'Your papers, please' must never be heard in America
Independent voices from the TWT Communities
Homer Bailey had a certain milestone on his mind when he walked to the mound Friday night. He wound up pulling off an even bigger feat.
With apologies to Bryce Harper and the first-place Washington Nationals _ not to mention the individual brilliance of everyone from Josh Hamilton to Matt Cain _ the Pittsburgh Pirates are the best story in baseball over the first half of the season.
It used to be that baseball fans would head for the concourse to grab a beer between innings, a cold one as much a part of America's pastime as hotdogs and Cracker Jack.
\One day after perhaps their most demoralizing loss of the season, Washington Nationals manager Davey Johnson closed the doors to the visitors' clubhouse at PNC Park and held a brief team meeting.
The silence that pervaded the visitor's clubhouse at PNC Park on Wednesday night was drenched in frustration. Players sat quietly at their lockers or swiftly made their way toward the showers and the waiting busses. Not too many, it seemed, wanted to spend much time reliving what had just transpired.
Danny Espinosa is swinging and missing. He knows it, his teammates know it and his manager knows it. He's well aware, also, that the fans know it. And he's not immune to the criticism. Espinosa's 37 strikeouts are tied for the most in the National League.
Henry Rodriguez knows what it's like to surrender a home run. But it's not a feeling he's all that familiar with. His stuff, as good as it is, makes it difficult for hitters to generate solid contact.
Pittsburgh outfielder Alex Presley is comfortable with the fun people tend to have with his last name. His Twitter feed is even named AlexNotElvis.
As the botched plays and bad losses and loud boos at PNC Park mounted in recent days, Clint Hurdle and the Pittsburgh Pirates stood firm in reciting a familiar refrain.
One by one, a train of more than two dozen faces emerged from a players-only dining room and into the open expanse of the Pittsburgh Pirates clubhouse about 20 minutes after the team's ninth consecutive loss.
The Pittsburgh Pirates' season has unraveled quickly.
More often than not this season, the Nationals have had to manufacture their runs. They haven't come easy and, when they've come at all, they've usually been the product of aggressive base running or sacrifices or timely base hits.
Clint Hurdle smiled and accepted best wishes as if he was a politician. He had a pen in one hand, and waved with the other.
Clint Hurdle shrugged his shoulders and kept talking.
Andrew Neft stood with his family in the Black and Gold Forever store in the heart of Pittsburgh's Strip District _ looking to see what Steelers jersey or Penguins gear he might add to his collection _ when he spotted six Pirates shirts hanging high up on the wall, nearly out of view.