Hey, the new Pirate digs in the Dominican represent more than an inroad to Latin American baseball talent. It shows exactly what the new suits are all about, from a developmental and team view. They want to build an actual Pirate system.
The facade of the ballyard is as close to PNC Park's as they could make it. The complex is festooned with the Pirate "P" everywhere you look, from wastebaskets to doors. The facility inside is built to mirror Pirate City.
The clubhouse lockers and game jerseys were shipped down from Bradenton. The trainers' room is a mini-version of the one at PNC Park. The phones and web are linked to the main systems based in Pittsburgh.
Everything is the same in El Toro as in Bradenton, State College, Charleston, Lynchburg, Altoona, Indianapolis and Pittsburgh. They even have the minor league logos up, so the youngsters know there's life beyond the Dominican Republic.
Heck, the kids at the Pirate Academy even have the same rules as the North American rooks in Pirate City: Players are not permitted off campus after 7 p.m. and must be in their rooms by 11 p.m. There are no guests, no alcohol and no cars allowed. Certainly nothing like my old fraternity rules, hehe.
And we know after last year that the players will be taught to play baseball from the same template, and that there are social and community obligations they have to meet all through the system.
You know, GW was of the opinion that the new suits were a little too cookie-cutter in their approach to the game, especially at the lower levels. But we're beginning to appreciate the plan behind it.
Growing up, we used to hear about ballplayers that were brought up the Dodger way, or the Yankee way. Maybe it's about time that the Pittsburgh puppies were brought up the Pirate way.