PITTSBURGH - So Justin Verlander nearly no-hit the Pittsburgh Pirates Friday night? Ho hum.
Given Verlander's dominant talent and the ineptitude of the Pirates' offense through the first part of the season, the case could be made that a one-hit shutout was exactly what the outcome should have been.
The last no-hitter pitched against the Pirates was truly impressive. On Aug. 14, 1971, Bob Gibson of the Cardinals shut down a team that would go on to win the World Series.
On that Saturday night at Three Rivers Stadium, the Pirates' lineup included Willie Stargell, Al Oliver, Dave Cash and Bob Robertson. Of that group, Robertson would post the lowest 1971 batting average, finishing at .271 with 26 home runs.
Roberto Clemente was absent, perhaps judiciously taking a night off against a pitcher who gave him trouble. Clemente had a .208 career average against Gibson.
We all know .208 isn't very good, but that's a fatter number than the season averages four of the Pirates' starters took into Friday's game against Verlander.
Demoting Alex Presley didn't solve the problem as much as it called attention to how desperately inadequate the alternatives are.
Those dreaming of a promotion for Jake Fox, currently having some success at Class AAA Indianapolis, would be well-served to take a glance at his profile. Fox, who turns 30 this season, has no position and is with his fourth organization in four years. In other words, Fox isn't the fix.
To watch this team swing and miss is to understand why the Pirates spent the winter hoping Derrek Lee would answer his phone.
There most likely isn't a trade that makes sense, either. If you're offering Kevin Correia, what might you get back?
GM Neal Huntington recently said the improvement has to come from within.
Saturday's game was a nice bounce back, and a reminder that baseball momentum is dictated heavily by starting pitching.
New York Rangers coach John Tortorella is a YouTube sensation for his brief and hostile postgame news conferences.
Maybe it's the beady eyes and sinister goatee, but Tortorella looks like a genuine villain.
The great Scotty Bowman had just as much disdain for the process, but he managed to pull it off with a veneer of faux civility.
Tortorella glares at people; Bowman just stared through them.
Mehno can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.