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Dejan Kovacevic's Blog

Pittsburgh sports talk with the Trib columnist

Wakeup Call: Not everything is connected

Some sporting thoughts before sunrise …

>> If a shark attacks someone off the coast of Florida, then another attacks someone else off the coast of North Carolina, our nightly news invariably carries reports of “an increase in shark attacks.” As if sharks just figured out, after a million years or so, that they enjoy meaty flesh.

Not everything is connected, but we as a society have a tendency to see everything as some sort of trend.

In my Wednesday column, I essentially make the same case regarding the deaths of the three NHL enforcers this summer. It makes for all kinds of interesting analysis, much of it valid, but the amount of evidence supporting an actual link of the incidents is microscopic.

Thanks to the Penguins’ Steve Sullivan and Ray Shero for their remarkable candor, in particular to Sullivan who very easily could have elected not to discuss a topic as difficult as the very recent death of a friend.

>> I’ve defended Pedro Alvarez from day one, during the draft-signing fiasco, during his time in the minors, during the largely unfounded accusations that he was way out of shape … but I wrote in a column last week that I’d revisit that if he blew off the Pirates’ request that he play winter ball.

Well, Alvarez did exactly that yesterday.

It’s inexcusable under this specific set of circumstances. Alvarez is batting .189, he’s struck out once every three times up, and he missed nearly two months to a thigh injury that would very much fall into the preventable category.

Let the Pirates defend him now.

>> One highlight I culled from Mike Tomlin’s news conference was that Marcus Gilbert and Ramon Foster graded out well on the Steelers’ line. That tells me that the coaches, who dissect the film frame by frame, apparently thought a lot more of the offensive line play than the naked eye showed.

Yeah, it could be better at the goal line, but this is good enough under the circumstance. Especially where Gilbert is concerned. He literally has to have Ben Roethlisberger’s back.

>> Even a diehard Pitt fan has to feel at least a little sorry for West Virginia now, don’t they?

By all accounts, the Mountaineers are being shunned by the ACC and SEC, and the geography only gets more challenging from there. The obvious problem with West Virginia is that they don’t offer a big media market to a conference, no matter how popular the school’s athletics are within their own state. Pittsburgh is the biggest nearby city, and even Pitt has a hard time competing with our professional teams here.

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