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Dejan Kovacevic's Blog

Pittsburgh sports talk with the Trib columnist

Wakeup Call: Shirley, Squiggy, Jethro and Vladimir

MILWAUKEE – Some sporting thoughts before sunrise …

>> On the road to writing a column, there are plenty of terrible ledes that get scrapped. And, more unfortunately, at least a couple that make into print.

However you might feel about my Fonz intro to the Friday column about Pirates-Brewers, I can assure you that you would have hated the one I had on my screen before it. Some nonsense about Laverne and Shirley in their Milwaukee apartment, saying something derogatory about this or that, only to have Squiggy burst through the door with his iconic, “Hel-lo!”

Don’t ask. It’s a long season, as they say.

>> The series this weekend obviously doesn’t carry the weight it could have pre-plunge, but I still find it interesting for angles that will become clearer with the coverage you’ll see the next couple days. There are many, many parallels between these two franchises, some good, some bad.

>> Omitted from the column because … well, it didn’t fit in as well as a Potsie reference: Nyjer Morgan repeatedly referred to his friend Jeff Karstens as “Jethro” in our talk yesterday. No idea what that means, but it was too good a nickname not to share.

>> The Pirates will raise ticket prices across the board in 2012, per this exclusive news from our Rob Biertempfel. Some will blame Bob Nutting’s greed. The other extreme will say that all of Neal Huntington’s trades were good. The rational middle, I’m guessing, will realize it’s not very practical for any business to keep its prices the same for more than a full decade.

The Malkins in their element.

. The Malkins in their element.

>> Player to watch in the Steelers’ exhibition tonight: Antonio Brown.

He’s done some terrific things in Latrobe — I saw him leap for a deep ball with a DB to either side, land on his back and still hang on — and he has a chance to render the Jerricho Cotchery signing moot before the ink is dry. I like Cotchery as insurance for Emmanuel Sanders’ foot or Hines Ward’s age, but it would mean a whole lot more to the team if Brown can make big plays and take some of the heat off Mike Wallace.

The way Wallace was covered in the Super Bowl, you’d swear the Packers still have a man on him.

>> Your cheap smile for the day: Evgeni Malkin’s parents have 117,746 Facebook friends.

>> Outstanding reader input on the chat yesterday. Fonz would give two thumbs-up. So would Vladimir and Natalia, for that matter.

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