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Paul Skenes’ MLB Debut Grabs Attention of Billionaire Who Once Dreamed of Owning the Pittsburgh Pirates

Published 05/14/2024, 3:36 PM EDT

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The baseball world was captivated on Saturday night, not just by Paul Skenes’ highly anticipated debut for the Pittsburgh Pirates, but also by a surprising comment from a certain billionaire in the Instagram comments. Mark Cuban, the outspoken owner of the Dallas Mavericks, chimed in with a resounding “Let’s Go Bucs!” on a post celebrating Skenes’ first outing.

This seemingly innocuous comment took on a whole new meaning considering Cuban’s well-documented history with the Pirates. Back in 2005, he actively sought to purchase the team but was rebuffed by the then-owner. It shows that Cuban has not completely lost interest in owning this franchise.

Paul Skenes had quite a debut. The number-one pick of last year’s draft showed flashes of brilliance with a fastball that averaged 100.1 mph. He struck out seven batters in four innings but also gave up three runs and six hits, including one home run. A performance which indicated both hope and inevitable difficulties for young pitchers adapting to life in Major League Baseball.

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However, there was an absolutely bizarre moment during Skenes’ debut when it seemed like no fifth inning would be complete without something strange happening. In just one inning, Pittsburgh experienced six walks with bases loaded—something unprecedented over half a century ago. And suddenly seven runs came across home plate as though the game had been switched upside down for the Chicago Cubs.

With unpredictability being part of baseball lore, however, the Pirates responded remarkably well after all these events occurred. Pittsburgh pulled off an improbable victory through three-run homers by Yasmani Grandal and a solo shot by Andrew McCutchen that left many fans and analysts looking at each other in disbelief.

From basketball courts to baseball diamonds, could Mark Cuban’s next move involve Paul Skenes and Pirates?

Mark Cuban’s comment is significant because it reminds people about his continuous support for baseball generally and the Pittsburgh Pirates in particular. The billionaire is said to have expressed his desire to own a Major League Baseball team on several occasions, with unsuccessful attempts being made by him to buy the Chicago Cubs, Texas Rangers, Los Angeles Angels, and the Los Angeles Dodgers.

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Cuban has always demonstrated entrepreneurial spirit and sports enthusiasm. Under his stewardship, the Dallas Mavericks have become one of the most formidable basketball teams in the NBA, including the victory at the championship games held in 2011. He is known as an individual who breaks from norms and conventions, which has made him controversial, although successful.

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Is this comment just an endorsement for his home team or a sign that he may be considering buying it? Well, only time will tell, but one thing is sure: Mark Cuban’s voice now adds more fuel to the fire already surrounding Paul Skenes and Pirates by telling us that he still wants it all.

As things develop for Skenes and Pittsburgh undergo upswings during their rebuilding season, baseball fans around the world, including some billionaires here and there, will keep watching them closely. I mean, after all, anything can happen when six bases-loaded walks can result in a win for you.

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Written by

Shrabana Sengupta

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Shrabana Sengupta is an MLB writer at EssentiallySports. Shrabana shot to fame when she covered two prime MLB events: the 2023 World Series and the Free Agency that followed. During the 2023 World Series, Shrabana wrote her unfeigned perspectives on the Texas Rangers’ Corey Seager and his wife, the 27x World Series Champions’ heartbreaking season, and later covered Shohei Ohtani’s highly anticipated record-breaking contract in 2023-24.
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Edited by

Sampurna Pal