Monday, August 26, 2013

Diamond King

Sometimes you have to look pretty hard, but there are some real gems on youtube.  And I'm not talking about videos of cats.

From time to time there are some awesome highlight reels posted on youtube from the 90's.  Say what you will about the steroid era, but homers flying out of cookie cutter parks left and right were fun to watch.

For better or worse, the Bucs seemed largely immune to all the juicing going on.  The team was bad, and the hitters seemed to miss the memo on balls flying out of the park.  But there was the occasional bright spot.  Jeff King was a disappointing former first overall pick who at least briefly found his power stroke.

I don't remember much about the '96 season - but it was tons of fun to watch the bounces balls took on the Three Rivers astroturf outfield.

King is probably remembered best for his mustache, and perhaps for what most viewed as a surly disposition.  Honestly, I can't comment on the latter, since all I know is that it certainly felt like the sky was falling to an 8 year old when King and Jay Bell, the team's two best players, were shipped out before the '97 season.

Perhaps King's career could have played out differently.  He was largely relegated to a reserve role early on as the early 90's teams wanted more experienced players at the corners during seasons with high expectations.  And you certainly can't accuse King of being a player that hung around the game too long, retiring after the '99 season at just age 34 despite 3 successful seasons with the Royals.  At the end of the day, King and Bell will likely be remembered as the last holdovers from the Pirate contending teams.  The void between the '92 team and the '97 Freak Show was a cavernous gap.  But at least there were some players to keep us entertained, oblivious to the continued suffering Pirates fans would endure into the next century.

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