He fired everyone.
There's once and for all a third word for the lede. And there's once and for all closure to another ignominious chapter of gross mismanagement of the Pittsburgh Baseball Club.
Bob Nutting fired Neal Huntington, officially Monday morning but really after a meeting Sunday, after 12 years as general manager — the National League's most tenured at his position in spite of ... well, you know. It didn't go very well. Huntington's out, Kyle Stark will be right behind him, and the whole apparatus will follow. No need to kick further on the way out.
If anything, instead, I'm inclined to take the positive route: Nutting did the right thing. All the right things. The rightest things he could have done as owner -- no, steward -- of a 133-year-old civic institution. It might've taken longer than anyone wanted. He might've wavered more than he should've. It might've come in the most awkward order imaginable. But, like baseball itself, all that counts in the end is who slams the Ralph Terry fastball over the Forbes Field fence.
"The opportunity to refresh our operations" was part of Nutting's terminology in his statement upon Frank Coonelly's firing last week, one I found striking in both context and contradiction to the cold fact that those most responsible for dragging the franchise down -- meaning those responsible for drafting, development and multiple trade debacles -- were still in place.
No more. It's a refresh. It's a clean start.
And the Pirates, again as an institution, deserved that. Their players, a passionate group, deserved that. Their fans ... my God, they deserved that.
Travis Williams deserved that, too.
As I'd written in a brief Grind late Sunday night, if Nutting had saddled his new team president with Huntington, everything else would've been a waste, including the inspired hiring of Williams in the first place. Huntington could've actually wound up with more authority alongside an executive whose background isn't in baseball. Not a damned thing would've changed and, in all likelihood, it would've worsened with Huntington and longtime lieutenant Kyle Stark flexing their egos and muscles that much more.
What made Nutting move?
What changed from the final day of the season, the 29th of September, when he fired Clint Hurdle through a Huntington statement and declared that Huntington, Stark et al were 'the right people' to keep leading baseball ops?
Nutting began to address that in a 10:07 a.m. dual statement announcing Huntington's firing and Williams' hiring: “This past season was by far the most frustrating and challenging season that I have experienced as owner. It became clear to me as the season progressed that significant change was necessary in order to refresh our entire operations."
That phrase again.
“The decisions that have been made over the past month were not easy and have been the result of a systematic and thorough review, and further reinforced through multiple conversations with people that I trust and respect throughout baseball," Nutting's statement continued. “It was critical that we have our new team president in place to conduct the search for the next leader of our baseball operations department. With the naming of Travis Williams to the position of president today, we will immediately begin the search process. I am confident that we will find the right person."
Nutting went further and placed the search for Hurdle's replacement on hold. That, bizarrely, was being conducted by Huntington and Stark. And that, too, is a glowing positive. Ideally, it'll still result in Jeff Banister getting the job, but regardless, the process will now be a healthier one.
Much more can be addressed later today.
Williams will be formally introduced to the media on this Monday at PNC Park. It won't be a standard press conference. It'll be several smaller ones. A couple media outlets at a time will conduct joint interviews with both men in an office, with our turn coming at 2 p.m. That's how it was when Coonelly was introduced in 2007, and I liked it. Felt more intimate, more forthright, less circus-like.
I'll be there, as will Alex Stumpf and Matt Sunday from our site. Our coverage will include a complete transcript of our session, produced as quickly as possible. That'll include questions asked by whichever other outlet might join us in the room. I'll also write a column, ideally publishing it before the Steelers-Dolphins 8:15 p.m. kickoff across the way at Heinz Field.
It'll be a little longer than the usual two words.
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