For those of you who aren’t football fans, let me tell you a short story. Once upon a time, the name “Canada” enraged the city of Pittsburgh to a level only seen when ketchup bottles were removed from a stadium. The hatred had nothing to do with the Montreal Canadiens, Justin Bieber’s teenage haircut, or the recent announcement that season 12 will be the last season of Letterkenny. Rather, it revolved around the man who strolled the sidelines of Acrisure Stadium, Matt Canada.
Canada has spent two and a half seasons enraging Steelers fans around the world. From national pundits to regular folks like ourselves, it was quite obvious that he was in over his head. Graciously, we received the sweet relief of being freed from jet sweeps on the day of our lord, November 21st, 2023. This did get my pea-sized brain thinking, however. Who is the Pirates version of Matt Canada? With 30 years being filled with mostly ineptitude, there have to be options, right?
I’ll go ahead and list my top 3 choices.
1. Dave LittlefieldEmbed from Getty Images
Boy, he was terrible. Littlefield spent nearly 6 years as GM of the Pirates. In those years with him at the helm, the team compiled a 442-581 record. The record isn’t the worst part. The Pirates spent almost 6 years without a direction. The mid-2000s were littered with missed opportunities and flat-out poor decisions. Between the Rule 5 draft fiasco to not trading Kip Wells for Ryan Howard, I think we can agree that Littlefield had very little idea of how to build a contender. I’m not going to completely blast Littlefield, though. He did draft Andrew McCutchen and acquire Jason Bay. For all Littlefield’s faults, and there are plenty, it at least felt like he attempted to build a winner, but was clueless on how to do so. The incompetency alone gets him on my list.
2. Andy HainesEmbed from Getty Images
Perhaps my recency bias is showing here. It feels like I could list every hitting coach the Pirates have employed for 3 decades and there are countless complaints. The hitting coach takes the majority of the fault when a team isn’t producing at the plate, regardless of circumstance. Sounds like an offensive coordinator, right? Well, some of that blame is assigned correctly when an offense is as putrid as the Steelers and Pirates. In my opinion, the parallels here are remarkable. A coach who refuses to adjust, is stubborn in their ways, and hasn’t overseen improvement on an individual level? Almost forgot, the team won’t fire the guy because the team improved marginally at the end of the season. Yeah, maybe this is the answer.Embed from Getty Images
It’s probably unfair to put Hedges here. He’s not a coach. I don’t care, it’s my blog and I do what I want. We were told for months that we were wrong and the team was right for sending him out there every day. The value wasn’t in the results, it’s in the process. The team was winning. They were 20-8 for God’s sake! Didn’t you see how the Steelers ran the ball – ahem. I meant didn’t you see how good the pitching staff looked? I despise the term gaslighting, but it feels appropriate here. Both the Pirates and Steelers have gaslit (I think I used it right) us into thinking these guys weren’t a problem. They were.
The most important part of this blog is here, because I’m sure far more creative people than myself have better answers than me. Let’s hear them. Sound off in the comments below.