Sat Jun 19, 2010 4:30 pm EDT
So a team struggles through an epic losing streak and its manager and general manager are somehow rewarded with contract extensions in the middle of it.
Meanwhile, a low-level team employee who makes about $100 a month racing around in a pierogi costume says what we're all thinking on his Facebook page — and promptly loses his job.
Welcome to the world of the Pittsburgh Pirates, a team that appears more concerned with curbing criticism of its club than demanding more from the men — John Russell and Neal Huntington — who have sparked it by regularly fielding last-place teams.
"Andrew Kurtz, 24, of New Brighton, one of the 18 men who take turns posing as pierogies in a crowd-pleasing race after the fifth inning of every game at PNC Park, was dismissed by the team Thursday because he posted disparaging remarks about the Pirates on his Facebook page ...
"(His message was) aimed at team president Frank Coonelly, general manager Neal Huntington and manager John Russell. It read: 'Coonelly extended the contracts of Russell and Huntington through the 2011 season. That means a 19-straight losing streak. Way to go Pirates.'"
There's more on the situation in the link above, but let's get something straight: The first rule of being a mascot is that you never break character and open your mouth, especially when it's to criticize the people who sign your paycheck. At 24, Kurtz is old enough to realize that's the sort of thing that will get you axed. You can't badmouth your employers, no matter how small the forum or how consistently terrible the product produced at PNC Park. The Pirates had fair grounds to relieve Kurtz of his duties.
At the same time, the Pirates should have realized that Kurtz had been suffering an arguably worse punishment — being a superfan of a team that has lost 12 straight games heading into Saturday night's contest against the Indians.
And by giving him a reason to finally turn against the team he claims to love despite its inablity to win more than 70 games a season, perhaps they did him a favor?