Problem: The Pirates haven't had a winning season since 1992. Solution: Bat the pitcher eighth!
In a move to stimulate an offense that ranked at the major-league bottom in most key categories, Pirates manager John Russell posted a lineup for the second time in three days that he plans to use throughout the 2010 season: The pitcher batting No. 8, shortstop Ronny Cedeno behind him as a secondary "leadoff" hitter, Aki Iwamura No. 1 and Andrew McCutchen No. 2.
"I think we're going to look at it and probably go with it," Russell said this morning, after posting a lineup with starter Paul Maholm batting eighth and shortstop Bobby Crosby -- a late recplacement for a scratched Cedeno, who's battling lower-back tightness -- batting ninth. "We tried it a couple of years ago, trying to get the right guys in the lineup. I think we have that now with Aki and Andrew and Ronny and Andy [LaRoche] hitting in front of the pitcher, a patient-type hitter. it sets us up to be able to score more runs and get a couple of hitters in front of Andrew. With the makeup of our lineup, it only seemed to make a lot more sense to get more guys in scoring position in front of AKi, Andrew and [Garrett] Jones and [Ryan] Doumit. I think we have the personnel to do it."
As if things weren't bad enough for Pirates fans. First, they have a gorgeous baseball stadium that's always half-empty (but not on August 7!). Second, they've had to endure 16 straight losing seasons. (For comparison: The Phillies, once the standard-bearers of horrible baseball, have had nine winning seasons since the Pirates' last year over .500. The Royals have even had three winning years since 1992.)
And now, third, the Pirates' fans have to live with their baseball team batting the pitcher eighth. Is losing season No. 17 on the way?