I can imagine what it would be like to be a Major League baseball player that has been traded from a perennially disappointing team like the Pirates. Just the change of scenery would be refreshing in one’s mind.
But one guy I could not imagine being is Sean Burnett, having been traded from the already-dismal Pirates to the league-worst Washington Nationals.
The only thing I could imagine even less is talking trash after the trade.
Burnett and Nyjer Morgan, who were sent together to the Nationals on June 30 for outfielder Lastings Milledge and relief pitcher Joel Hanrahan, are back in town this weekend to face their old mates in a four-game series at PNC Park.
It could have been a pleasant homecoming for both players… that is, until Burnett opened his mouth. He had some choice words for the Pirates that he shared with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Dejan Kovacevic on the topic of all of the Pirates’ recent trades.
“They’re the laughingstock of baseball right now,” Burnett said. “They’ve gotten rid of everybody. They won’t keep anybody around. Some of the guys [in Washington] don’t understand it, but Nyjer and I knew this was coming.”
OK, let me get this straight, Mr. Burnett.
You just got traded to the WORST TEAM IN BASEBALL. There are teams that have almost as many wins as you have losses. And the Pirates are the laughingstock of baseball?! REALLY?!
You were a first-round draft pick nine years ago. NINE. It took you NINE years to finally settle in as a Major League pitcher, and that was in the bullpen after you were drafted as a starter. Not to mention that there were a plethora of consecutive bad first-round draft picks just like you. And you have the nerve to wonder why they won’t keep anybody around?! When you’re an average of 24.5 games under .500 every year, there’s no reason to keep anybody around, not even you.
But wait, there’s more.
“What I keep telling the guys here,” he continues, “is that the hardest part is that Pittsburgh, as a sports town, is unbelievable. With what the Steelers and Penguins have done, they’re dying for a winner in baseball, too. They’re dying to cheer the Pirates on. And now, they don’t have anybody they even know. Guys like Jack [Wilson] and Freddy [Sanchez], the faces of the franchise, players they’re supposed to be locking up, they’re all gone. What’s going to bring people to the ballpark now?”
OK, hold on a second. A career .269 hitter with defense and a contact hitter with no power are supposed to be the faces of an MLB franchise? Am I hearing this correctly? Did I mention they were both over 30 years old?!
And to answer your question, the same thing that will bring people to the ballpark now was the same thing they did when they came to watch you stink up the joint. Apparently, you weren’t bringing them there with your lights-out performance (of course I’m being heavily sarcastic), so what the hell do you care? What brought them there over the last 16 years? Obviously not you.
And you think he would be done talking, right? Wrong. There’s more. In fact, Morgan gets in on the show.
Morgan says of the transition to Washington, they’ve welcomed us with open arms here, and it’s been awesome.”
Since July 1, the Nationals are 7-16. How awesome can things possibly be?! You just went from bad to worse, and it’s been awesome?! WOW.
Remember, this was the guy that teammates said was the one that made it so fun for them in the clubhouse. Wilson said he “brought so much on and off the field.” He was a guy that helped a team have fun while they were losing. Interesting.
Hearing things like this from professional athletes, is it so shocking that Pirates’ GM Neal Huntington is using words like, “changing the losing culture” in the clubhouse? I guess we’re discovering that the reason why the Pirates have struggled for so long is because the players are having too much fun losing!
Let’s put this in perspective: I’ve played baseball and softball for more than half of my life. I’ve played on some great teams that won championships, and I’ve played on some horrible teams that struggled to win games. The teams I remember the most fondly and had the most fun with? The teams what WON. I never had fun on the teams that lost.
Show me a team that has fun losing, and I’ll show you a team that will never win.
And then, of course, is the crown jewel quote of all. Burnett has a source of motivation for the series which is just flat out hilarious.
“We want to make them look stupid for making that trade,” he said.
Let me tell you something, Sean. In your 8.5 years with the organization, they got only 172.2 Major League innings out of you. And during that span, your ERA was 4.27, with a WHIP of 1.448. You were an average player with this team, and they blew the 19th overall pick in the 2000 amateur draft on you.
They stuck with you when elbow surgery probably should have ended your career, but they took you and your average ability and tried to make the best of you after you became even more mediocre.
In seven seasons with the Pirates organization, they got 644 at-bats out of Morgan (a little more than one season’s worth). He hit .304 with only four home runs, and while he stole 48 bases, he was caught stealing 22 times. And he was a 33rd round pick.
So, basically the team put up with the two of you over a nine-year span, to get an equivalent of three combined years of average Major League service out of you. And you have the nerve to criticize the team for the melancholy that you so miserably helped to create, especially when you are on a team that is even worse.
Make no mistake about it, Sean and Nyjer. You don’t need to make the Pirates look stupid for trading you.
They already look stupid for drafting you.
But thankfully, you are two mistakes they (and the fans) no longer have to live with.