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Dejan Kovacevic's Blog

Pittsburgh sports talk with the Trib columnist

Wakeup Call: Old streak, new player, old defense, new charges

Some sporting thoughts before sunrise …

>> The Pirates achieved 82 yesterday for a 19th time in a row. Ever since I contacted Elias Sports Bureau a few years back, it’s been publicly known that their streak is the longest in the history of professional sports. But the understanding anytime I’ve used that term is North American professional sports.

Which leads me to ask, and I’m being totally serious: Is there a longer losing streak anywhere in the world in any team sport where the athletes are paid?

What about English Premier League soccer?

What about Pakistani cricket?

Or New Zealand rugby?

Again, totally serious. I’d love to know if anyone could concoct a way to find out even a head start, and I’m perfectly willing to take it to the next level of official confirmation. There just has to be some team somewhere that’s done worse than the Pirates over the past two decades.

>> Yesterday’s Times Square news ticker in New York, courtesy of reader Dan Hopper …


>> Spent some quality time with select Penguins yesterday at their annual golf outing in Sewickley, the results of which you’ll find in my Friday column that coincides with reporting day for training camp.

In the meantime, here are a couple questions I had for newcomer Steve Sullivan


I’ve always liked Sullivan’s game, as I’ve been saying, and his spending any amount of time under Barry Trotz in Nashville is a huge plus in the systematic sense. I strongly suspect you’re going to like him, too, if the wheels are still there. (Dan Bylsma says they are.)

>> The Steelers are complaining about the Ravens’ blocking techniques, three days after the fact.

Sorry, but that rings hollow to me.

I was in Baltimore after that game Sunday, and the visitors’ locker room was packed with media asking all kinds of questions, including about the Ravens’ blocking, and that never came up. Instead, they talked about how they stunk.

They did. Leave it at that.


  1. Drew71 says:

    Just a ticker? Maybe they can do the ball drop thing in Times Square if they reach 20 seasons. Though that’s a heck of a long countdown.

  2. Drew71 says:

    PS…just returned from a quick trip to Pittsburgh. Was staying downtown so I took a picture of PNC Park.

    Dejan, if this place had avatars, the you-know-what sign would now be mine.

    DK: I hope avatars are coming soon, Drew, as well as all kinds of other upgrades on the horizon. I’m hearing it could take another 2-3 months, but my understanding is that it will be worth it.

  3. radio wave says:

    The Dodgers should pay the fans to shoa up tonight for this awful pitching matchup.

  4. leefoo says:

    Drew……….that post was just downright UNcharitable.


  5. leefoo says:

    Dk…… first guess would be Prairie View FB, but an attempt to look up their record is proving fruitless. This darn Govt Browser is just cranking and cranking.

    If I can get something later, I will.


  6. JUCOFan says:

    If anyone finds a more inept franchise, check and see if they extended their GM of four years just a week before hitting the magical mark. If they did, I bet they squeezed it in after a more popular sport in the country kicked off, and before they clinched a sub .500season, cause there is nothing surreptitious about that.

  7. leefoo says:

    Agree on the Steelers complaining. Farrior says “That was just bad”. Uh, Potsie YOU (and your teammates) were ‘just bad’.


  8. JAL says:

    JAL’s Million Dollar Bash Morning Links


    1- MLB Transactions

    2-MLB Trade Rumors-Pirates

  9. JAL says:

    Steelers Blogs

    -Behind the Steel Curtain

    After Week 1 Performance, I’m No Longer So Concerned About James Harrison

    Steelers Vs. Seahawks: Opponent Spotlight — Earl Thomas

    -Steeler Depot

    Steelers Players Accuse Ravens of Chop Blocks

    -Steelers Gab

    Five Questions with Seahawks Gab Editor Andrew Auger

  10. JAL says:

    Pitt Blogs

    Pitt Blather

    Expansiopocolypse Remains Paused. Just Paused

    Cardiac Hill

    Pitt Vs. Iowa Football: Cardiac Hill Game Preview

    WVU Blogs

    WV Illustrated

    Musings Of A Mountain Man: September 15, 2011



    Pens Announce 55 Man Roster to open Training Camp

  11. Drew71 says:

    Thank you Foo. THANK you.

    At least Foo got the point of my post. (Which is more than I can say for someone who shall go nameless but whose initials are D.K.)

  12. JAL says:

    Prairie View had 29 straight losing seasons from 1977 to 2006 but they are not a pro team and that is the criteria Dejan uses.

    Hard to have such a streak in most pro sports because teams get relegated.

  13. Dan says:

    DK – I don’t think the Steelers were saying they lost because of illegal chop blocks, just that they happened, they are dangerous, they should be called, and they weren’t. They seem to know that they got beat pretty badly in most ways possible. Calling these would have likely made little difference. But they happened.

    Look at it this way. Take the ‘horse-collar’ call. One player got injured by that. Ever. Am I missing anyone? Please correct me if so, but I believe just one player. But it was a high profile running back. So they made it a rule and now its 15. Fine. But chop blocks are more dangerous. More players get hurt on them. Not an excuse for losing, just pointing out something dangerous. I guess the refs were busy looking for defenseless offensive players …

    DK: If the Steelers felt Baltimore was chop-blocking, they could have raised it that day. That’s all I’m saying.

  14. Drew71 says:

    Yeah JAL. We, the fans, get relegated too.

  15. Fat Jimmy says:

    Serious question: is the 2011 Pirates lineup better or worse than the 2008 lineup? Has this team actually improved?

    DK: Sounds like a topic worthy of a side-by-side comparison, but I’d go with early 2008, pre-trades. What’s your lineup for that team?

  16. Milo Hamilton says:


    I think you are set with average to above average major leaguers at CF & 2B. Your corner outfielders have shown little to no power and are otherwise completely unproven. The third baseman is a huge question mark. And due to free agency, you have gaping holes at SS, 1B, & C. Hardly a revelation. I don’t think we can accurately answer your question until after the offseason plays out. They have money to spend, if free agents are willing to compromise, of course. I have a pretty good idea what the answer is going to be.

  17. Drew71 says:

    Slim Jim: GREAT Question. I’ll take a crack at it.

    1) First, I’ll mostly answer based on 2008 PRE-deadline deals, so I’m comparing to 2008 at it’s best, since I think that was the intent of your Q
    2) Hitting and defense? DEFINITELY 2008
    3) Starting and relief? DEFINITELY 2011, even if the pitchers are now wearing down.
    4) Total team? Record will judge. That’s the beauty of baseball. 162 games? Mostly removes the fluke factor. Whichever had the better record was the better team. Tho’ I recognize that this violates my pre-deadline deal rule
    5) So JUST first half vs first half? Well, 2011 was in or around 1st place and above .500. So on that basis, I have to give it to 2011
    –But I think it is VERY close and an interesting question.
    6) Total organization, Minors too? No question, 2011. But it really is ‘no question’ because you didn’t ask that.

    For those who tend towards a pessimistic view point, do NOT read this post as optimism. It is just trying to address a great question factually, based on record and implied stats.

    Want my OPINION on the Pirates’ progress? It is actually hard for me to put to words but I’ll try. YES, they are better, both at the MLB level (to build on) and organizationally/minors. But NO, I don’t think they are “better enough.”

    By that I mean that I am afraid that they have improved just enough to be mediocre but not terrible each year. Despite their championship rhetoric, building for “ok” rather than for a championship. And that is why I was ambivalent about the extension. I was ok with the CONCEPT of SOME level of extension (say, two years) but upset with 3+1 and the Papa Doc Duvalier General Manager For Life comments.

    No? You DON’T want my opinion? Sorry. I take it back.

  18. dcpinpgh says:

    How does the Pirates and the clubhouse feel about Andrew McCutchen? I mean if he is trying to hit home runs all the time, then he is playing for the name on the back of his uni and not for the name on the front. That’s not a leader in my book.

  19. Bizrow says:

    Drew in response to #6, that is kinda faint praise, how could the minor league system be any worse?

    I’m just wondering if and when this FO is going to draw a line in the sand and say, enough, the time to win is NOW

    Not to be critical……

  20. Drew71 says:

    Biz – I believe there is nothing in either of our posts that actually disagrees with the other. We are not saying the same things, but it is possible to hold your opinion AND mine. That was kinda my point…that they are better, but what in fact should we consider to be better enough? I’m not satisfied, but neither am I demanding someone’s neck.

    Well, with this one exception, or at least one question. It was implied by PBC that with Huntington’s extension, EVERYONE is staying.

    Really? Do we think that all parts of the organization are doing remarkably well?

    Major league scouting, for instance? That seems to jump out.

    And one can make an argument – probably both ways – on development.

  21. TJA says:

    Regarding the Pirates: We got a taste of what things can be like in this town the first 3-4 months of the season. Even though it reached 19 campaigns for losing (indeed that does hurt to say that!) and there needs to be some updates with on-field personnel, I still believe that we saw enough early on to continue to have hope in the next couple years.

  22. Milo Hamilton says:

    I’m still waiting to see the “improvement” the system has made under the current regime. Sure they have prospects. They even had prospects when Dave Littlefield was in charge (McCutchen, Walker etc.).

    What players has this group produced ? They’ve had 4 drafts & they draft in the top 5 every year. In Huntington’s 1st draft they drafted & signed 9 college players in the first 14 rounds. Alvarez is the only one that has been a regular & Chase D’Arnaud & Justin Wilson made cameos. People are excited about Robbie Grossman. He was drafted 4 years ago & he’s finally been successful at Class A. Nobody from the 2009 draft has even reached the major leagues yet.

    I know this takes time but I’m still waiting for this regimes 1st player on a par with McCutchen or Walker.

  23. JUCOFan says:

    I’m just flat out not seeing the improvement. And when they let Doumit and Malholm go in the offseason, well, I have to think it’s going to get worse.

  24. 1 Bucco fan says:

    I still wonder out loud if since Baltimore doesnt do no-trade clauses in their player contact if NH will try to revisit the J.J Hardy deal! Because under no condition or circumstances will Cedeno be retained not even for a pay cut. Ohlendorf also will most likely not be here, neither will Doumit or Synder. Few players that ever come to this organization with the exception of X, Nady were treated as badly as Pedro Ciriaco who if they can’t get a shortstop be at short against the Phillies on opening day unless as a said eariler one can be obtanied fron outside.

  25. Bizrow says:


    Agree with you. We are both saying the same thing on the minor league system.

    We IMHO still don’t know if NH has what it takes to be a successful Major League GM. For every star on the fore head he gets, he has demerits to wipe them out. Major league acquisition wise, he hasn’t shown much. Draft wise, while although somewhat promising, all we have is some maybes, which is what 99% of all prospects are.

    Hope but expect?

  26. Milo Hamilton says:

    @ 1 Bucco fan

    The Orioles just signed Hardy to a 3 year extension. He has 26 homers & has committed only 5 errors. Why in heaven’s name would they want to trade him ?

  27. JAL says:

    As for the minor league system–I see better with just item–With Taillon,Cole, and Heredia they three pitchers who could be number 1 in rotation. In the past their best ones were considered possibly number 3 or 4. Only have to look at the Tigers to see what number 1 can do for team Tigers have 87 wins and Verlander has 23.

  28. Dejan,
    Back a few years ago, in the Roman Empire, there was like a 50-60 year undefeated streak for the Lions vs. the Christians in the Coliseum. The Lions were paid for their services, but most of the Christians were amateurs (although ‘great was their reward in heaven!’) Of course, the Lions were paid with the meat of the Christians’ bodies.
    Still payment is payment, and with not just winning seasons but also undefeated seasons, the Lions’ record will be hard to top!

    DK: Same with the modern-day Lions.

  29. diehard says:

    I understand where you’re coming from on the Phil Simms question from the chat, BUT – when Clark was flagged during the fight, and no one else was, Simms showed blatant bias, and that was even mentioned to me by friends in NC and Virginia. I wouldn’t complain about Clark being flagged, he deserved it. Of course so did Rice and Polamalu and about 6 other guys. Clark hit Oher on the back of the shoulder/arm, and Oher swung back. Simms originally said there was only the one penalty because the Ravens didn’t retaliate, but when the replay confirmed otherwise, Simms’ commentary was – Clark hits Oher, Oher retaliates, and Clark is the only one that gets flagged. “I LIKE that call.” (strong emphasis on like)

    DK: Remember, Diehard, I don’t hear the commentary in the press box. I’m just watching the game in front of me, no audio. My point was much more general than that. People expect national announcers to behave like local announcers. That’s not how it goes.

  30. diehard says:

    Whether it was pure bias against the Steelers or not, Simms’ comment came across as almost bizarre gloating, as it did a few other times. Of course, you see this in almost every game that he does, regardless of the teams, just because SImms really isn’t that great of a commentator. He’s too busy talking to actually be observant (which a lot of former QBs in the booth tend to be – like Joe Theisman).

  31. JAL,
    Bobby Bradley was considered a #1 (best curve ball in Minors mags said), Brad Lincoln was considered a #1, Sean Burnett was considered a #2 (before hurting his arm).

    Taillon #2 overall after Bryce Harper——no brainer!
    Cole #1 overall——still to see if he was wisest choice
    Heredia only positive wild card here . . . and he is 16 years old.

    The jury is still out——WAY out——on Minor League system.
    Automatic picks, like the beauty of the Crosby ping-pong ball, are great/beneficial;
    but let’s see the Pirates develop a lower draft pick before I start giving them credit for being better.

    DK: Where are the hitters?

  32. “DK: Where are the hitters?”

    Ergo, my strong desire that Rendon would have been our draft pick.

    Pitchers who only pitch 4 innings and no hitters who exhibit any kind of power: which Bucs are “starving” for——that summarizes Pirate Minor League system!
    It normally takes 5 years to develop most players in Minors, but the 5th year is a-coming and I see no one on the horizon.
    Pirates appear to have a system full of complementary players but no standouts. That does not bode well.
    I see no light at end of tunnel, train or otherwise, in minors. That’s OK though, because NH will choose a great free agent to sign. “Hidden vigorish” says he has to hit one soon!

    Instead of expert evaluation, we’re down to “hidden vigorish”. Good Grief!

  33. What happened to my comment? :(

  34. […] very interesting question was posted in the comments section of  Dejan Kovacevic’s blog (Post 19) that really sparked my interest.  Is the Pirate’s 2011 lineup better or worse than […]

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