Mehno: Bucs make error by having Bonds present award

PITTSBURGH – The season hasn’t even started and the Pirates have already made an error.

What is the point of bringing in Barry Bonds to present Andrew McCutchen’s MVP award? Dick Groat, the 1960 MVP, will also be on hand, and the idea is clearly to connect the Pirates’ present to the past. But why?

The Pirates finally had a season to celebrate, and they’re going to dilute that by linking to the past? It’s finally a chance for the franchise to focus on the here and now instead of relying on nostalgia.

By inviting Bonds, the Pirates have bumped McCutchen out of the spotlight. The coverage will focus on how fans react to Bonds and what he says. Bonds left the Pirates after the 1992 season, which means someone has to be nearly 30 to remember his years here.

This isn’t a healing, because no one is aching for a reconciliation. Bonds played the first seven years of his career with the Pirates, and posted exceptional numbers in the final three seasons. Then he left as a free agent and played 15 seasons with the San Francisco Giants. The Pirates didn’t even make an offer when he hit free agency. He belongs to the Giants, and they’re welcome to all the baggage he carries from his expanded physique years.

Opening day 2014 should be a celebration of the Pirates’ long-overdue success in 2013. Instead, it’s needlessly been turned into a referendum on Barry Bonds.

Dragging on

We’re still more than two weeks away from the start of the Stanley Cup playoffs, which is another reminder that the NHL season is too long.

Last year’s 48-game season, shortened by the lockout, came with an urgency. A team going through the kind of tough stretch the Penguins are now experiencing might be in trouble. Instead, the Penguins are still coasting because of the cushion they built in October and November.

A 60-game regular season would be about right, but it won’t ever happen.

The outlook

The Pirates won 94 games last year with below average offense and above average pitching.

The offense might be a little better this season; it’s unlikely the pitching will be as good as it was last year.

Therefore, the forecast is for fewer wins, but that doesn’t mean a second winning season is out of reach. In fact, the Pirates should compete again for the wild card. They’re not as good as the division-winning St. Louis Cardinals, but they should be competitive.

Your forecast is welcome in the annual Guess How Many Games The Pirates Will Win This Season contest at the Mainly Mehno blog at The contest is open for a few more days.

E-mail me 1. The number of games you think the Pirates will win and 2. The number of home runs they’ll hit. The second number is the tiebreaker. The winner gets the prize when the season ends on Sept. 28.

Full details are at the blog.

Unique combination

When Root does one of those cheapo combined spring training broadcasts with the Red Sox crew, there’s one positive takeaway:

The mash-up of Jerry Remy’s chowderful New England accent and John Wehner’s Pittsburghese is oddly compelling.

Mehno can be reached at: