'Embrace the suck,' Pirates poster declares

Jared Wickerham

A poster recently displayed at the Pirates' minor-league headquarters tells prospects to "embrace the suck."

Oh, the Pirates. They must not have been deterred by unflattering recent national media attention for their unconventional quasi-military training methods, because now this ridiculous poster (which had, at least until recently, been posted at the Pirates' Florida home for minor-leaguers, Pirate City) has come to light.

The controversial part of it is at the bottom, where it says "EMBRACE THE SUCK. Seek out what others avoid. Thrive when others survive. Take pleasure in pain." Absent any context, that's not a problematic message -- it's just encouraging Pirates prospects to push themselves and embrace that which is difficult.

But in context? Oy. The Pirates have had 20 straight losing seasons. There's no organization in sports that has embraced sucking more thoroughly. On top of that, there's the recent controversy over the Bucs' training methods, which ignited speculation about whether the jobs of many of its top front-office executives were at stake.

The criticism the Pirates took over their training methods was overblown. But it's hard not to shake your head over a poster like this. It doesn't mean much in itself. But it's amateurish. (There's a Dr. Seuss character in the corner -- do they think they're training five-year-olds?) And "EMBRACE THE SUCK" is a better meme to describe the Pirates' losing ways than anything their detractors could have come up with.

In the end, the Pirates will either have a winning season this year, or their lack of concern for criticism will be a big part of their front office's undoing. (Along with the fact that, frankly, the front office hasn't done a very good job.) If I were the Pirates, I would be keenly aware of how something like this might be perceived if it leaked. But it appears that, for whatever reason, the Bucs aren't concerned.

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