The Pittsburgh Pirates are 33-45, 12.5 games behind Milwaukee in the NL Central entering tonight’s contest with the Nationals. They’ve not sniffed the post-season since the Sultan Of Surly wore a size 7 1/8th cap. As such, there are plans for civil disobedience afoot, but the club would prefer no one notice. From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazzette’s Bob Smizik :

The Pirates are doing their best to downplay the fan walkout scheduled for after the third inning of the team’s game Saturday night with the Washington Nationals.

A walkout is scheduled after the third inning of the Pirates’ game against the Nationals Saturday at PNC Park. The protest is an attempt to draw national attention to the lack of success of the Pirates over the past 15 years.

They have asked their television announcing crew not to discuss the walkout with the media. They have removed all comments about the walkout from their message board at They have the support of their television rights holder, FSN Pittsburgh, which does not plan to show the protest as part of its game coverage.

A near-capacity crowd of 36,000 is expected for the game, where Bob Walk bobbleheads will be given as souvenirs to all ticket holders. Organizers of the protest have asked fans to leave their seats after the third inning and stand in the concourse — without purchasing concessions — or leave the stadium. The protest is an attempt to draw national attention to the lack of success of the team, which is in the midst of a 15th consecutive losing season.

Contacted about the protest, Greg Brown (above), who will do the play-by-play of the telecast along with Walk, said, “I have been asked by the Pirates not to comment and refer all calls to Brian Warecki.”

Warecki, the team’s senior director of communications, issued this statement via e-mail:

“We greatly appreciate the passion of all of our fans and their freedom to express that passion in any way they choose.”

One of the ways they might choose has been blocked. According to Andy Chomos, one of the leaders of the protest, the Pirates have been removing content about the proposed walkout for weeks. E-mails from frustrated fans to the Post-Gazette back up what Chomos said.