PITTSBURGH -- As his Pirates toed the .500 line early Thursday, prior to falling 9-7 to the Brewers in the finale of a brief homestand, manager Clint Hurdle unloaded something that had clearly been on his mind:
Mounting criticism -- his word: "disdain" -- for the team's probable inability to make the postseason.
"I'm not happy with the results," Hurdle began. "What I do find interesting is a lot of the disdain I do catch.
"Two years ago, when I walked in and talked to people in the street about winning a championship, they rolled their eyes and they laughed at me. Now they're disappointed we might not be in the Wild Card. Just saying: Something's changed."
When Hurdle was hired in October 2010, he took over a team coming off a 105-loss season. In 2011, the Pirates improved from 57 to 72 wins, and have already stepped up from that with 74 wins with 13 games to go.
Parallels are being drawn between the second-half collapses of both editions, but there is a big difference. This 2012 club was still at its high-water mark of 16 games above .500 after 110 games -- a point at which the '11 Bucs were already at 54-56.
"I didn't expect us to work our way back to .500," Hurdle said. "We're not here to compete and try hard. This is not a try-hard league. To now have fans actually irate that we aren't going to win the Wild Card ... what a change. It doesn't make me feel good, but it makes me understand there's a change going on.
"We're not were we need to be, nor where we want to be. Are we headed in the right direction? Absolutely. But we have much more work to do."