Thursday, May 11, 2006

The Great Leyland Curse?

Tell me, just what have the Pittsburgh Pirates done since Jim Leyland left them? Yeah, I know the Bucs suffered through four straight losing seasons before he was jettisoned after the 1996 campaign. But then J-Ley went to the Florida Marlins the next year, and The Fish won the World Series.

Leyland skippered the Pirates during their last heyday -- the late '80's and early '90's. The club won three straight NL East flags (1990-92), yet couldn't make it to the World Series in any of those years. Still, it was the last time Pittsburgh Pirates baseball was anything to shout about.

We've had the same problem here. The Tigers have done a little diddly and a lot of squat since Sparky Anderson felt uncomfortable enough under the Mike Ilitch ownership to leave following the 1995 season. In fact, in the first post-Sparky year, the Tigers stumbled to a 53-109 record under Buddy Bell. They've been struggling to tread water ever since. They've even sunk a few times. They've been a Titanic with nine lives.

Today the Pirates sit at 10-25, and even Hollywood is getting cranky.

Actually, not Hollywood -- but actor Michael Keaton. Seems Keaton, a Pittsburgh native, is so fed up with the lousy Bucs teams of the past decade that he used the occasion of Opening Day to take a swipe at Pirates management. He said, in essence, that the team needs to pee or get off the pot when it comes to acquiring big league talent. Then, moments later, he threw out the first pitch -- after throwing the first salvo.

So I got to thinking, after the Pirates' record was flashed on the ESPN News screen yesterday, that they haven't been much since Leyland left. And here the Tigers are, 21-13 in his first year back as manager after six seasons off.

Another baseball curse? It just might be, when actors who play at make-believe seem to know all the answers.


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