Apparently sick of winning championships in sports leagues that don't allow the select few to remain competitive, Penguins owners Mario Lemieux (right) and Ron Burkle made an offer to Pirates owner Bob Nutting for his woebegone franchise a few months ago according to the Post-Gazette's Dejan Kovacevic.
Nutting declined and let it be known the team's not for sale.
EN Says: Why?
Why would Lemieux and Burkle pursue this?
Most of the Pirates' problems for nearly two decades were self-inflicted. They just brought in the wrong players and had tons of bad coaches throughout the organization that ruined many of the promising young players they did have. And occasionally, they just sold off legit star players they developed on their own in the name of money. (See Ramirez, Aramis).
But the Pirates, like many other Major League Baseball teams, are in a situation that doesn't allow them to be competitive. At least not for the long haul. Many in baseball prop up the Athletics or the Twins as evidence of "small market" teams being able to compete, but what exactly have those teams done over the past 10 years besides get to the playoffs and lose to the big spenders from New York or Boston?
Furthermore, MLB's economics are set up so that teams like the Pirates can remain profitable despite dreadful results on the field. Hence why Nutting is, publically at least, unwilling to sell.
Hockey was heading down this route several years ago teams like the Penguins and Sabres simply couldn't compete with the big spenders in New York or Toronto. Then there was the lockout that wiped out the 2004-05 season. It evened things for all 30 teams. The main reason the Thrashers and Maple Leafs stink is their own poor management. The main reason the Penguins and Red Wings are competitive is their stellar management.
The salary cap helped fix the NHL. It gives fans in Tampa Bay just as much hope followers in Vancouver.
But there's never going to be a salary cap in MLB. The Major League Baseball Players Association is the strongest in all of professional sports. It's not the bumbling group of backstabbers the NHLPA has devolved into.
Additionally it's one thing for Mario Lemieux to clear his throat on a hockey-related matter. His presence carries a lot of weight in the NHL.
What value does it have in Major League Baseball?
Lemieux and Burkle could probably pay our mortgage off with what's under their couch cushions. So they have a much better idea of what to do with immense amounts of money than we could ever hope to.
We're all for tackling challenges with a George Mallory-esque "Because it's there" attitude. And they did a marvelous job of fixing the Penguins. And we fully believe they would do immensely positive things for the Pirates by simply spending a lot more cash. But fixing the Pirates, for the long-term, is a much tougher endeavor.
(Photo: Bob Donaldson/Post-Gazette)