Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Ahoy! At least some Pirates are winning

I nearly leapt out of my seat when I heard a news report about the Pirates beating the Indians. As a long-suffering fan, I’m always shocked whenever I hear the once-great and now-lowly Pittsburgh Pirates are beating anybody.

Their bullpen stinks, they can’t hit and they’re always getting picked off trying to steal second.

But I’d misheard. It’s not an interleague baseball between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Cleveland Indians. It’s sailors with the navy of India patrolling for a kind of pirate that is showing much more potency and pop than the major league baseball franchise that is likely to again stink up Pittsburgh next summer.

Everything about the hijacking of the Saudi-owned supertanker Sirius Star fascinates me and, really, I’m having trouble deciding for whom I should be rooting in this episodic lawlessness on the high seas.

How can I root for human rights violating Saudi Arabia? How can I root for the oil industry that’s spent so much of the past year gleefully screwing us?

As I noted in a previous post (see October’s “A Flatulent Discussion on Unfair Gas Prices”) when oil was trading at $140 a barrel, our local gas was going for $4.00 a gallon. But when it was $70 per barrel, gas was $2.69 a gallon. Simple math says gas should have been $2 a gallon about a month ago. But now it’s at $60 a barrel, we’re still paying $2.19.

(Please accept my apologies for exposing you to all that loathsome math. It was punishing for me, too.)

Of course, as a big fan of the show “Dallas,” I should have seen it coming. In fact, during the four-minute discussion on journalism ethics in the classes I teach, I always cite that great philosopher J.R. Ewing who opines, “Once you get past ethics, the rest is easy.”

So do I root for the pirates? That, too, presents me with issues. I try and play by the rules and be a nice guy -- and don’t ever let anyone tell you nice guys don’t finish last. If I’m not last, I can at least wave to the poor bastard clear at the back of the line.

It would be helpful if someone handed me a program detailing the statistics and motives about this particular team of pirates. I admire their audacity and will firmly commit to their fan base if they turn Robin Hood and start disbursing the $100 million cargo away to a needy constituency that includes struggling freelance writers who write whiny killjoy blogs about tedious things like gas prices that are actually going down.

My great fear is this game will end, much like the infamous 2002 MLB All-Star game, without any winners.

It’s likely the pirates will swap the ship for a nifty ransom that will allow them to go back to some divey port to buy even bigger guns, even faster boats and, avast ye maties, splurge on a three-month binge that’ll have guys like me putting “Become a Somalian Pirate” on our 2009 to-do lists.

The ship is said to contain more than two million barrels of oil. And someone please assure me that “barrel of oil” is simply a quaint and anachronistic description and not the true method of shipment. Because if it is, then crude oil and monkeys the only things still being inefficiently toted about the globe in full barrels.

Most amazing of all is that this enormous responsibility was being handled by just 25 men.

Think about it: the Sirius Star is roughly the same size as the 93,000-ton U.S.S. Enterprise, a 1,223-foot air craft carrier with a crew of 3,000 fighting men and women, and maybe a really tough cook or two.

But just 25 swabbies run the Sirius Star and its precious and potentially hazardous cargo. You’d think the ship owners would invest maybe $50,000 for a team of badass hombres to secure the ship. The whole absurdity of the situation is another strong argument to go solar, at least until crafty pirates figure out a way to hijack the sun.

Either way, I hope the hapless owners of my Pittsburgh Pirates are dispatching a squad of scouts to say ahoy to some of the Somalian Pirates.

I don’t know if their bullpen will be able to hold this lead but, guaranteed, some of these guys are bound to be good at stealing bases.

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