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Dejan Kovacevic's Blog

Pittsburgh sports talk with the Trib columnist

Wakeup Call: Baseball is awesome

Some sporting thoughts before sunrise …

>> My Friday column challenges three of the Steelers’ defensive players to find a way to get to Tom Brady, physically or mentally. If they don’t do it, there’s an excellent chance no one will.

>> Baseball is awesome.

It’s beautiful even if it’s ugly.

It moves at just the right pace even when it’s long.

There’s no clock, no hope truly dashed until the last pitch … once, then twice, then as many times as St. Louis can send up David Freese to illustrate it again and again.

If you didn’t stay up last night, suffice it to say you missed the best World Series game since the last time Bill Mazeroski faced Ralph Terry.

>> Marc-Andre Fleury is so sharp in shootouts that you can drive yourself nuts just trying to imagine a way to beat him. To me, you come at him with speed, which was why I found it stupefying that the Islanders didn’t use Michael Grabner. Grabner is one of the league’s fastest skaters and has decent hands.

>> Give the Penguins a ton of credit, not just for the third-period comeback — their first in a couple years, actually — but also for how they stormed the Islanders’ zone all night. All that kept them from running up a rout was their own shooting, particularly that of Evgeni Malkin and James Neal, who missed repeatedly until Neal finally nailed one on a tic-tac-toe in the third.

Oh, and let’s not ignore that Steve Sullivan has played well on that unit, too. Guy still doesn’t have a goal through 12 games, but he created all kinds of offense. Looks like he’s just a little off.

>> Maybe the most agonizing aspect of Pitt losing Ray Graham and Cam Saddler to season-ending injuries is that Todd Graham now gets a full-blown mulligan for this miserable debut season.

>> Here is the chat transcript from  yesterday.

I’ll cover the Steelers this weekend, of course, and the Wakeup Call will return Monday


  1. Rich L says:

    Dejan, one of the best baseball games I ever saw. Too bad 2/3 of the kids in the country didn’t see the end.

  2. shultzsr says:

    I was watching with my 26-year old son who’s a Cardinal fan (I was stationed at Scott AFB when McGwire was at his peak). At some point after Berkman’s hit, I told him that this was the greatest comeback I’d ever seen. While I was born Jan 9, 1960, I was alive for the Maz homer, I can’t say I remember it. But I had read about it many times and watched it earlier this year. I pointed out that most people only remember the homer, but don’t realize it was 9-9 when he hit it. My son’s eyes got a little big and we just looked at each other realizing this game was tied 9-9, but saying nothing. At this point, all I can say is that anyone who’s not a genuine Rangers fan, but is really a baseball fan, simply must be rooting for the Cards tonight.

  3. shultzsr says:

    @Rich L – totally agree! If they would just start at 7 eastern it would really help. Thank goodness it started at 7 where both of these teams play. I can only imagine how many kids in the St. Louis area will be out of school today. Not to mention “sick” teachers!

  4. JAL says:

    JAL’s Pure Imagination Morning Links


    1- MLB Transactions

    2-MLB Trade Rumors-Pirates

    3- 2011-12 Pirates Prospects Off-Season Calendar

    4 Pirate Offseason Stats

  5. JAL says:


    5—Pirates Prospects

    Winter Leagues 10/27 — (Everyone Is Watching Game 6)

    AFL Recap 10/27: Inman Gives Up Walk Off HR to Harper

    Draft Bonuses Still an Issue With the CBA

    Should the Pirates Buy Out Ronny Cedeno?

    6 Raise the Jolly Roger

    BBA Ballot: Stan Musial Award

    7 Why Gavs

    The Pirates’ Minor League Pitchers and Learning Control

    8 Rumbunter

    Pittsburgh Pirates Caffeine: Gerrit Cole, Clint Hurdle, Frank Coonelly, Josh Bell

  6. JAL says:

    11 Fort Worth Star Telegram

    Rangers can’t close it out

    Rangers bullpen disaster fries all brains; is recovery possible?

    Rangers will have to dial up their resiliency once more

  7. JAL says:


    13 Bleacher Report

    MLB Free Agents 2012: 1 Huge Risk To Avoid at Every Position

    14 Yahoo Sports

    Five of the Greatest World Series Game 6 Contests Ever: Fan’s Take

  8. JAL says:

    Pitt Blogs

    Pitt Blather

    Official Injury Report

    Cardiac Hill

    Pitt Loses Three Players to Season-Ending Injuries

  9. JAL says:

    WVU Blogs

    Metro News

    Observations from Holgorsen Radio Show

    WV Illustrated

    Conference Dealings Become Increasingly Ridiculous



    An Old-Fashioned Shootout: Pens Beat Islanders 3-2

  10. Karen22 says:

    And I thought the Penguins’ comeback was the coolest of the night…until the wee hours of today! Silly me. Baseball is most assuredly AWESOME!! I am very, very bleary-eyed this morning—but happy! Bring on Game 7!

  11. radio wave says:

    Finally, after all these years a Game 7.
    Heard an interesting comment the other day, Yogi Bera thought Maz’ homer was going to hit off the wall. To this day, he can’t believe it went out.
    Looking forward to a great game tonight, and then my Pats smoking the locals on Sunday.

  12. I LOVE baseball!!

    No kneel-downs. No standing behind the center and watching the clock before snapping.
    You have to get 27 outs, and sometimes more. Two outs, two strikes, two runs down, and the game is still ALIVE.

    I hope and pray that there will come a day that I can be standing in PNC experiencing what the fans in Busch did last night. (Now I fear my imagination is running away with me.)

    I am so excited for Freese, who succeeded twice——but especially the 9th——in an once-in-a-lifetime at bat he had already experienced 10,000 times in his backyard.

  13. “It’s rare to get close enough to Brady to jab him with a stick, never mind wrapping him up.”

    By the way, Dejan, nice turn of phrase above. Very good article about that other off-season sport. Steelers quit playing exhibition games as soon as World Series ends.

  14. sms says:

    if only the best management team in baseball was up watching that game last night……….

  15. Pattonbb says:

    RE: Last night’s baseball game.

    Maybe the best quote of the night came from Berkman “Really and truly, this was an ugly game for about six or seven innings. But then it got beautiful, right at the end.” (

    5 errors to start, and the game still managed to go down in history as one of the best ever. Not only is baseball awesome DK, it truly can be beautiful, regardless to who wins.

  16. Marc-Andre Fleury is on another planet right now. His ability to read the plays as they develop is bordering on the preternatural: by the time the play does develop, he’s already in the right position to make the save look textbook.

    Much to his opponent’s chagrin, his confidence extends into the shootout. There, his patience has got to be maddening to the shooter as he almost never flinches first. His poke-check on Tavares was a perfect illustration: he remained calm, allowed the shooter to close the gap, stayed square to Tavares when he made the move to the forehand, and deftly poked the puck by a subtle extension of his stick. Even as he made the poke-check, Fleury was never out of position.

    I dare say if Fleury can keep this performance up throughout the year, he’s got to be on the short list for the Vezina. I worry a bit as the Pens defense has been far from “light’s out” and the Pens goaltenders are still seeing too much rubber for my liking, but when you get that kind of performance behind you it’s hard not to feel confident in taking chances offensively.

  17. TheSaltyRogue says:

    shultzsr – “At this point, all I can say is that anyone who’s not a genuine Rangers fan, but is really a baseball fan, simply must be rooting for the Cards tonight.”

    Um, no. I have no real dislike of the Cardinals – but I do have a like of Nolan Ryan. That man was a God to me as a kid much like Big Mac probably was to your son… unfortunately I think Nolan’s team blew their chance last night and loses it tonight.

    Still though, for one more day – GO RANGERS.

  18. CWalton_67 says:

    Concur with your analysis of MAF. He’s finally putting his incredible athletic ability together with confidence and focus. Also agree with your thoughts on the defense, but I think once all are healthy, the Pens will challenge for honors as the NHL’s top defensive unit. Michalek is a big key to that defense and he willl undoubtedly improve on his early season performance after he returns. If this team can get healthy, we could be witness to some history.

    DK, also agree on your thoughts on Sullivan. He’s been everything envisioned and the good news is that as a veteran, he’s unlikely to let the lack of goals get in his head. I think he’s been pretty focused on getting Neal off to a good start. Think it’s working?

  19. shultzsr says:

    @TheSaltyRogue – please don’t misunderstand, I also love Nolan Ryan, can still see him putting the headlock on the punk who rushed him (was it Ventura?) and would be happy to see his team win. My point was better summed up by Berkman: “The reality is, if we don’t win tomorrow, this is a footnote,” Berkman said. “If you win tomorrow, it’s the stuff of legend.” I’d hate to see that game relegated to a footnote.

  20. Milo Hamilton says:

    As we sit here 36 years later, Carlton Fisk is much more than a footnote. The footnote of the 1975 World Series is that Cincinnati actually won it.

    Johnny Bench said it best, “Boston won that series 3 games to 4.”

  21. PhillyJake says:


  22. JAL says:

    Big 12 stuff gets weired every day–new report says WVU officially accepted into the Big 12 and will start playing in 2012-13. On we go.

  23. Milo Hamilton says:


    Joe Manchin, gettin’ it done !

  24. JAL says:


    Not sure how the start play in 2012 goes with the Big east 27 waiting period. Must be more than has been reported so far.

  25. DanW says:

    Thoughts on last night’s game:

    As one of the poster’s above mentioned, when the game went to 9-7 Rangers, I started thinking of the score of game 7 in 1960 as well.

    As a Pirates fan, I guess I should be thankful that there was only 1 comeback in game 7 in 1992.

    I was born in 1970, so last night extended Nolan Ryan’s world series drought in my lifetime.

    How tempted do you think Ryan was to kick the rest of those Bozos out of the bullpen and start warming up? He could probably still hit 92 or 93 on the gun, huh?

  26. radio wave says:

    It is curious that at the same time the “Big 12″ is releasing a statement that WVU will switch in 2012, the Big East is still claiming the 27 month contract restriction.
    I think all the teams moving on are willing to pay almost any price to get off the sinking ship.

  27. Milo Hamilton says:

    @ JAL

    Two things. I think the Big East will have a price. I just don’t think Pitt, Syracuse, & WVU have gotten there yet. This is a negotiation, pure & simple. Pitt has a huge endowment, I’ve always thought they’d be able to get out of there.

    Second, the faster the incompetent Marinatto gets new schools to commit to the Big East, then those three schools won’t be needed.

  28. JAL says:

    Probably will have, read something about over $20m

  29. JoeBucco says:

    Joe Carter and Kirby Puckett would disagree about this year’s game 6 on the history level.

    And besides, do we put an asterisk beside this one too, considering LaRussa and HGH and all of that. I thought we got rid of performance enhancements in baseball, and then these guys get to win the Series, so I guess not. It’s almost hard to watch guys like Berkman, Holliday and Freese who look not much like they did physically in pre-Cardinal days. I sure hope they get the HGH testing in the next labor agreement.

  30. Pattonbb says:

    asterisk or not, this was a great series, and I can’t stand LaRussa. That team seems like they’ve been playing “must win” games since August.

    What do we have…about 130 days until catchers and pitchers report?

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