.

The third Princetonian in the Major Leagues is Will Venable of the San Diego Padres.

Venable got off to a horrible start this year and even ended up in Triple-A. Since then, he has been much more consistent, though he has been slowed by nagging injuries.

His average, once below .200, is up to .247. And even though he has only 263 plate appearances, he does rank 13th in the NL in stolen bases with 19.

Unfortunately, the Padres aren't part of the two-team race in the NL West. On the other hand, Venable could help himself considerably moving forward with a strong finish to 2011.

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