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Measuring the immeasurable – A looser Pittsburgh Pirates clubhouse?

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The Pittsburgh Pirates are 4-0 to start the 2018 season. The team’s clubhouse feels tight and its chemistry is improved, even if those observations are from a detached perception. How can these “good vibes” help the team contend?

The Pittsburgh Pirates won their first game in dramatic fashion, followed it up with two solid wins, and then gave fans something to rave about when Colin Moran hit a grand slam in the team’s first home game.

It was a fun atmosphere in PNC Park, even as the club faltered before ultimately holding on for the home-opening win. All the while, one could easily notice that this Pittsburgh Pirates club was markedly looser, perhaps even freer than its recent predecessors. With Andrew McCutchen and Gerrit Cole gone, the club might now be able to play the role of the surprise team that no one thought would compete.

As I wrote for Pirates Breakdown earlier this Spring:

But, if you subscribe to a certain way of thinking, losing McCutchen may have unintended positive consequences. No, this does not mean that losing a player of McCutchen’s ability is suddenly a good thing. Even with diminished returns from his early-2010 highs, McCutchen is still a productive player capable of posting a 2.5-4 fWAR season. Rather, I’m talking about how the club may now be freed of the pressures not to “waste the McCutchen era.”

Indeed, the post-McCutchen era is afoot in Pittsburgh, and with it comes a new feeling. Suddenly, Starling Marte is hustling out every ground ball, and was visibly upset at himself for grounding out with Gregory Polanco on base in the opener. For a player with a reputation for being aloof at times, the display was jarring in every best sense of the word. Speaking of Polanco, he seems to have re-discovered his joy of the game again, right alongside Francisco Cervelli.

We could cite many more examples, but it is obvious that the clubhouse chemistry is much improved. Of course, without being in the clubhouse day in and day out, commenting on the atmosphere comes at the most superficial of levels. The truth is, only the 25 men in that room and their coaching staff carry their finger on the pulse of the room.

With that being said, what can this newfound era of good vibes do for the club going forward?

Hard to say, but….something.

This site, and our sister site at Pirates Breakdown. aims to provide quality Pittsburgh Pirates analysis. Often, that means putting up theories and ideas against rigorous research. The goal is to eliminate any doubt about a conclusion or opinion. We don’t always get there, but we come close more often than not.

The hard part about this column is that there is no study, no research, no graphs or charts than can help us quantify the effects of improved clubhouse culture. By its nature, team chemistry is un-quantifiable. It’s an fragile thing, almost ephemeral. Over the course of a 162-game season, the intangible qualities of this Pittsburgh Pirates team will change repeatedly. So by its nature, even attempting to quantify the effect of an energized, enthusiastic clubhouse is a fool’s errand.

However, it’s entirely fair and reasonable to say that a tight clubhouse that carries the right mix of experience and youth buoyed by the desire to prove something to the baseball world can provide tangible results.

Mostly, those results may be borne out by a group of 25 players each pushing shoulder-to-shoulder in the same direction. A shared approach to their craft and the Pittsburgh Pirates as a team concept can help players not to get too low with the lows or too highs with the highs.

That’s a cliche, sure. And you could say that it’s a cliche that applies to all facets of life.

But what is baseball, if not a microcosm of life?

These Pittsburgh Pirates are having fun early, and if they can maintain that perspective, a challenging season may just feel a little bit easier.

Jason Rollison is the owner/editor of piratesbreakdown.com, an analytically bent, fully indepndent media outlet covering the Pittsburgh Pirates. Before PBD, he ran the FanSided-owned Rumbunter for several years. Jason freelances for several print publications throughout the Pittsburgh region, and for other online outlets. You can follow him @rollisonwrites and @pbcbreakdown

Pittsburgh Pirates

Interview: Pittsburgh Pirates announcer Joe Block

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Today I had the pleasure of talking to Joe Block for the latest Locked on Pirates podcast.

The Pittsburgh Pirates found a good one when they brought in Joe Block to their announce team prior to the 2016 season. He graciously granted me some time for the Locked on Pirates podcast today while the club is in San Francisco. It was a lively talk that was very eye-opening in many ways. Here ya go:

 

 

Hear Joe’s thoughts on:

  • The role of analytics and advanced stats in his broadcast.
  • The maturation of Gregory Polanco
  • The “creaminess” of the current Pittsburgh Pirates bullpen,
  • And much more!

Pittsburgh Pirates fans – Subscribe, Rate, Review!

Locked on Pirates is the semi-daily Pittsburgh Pirates podcast of choice for discerning Pirates fans.

Jason Rollison from Bucs Dugout and others will help you through the 2018 Pittsburgh Pirates season.

You can help chart the podcast’s success by subscribing to our podcast and writing a review!

We are on every podcast app that ties into iTunes, so search for us! Or, if you’re on an Android or iOS device, please just click the links below to subscribe, and while there, why not leave a review?

Using something other than these three? Just search for “Locked on Pirates” in your podcast app of choice.

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Pittsburgh Pirates

LOP’s Jason Rollison on ESPN Radio’s Adam Crowley show

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Locked on Pirates host Jason Rollison joined Adam Crowley of ESPN Radio in Pittsburgh to talk all things trade deadline. Listen in as they both try to process how the hell the Pittsburgh Pirates got Chris Archer

 

 

Pittsburgh Pirates fans – Subscribe, Rate, Review!

Locked on Pirates is the semi-daily Pittsburgh Pirates podcast of choice for discerning Pirates fans.

Jason Rollison from Bucs Dugout and others will help you through the 2018 Pittsburgh Pirates season.

You can help chart the podcast’s success by subscribing to our podcast and writing a review!

We are on every podcast app that ties into iTunes, so search for us! Or, if you’re on an Android or iOS device, please just click the links below to subscribe, and while there, why not leave a review?

Using something other than these three? Just search for “Locked on Pirates” in your podcast app of choice.

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Pittsburgh Pirates

The Corey Dickerson Dilemma

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The latest episode of Locked on Pirates is LIVE. The Pittsburgh Pirates’ nine-game winning streak has re-fueled a few hot topics going around in Pirates circles.

The latest episode of Locked on Pirates is here:

 

 

Today we talk:

  • The Corey Dickerson Dilemma
  • GM Speak and why it is sometimes necessary
  • Left-handed relievers that could be available

Pittsburgh Pirates fans – Subscribe, Rate, Review!

Locked on Pirates is the semi-daily Pittsburgh Pirates podcast of choice for discerning Pirates fans.

Jason Rollison from Bucs Dugout and others will help you through the 2018 Pittsburgh Pirates season.

You can help chart the podcast’s success by subscribing to our podcast and writing a review!

We are on every podcast app that ties into iTunes, so search for us! Or, if you’re on an Android or iOS device, please just click the links below to subscribe, and while there, why not leave a review?

Using something other than these three? Just search for “Locked on Pirates” in your podcast app of choice.

Continue Reading

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