Saturday, April 08, 2006

We Will...

Sometimes, I wonder what it is the kiddies in the Pittsburgh Pirates marketing department are smoking when they come up with their annual marketing slogans. Are they deliberately trying to give frustrated, jaded Pirates fans yet another vehicle to ridicule what is already the laughing stock of Major League Baseball? Or are they just naive, well-meaning baseball fans that are trying to generate buzz about the Pirates, especially now that the Bucs will be hosting the All-Star Game?

Last year, the slogan for the season was "Come Hungry!!" And the marketers used the motif of a diner, and players were described as preferring opposing batters smoked, and pitchers heavily battered, and other marginally witty sayings. They wanted to point out that this Pirate team was hungry for wins, and was chomping at the bit to bring prestige, or at least respectability back to Pittsburgh. This was going to be a team that would play scrappy baseball, and never give up. Well, the fans came hungry...and left famished. The Buccos flirted with .500 for about a week in late May, and then the players realized: "Damn, we're the Pirates. We're not supposed to be at .500. We're supposed to be in the doghouse by now", and like a self-fulfilling prophecy, they proceeded to go into one of the greatest tank jobs ever seen in MLB history ending up only winning 67 games against 95 losses and forcing the firing of one Lloyd McClendon, the manager who was well-intentioned, but clearly over his head. The players lost respect for the manager, and when that happens, the team is dead in the water.

Well, the front office realized that if they didn't do something PDQ, it wouldn't make a difference if the Pirates hosted the All-Star Game until kingdom come, the fans would just decide not to show up anymore, so they hired Dick, I mean, Jim Tracy from the Dodgers to man the helm of this sinking schooner, and they also brought in crusty veterans Sean Casey from the Reds, and Jeromy Burnitz from the Cubs to complement the young'uns Oliver Perez and Jason Bay. And so far on the young season the Pirates are 0-5, off to their worst start in 32 years. And I'll just leave it at that.

Back to the marketing madness. This year's slogan for the 2006 season is...(drum roll, please) "WE WILL." Yes, We Will. We Will, What?? How much time and effort went into coming up with this pithy, but useless slogan. For beginning bloggers like me, this is a perfect chance to come up with all sorts of fun things to add to "WE WILL", Such as...

1. Continue to charge $ 5.00 for a limp hot dog, $4.25 for barely warm nachos, and $2.50 for hyper caffeinated Pepsi to watch a team that hasn't had a winning season in 13 years.

2. Find new and exciting ways to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

3. Continue to sign washed up rent-a-players, that will play out the string with varying degrees of success until we trade them to playoff contenders at the trade deadline, whereby they will be major contributors to said contenders playoff runs culminating in an appearance in the World Series.

4. Give up on young talent waaaay too early and release them to other teams, where THEY will become major contributors to that teams later success.

5. Bring up the wrong players at the wrong time, the right players at the wrong time, but not the right players at the right time.

6. Continue to ply the sheep, I mean, fans with constant giveaways and fireworks displays to confirm the fact that this team is not marketable on the strength(!) of it's on-field play.

7. Zealously find a way to completely waste all the buzz and positive PR generated by hosting the All-Star Game.

8. Prove beyond a shadow of a doubt, that it doesn't make a diddy damn bit of difference about who manages the team, if you don't have enough good players, can't afford to get good players, and the players you do have aren't willing, interested, or capable of playing to their highest potential, your team will continue to suck.

9. Show that even if you have the nicest ballpark in the country, that no longer insures that you'll get the fans out in droves. Fans come to see the players on the field, not the field itself.

10. Continue to come up with stupid, inane marketing slogans that inspire few, but amuse many.

Despite my savaging of the Pirates in this piece, I still count myself a fan of the team, though I'm not a big fan of baseball in general, and Major League Baseball in particular. I go to 2-3 games a year, and I listen to the games on radio once in a while. I remember the days of Captain Willie, and We Are Fam-a-lee. I even cheered on the Buccos when they won those three straight division titles and had the heart ripped out of my chest by Francisco Cabrera of the Atlanta Braves when he brought home the winning run that killed the Pirate's chances to go to the World Series in 1992. I and many people in Pittsburgh still won't forgive Barry Bonds for candy-arming that throw from left field that failed to get Sid "Slow as a Turtle on Valium" Bream out at home plate. Maybe it's just frustration about 13 years of losing, and when I mean losing, I mean the kinds of seasons when the Pirates weren't even in the same era as the rest of the division. Being out of the running by June, that kind of losing. Losing 100 games in the same year that the new ballpark opened. Maybe it was a bad omen when the Pride of the Pirates, Willie Stargell passed away hours before PNC Park was to open for its first home game in 2001. Maybe there was a lot of bad mojo that mixed with the good vibes of Opening Day in the coolest ballpark in the Majors that cause some kind of temporal vortex of weird energy that plagued the Bucs that season. I don't know. I really do hope that the Pirates can have a good season. Maybe they can tap off the Steeler's success, and finally return Pittsburgh back to the City of Champions status it once had. Maybe after this season, I can come back to the blog and write about "WE WILL" in a positive light.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

About Me.

Now that I've hooked you into reading my little fledgling blog, It's time to expose the man behind the blog. Who is this man of mystery and intrigue? What makes him tick? What gives him the right to hold court on any and all subjects under the sun despite not knowing anything about them? And is it true about the incident with the dumptruck, the 10,000 gallons of whipped cream and the llama???

I can't answer the last question because the Statute of Limitations hasn't quite run out yet, but I will tell you that there were no llamas injured in that stunt. AAAAAAnyhoo, like I said in my opening post, my real life name is Pierre. No, I am not French, and no I cannot do a Maurice Chevalier impression. That's the name my dear mother tagged me with when I popped out, and at the very least, it's a conversation starter. I hail from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, home of the 5 TIME, 5 TIME, 5 TIME Super Bowl Champion Pittsburgh Steelers, of which I am a dyed in the wool fan. I have multiple occupations, none of which provide nearly enough to live on, but together allow me to actually live in a house instead of under the 7th Street Bridge. I am a security guard, which is chimp work, but it pays the bills. But I also am Treasurer for The Church of the Holy Cross which is my home parish. I also am a commissioned Notary Public for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and I also volunteer to run the bar at my American Legion Post. I think that's enough jobs for now.

Academically, I hold two degrees. I earned an Associate of Science degree in Computer Information Processing from the Community College of Allegheny County, and I also hold a Bachelor of Science degree in Sport Management from Robert Morris University in Pittsburgh. As you can see, a fat lot of good those credentials did as I am doing basically what I was doing before I went to college. But I don't consider the pursuit of those degrees a waste of time, as I did learn a lot about myself and that I possessed this latent gift of writing that had been lying dormant for many years. I can also call myself an educated man and not have to cross my fingers. So the 7 1/2 years I spent as a non-traditional adult student didn't totally go for naught.

I consider myself a ideological schizophrenic in terms of politics. I don't like to label myself as totally Democrat or Republican or liberal or conservative. I have views going all over the table. For example, I happen to find abortion to be utterly reprehensible, and totally preventable. Simply keep your Johnson in your pants and your legs closed. But I also know that accidents do happen and people are stupid enough to succumb to their passions without thinking. When that happens, one of the by-products of such actions are unwanted pregnancies. I can't even try and tell a woman what I think she should do with her body. Such a decision rests between her, her family, and her God, if she chooses to subscribe to a religion. If she were my adult daughter, and found herself in this situation and wants to abort, I would be disappointed but it is her decision. She has to make it and live with the outcome. Another situation: I am totally against this war in Iraq. It wasn't necessary, the proof was overwhelming that none of President Bush's reasons for going to war were viable, and that we should be spending more time trying to find Osama Bin Laden, who was the real force behind 9/11 and not trying to impose a Western style of democracy on a country that clearly isn't ready for it. But I am also one of the most pro-military people you'll ever meet. I served this country in the Navy from 1980-1986, and I am a firm believer in a strong national defense. I totally and to the hilt support the men and women who are fighting this misguided war. I can separate the war from the warrior. If you are going to commit this country's finest men and women to put their lives on the line in combat, you better make damn sure that your intelligence is rock-solid, that the reason for war is genuine and clearwith no bullshit and no spin, and that you provide those men and women with the best weapons and equipment to fight and win the war in the shortest amount of time and then GET THEM HOME!!! And then once you get them home, this government should spare no expense in insuring that those who return battered in body and mind get the medical care they need and deserve. If our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines are going to put their lives on the line wearing this country's uniform and fighting under Old Glory, then do right by them and don't cut VA funding at the same time you're fighting a war.

I am an advocate of personal responsibility. Be an adult, and own up to your obligations. If I screw up my life with drugs, alcohol, or other irresponsible behavior, I'm not going to blame my childhood, nor my living environment nor my race nor anything else. I will blame myself because I should know better. It's too easy to pass the blame to others for our failings, and I'll be the first to say that I've not fulfilled many of my expectations. I have not attained my fullest potential, and it is my fault.

From a religious perspective, I am a Christian of the Episcopal persuasion. If you would have characterized me as a Bible Thumping Hellfire and Brimstone Fundamentalist, you'd be right...if this were the 1980's. Back then, I was pretty on fire. But I'd like to say that I grew out of that phase, and now I'm an Episcopalian which to most born-agains means that I'm some mushy headed, wishy-washy, fence sitter who really doesn't believe much of anything. Actually, my theology hasn't changed all that much. I still believe the main core Christian tenets, I can say the Apostles and Nicene Creeds without crossing my fingers. But a lot of the peripheral beliefs that aren't central to salvation, I believe are up for debate, and are subject to change. Example: I believe that the Bible is the Word of God given to man through divinely inspired authors, but I don't believe it is inerrant as the fundamentalists would believe. There are too many inconsistencies. I have no problem reconciling evolution and creation. God created everything, and then allows evolution to be the vehicle by which those species adapt to changing environments. How hard is that? I'm just into all the judgementalism that occurs in much of organized religion. Everybody has a label and is spending waaaay too much time trying to stick their label on everbody else. I just wish that we'd all just leave each other alone and not try to convert each other. One of the bad things about Christianity is that our God tends not to play well with others. And his people are even worse. I have no problem with Jesus, it's his disciples that drive me crazy.

Enough of the heavy stuff. As for sports, I love football, hockey, and soccer. I'm too old and fat to play any of them. But I like to watch them fine. I can handle baseball in small doses. Part of that is because I am a Pittsburgher which means that I have to put up with the Pirates as my hometown team. The Pirates are the poster child of all that is wrong with Major League Baseball. the Bucs are a small market team that gets little revenue from it's media rights. Despite having one of the coolest ballparks in the country, the Pirates have not been able to transform that advantage into success on the field. The front office management hasn't always helped matters with the signing of players of suspect ability, and the mishandling of promising minor leaguers. As a result the Pirates have not had a winning season since 1992. There are times during the season when the Bucs show some promise, but they just can't get all the elements together for an extended period of time. The pitching shines, and the defense suffers. The defense gets it's act together, and there is no offense. The bats get hot and the bull pen leaks like a sieve. This year the Pirates will host the All-Star game, and I hope for their sake, they can parlay this into at least a season where they show promise. I'll comment on the Stillers and Penguin in later posts, as well as the meaning behind the handle City League Advocate


Welcome to the Moonlight Scribbler blog. My name is Pierre Wheaton, my handle on Blogger is the City League Advocate, and the Moonlight Scribbler is the name of my blog.

This is my first attempt at blogging, please bear with me as I learn about how to do this. Features that veteran bloggers may take for granted will appear on this blog as I learn how to use them. Basically, I'm doing this more as therapy for me than to try and educate and inform the masses. I'll be posting on whatever pretty much passes through my brain at any given time.

There won't be any real rhyme or reason on when I will update this thing. I know that one of the cardinal rules of blogging is that a blog should never grow stale, but hey, I won't drive myself crazy trying to follow that rule early on. If somehow this experiment gets some traction, and people actually are interested in reading and commenting on any of this stuff, then I will consider adhering to a set schedule. I'm a free-flow, stream-of -consciousness kind of writer. This blog will hit on anything from politics to video games; from news to religion, and everything in between. Half the time, when I log on to this thing, I have no idea what the hell I'm talking about. It'll just come to me as I write. I do my best material that way.

You're probably wondering about the name "Moonlight Scribbler." Well, when I decided to start a blog, I had to think of a decent title for it, and Moonlight Scribbler came to mind as I'll be doing many of my postings at night after I come home from work, and are too keyed up to hit the rack, also the Scribbler part of the title indicates that there will be a certain level of spontaneity and randomness when it comes down to what will be posted to this beast. I'll be holding forth on those things that stick out in my mind. Rants, opinions, and other assorted pap and twaddle. I'll also use this blog to tell the world all about me and what makes me tick. Some people might actually be interested in knowing that kind of stuff. Then again, maybe not. We shall find out as this blog develops and grows.