In this tough economy, apparently, not even the job of a pierogi is safe. But, this time it isn’t the economy that’s to blame for this particular pierogi’s situation. It’s the Major League Baseball team, the woeful Pittsburgh Pirates.
The Pirates (25-45) hold pierogi races after the fifth inning of every home game, and since the team hasn’t had a winning season since 1992, these copycat of the sausage races in Milwaukee are the most interesting thing coming out of PNC park.
According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Andrew Kutz, 24, of New Brighton was one of the 18 guys who participated in the races. He was canned after criticizing the team on his Facebook page.
And boy does Kutz have reason to complain.
The Pirates are a dismal baseball team that would be better served playing in a tee-ball league where everyone wins. For some reason, even in the midst of a 12 game losing streak- the longest one in 55 years- ownership decided to award its general manager Neal Huntington and manager John Russell with contract extensions through 2011.
Here’s what Kutz had to say on his Facebook page: [Team president Frank] Coonelly extended the contracts of Russell and Huntington through the 2011 season. That means a 19-straight losing streak. Way to go Pirates.
According to the Gazette, within four hours, Kutz received bad news from Dan Millar, the Pirates’ mascot coordinator.
“He called as the game was going on,” Kurtz told the Gazette. “He wanted to know what was up with my Facebook message. I told him I didn’t mean anything by it, and he was like, ‘Well, why’d you put it up?’ I said, it was just an opinion. But he took it negative and talked to his boss. And then they wanted me to turn my uniform in.”
Holy potato and sauerkraut pierogies, Batman! (Sorry, I recently went to Wizard World) Are you kidding me?! Nothing in baseball demonstrates the inability for a team’s general manager and its manager to do their jobs better than yet another losing season. A general manager is responsible for the players that end up with the team, and the manager is responsible for bringing out the maximum ability of his players and some winning chemistry. The only good thing that comes out of the Pirates situation is that I’m personally not a Pirates fan (Go Phillies!).
The thing that really irks me about all of this? I’m half Ukrainian! I’ll probably die one day, because of too many pierogies stuffed down my throat. So, it saddens me to the core to see such a delicious mascot kicked to the curb.
All kidding aside, though, what’s most tragic is that Kutz is (was?) a Pirates superfan.
“My son always was a big Pirates fan,” His mother, Mary Kurtz, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “He took pride in being a pierogi runner. Since when, in this country, are you not allowed to state an opinion? Well, here is my opinion: The Pirates came through again and let go one of their biggest fans and dedicated workers.”
There are many companies, nowadays, who don’t permit their employees to chat about the job on social media sites, which, to an extent, is understandable. Speaking from a company’s point of view, you don’t want a disgruntled employee’s damming remarks about your business going viral on youtube for all the world to see. And, make no mistake about it, baseball is a business, and the Pittsburgh Pirates are a company.
I always do see a problem with players, who are making millions of dollars, speaking out about their organization in the media, because they were benched for a game here or there for not running hard or producing. You’re getting paid more money than Greece has right now. Don’t go bad mouthing your employers because you’re slightly unhappy.
But Kutz? As a pierogi runner, he was only making $25 per race, and according to what he said to the Gazette, he only got paid four times a month because of road games. Firing Kutz, who, as a pierogi racer, is more fan than employee, is overkill. He’s not a star starting pitcher, not a slugging first baseman and not even a bench player. He’s a pierogi whose criticism would fall silent on media ears…that is until now, of course, since the Pirates put him in the media spotlight!
It is no secret how bad the Pirates really are. Does one pierogi’s opinion damage their image any further? No.
But firing one does.