One of the most dysfunctional teams now marches into 2020 refreshed. Can the Pittsburgh Pirates contend now that they’ve left behind their demons?
The Pittsburgh Pirates certainly made an impact on the baseball world in 2019, but unfortunately, the actual playing of baseball was not exactly what put them on the map. I don’t really know where to start with these guys, but from everything they’ve had go on with Clint Hurdle and the managing of pitchers to the fighting within the clubhouse to Felipe Vazquez landing himself potentially in prison, to the front office bungling trade after trade, it’s evident that the Bucs have turned into a quite toxic organization.
First, we have everything that went down with the Pirate pitchers throwing inside too much which led to several rumbles with the Reds throughout the course of 2019. Granted, the Bucs actually led the league in the least hit-by-pitches (7), but the aggressiveness showed by Clint Hurdle in his older-school implementation of pitching inside clearly rubbed teams the wrong way and put the Bucs in the firing line and gave them the perception of being “dirty.”
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Their reputation put them in a spot where they played with a chip on their shoulder for most of the season as we saw Kyle Crick, Keone Kela, and Jose Osuna all get handed down suspensions for their roles in brawls with the Reds with key players like Felipe Vazquez and Chris Archer also getting themselves in the middle of stirs.
Then we had the in-fighting within the walls of the clubhouse, which I believe was connected to the Felipe Vazquez situation where he was charged with solicitation of a child. Vazquez and Kyle Crick reportedly threw down towards the end of the season which was believed to have been started because of a difference in opinion over locker room music.
If you ask me, the weight of losing as much as they did was a big factor as we see teams in that boat experience similar tensions throughout the course of a year. Couple that with what Vazquez was being accused of and I could very well see his teammates being extremely bothered by his presence.