Never let it be said the Pittsburgh Pirates don’t hold their managers or executives accountable for the team’s won-loss record. They just don’t do so for a very long time. From the Post-Gazette’s Dejan Kovacevic :

The Pirates this morning fired general manager Dave Littlefield (above) near the end of his seventh losing season.

He will be replaced on an interim basis by Brian Graham, the team’s director of player development.

Littlefield, 47, took the post July 31, 2001, and his teams went a combined 442-581 in his tenure, never approaching .500. That included 67-95 finishes in 2005 and 2006, and the current edition’s 61-79 record.

Littlefield accompanied the Pirates for their four-game series to St. Louis and, according to those close to him, had been behaving as if he were confident he would be back next year. The Pirates flew back to Pittsburgh last night after their 16-4 loss to the Cardinals at Busch Stadium, and Littlefield was notified of the decision at roughly 10 a.m.

While Rick Ankiel worshippers around the nation (well, Brooklyn, anyway) begin to question their faith, ESPN’s Rob Neyer is less than overwhelmed at the news of the converted outfielder’s alleged HGH use, and somewhat quizzical over Cards GM Walt Jocketty characterizing the revelations as “tragic”.

He stopped receiving the banned substance before it was banned? And if true, “obviously it would be very tragic”? Gosh, I don’t know. Unfortunate, sure. Inconvenient, absolutely. But it’s very tragic when a professional athlete gains the same edge that so many of his colleagues have gained? And probably won’t be punished?

No, today the Rick Ankiel Story isn’t nearly as spiffy as it was just yesterday. But I have to tell you, I’ve got a really hard time getting worked up over this news.

Fair ’nuff, though we’ve yet to see any evidence of a certain Sultan Of Surly receiving a box of HGH, either. Speaking of which, how terrific is it that the task of covering the Ankiel story has fallen to’s inhouse Bonds bud Barry M. Bloom?