Some perverse Pirates fans have rooted against Daniel Moskos since the day he was drafted, hoping he would fail so they could blast the organization for making a big mistake.
That is and always has been pathetic.
Now, let's be clear about one thing:
Mirror file photo by Gary M. Baranec
Daniel Moskos gets mobbed at the mound after striking out the final batter to win the 2010 Eastern League championship with the Curve.
Criticizing the Pirates for selecting Moskos instead of catcher Matt Wieters with the No. 4 pick in the 2007 draft is understandable. The Bucs didn't want to spend big money to take the best available player, and they deserve any and all criticism that comes from such a move.
But criticizing Moskos never made sense. The kid was just starting his pro career, yet he unwittingly became the poster boy for the Pirates' financial problems.
The Bucs called up Moskos to the major leagues for the first time Saturday, and he debuted with a perfect eighth inning against Colorado.
I won't even pretend to be unbiased when saying I hope the lefty reliever goes on to have a terrific big league career, if only because he deserves it after all the unfair ridicule he's had to deal with in the minor leagues.
All because his name isn't Matt Wieters.
Is Moskos a great pitcher? Maybe not. Can he be an effective major league reliever? That's possible, given his 95 mph fastball and good slider.
To his credit, Moskos has always been incredibly professional and classy when discussing his unique -- and undoubtedly frustrating -- situation. He remained true to that description when reached by phone Saturday afternoon in Colorado.
"You can take care of what's in your home, you can take care of yourself," he said. "You can't really worry about what other people are doing or what other people think about you.
"If you're focused on all those extraneous factors, you're not gonna really get better and get the most out of yourself. That's kind of how I've gone about it. I've tried to get the most out of myself."
Moskos, who turned 25 Thursday, spent the past two seasons with the Curve. He was a decent starter in 2009 (11-10, 3.74 ERA), then was a tremendous closer last year with 21 saves and a 1.52 ERA.
I've written this many times: The Curve would not have won the Eastern League championship had Moskos not come back down from Triple-A last year.
He struggled badly when he got promoted to the higher level (0-5, 10.38 ERA) because hitters laid off his sharp slider and took advantage of his control problems. During that time, the Curve went 10-19 and squandered most of a big lead in the Western Division as their bullpen faltered time and again.
Moskos rejoined the Curve on Aug. 13, and suddenly everything was OK. The image above of him striking out the final batter of the EL Championship Series represents one of the great moments in franchise history.
"Definitely winning the championship," Moskos said of his favorite memory of Altoona. "Being the guy on the mound to get that last out, that's another one of those memories you won't ever forget."
He now has the wonderful memory of finally reaching the major leagues.
"It's one of those days that you wait for and you're hoping for, and it's something that I'm really excited about," Moskos said. "My life has always been about being a professional baseball player, and after today I can finally say that I am. I get to put on that major league uniform for the first time tonight, and it's something that I'm never gonna forget."
"I can't tell you how happy I am for him," said Curve reliever Michael Dubee, a teammate on last year's title team.
To his credit, Moskos never let on that any of the criticism affected him the past few years. But clearly, as Dubee pointed out, "He went through a lot more than most minor league guys have to deal with.
"As far as the Wieters situation goes ... [Moskos] had no choice in who selected him or where he was selected," Dubee added. "He just went out every day trying to get better and prepare himself for that next game."
Moskos may never silence all of his critics, but at least now he has a chance to shut some of them up if he performs well in the major leagues. And if he stinks up the joint, everyone can criticize him then.
But to criticize him simply because he isn't Matt Wieters is shameful.
Cory Giger is the host of "Sports Central" from 4 to 6 p.m. daily on ESPN Radio 1430 WVAM. He can be reached at 949-7031 or firstname.lastname@example.org.