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Pittsburgh media already turning on first-year Pirates manager Clint Hurdle?

Apr 25, 2011, 2:23 PM EDT

clint-hurdle-pirates Getty Images

Clint Hurdle had to know what a tough job he was taking when he agreed to manage the Pirates. They’d had 18 straight losing seasons and during that time six other managers had tried and failed to turn things around.

Hurdle probably thought he could do what the six before him couldn’t and if not at least he’d be earning around $1 million per year. What he likely didn’t count on was that the mainstream media in Pittsburgh might turn on him three weeks into the job.

Andrew McCutchen made the final out of last night’s loss to the Nationals by unsuccessfully tagging up from third base on a fly out to right field. His run would have merely cut the deficit from 6-3 to 6-4, yet afterward Hurdle declined to blame McCutchen for making a tactical mistake.

Instead he opined that “the only reason that we’re asking that question is because he was out … I bet everybody in the ballpark including [the media] thought we were going to send him.” Or as Pittsburgh Post Gazette columnist Bob Smizik put it, Hurdle “took a small first step toward damaging his credibility in Pittsburgh” and “spoke nonsense.”

Here’s more from Smizik:

If Hurdle really believes that, he’s not as smart as he’s been given credit for being. … It’s baseball 101 and Hurdle knows it. He compounded his malarkey with the following: “That’s going to win us more games than it’s going to cost us.” …

First of all, stupid baseball, which is what the play was,  is not going win more games than it loses. There was no reason–none–to send McCutchen and Hurdle and Leyva know that. Playing aggressively is admirable. But it’s a fine line between being aggressive and being reckless. McCutchen’s play was reckless, particularly since he challenged such a strong throwing arm. If Hurdle is trying to set a tone, he’s setting the wrong one. He’s setting a tone for stupid baseball, not aggressive baseball. … And if Hurdle wants to maintain a semblance of credibility, he shouldn’t treat the fans like they don’t understand the game.

It’s a very long rant, so I had to cut out some sections for the sake of brevity, but you get the idea.

  1. Old Gator - Apr 25, 2011 at 2:50 PM

    Awww, you know how it is – the New York media’s little country cousins in faraway Pittsburgh want play mine’s-bigger’n-yours and prove that they can turn on a manager who’s been handed a kennel full of dysplasic mongrels just as unfairly and just as viciously as the much bigger assholes back east. Who knows, maybe they can? To paraphrase Woodrow Wilson’s famous remark to H. L. Mencken, the reason that small market sports journalism gets so vicious is that the stakes are so small.

  2. BC - Apr 25, 2011 at 2:53 PM

    I’m reminded of this quote:
    “How hard can it be?” — General Custer

  3. rmalmstrom - Apr 25, 2011 at 3:49 PM


    Get off my davenport!!

  4. mvd513 - Apr 25, 2011 at 4:09 PM

    Real men send the runner.

  5. rave7215 - Apr 25, 2011 at 5:22 PM

    I created an account just to leave this comment. Bob Smizik is a joke who needs to stay retired. Nothing he says is credible and is constantly laughed at by fans with any sense. He just blogs trash so that he feels relevant anymore

  6. hermitfool - Apr 25, 2011 at 5:45 PM

    Hurdle lost the respect of his players in Colorado in no small part because of his counter productive base running directives.

  7. smarterthangirardi - Apr 25, 2011 at 7:42 PM

    “he shouldn’t treat the fans like they don’t understand the game.” yup all 30 of em

  8. eightysixisback - Apr 26, 2011 at 8:52 AM

    It doesn’t occur to anyone that maybe his player made a mistake and hurdle was just taking the blame to have his player’s back. Let me tell all of you naysayers a secret. I was fortuantate enough to have met clint hurdle and spend several hours talking baseball with him. I have been playing the game for over 25 years and understand it more than most sportswriters who havent stepped on a field since little league if they ever played at all. Clint Hurlde knows baseball better than all of the sportswriters combined. He is the manager of the pirates is he really expected to win the world series this year or even next year or the year after???? Eighteen losing seasons??? Hmmm, something tells me that coaching is not to blame for the pirates being terrible.

    • noneofyourbusiness95 - Apr 26, 2011 at 9:12 AM

      With all due respect, other than supporting the player, I don’t see how sending McCutchen is defensible under the circumstances. Smizik certainly didn’t have to stir up the conversation as vigorously as he did but maybe he was just being aggressive….. like Hurdle.
      The amount of baseball Hurdle knows doesn’t prevent him from making a mistake – not that he necessarily deserves to be skewered for it.

  9. eightysixisback - Apr 26, 2011 at 1:59 PM

    Thats my point maybe he didn’t send McCuthchen. Its defensible because sometimes a manager’s job is to support the player. What exactly would be accomplished by hanging the blame on the player? does it change what happened? What is accomplished by Hurdle taking the blame? His player knows Hurdle has his back. I am not defending the decision to run in that situation but a major league manager isn’t a little league coach. Do you really think hurdle himself signaled McCucthen to run in that situation? It said he declined to blame McCutchen. His job is to manage the team as a group. There are about a thousand coaches on a major league team, its not the manager’s fault every time a player does something wrong. You want to know how you get a young player to play his best for you as a manager? Build his confidence and let him know you have his back. You are absolutely right that Hurlde’s knowledge doesn’t prevent him from making a mistake, i agree. Sports writers want to second guess and criticize every move a manager makes. Let me ask this question, why is the criticism never directed at the Pirates organization? Can any manager win in Pittsburgh??? I am pretty sure that pittsburgh has had 18 losing seasons because the organization trades away several of its best players every july, not because of their manager. The organization makes money so they have no motivation to spend money to attempt to improve. The pirates are not even my favorite team but I think it is disgusting what the organization has done to this team in the last 18 years. They have an excellent manager right now i am positive of that. Give him some players and some support then if he fails by all means criticize him. If the pittsburgh media is turning on him because one player did something stupid they trully have no clue why the pirates are losing every year and are contributing to the problem instead of the solution. Criticize those who are trully responsible for the downfall of this organization.

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