Wednesday, March 27, 2013


It's no big secret that Pittsburgh hasn't exactly been a #1 destination for free agents over the past two decades.  If it weren't for some collusion before the 2003 season, we might be discussing Danny Darwin as the Pirates most successful free agent pickup since the start of the Clinton administration.

So it brought a smile to my face when I saw this atop MLB Trade Rumors.  No, not the headline.  "[I]f the 36-year-old decides to keep playing, he might only consider an offer from the Pirates for next season."  That's the kind of comment you expect to hear from a one team only kind of player.  Or a guy who's been in one city forever.  Or the guy that signed with a team to be closer to home.  Not from the Texan who's only spent one season in the Steel City.

But from early on last year A.J. seemed to really resonate with Pirate fans, and perhaps more importantly he seemed like he was having fun.  When he made a surprise appearance at Piratefest this year, I had heard Burnett was not the most personable of guys.  And that he hated signing autographs.

So I was stunned when I was wandering around the floor and noticed a line of people in front of a table.  This isn't surprising, since Piratefest is a place where hoards of screaming kids convince their parents to spend an hour standing in line to play the duck pond game.  What was more surprising was the guy sitting at the table wearing the Burnett jersey happily signing anything and everything put in front of him.

I quickly jumped in the line, and was at the front within a few minutes.  I was pleasantly surprised to find a guy who was smiling from ear to ear, happily chatting with fans.  I have honestly never seen a player enjoy Piratefest as much as A.J. did over the weekend.  He could be found all over the event, signing autographs, chatting with fans, and even putting down his own money so kids could take free turns in the batting cages.

I'd love to see A.J. finish his career in black and gold.  I'm just hoping it's not after the 2013 season.

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