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Wednesday, March 30, 2005; Page H14

Dude, why even bother? Seriously, what's the point in fielding a team this year -- or any year, for that matter? Well, since it looks like you're going to be stubborn, let's be up front about this: You've got no chance. Zilch.

Sure, there are a handful of promising players in this outfit, beginning with left fielder Jason Bay, last year's NL rookie of the year, and emerging ace Oliver Perez (2.98 ERA last year). In addition, the shedding of catcher Jason Kendall's cumbersome contract at least gives the franchise a starting point for its rebuilding effort.

But Bay missed a sizeable chunk of the spring after bruising his left wrist diving for a ball on March 8 -- Dude, take it easy in the spring, okay? -- and Perez missed a smaller chunk with shoulder stiffness.

There seems to be little chance the Pirates can avoid what would be a 13th consecutive losing season, but largely because of the shedding of Kendall's contract, there at least appears to be something resembling hope.

The Pirates have yet to win more than 75 games in four years under Manager Lloyd McClendon, and he might not make it through this season if there is not some improvement.

Dude, could be the best thing that ever happened to you.

-- Dave Sheinin

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