We've got answers to silly questions about the Pirates
Pirates catcher Rod Barajas gives the sign of Zoltan in honor of the god that has allowed the team's resurgence.
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With the Pirates on fire upon arrival of baseball's mid-season All-Star break, questions have been piling up in the MMM (mythological Morning File mailbag). So let's dispense with some:
Q: I used to be able to go to PNC Park and stretch out on the seats around me, get a beer in 20 seconds and avoid waiting in restroom lines. Now the lines are so long I feel like I'm trying to buy a loaf of bread in the old Soviet Union. Why do I have to put up with this?
A: The Pirates bandwagon appears to have expanded in geometric progression in recent weeks as their record soared above anything seen since 1992. If it's like last year, you'll see the return of speedy access to beer and bathroom relief within a month or two. But if this year's surge is the real deal, you could be in for a sustained period of necessary sobriety and Kegel exercises.
Q: Whenever the Pirates get a big hit this year, they're flashing these kooky "Z" hand signs to one another, and now they've got the fans doing it as an homage to some god called Zoltan. What gives?
A: Zoltan is a god whom the Pirates angered early in the 1992 season when they released Kirk Gibson, who had been Zoltan's favorite player ever since his fist-pumping, one-legged World Series heroics for the 1988 Dodgers.
In revenge, the powerful Zoltan placed a 20-year curse on the Pirates, to be reviewed in 2012 and lifted only if they showed a more merciful attitude toward aging players whose best years were presumed to be behind them. Once the Pirates acquired A.J. Burnett, Erik Bedard, Rod Barajas and Clint Barmes, the curse was removed. All hail Zoltan!
Q: Is Andrew McCutchen human?
A: While the Defense Department has sworn researchers in robotics at Carnegie Mellon University to secrecy, he is in fact that university's prototype for a government-subsidized artificial life form capable of exceeding most of the limitations of man. Baseball officials are currently examining whether this disqualifies him for special awards, but in the meantime, fans may continue their chants of "M-V-P" for him.
Q: It appears that just as the Pirates started playing really good baseball this year, the racing pierogies started slowing down. It sets a bad example for the kids at the ballpark when they see dumplings that aren't hustling. Is there something that can be done to make sure Chester & Co. are giving 110 percent?
A: You are correct. It does seem like ever since temperatures began reaching 138 degrees inside their suits, the pierogies have been in a slump, in addition to keeping the emergency room staff at Allegheny General Hospital on high alert. The Pirates are reportedly looking at going to a fleeter food with a Pittsburgh connection -- something like Heinz Reduced Sugar Tomato Ketchup and equivalents -- in order to increase racing excitement.
Q: McCutchen, McDonald, McKenry, McGehee -- what's with all these Gaelic players the Pirates have been signing? I thought this was supposed to be America's pastime.
A: As attendance waned during the current streak of consecutive losing seasons, the Pirates thought the best way to compensate would be to target Pittsburgh's large Scotch-Irish population with players who would appeal to them. When they offered reliever Jason Grilli a bonus if he would add "Mc" to his last name, they received a legal notice from McDonald's threatening to sue for infringement if the Pirates added any more such players, so plans for a McGrilli in the bullpen have been abandoned for now.
Q: "Raise the Jolly Roger. Raise the Jolly Roger." All I ever hear anymore is that irritating catchphrase at the end of a Pirates game. Whatever happened to really erudite stuff you used to hear as a Bucs fan, like "Get out the green weenie"?
A: The conservative Rehnquist Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision involving the ACLU, FCC, MLB and KDKA, banned use of the weenie expression as a public rallying cry years ago. The same legal group that won that case, PRIDE, or Puritans for Removal of Inferred Double Entendres, is awaiting high court action on its petition for review of the "Jolly Roger" slogan.
Q: Last year at this time, I was all fired up about the Pirates' climb to first place, only to require doubling of my usual dose of antidepressants from late summer to early winter after enduring the disaster that was the Bucs of late 2011. What could possibly make me willing to get up my hopes at risk of experiencing such agony again?
A: See answer to Z-for-Zoltan query above.
First Published July 9, 2012 12:00 am