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The Big Flameout

Pittsburgh Pirates

Pittsburgh Pirates

by "Shakey" McGuiness
Legends League correspondent
Pittsburgh Pirates Baseball


Randy JohnsonHe was supposed to be "The Big Unit." He was someone special, a 6'10" manifestation of Death to all opposing batters, most especially those of the left-handed persuasion. When The Unit is on the mound, strong batters were supposed to quiver and weak ones take their ohfer and be quiet about it. Well, with a quarter of the season gone, The Big Unit has been more like The Big Flameout. Lefties have launched six homeruns in ninety three at bats vs. Johnson, slugging a robust .505 in the process. Hence the only quivering observed has been done by the Pirate faithful, as they see yet another opposing team make Johnson look like a BP pitcher.

There's been rumors that he's been hurt, or more graciously, that once the temps heat up so will he. Then there's the whispers that he's been hitting the nightclubs a little too frequently for a professional athlete. Rumors, innuendo, and at least sometimes, just plain fabricated stories. The fact remains, however, that RJ's performance to date is a mystery worthy of Sir Aurthur Conan Doyle. The stat line following Johnson's name reads as follows: 4-6, 4.74. Just plain ugly, if you are The Big Unit, the Ace of the staff. Even after a modest two game win streak has improved upon them, he's embarrassed to be associated with numbers of that ilk.

Jesse BurkettWillard "Home Run" Brown Meanwhile, over in Philly, the man who was traded away to make room for the big man continues to flourish. Marvelous Melvin Ott has been living large in The City of Brotherly Love, his line a more star worthy .297-10-27. And to make matters worse, Ott's replacement afield, Willard "Home Run" Brown, has been inconsistent, to say the least. His average hovers around the Mendoza Line, and his power production makes his sobriquet seem misapplied. Brown's numbers are as bad as Johnson's: a .184 average with just four long balls, but all of fifty five whiffs. This turn of events prompted management to trade steady hurler Urban Shocker to the rival New York Metropolitans for outfielder Jesse Burkett. Burkett responded magnificently to the challenge by singling in a key run in his first AB, and picking up 4 hits and a walk over 6 PAs in his first taste of action in a Pirate uniform. That performance surely doesn't bode well for Brown. It must be said, however, that Willard did respond nicely to the pressure of the situation by launching a homerun in that same series.

Randy Johnson But through this adversity, the Pirates have remained perched atop a tough division. They've staved off the pre-season favorite New York Mets to this point, although it's way too early to read anything into that piece of information. Ed Walsh and Rapid Robert Feller have picked up Johnson's considerable slack, and Brown's slow start has not sounded the death knell for the Buc offense. But the fact remains, Johnson needs to live up to his rep if the remaining three quarters of the season is to be as successful as the first. As for "Homerun" Brown, well, he'll be platooning for now, but if Jesse continues to display such mastery of the Art of Hitting, he might be patrolling right field for another ATL team. Or worse, picking splinters out of the seat of his pants for the Bucs.

The Big Unit's Most Recent Game


5/23/2004, PIT05-NYG05, Polo Grounds (1923-57)

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E LOB DP
2005 Pirates 0 3 0 2 0 0 1 0 1 7 10 1 10 1
2005 Giants 0 0 1 1 0 0 1 1 0 4 9 0 10 0

Pirates AB R H BI D T HR BB K SB CS IW HP SH SF AVG PO A E PB
Kimbro cf 4 1 1 2 0 0 1 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 .311 1 0 0 0
Francis 3b 5 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .280 0 0 1 0
Lloyd ss 4 1 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .273 1 6 0 0
Hornsby 2b 5 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .276 5 5 0 0
McDougald pr 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .333 1 1 0 0
Mize 1b 3 1 1 0 1 0 0 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .251 12 0 0 0
Brown,W rf 3 1 1 2 0 0 1 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 .186 0 0 0 0
Burkett,Je ph 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .313 0 0 0 0
Smith,C lf 4 1 4 2 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 .343 1 0 0 0
Hartnett c 4 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .207 6 0 0 0
Johnson,R p 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 1 0 .045 0 1 0 0
Taylor,B ph 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .333 0 0 0 0
Ward p 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 0 0 0 0
Foster, W p 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1.000 0 0 0 0
Cooper,M p 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 0 0 0 0
36 7 10 7 2 0 3 7 8 1 0 1 0 1 0 27 13 1 0

Giants AB R H BI D T HR BB K SB CS IW HP SH SF AVG PO A E PB
Roush cf 5 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .303 5 0 0 0
Wilhelm p 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 0 1 0 0
Scales 2b 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .235 3 1 0 0
Pesky ph 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .253 1 0 0 0
Musial lf 5 1 3 1 2 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .285 1 0 0 0
Heilmann rf 4 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 .323 1 0 0 0
Stargell 1b 5 0 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .217 7 0 0 0
Dickey c 4 1 2 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .261 8 0 0 1
Marcelle 3b 3 1 1 1 1 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .240 0 4 0 0
Smith,O ss 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 .316 1 1 0 0
Waddell p 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .100 0 0 0 0
Hunt ph 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .200 0 0 0 0
Vaughn,H p 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 0 1 0 0
Buckner ph 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .133 0 0 0 0
Chandler p 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 0 1 0 0
Wright,WB ph 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .375 0 0 0 0
36 4 9 4 5 0 0 5 6 0 0 1 0 0 0 27 9 0 1

Pirates INN H R ER BB K PCH STR BF HR IW HP WP DP ERA
Johnson,R W 4-6 7.0 8 3 3 3 5 116 71 33 0 1 0 0 0 4.74
Ward H 3 0.2 0 1 1 2 0 18 7 4 0 0 0 1 0 7.32
Foster, W H 1 0.1 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 4.61
Cooper,M S 1 1.0 1 0 0 0 1 11 6 3 0 0 0 0 1 0.00
9.0 9 4 4 5 6 146 85 41 0 1 0 1 1

Giants INN H R ER BB K PCH STR BF HR IW HP WP DP ERA
Waddell L 1-6 4.0 5 5 5 3 6 74 43 20 3 0 0 0 0 7.88
Vaughn,H 2.0 1 0 0 1 1 23 16 8 0 0 0 0 0 3.12
Chandler 2.0 2 1 1 2 0 40 20 10 0 1 0 0 0 5.63
Wilhelm 1.0 2 1 1 1 1 30 17 6 0 0 0 0 0 5.40
9.0 10 7 7 7 8 167 96 44 3 1 0 0 0

PIT: Burkett,Je batted for Brown,W in the 7th
Burkett,Je moved to lf in the 7th
Smith,C moved to rf in the 7th
Taylor,B batted for Johnson,R in the 8th
McDougald ran for Hornsby in the 9th
McDougald moved to 2b in the 9th
NYG: Hunt batted for Waddell in the 4th
Buckner batted for Vaughn,H in the 6th
Pesky batted for Scales in the 7th
Pesky moved to 2b in the 8th
Wright,WB batted for Chandler in the 8th
Wright,WB moved to cf in the 9th

GWRBI: Brown,W
Temperature: 60, Sky: cloudy, Wind: right to left at 10 MPH.

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