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Saturday, November 1, 2014

Pirates putting prospects through Navy SEALs training, want Hells Angels attitude

The Pittsburgh Pirates’ late-season collapse may only represent a part of the franchise’s issues. A report published by the Pittsburgh Tribune late Thursday detailed some of the extremely questionable methods of player development the franchise is trying to establish, including putting players through Navy SEALs training, and encouraging a Hells Angels attitude.

According to the Tribune’s Dejan Kovacevic who was reporting based on distraught members of the Pirates organization contacting him, the team had several top minor league prospects participate in Navy SEALs-type training last weekend.

The activities reportedly included having players wake up at 5 a.m., do push-ups, sit-ups, crab walks, push truck tires, dive into sand piles, and run along the beach while carrying heavy polls. Yahoo! Sports’ Jeff Passan reports that players engaged in hand-to-hand combat, and that one top prospect, pitcher Jameson Taillon, once injured his knee in that type of training. The Tribune says drill sergeants were putting the players through these activities and yelling at them the entire time.

As if that type of training weren’t already questionable enough for a baseball organization, a leaked internal email from the team’s assistant GM outlined a motorcycle gang outlaw attitude they want their players to have.

The Tribune published an internal email sent by Pirates assistant GM Kyle Stark on June 28 that outlines the approach the organization wants to take with its players. The email went viral throughout baseball for its highly unusual methods it encourages.

In the email, Stark most notably says he wants the players to “dream like a Hippie,” “prepare like a Boy Scout,” and “Trust like a Hell’s Angel.” Hells Angels is a notorious motorcycle club that is considered to be an organized crime group.

Stark’s email explains that he wants his players to have the “swagger” and “reckless abandon” of a Hells Angels member, and to be “bound by brotherhood” the way the Hells Angels are.

One of the last paragraphs of the email says:

we must get out of our comfort zones and flex our own Hell’s Angel muscle. We must be extreme in our commitment to these ideas. This is ultimately about developing a mentality and a culture where this becomes our identity. A culture of risk and less control is unsettling for us control freaks! However, it is the answer to letting skill out and WHAT we need to do in the second half.

Stark concluded his email “HOKA HEY — It’s a good day to die!!!” which is the cry Sioux warrior Crazy Horse is said to have yelled before entering battle.

The team has gone 26-37 in the second half of the season to fall one game below .500 entering Friday’s games. They’ve gone 11-28 since August 9.

In a season that had so much promise for the organization, we’re seeing once again that the Pirates are still a hapless bunch. I would imagine that these reports will result in the firing of some Pirates personnel.



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