JOSH BELL is the new face of the franchise for 2019. (AP PHOTO/File)
by Aubrey Bruce, For New Pittsburgh Courier
From opening day until the All-Star Break, the Pittsburgh Pirates have experienced injuries from almost every position with the exception of the batboy and the Pirate Parrot. And you know what? As of July 7, the Bucs were only 2.5 games out of first place in the NL Central. Compare that with the AL East cellar-dwelling Baltimore Orioles. The Orioles were 30 games behind the division-leading Yankees. Did I say 30 games behind? Stop the presses, that must be a misprint. Baltimore has to be playing a few little leaguers here and there.
There have been many complaints about the Pirates’ roster having little or no depth, being forced to bring up some of their minor league prospects before they are ready, but whoever Pirates manager Clint Hurdle decides to play, I can safely say that no Clint Hurdle team will be 30 games out of first place unless they forfeit a few games along the way.
Hurdle has told the world that: “I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior and Lord at the age of 17 and recommitted to Jesus at age 40, (and) in between was an obstacle course.”
I truly believe that Hurdle has found a formula as a manager along with his faith to help navigate him through the everyday obstacles of managing a professional baseball team and that formula may be this; work and play hard and pray harder. I am convinced that with the obstacles and injuries that Hurdle and his team have faced so far in the 2019 season that Hurdle has God’s cell phone number—if not, at the very least, he has God’s private extension.
There is just no other way to look at it. There is an old gospel hymn titled; “Have a little talk with Jesus.”
Well, well, Hurdle must be blowin’ up God’s phone so much that the “big guy in the sky” has to call his service provider with instructions regarding call block. First and foremost, for the entire 2018 season, Pirates first baseman Josh Bell had 121 hits, 31 doubles, 12, home runs and 62 RBI. In 2019 Bell already has 102 hits, 30 doubles, 3 triples, 27 homeruns and 84 RBI before the All-Star Break. This huge production increase came from a player in 2018 that many pundits and fans alike had labeled as “lazy and overrated.” The only danger now seems to be how long it will be because of Bell’s new value before he is shipped off to a team unknown for cash and/or a player or players to be named later.
There goes Clint Hurdle chattin’ with the “big cheese” again.
The Pirates are blessed and lucky. They are blessed that a lot of the dominoes are falling their way, in spite of the untimely injuries and until recently with the exception of lights-out closer Felipe Vazquez, (a two time All-Star) the Pirates have had for the most part an ineffective and unproductive bullpen. They are lucky that the NL Central has equipoise regardless of the economic imbalance between the division’s so-called “top tier” teams and the supposed “bottom feeders.”
The Pirates’ division is so balanced that the last-place Cincinnati Reds are just 4.5 games out of the top spot. To say that the division is up for grabs is at the very least a gross understatement.
Again, remember, play hard and pray harder.
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