Collier: Pirates sack uninspiring Tracy

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The extent to which the Pirates will ultimately be reconfigured in the infrastructural image of the Cleveland Indians can't yet be known, but somewhere in the prototype there seems to be a strong proclivity for restless Friday afternoons.

This is the second black Friday in less than a month within the offices at 115 Federal St., with manager Jim Tracy leaning into Bob Nutting's wrecking ball 28 days after it struck general manager Dave Littlefield in the wake of the organization's 15th consecutive losing season.

The announcement was scheduled for 3:30 p.m. today.

Tracy's exit is by itself wholly unremarkable. It is, rather, an arithmetic illustration of just how comfortable the franchise has become with failure. Why Tracy was permitted only two years to rectify matters while others seemed to enjoy a presidential four-year minimum is not worth discussing so much as the fact that in a decade and a half of losing, only three managers have been pointed to the exit.

Jim Leyland left of his own desperate accord after Consecutive Losing Season No. 4, Gene Lamont was jettisoned after Consecutive Losing Season No. 8, Lloyd McClendon after Consecutive Losing Season No. 13, and now Tracy after CLS 15.

Tracy's successor -- and let the reckless speculation begin right here with Tony Pena -- will be staring at a record-tying 16th lost summer, and no amount of Indians-inspired brilliance on the part of former Tribe front office whizbang Neal Huntington will likely avert it.

Huntington, the new Pirates general manager for all of 10 days, showed himself to be less than impulsive on the Tracy matter, letting the loquacious skipper simmer for more than five days after Sunday's final out before learning that the $1 million or so the Pirates owe him won't require that he actually show up any more.

Tracy brought the Pirates a steady, professional, but uninspiring presence, proving in his two seasons in Pittsburgh that just as he was capable of managing a talented team into the postseason (see your 2004 Los Angeles Dodgers), he was just as capable of managing an untalented team into the basement. The five-day delay that preceded his dismissal triggered speculation that he would be retained, but retention would have been a severe public relations mis-step.

More details in tomorrow's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.


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