indian pirates invade pittsburgh

Desperate times call for desperate measures. And if you end the season 30.5 games out of first place, these desperate measures apparently include…

Desperate times call for desperate measures. And if you end the season 30.5 games out of first place, these desperate measures apparently include soliciting help from Asian reality TV.

Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel from India, who have never played an actual game of baseball in their lives, have signed free-agent contracts with the Pittsburgh Pirates after being top contestants on an Indian reality show called Million Dollar Arm.

“The Pirates are committed to creatively adding talent to our organization,” Pirates general manager Neal Huntington said in a statement to media, with no mention of cyborg technology or trained orangutans.

“By adding these two young men, we are pleased to not only add two prospects to our system but also hope to open a pathway to an untapped market.”

The two 19-year-olds outperformed about 30,000 other contestants on the show, which offered US$1 million to anyone who could consistently throw 85-mile-per-hour fastballs through the strike zone. Although neither accomplished the task to take home the cool mil, they both can really throw smoke, reaching the low 90s.

“Think of them as two Dominican kids,” said Southern California pitching coach Tom House, who has been working with the two since they came to the US. “They’re very raw. But I think this has a huge upside.”

Yes, coaches are always complaining about having players that are too experienced. Next the Pirates will be hiring a South American dictator to work as general manager.

Since the Pittsburgh team has no interest in hijacking supertankers off the coast of Africa, most would argue that the idea is better than signing actual pirates — but what’s next, a sumo wrestling federation drafting contestants off The Biggest Loser?

I’ll admit, there are a few advantages.

Now, before important games, the Pirates may have doubled the number of gods they pray to.

Also, the Pittsburgh coaches won’t have to put up with discontented pitchers. The signing of Singh and Patel will drive a fear into the bullpen usually known only by North American tech-support workers: at any time you can be replaced by a foreign worker.

What this is really all about is filling seats, not winning games.

Executives of the Pirates, who have probably watched the movie Cool Runnings one too many times, may think that these two might be able to compete in the majors. But they also know that people are going to be watching to see how these two, who have brought the expression underdog to a new level, will perform against the best. That includes about a billion potential viewers in India.

The scouts for the Pirates have admitted that Singh and Patel would probably spend years in the minors learning such nuances as the rules and what the big leather gloves are for. But no one is mentioning that being in the National League, the two would also have to bat as well as pitch.

Making contact with a pitch in the majors is one of the hardest feats to accomplish in the entire sports world. Those who do it — even pitchers in the Nationals — have been practising since they were youngsters in Little League.

Basically, every time either one of these guys gets up to the plate, it’ll be a guaranteed out for the other team.

This groundbreaking move by Pittsburgh is causing some to wonder if these two belly-itchers will put India on the scouting map.

To that I say, Let’s not get

curried away.

All I know for sure is I wouldn’t want to be the commentator when the Pirates play the Cleveland Indians.

Contact Tom Patrick at