Ask any fan of Pirates and they’ll tell you how bad of a second Josh VanMeter is. The 27-year-old hit 0.171 with 0.496 OPS in 15 games this season. Well, after today, he is not only the worst second catcher that Pirates fans have ever seen, but also the worst.
Our story begins like many episodes of modern baseball drama, with a umpire who puts his power to the fore. At the end of the sixth round in the first match of today’s doubles against the Cincinnati Reds, referee Will Little kicked off the Pirates’ backup catcher Andrew Knapp over a dispute over a check. Pirates manager Derek Shelton came out of the cave to explain, but the call was made. It’s not even that bad, just a bit of gurgling in a close game. The final match was drawn at 2-2, and the Pirates needed to win this game. Any team that loses to the Reds is mocked and tormented forever.
However, the Pirates lost Knapp. It’s okay. Their main catcher Roberto Pérez remained in the match. Better yet, he led the eighth inning with a single game. Midfielder Ben Gamel assisted that with a shot to the right. Unfortunately, however, when Pérez was in second place, he slipped and injured his hamstring. He won’t be able to stay in the game. That’s okay. Pirates can only go to their third catcher… oh, they don’t have.
Instead of an actual catcher, the Pirates were forced to turn to their emergency catcher, second bass Josh VanMeter. VanMeter has never entered a professional scene before. Not in the Major, not in the minors. In fact, the last time VanMeter was arrested was in high school, 12 years ago, when VanMeter was “14 or 15 years old”.
The Pirates couldn’t score early in the half, so VanMeter was entering his first professional catch experience in a tie game. Pressure was increasing and VanMeter’s inexperience was exposed.
The first player of the round has been thrown the ball. The pitcher Wil Crowe didn’t like VanMeter when he made the throw-in. Apparently, VanMeter had a hard time stopping it, and the runner headed for the second facility. Tommy Pham walked over to leave the two men alone, but no one came out. Referee Little certainly didn’t help VanMeter. VanMeter doesn’t know how to frame pitches, so unless the ball is right under Broadway, Little will call anything and everything a ball. Mike Mustakas walked away. The base has been loaded for Tyler Stephenson. The at-bat’s first throw was fouled, right into VanMeter’s mask. You could say that doesn’t suit the career utility man.
Stephenson will double. Those are two lines that run across the disk. In his place was Beau Sulser. Things didn’t get any better. Colin Moran walks away, and after an attack and sacrificial flight, it looks like the Pirates will get out of that round with only three allowed runs. However, Sulser made an error, reloading the bases. Tyler Naquin doubled and brought home three more. Then, Drury, who led the round, doubled down on bringing in Naquin. In the end, Pham found a way to end suffering. Seven ran by.
Just one inning before, it was a draw. Now, the actual game is out of reach. That’s more than twice as many runs as the Reds won all season. They scored more runs in that inning than in any GAME they had played before. Is that all on VanMeter? No, but it’s a hilarious coincidence that will probably keep VanMeter up at night for a few weeks. It could be even worse. At least VanMeter can give some consolation because no Cincy disruptor would dare attempt to stroke a bag over him. No one wants to try that cannon…or maybe it’s because there’s always someone running on the base. Yes, it could be the latter.