You know it, you love, and it's back. A brand new Bucs thread, for a brand new 2012 season!!!
I'll start by telling you why we're winning the division this year.
1) Pitching. 1.42 team ERA so far against the Phillies. The Phillies. The penciled-in NL East Champion. And A.J. Burnett is WAY ahead of schedule. Tossed a minor-league game today, went 4 2/3, 5 K, 2 H.
2) Pop. It hasn't shown up yet, but hell, we've faced Doc Hallady and Cliff Lee, arguably the two best pitchers in the NL. Casey McGehee can sting the ball, Rod Barajas has shown some pop (literally 1 1/2" from the game-winning dinger tonight), and Andrew McCutchen could well go 30-30 this year. Garrett Jones has some punch as well, and if Pedro Alvarez finally becomes the power hitter we expect (his career mirroring Aramis Ramirez) we're going to hit some balls out.
3) Speed. McCutchen, Presley and Tabata can flat out fly. We're going to have to play some small ball, and as Steve Blanton found out tonight, we'll do it well.
4) Heart. We don't have the big names. But we had the division lead until AUGUST last year. (When we got jobbed on the WORST call in the history of Major League Baseball against the Braves. Out...by...three...FEET!!!!) Things fell apart after that, but that experience was great for a young club. You're going to get dicked over once in a while, but you have to respond. Clint Hurdle's mantra this year is one word..."Finish" and we will. (Won't we Phils? You haven't won a series in our house since 2008, and McDonald will make sure that continues tomorrow.)
5) "Prince Albert." He's gone from the division. Thank you, sports gods.
6) Pitching. Did I mention that already? I did? Did I mention A.J. Burnett coming back early? I did? Well, it bears repeating....doesn't it Jim Thome?
7) Pirate Fans. Some loyal sons of bitches. We're dying for a winner. Did you hear that building tonight? It sounded like Game 7 of The Series.
8) Blue Collar Town, Blue Collar Approach. We'll work. We'll leg out infield hits for wins in the 10th. When you don't have the talent, you have to work harder. We do. And we will.
9) I ****ing said so. Self-explanatory.
10) For the first time in my ES posting "career," this post isn't sarcastic. I'm proud to be a Bucs fan again. And it's because we've got a legitimate contender on our hands. And Neal Huntington is making sure it'll stay that way. (With apologies to all of you other teams that want McCutchen...call us back in 6 or 7 years. LOCKDOWN.) We're keeping the talent we cultivate now. We're not stocking other teams. Which all leads me to one, final point.....