Red Sox analyst Dennis Eckersley perfectly described the Pittsburgh Pirates roster with savage burn
Dennis Eckersley is a master of his craft.
As a pitcher, he was a Cy Young winner, MVP, and World Series champion. As an analyst, he enlivens even the worst games with his unique verbiage; he calls things as he sees them, in a way no one else should even bother trying to replicate.
Games aren’t always pretty, so neither are his takes. That – combined with a true love for baseball – is what makes Eckersley the best in the booth; while he might deliver an absolutely savage burn, it’s not driven by malice. If the take seems harsh, the reality of the situation must be brutal, as well.
In the latest instance, Eck accurately and creatively took aim at one of MLB’s least successful teams. The soundbite came in the Boston Red Sox’ first game in Pittsburgh since 2014, when they opened a three-game series on Tuesday evening. He delivered his critique with the same blazing delivery as the pitches he used to throw:
As usual, he’s not wrong. The Pirates have been one of the worst teams in the league for years. Since their last postseason appearance in 2015, they’ve had exactly one winning team. They haven’t won the pennant or World Series since 1979, and haven’t championed their division since 1992, when they were still in the NL East and the NL Central didn’t yet exist.
Blame for the Pirates’ struggles in recent years can largely be attributed to a lack of spending to build a complete roster. After finishing the 2016 season with a franchise-record $99.86M 40-man payroll, they spent significantly less each season until this year; they’re up to $55M from $45M last season. In 2020, they fielded a laughable $23.7M roster on Opening Day; the Sox pay some of their individual players more than that for one year. Eckersley would’ve had a field day if the two teams had met that season.
Eck knows a thing or two about bad teams, having played in Cleveland when they were already three decades into what is now the longest World Series drought in MLB. He then pitched for the Sox when they were 60 years into the Curse of the Bambino, and the Cubs, whose own drought lasted over a century. And in his two decades as NESN analyst, he’s seen the Sox at their best (four championships) and their absolute worst (2012, 2020).
It’s fair to assume that like most fans, Eck, who truly loves the game, would like to see more owners commit to fielding better teams. The Pirates should be building on the solid young core of Oneil Cruz, Ke’Bryan Hayes, and Bryan Reynolds, but there’s no indication a plan to do so is in the works. At least Eckersley, like the Pirates fans who wear ‘Sell The Team‘ shirts, is honest about it. It’s hard to see the Sox replacing his peerless form of straight shooting when he retires at the end of the season.
Cherish these soundbites while you can, folks.