Some sporting thoughts before sunrise …
>> My Wednesday column is about Sidney Crosby looking and sounding more upbeat than he has in nearly a year. If I didn’t read much into that before, I certainly did after our talk yesterday. The Kid is legitimately feeling good, more than he’s letting on most of the time.
If you can think of a bigger story in Pittsburgh sports for 2011 than the day Crosby returns (Steelers making Super Bowl, Pirates reaching first base), I’m all ears.
>> The puckheads among you will appreciate Gary Bettman’s wide-ranging interview yesterday with Canada’s Globe and Mail. Lots of topics covered.
>> I called on Monday for the Steelers to hold ‘open tryouts for exceptionally large men,’ and they go out and bring back hyper-exceptionally large Max Starks.
Max says he’s lost 60 pounds since the summer, and he says that the way you and I cite 5 pounds.
Max knows the playbook.
Max is so popular within the Steelers that Ben Roethlisberger wore his No. 78 during an early drill in Latrobe to pay tribute.
Can Max play Sunday, Coach?
>> If you want a firm grip of how much the Steelers are going to miss James Harrison the next month or so, consider first that he was the only man to stand up and say it like it is Sunday in Houston. Then, consider that he backs up his talk by doing things like returning to a football game and playing with a broken eye socket.
>> After spending the morning with the Penguins, I covered Mike Tomlin’s news conference over on the South Side — made it without about 30 seconds before Stan Savran and Paul Alexander’s intro sequence, actually — and found that the coach really hadn’t changed his tune much since Sunday. He still cited fundamentals as the main culprit for the loss. But he did openly acknowledge and criticize obvious shortcomings such as the inability to stop the run and even singled out a couple guys. LaMarr Woodley, as Tomlin noted, was “2-2, kind of like us” in the quality of his work.
Just guessing here the coach is challenging his guys a bit more forcefully away from the cameras.
>> These comments from Dana Holgorsen, criticizing West Virginia’s attendance as being too low, really threw me. I really can’t recall the last time a coach did that, though I’d be happy to hear if you know of any.
Imagine if someone at Pitt said something like this.
>> Not suggesting who anyone should root for in the baseball playoffs, but watching the Rays get eliminated and then the Brewers lose a game isn’t exactly the kind of thing that should encourage fans with revenue pools — or even potential revenue pools — like the Pirates’.